In the past, when we have gone on road trips, by the end of 2 weeks I am so ready to go home. I don’t feel that way on this trip, although I am past the two weeks mark. I think it is because there are not many inconveniences. We sleep in the same bed every night. We don’t have a single suitcase to pack and unpack. Although our home is small, it is more home-like than vacation-like. I have a full set of cookware in the kitchen, along with cutlery, dishes, and everything I can fit in a small kitchen. I have a lot of collapsible bowls, measuring cups, even a collapsible funnel.
We have a full size refrigerator, so we have all the basics in there. We eat mostly home cooked meals. I’m getting better at cooking in small spaces. My biggest challenge is the oven. It takes forever to heat up. Dennis said it is because it is low pressure propane. I am trying different techniques, and in a few weeks, I may have it perfected.
I have come to appreciate the stopovers where we stay at least three nights. It just makes for more comfortable traveling. We noted that a week would be ideal, but we would never get through our itinerary by mid September if we did that. By the way, we have made reservations for every night to get us through our journey ending in mid September. We have a total of 53 different places to spend the nights across the country. How do we keep track of it all? I have a spreadsheet. After we stay at the RV park or Harvest Hosts location, I give it a rating of one to five, so we will remember what ones we liked, and what ones to stay away from if we go to those towns again.
I forgot to mention in my last blog one of the huge lessons we learned traveling with a 33’ RV towing a Jeep Cherokee. Dennis likes to get the RV tanked up before we arrive at the RV park, so that the day we are leaving, we can just get going. As we got into Wichita Falls, Texas, we started looking for a service station as we were approaching our RV park. There were none for a couple miles, so we drove past. About a half mile up the road was a Seven-Eleven convenience store and gas station. Dennis pulled onto the side street and then slipped into the station to fill up. It was tight but doable, or so we thought.
Once Dennis was in, he realized he would have to make a sharp turn to get out of the station, and there was not much room to maneuver. He asked a customer who was filling gas to watch for him. As Dennis started to inch up the RV, we heard this person yell, “Stop, stop!” We both got out of the RV to see the driver side door to the Jeep was about 2 or 3 inches from the concrete barrier at the end of the gas pump island. Had we moved farther, we would have taken out the side of the car. There was no room to back up, so Dennis unhitched the car from the RV. Then he was able to make the sharp turn to get out, and I followed in the car.
Lesson learned: We can only go to service stations that have large lots for easy maneuverability — no more small gas station lots.
Our next stop after leaving Oklahoma was a three day stop in Branson, Missouri. I have been there a couple times with Dennis. We have seen many musical shows there, but they are not my favorite thing. My favorite thing in Branson is the Sight and Sound Theater. It is a huge theater that performs stories from the Bible. There are two of these theaters in the United States. One is in Branson, and the other is in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The two theaters show different musicals during their seasons, so yes, we have tickets for Lancaster in July to see “Queen Esther.”
What makes these theater productions so interesting, other than they bring these bible stories to life, is their amazing set design and their use of live animals. The theater actually houses these animals, which they lovingly care for and train. When you sit in a production, don’t be surprised to see coming down the aisles to the stage or from the stage, sheep, goats, donkeys, camels, birds, and horses, etc. It is just one aspect of the theater that makes it truly unique. The production in Branson this season was “Jesus.” The depiction of his life, his ministry with his disciples, his death on the cross, and his resurrection, were beautifully and emotionally done to perfection. I have some photos here of the theater when we took a back stage tour a couple years ago. I think the set design in these photos were from the story “Sampson.” These photos will give you an idea of the enormity of the production.
One of the plans we made in Branson was to see my nephew and his wife who live in nearby Springfield. Unfortunately, the day we were to meet, they were both sick. On the other hand, Dennis’s niece and her daughter, who live in Kansas City, just happened to be in Branson that weekend. We had no idea. She sent us a text to tell us they were in town. We were able to meet them for dinner, and an evening of visiting in our little home on wheels.
Saturday it poured rain all day in Branson. We chose to have a quiet day at home. It was a really nice relaxed down day for us. Sunday, after attending our online service, we did some shopping and then drove around Table Rock Lake. We found a hiking trail by the dam, and took a nice two mile hike. We really enjoyed the down time we could spend in Branson.
Monday we left for Hamilton, Missouri. We spent three nights there, and it is quite close to Dennis’ brother’s home, so we saw them for two days, with one of the days having his other brother and wife come up, so the six of us could spend a day together.
If you are a quilter, you know that Hamilton, Missouri, is the home of Missouri Star Quilt Company. The city is also known as “Quilt City, U.S.A.” The story of this company is definitely a story about the American Dream. The city of Hamilton, once a bustling small rural town, like many, had lost its businesses along its main streets. This little quilt company that started a bit over ten years ago grew by leaps and bounds, thanks to Jenny Doan’s wonderful quilting tutorials on YouTube. The store owns most of the buildings in their little town, and each store is a different kind of product. It is a pretty amazing site—all these quilting stores on two blocks.
Now, don’t get me wrong, this is a wonderful little town with these charming quilting stores, but I am not a shopper. I make quilts, but I am a person who goes to a store, selects what I want, and goes home. I quickly realized that Missouri Star Quilt Company is ideal for the person who wants to explore stores, get ideas, and purchase. We were with several people who do not quilt, and I didn’t want them just hanging around while Andrea shopped. It isn’t my kind of shopping anyway. I knew what I wanted, and I went in and purchased, and was happy to leave without exploring every nook and cranny of the place.
We then went to Jamesport, Missouri, about a half hour drive from Hamilton. It’s a small community with a large Amish population. Driving through Missouri farmland always wins my heart. I love the rolling hills, the animals grazing free range, and the green—everything is so green thanks to all they spring rain. I love how beautiful Missouri is, but I sure don’t miss the humidity.
We had lunch at one of Jamesport restaurants, and I saw a fabric store. It was small, but cozy. This store was just what I was looking for. I could pull bolts of different fabrics that may go together, and they were patient as I had my family members help me find the right color combinations I was looking for. I don’t know how that could be done in the Hamilton location, because there are bolts of fabric in each different store, and you paid in each store. This little store allowed me to mix and match until I found what I want. It was perfect for my kind of shopping.
I realize we are all different in how we shop, and all other things we do. Some people will absolutely fall in love with the idea of a town of fabric stores, and some will love just finding that little niche store that works for them. I think if I was alone, or with only other quilters, I might have enjoyed Hamilton more.
It was a lovely three day stopover. I had wanted the experience to see Missouri Star Quilt. I am glad I did. It gives a perspective when I watch the tutorial videos. I loved being able to order online from them during the shutdown of everything last year.
We made our way from Hamilton to Columbia, MO. Before we moved to Arizona full time this year, we lived just a few miles from Columbia. We were able to surprise our friends at our former small group Bible study by joining them our first evening in town. The first full day there, we drove to Lake of the Ozarks where Dennis’s brother and sister-in-law have a condo on the lake. It had been rainy, and a bit cool, so instead of taking a boat ride, we went to Ha Ha Tonka State Park. I had to go just because it has such a neat name! Oh, the views there was so beautiful, especially after the rain, and the mist/fog that lingered just added to the beauty.
We met with friends for dinner on Saturday, and before we left, we were able to attend in person (for the first time since Covid last march) the church we attended when we lived in Missouri.
I have no regrets on this trip so far. It has been relaxing taking so long to get to destinations that are the targets on this trip, Our two weeks in St. Louis will include seeing friends and family. My granddaughter will be graduating from high school, and we will be there to celebrate with her.
If you have ever thought about getting an RV and traveling throughout the country, do it. Take some test run trips before you take a big one. You still will make mistakes on the big trip, but for us the test run helped us decided on most things we wanted to take with us and we wanted to leave at home. It’s still a learning experience, and I am sure we will find other things we want to do differently.
That’s it for now. Stay tuned . . . we will be continuing our big tour—sorry, no swag for this rock tour!!