By Barry Zander, Edited by Monique Zander, the Never-Bored RVers
“Turn around. You could have turned around at that driveway,” demanded Monique. “I’m going to go three more miles,” I answered. If we don’t find a campground, I’ll turn around …” “There’s a brown sign. Float Camp Recreation Area. But is there camping?” asked Monique. I lucked out. Despite no signs anywhere indicating that this was a campground in Mark Twain National Forest in Southern
Missouri, I trusted my instincts (not very reliable, I might add) and proceeded to search for a place to stop for the night. What made it more tenuous was that, earlier in the day, I had turned off a main highway to see “The World’s Biggest Wind Chime,” which we never found. As compatible as we are, there was a bit of friction in the air – but that’s understandable after being on the road together exactly five months and having parked for at least one night in 85 different spots!
I left off our most recent entry on this blog site mentioning that there are other places from our caravan trip to the Canadian Maritimes that I want to write about. That’s still true, but
while on the road 7 to 9 hours a day since we left Niagara Falls, New York, we keep recalling additional places worth mentioning. We are looking for a day of rest, when we can sit back in our recliners and list those places, so I can make sense out of it all. I will say that we are still smiling when we talk about the Tattoo, the Screech In, the Ugly Stick concerts, Spillars Cove, the north end of Prince Edward Island … oh, so many places we were exposed to over the past two months.
We are now parked in Ozark RV Park and Cabins in Mountain View, Arkansas, one of the very few places we have visited three times. We love this area so much, we had looked for land or a bungalow here years ago, but, realizing how far we’d be from family, we went on, eventually buying a cabin in the mountains of Southern California.
What’s so special about this place? The Ozark scenery, for one. The friendliness of the local folks, for another. And mostly for the music in this, the Folk Music Capital of the World. There is music everywhere around here, year-round, including in the “pickin’ sheds” and on the Courthouse Square. In parks and on the porches of stores and in homespun theaters.
Sunday night was quiet after a big weekend for bikers, who showed up from miles around, so we took in the by-donation Jimmy Driftwood Barn show. “Jimmy Driftwood was a prolific folk singer-songwriter who wrote over 6,000 songs. He gained national fame in 1959 when Johnny Horton recorded Driftwood’s song, ‘The Battle of New Orleans’,” to quote the Encyclopedia of Arkansas.
This is Americana at its best. The cast of local musicians with varying degrees of polish sing folk songs and gospel, some from the fine grain of the past, some seemingly made up (with lots of humor) yesterday. The instrumentation makes it all the more enjoyable – for
Sunday’s two-hour performance, they strummed on guitars, steel guitars, mandolins, a bass fiddle, autoharps, a washtub bass and more. Add in harmonicas and a lady who played the snare drum and washboard, and you get the gist of what we listened to. A few times during the show, several of the musicians/singers entertained with clogging.
There’s lots of music in Mountain View, plus two other main attractions. It’s the home of Blanchard Springs Caverns National Park, which in our opinion is the most beautiful cave of the dozen we’ve traversed. Then there’s the Ozark Folk Center immediately next to our campground. It’s closed on Sundays and Mondays so our timing is bad, but we’ve spent many hours there during past visits.
After hour-after-hour over the last week plying the concrete of interstate highways, where the ripening corn crop on both sides of the road becomes hypnotic, I was excited when Monique routed us back to Arkansas. We are “journey” travelers as opposed to “destination” people, so I appreciated the chance to tackle the severely winding roads and steep hills of the Ozark Mountains, at least in few-hour intervals. We are here for two nights, then it’s onward!
One more thing I want to mention. The electric jack on our trailer that lifts the tongue off the hitch ball on our truck was clucking and chucking, ready to strand us. We left Niagara Falls with the trepidation that we would have to stay hitched up for the next two weeks, when we spied a Camping World sign on a through-town highway in Hamburg, New York, just southeast of Buffalo. An hour later we drove away with a new electric lift recommended over the six others by the parts manager (and strangely enough, it was the least expensive). We give thanks to their efficiency and congenial spirit.
From the “Never-Bored RVers,” We’ll see you on down the road.
© All photos by Barry Zander. All rights reserved
COMMENTS TO RECENT BLOGS
From Dan and Terry Meehan — First, we would like to compliment you on the quality and usefulness of your blog about your RV travels. We look forward to it every day. We should have been off to see the US in our RV by now, but a COPD diagnosis has slowed our plan. As we get the final pieces in place, we have two topics that we have not been able to find discussed via any of the blogs we have found and are wondering if you can guide us to either: Can you direct us to someone who is currently traveling with COPD?
BARRY’S RESPONSE – We’ve met people with this breathing problem but never gotten any names or discussed it at any length. I open the line, via emails, to firstname.lastname@example.org , to anyone who can provide information.
Do you know of a mapping, suggested routes, type of site, where we could find some planned routes designed for long-timers who don’t want to deal with weather on any grand scale?
BARRY’S RESPONSE – There is usually plenty of warning before hurricanes arrive, so that shouldn’t be a problem (I lived in New Orleans most of my life, so I am practically an expert). We’ve hit snow flurries in Austin, Texas, in September and huddled in brick bathrooms when tornados were imminent in the Plains States. You never know. Again, we welcome reader input.
Thanks and keep the travel commentaries coming, loved the Puffin pics from yesterday.
From David Palazzolo — I stumbled over your blog on rv.net. I was wondering and hoping to see if you could give me any information on traveling to the Northeast, specifically Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. I am planning a two-week RV trip with my in-laws (both about 75 years of age). Would like to see things that are simple but fun.
I have planned to visit Ben and Jerry’s factory, LL Bean, Norman Rockwell museum, and a train ride. I am trying to make it a trip where my in-laws can roam and enjoy the sites. I am interested in neat places to take them to eat (mostly Mom and Pop places, or dives that have the best food).
Would you have any info that could help me or guide me in planning this type of travel. We like to know some things to avoid because it would be a waste of time. Not so much in a rush, but wanted to make this a trip of a lifetime with my in-laws. Hope to find a nice fishing spot where my and my father in law could spend a few hours. Any input will do. We are coming from the Cincinnati area up to Niagara Falls and then heading east.
BARRY’S REPONSE — Thanks for you note. I like your planning. The last blog I wrote before going into Canada was at http://blog.rv.net/2013/06/downeast-mid-coast-and-the-bold-coast/ and I wrote several before then about the areas where you are traveling. My Internet connection is less than optimal; doing further research at this time is annoying.
We stop at state travel centers when we get there during their open hours. Monique picks up brochures and asks questions of the staff members. Often they have interesting suggestions that we take.
We’re currently in Mentor, Ohio, heading west, having spent the past two days at Niagara Falls (the Canadian side is much better than the American side — take the Lewiston Bridge to save time – passports required). All the places you are planning to visit are good, although L.L.Bean was only an hour attraction. We mostly avoid the places set up for tourists, opting for some of the less renowned places along the way. Some are good; for some, we are ready to move on. You never know, and then again, your interests and the interests of your in-laws may be totally different from ours. While near Niagara, we stayed at 4-Mile Creek State Park and visited Old Fort Niagara, where we found the confusing history of the colonial era history interesting. Take the back-road scenic byways. The scenery is unforgettable.
I wish I could fish during our travels, but paying for a fishing license in every state gets very expensive. I bought a rod & reel when we went to Canada — the price tag is still on it.
One specific suggestion — Campobello Island near Eastport, Maine, will certainly be of interest to you and your in-laws. You get there through Lubec, but you need your passports to get there, since it’s in New Brunswick. (turn off your phone — international rates apply).
Thanks for you note — we’re rushing to get through dinner and into bed for the evening. It’s been another long day.day.