April 30, 2013

Owensville and St. Louis, Missouri

Spent nearly a week in an isolated park near Owensville, Missouri, called Lost Valley Lake Resort.

Lake Valley Lake Resort entrance sign

Did I mention that we were isolated?

Not only were we isolated, but we barely had cell coverage and no internet unless we drove over to the Club House. 

The Lost Valley Lake with a couple of fisherman hanging out.

Beautiful clouds and countryside in the area.

But then the rains came -- and the cold temperatures -- and we froze for three days. Had to dig out the portable heater again to try to keep warm.

On Thursday, April 25, we drove about 90 miles to the St. Louis, Missouri area. We are actually staying in the Cahokia RV Parque that is right across the Mississippi River on the Illinois side.  

St. Louis is known for its famous 630-foot Arch historically marking the "Gateway to the West." Obviously, we loved taking all kinds of pictures of the Arch.

 The Arch as seen through the flowers in the surrounding park.

A close-up of the Arch

Another view

 I didn't realize that one can actually go up to the top of the arch, which is what we did on Monday.

We had to duck through a small opening to get into the tram
that slowly took us up to the top of the Arch. Each little room
seats five people.  Very tight quarters. Coming back down,
though, went very fast.

There are very tiny windows at the top of the Arch
that allow visitors to take pictures through them.
This is the view looking over the Mississippi River.

This is the view looking towards downtown St. Louis,
showing the famous old Courthouse in the center.

The park setting near the Arch

This is a view of the Eads Bridge built in 1874.
It was the first cantilevered bridge built.

We took this picture from the Illinois side of the 
Mississippi River after the rains stopped.

This man-made geyser goes off three times a day
and reaches over 600 feet in the air.

One last picture of the Arch.

The weather is now getting into the 80s. We are tracking our friends, John and Marijean, who left California a few days ago in their motorhome and will be joining us in this park on Wednesday. So looking forward to seeing them again. 

Live the life you love!

April 18, 2013

Branson, Missouri

First of all, we grieve with our nation over the senseless tragedy in Boston on Monday. We watched the interfaith service on television this morning and thought it was wonderful.

We think that it was Lanny from Grand Isle who said "everyone has to do Branson once." We did not know what he meant then, but we do now. Branson appears to us as a mini-Vegas, but without the gambling. There are 350 eating places and 30 theaters with over 100 shows. At least 25% of the shows are "tribute" shows -- such as a "tribute" to Neil Diamond, Elvis, Patsy Cline, Hank Williams, the Eagles, Abba, etc. There are also lots of comedy and gospel music shows. At this point in our life, we have seen enough of those shows.

We are staying at the Treasure Lake Resort. It is huge, with 573 RV parking sites. In fact, it took us 40 minutes of driving around the place in our vehicle to find "just the right spot." You'd think that we would be staying for a month instead of only four days.

Parked at the Treasure Lake Resort in Branson, Missouri

Branson has only about 6,000 people, but with the tourists that must flock to this area, who knows how many people come here during the summer time. The town is built on hills, and that part is nice.
We found a relatively new area down by the waterfront (Lake Taneycomo) and spent an afternoon walking around the place.

Restaurant on the waterfront in Branson, MO

 Newly developed shopping center on the waterfront in Branson, MO

More of the waterfront

Other than that, we experienced another severe thunderstorm yesterday and last night. Just prior to the storm, the temperature was 83 degrees. Today it is 44 degrees and is expected to get down to 29 degrees tonight. Once, we have to bring out the portable heater from down below. Needless to say, there were lots of tornado watch and flood warnings again. Both of us are very tired today as we were up half the night with Chanti who doesn't exactly embrace these thunderstorms.

This was some of the fog we drove through to get here on Monday.

We are pulling out of here tomorrow and heading to another place still in Missouri. So far, the weather report predicts no rain or wind, which is a good thing.

Enjoy the life you love!

April 14, 2013

Ruston, Louisiana, Lake Catherine State Park near Hot Springs, and Little Rock, Arkansas

After leaving Baton Rouge, we spent our last three days in Louisiana at the Lincoln Parish Park near Ruston, Louisiana.

We parked right along the water.

This park has lots of walking trails around the lake.

Then, on Tuesday (April 9), we finally left Louisiana after spending nearly 9 weeks off and on in that state. When we started this trip, if someone would have said that we would spend 9 weeks in Louisiana, we would have said "no way." Goes to show what we know. Louisiana is a beautiful state and we really enjoyed our time exploring all it has to offer.

On to Arkansas! 

Taken out of the RV window as we crossed over into Arkansas.

Parked at Lake Catherine State Park
near Hot Springs, Arkansas.

When we arrived, the weather was beautiful -- in the low 70s. But that turned on us as a major storm moved from the Central States to the East. At the time the storm started on Wednesday (April 10), the temperature was 83 degrees with high humidity. It wasn't long before our NOAA radio and the park host warned us of possible tornadoes heading our way. And, yes, tornadoes touched down in Arkansas and Mississippi, damaging over 75 homes and killing at least one person. This is what my weather map on my cell phone looked like.

Within one hour, the temperature dropped from 83 degrees to 48 degrees, and went down to 39 later that night. We had just put away our portable heater for the spring, but had to pull it back out again. Luckily, we survived another weather incident.

Since the storm, the temperatures have stayed in the low 60s during the day time and in the high 30s at night.

On one of the days, we drove into Hot Springs to check out the place. Bill Clinton once lived in Hot Springs as shown by the local sign in town.

Hot Springs is known for, yes, its hot springs! Believe us, the water is hot and springs up from the earth. Years ago, 65,000 people a year would come to Hot Springs for the hot baths. The bath houses still line the street. 

Steam from the hot springs.

Hot spring water falls

The town also created long walkways for the people
to stroll on after coming out of the hot spring bath houses.

Continuation of the walkway.

Street showing the line of bath houses, 
one after another. Today, because of more knowledge
on healthy living, fewer than 6,000 people now
frequent the bath houses each year.

The locals fill their jugs with free artisan well water.

The Hotel Arlington in downtown Hot Springs.
Famous because Al Capone once stayed there.

There are long walking paths through the woods and water falls at the Lake Catherine State Park.

You first have to cross this swinging bridge.
Chanti did not like this bridge as it moved when
we were walking on it.

Water falls along the walking path

A bench on which to rest and enjoy the view

We left Lake Catherine State Park yesterday (Saturday) and drove 72 miles to Little Rock, Arkansas. Got a very nice place at the Riverside RV Park right on the Arkansas River.

Parked at the Riverside RV Park in Little Rock, Arkansas

We see downtown Little Rock from the front of our RV

And, this is the night time view of downtown Little Rock

Frankly, the main reason we wanted to come to Little Rock was to see the William J. Clinton Presidential Center. And that is what we did today.

To get to the Clinton Center, we walked across the 
Clinton Bridge (to the left of our RV on the above photo).
No need to drive to it as it was within walking distance
from the RV Park.

And this is the Clinton Center that you see 
as you exit the bridge.

Oval Office as it was when President Clinton occupied it.

Ready for dinner with Presidential plates?

View from the second floor of the Clinton Center,
looking towards downtown Little Rock.

Sun going down along the Arkansas River
and the walkway along the river.

On to Missouri tomorrow.

Have a great week ahead, everyone!

April 6, 2013

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Had to say good-bye to Michelle and Lanny (and a few other guests of the Island House RV Park) before we left Grand Isle on Monday.

Picture we took of Michelle and Lanny
before we left.

And, how could we forget Baby Girl who actually
came over to us to say "good-bye."
(She knew we were leaving.)

Driving off of the island on the new 8-mile bridge on Monday.

We arrived at the Farr Park Equestrian Center and RV Campground in Baton Rouge later that afternoon, and spent the week exploring Baton Rouge. We both agree. Baton Rouge is in our top five favorite cities that we have visited. It is a beautiful city right on the Mississippi River, not too large and not too small. And, there is so much to do. It seems that every weekend there is some event scheduled. And, there are lots of biking trails, art museums, plantations, casinos, and more eating places than you can imagine. Not sure we would want to be here in the summertime, though. So we took lots of pictures.

Visited the Old State Capitol the first day.

First floor of the Old State Capitol

Second floor of the Old State Capitol

Walkway along the Mississippi River

The USS Kidd WW-11 Destroyer
 with the bridge in the background

We also visited the Louisiana Art & Science Museum, Planetarium, and the Ancient Egypt Gallery. We really enjoyed the Egyptian artifacts, including seeing an actual 2,300-year-old mummy. I mean we saw the actual face!! We were not allowed to take any pictures.

We were determined to see at least one plantation. There were lots to choose from. So we read the reviews posted by other people on the various plantations and settled in on Houmas House, also called "The Sugar Palace." It had its beginnings in the 1770's.

The Houmas House Plantation and Gardens

Our guide in period custom was named Susan.

The clock on the mantel once belonged
to Marie Antoinette.

This statute of Abraham Lincoln was so real, you could feel
the veins in his hand. No wonder. It was sculptured by Gutzon
Borglum, the same guy who did Mount Rushmore in Rapid City.
He did four of these statutes, but only two are still around.
Doesn't it seem odd that one of these rare valuable statutes of 
Lincoln resides in the south?

Yes - Opium, Morphine, and Arsenic were
freely available back then.

Part of the Houmas House gardens

More of the Houmas House gardens

Today, we attended a local Art Fest where we saw
beautiful pottery, jewelry, paintings and photographs.
(Love the trees in this area.)

Current Louisiana State Capitol Building

Each of the steps leading up to the Capitol building contains
the name of a State and the year it was admitted to the union.

The legislative room on the first floor of the Capitol.

This is Baton Rouge (looking East) as seen from the 27th floor 
of the State Capitol Building.

Looking South into downtown Baton Rouge

Showing the barges on the Mississippi River

A river tug boat at dock on the Mississippi River
as the sun is setting over the river near our RV park

Well, Mr. Jerry and Miss Mary (as we have been called over and over again here in the South) will be starting up the RV and heading further North tomorrow to Arkansas. 

Have a great week ahead, everyone.