Susie Nash and Judy Harris, co-wagon masters
Our caravan gathered in early September in Branson, MO. We had a potluck dinner the first night to welcome everyone to the midwest. The Branson KOA provided a community room for our potluck, which also served free pancakes every morning. Caravan members began each day making plans over pancakes.
The first day in Branson we took a tour of the Shepherd of the Hills historic site and Inspiration Tower. We enjoyed a dinner show followed by an outdoor drama play based upon the book by Harold Bell Wright in 1907, which was turned into a movie in 1941. Some members of the group returned to the Tower the next day to enjoy the zip lines, which launched from 170’ in the air and reached speeds of up to 50 miles per hour!
Other members visited local musical shows and attractions, including the Million Dollar Quartet and a coaster ride (think of a bobsled on a roller coaster track). The less adventuresome partook at the recently opened Paula Deen restaurant on Lake Taneycomo, then enjoyed the water and laser show. We learned the lake was named from Taney County, MO, condensed into one word.
Many of the group took a cruise on the showboat Branson Belle on Table Rock Lake. The musical entertainment was very talented, and everyone enjoyed the show and dinner!
Silver Dollar City and Marvel Cave are local attractions. A smaller group enjoyed the next day browsing through vendor shops, riding the train, and hiking through the cave. There was a fierce water gun standoff between the guys and the girls from one of the water rides, with the cool water very welcome on the muggy summer day. The guys also enjoyed The Plunge log ride which plummeted into a pool of cool water. The evening provided a beautiful sunset at the campground!
The group enjoyed the show at the Dolly Parton Stampede, which was voted the number one dinner show in Branson. We enjoyed the horses and competition, and Allen King from our group was selected to come to the arena floor to compete in a horseshoe throwing contest (using toilet seats!).
The next stop for our caravan was Pawhuska, OK, home of The Pioneer Woman. The first night was another potluck, followed by a refreshing overnight rain. The next day, we visited the ranch where The Pioneer Woman is filmed. The ranch house had four bedroom-suites, two huge kitchens, and large storage areas for multiple sets of dishware and various appliances. After visiting the ranch, we gathered at her mercantile building for a two-hour wait for an unhealthy but very satisfying lunch. Some spent the wait time shopping, others enjoyed a local bar, while one took a much-needed nap.
After Pawhuska, the group traveled through Oklahoma City, staying in a campground in Moore, OK, which was completely wiped-out by a tornado in May 2013. Luckily the weather for us was calm, albeit very humid. The campground has been rebuilt with state-of-the art storm shelters for future safety.
We arrived in Amarillo, TX next and were shuttled to dinner in limos, complete with steer horns on the hood. We enjoyed yet another wonderful meal, this time at the Big Texan Steakhouse, home of the “free” 72 ounce steak. None of our group took the challenge to eat the steak and fixings within one hour for a free meal.
After Amarillo, we continued onward to Santa Fe, NM. We spent two nights there to enjoy the local sites. The group had one last meal together at Tomasita’s Mexican Restaurant. Thanks to Suzy Burwick for the excellent recommendation!
The following day, many of the caravan members met up with the next caravan in Durango, Colorado, for the next segment of the summer adventure.