For our second RV trip, we decided we were ready to venture a little farther from home. Missouri seemed like a good choice since we had a double reason for traveling there; we wanted to volunteer our services at a camp that was giving camper-ships to four children from our church, and we wanted to check out Branson. Of course, we learned a few more lessons about RV life. The main takeaway was that this area of the country is not only very hot but also very humid in July and August. Once again, we found ourselves drenched in sweat as we sampled the staggering amount of notable places to see and activities to partake in. We were also filled with awe at how breathtakingly beautiful the Ozarks are (and how gorgeous the views would be in the autumn). Our plan was to head to the camp and work for the first half of the trip, then have fun later. Fortunately, our experience at the camp was wonderful and we were even able to venture out and visit some nearby attractions.
Roy’s mom was with us for the first part of the trip since she was volunteering at the camp too. We picked her up on our way out of town and headed towards St. Louis. Our goal was to stay somewhere around Rolla that night, and then drive the rest of the way to camp the next morning. I have an app on my phone that I really love called RV Parky. I checked it out for possible sites where we could spend our first night, but ended up using Google to find a sweet little RV park, Pheasant Acres, in St. James. It was small, clean, and lovingly run by one of the nicest ladies I ever met, Sherry Swanson. As you can see from the photos below, it is as cute as a button. It used to be a pheasant farm and now its clientele are interested in nearby trout fishing and hunting. There is a lot of history surrounding it as well. According to Sherry, the Cherokees walked right through the front of her property while journeying on the Tail of Tears. We drove into nearby Rolla for dinner and ate at a restaurant right on old Route 66. It specialized in BBQ and was named Bandanas. Later we discovered it was part of a chain that has locations all over Missouri, but we were all pretty happy with it that night. Another lesson: we found out the couches that jacknive out to make beds, aren’t all that comfy due to the dent in the middle that results when they are unfolded. We offered Roy’s mom our bed, but God bless her, she wouldn’t take it. We remedied the situation by getting an egg crate mattress cover from Walmart but I wish I would have realized we needed it before that first night.
The next morning we waved bye to Sherry and drove the rest of the way to the camp. They had never had any volunteers arrive in an RV before, so it was a new experience for everyone. Our designated spot was in back of the pool area where there was a place to hook up to fresh water and some electrical outlets. We had to go down a hill and under some trees to get to the site. Lesson three: low hanging branches will tear off an air horn! I was directing Roy with a walkie talkie when one of the horns fell down to the ground. I’m afraid to say that the words that came out of my mouth broke one of the ten commandments! But we made a happy discovery too. When we first got the RV the dealership said it ran off 50 amp power, but we could use 30 amp with the adapter they provided. None of the electrical outlets behind the pool matched either the 50 or 30 amp plugs. We were a bit worried about the prospect of 10 days without electricity. No air conditioning would be a problem since we had our dog Vanilla with us. It seemed like a right idea to be there, and we knew there had to be an answer. I think we were all praying silently when Roy discovered another adapter he never realized was there with the electrical cord. It fit into the plug and we were suddenly and successfully connected to 110 volt power. We were careful only to run 1/2 the air conditioning at a time and not to plug in any appliances like a hair dryer while having the AC on. We spent a happy 10 days parked there, and even had some occasions where we ventured out of the camp to see some sights.
If you know Roy, you know his favorite time in history! Yep – it’s the Civil War! We were both pretty excited to visit Wilson’s Creek Battlefield run by the National Park Service. We agreed it was worth the drive away from camp even though it took us south and west of Springfield. It features a five mile loop with eight stops that can be either walked or traveled by car. Because it was about 100 degrees, we opted to ride in our jeep – but we did get out and walk the small side trails that led to points of interest. The bed where they laid out the first Union general to be killed in the war is still there, along with a farm house and spring that was right in the middle of the battle. Reenactors were on hand to do cannon demonstrations. There is also a very well done film at the Visitor’s Center that explains the battle.
Another fun activity we did was visit Big Surf Water Park in Linn Creek.
What a huge place! It was perfect to beat the blazing Missouri heat. There were eight different areas that ranged from thrilling to relaxing. My favorite was the Lazy River where people just sit and float in an inner tube. I actually went on it four times. The kids loved something they called the toilet bowl, but I think it’s really named Space Bowl. A word to the wise – the wave pool has the potential to be a bit dangerous. Roy’s mom thought someone said it was the “Wade Pool” and she was all happy for the first ten minutes. Then the wave machine started up and I ended up dragging her to safety as the waves kept washing over her head! The many life guards on hand just viewed the whole episode without much interest. Lesson there: watch your kids closely.
After Big Surf a group of us went out to dinner in Osage Beach at Domenico’s an Italian restaurant that’s claim to fame is flame broiled prime rib. One of the ladies we were with said it was the best steak she ever had. I felt under dressed but still enjoyed my pasta.
Our working days at camp just flew by. Roy loved being part of the maintenance crew – especially the camaraderie with all the guys. I learned a lot working in the kitchen. The other ladies and I cracked hundreds of eggs, peeled multiple pounds of potatoes, assembled stacks of sandwiches, and made tons of food to feed 300 plus hungry kids. At the end of our ten day stint, we packed up the RV, pulled out and headed for Branson!
I’d love to hear about anyone else’s experiences at the above places or in the Ozarks! Please comment below!
Just for fun, here are some links to some other Yates social media sites: