Oasis in the Desert

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Small Towns - Big Stories

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream.  Discover." -- Mark Twain

Small towns in America have some of the most interesting histories. They are easy to miss and we often drive by without a second glance. One such town was Carthage, MO. Here were our experiences.
The Ozarks are a beautiful place and the history around Springfield is fascinating. We journeyed to Carthage, MO to buy a few things for our RV. Once shopping was done, we took a driving tour of this historic town. There were over 20 Victorian homes dating back to the 1800's on the tour.

This was also the site of the first full scale land battle of the Civil War. The battle preceded First Bull Run by 16 days. The Census of 1860 found 6,883 residents in this county. By the end of the war only 30 were left. The others had been killed or had fled.

I took a picture of the court house and posted it on this website. We went to lunch at Three To Eleven Restaurant located on the town square. The food was great! All in all a nice day to be out and about.

Next, a trip to Branson. We went to the Andy William's Christmas Show in Branson. It was great! We laughed, cried, and sang with Andy throughout the whole show. Maybe a little backtracking, I suppose. But, I do remember when Andy had his Chrismas show on TV -- many years ago. Anyway, it was fun... This trip we were on time for the IMAX movie "The Lewis and Clark Expedition".

Journeying back to Branson, we rode the Duck. It is Branson's original Land and Lake Show. We enjoyed a unique sightseeing adventure, rode to the top of a mountain for a scenic view of the Ozarks, took a beautiful Lake cruise and spent 80 minutes full of fun and valuable local information. Captain Crunch was our captain. He had a good sense of humor and kept us entertained throughout the trip. Captain Crunch let Cindy "take the wheel" while on Table Rock Lake. No damage or loss of life occurred during Cindy’s term at the wheel.

Friday, September 17, 2010

9 / 11 / 2001 - Barcelona Dreaming

Like Kennedy’s assignation, everyone remembers what they were doing on 9-11.  Cindy and I were living in our house in Ajijic, a small fishing village on the north shore of Lake Chapala (about 30 miles south of Mexico’s second largest city, Guadalajara).  We were watching one of the network channels when the second plane crashed into the World Trade Center (we had cable TV in Ajijic).  That day altered our life plan and brought us back to the USA.

We were in our second year of living in the Lake Chapala Area.  Its moderate climate had brought over 50,000 expatriates from all over the world to live in the area. Most of them were from Canada and the USA.  The favorite expression for the area was “It is 70 degrees F year round in the Lake Area except when it is 71”.

We were in the process of relocating to Barcelona, Spain.  Some of our international friends had traveled worldwide “Teaching English as a Foreign Language” (TEFL).  This intrigued us and we thought that it might be a great way to work our way around the world.  Cindy had her degree in Education (she taught in public and private schools for eleven years) and my degree was in Business.   All we needed was TEFL certification and we would be on our way.

Waterfront in Barcelona

Las Ramblas - Barcelona

There were TEFL certification schools in Guadalajara as well as the United States, but we wanted another exotic place to get our certification.  A school in Barcelona, Spain offered a 12-week certification program that guaranteed (upon graduation) a teaching position in Eastern Europe.  They also had rental apartments for their students at 25% of the going rate.  What a great way to experience Barcelona!  So, our plan was to hang out in Barcelona, take six hours of class five days a week for the next three months, and then take a six-month teaching position in Prague.  We visited Barcelona on a previous cruise and thought it to be a neat city to live and work.

Cruising the Mediterranean

Yeah, a Burger King in Barcelona

We had completed the application process, had our bags half packed, received confirmation from the school when the events of 9-11 happened.  The day after we were notified by the school that they had cancelled all American applications and were only taking applications from British citizens.  They also informed us that there was a Terrorist Cell in Prague and the state department discouraged all travel in the Czech Republic by American citizens.

A few days after 9-11, Cindy and I grew homesick for the USA, left Ajijic, and drove to Houston, TX.  There we spent the next 12 months.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Motorhome Journey through Mexico

We invite you to read previous blogs written on our RV trip in our motor home tour of Mexico. We started along the Mexican Gulf Coast down to the Belize border, then turning west to the Pacific Ocean, and finally driving north along the Pacific Coast back to the USA in the winter of 2009 (January – April). We wanted more so we took a summer trip by car from July through September with month long stays in Tequisquiapan and Oaxaca. You will find those in the blog archives on the right side of the page.

Another Adventure Unfolds In Branson MO

Before I discuss airlines, trains, ships and exotic places, I will make a few more comments about RVing. In 2005, we were sitting on our porch taking in the lake scene at sunset and admitted to ourselves we were bored and restless. Our lakefront home was beautiful and very comfortable. We had a knockout view of the 940 acre lake, and I had a stable and interesting job. Our finances were stable and we were even putting a few dollars away for the inevitable “rainy day”.

We obviously needed therapy to even consider what we were considering, but we put together a plan, proceeded to fill in the details, and started the implementation. We sold our home, most of our “stuff” and loaded the rest into our 5th wheel RV. We were going to fulltime all over North America!  Here is an accounting of that fateful day.

"The single greatest moment on any RV trip is the instant you turn the key on the ignition of your Motor home or tow vehicle and hear the engine roar to life. You are about to untether yourself from your fixed-based life, and you feel a surge of energy from deep within your soul. Adventure, excitement and discovery awaits you, and that's a feeling that nearly all RVers experience at each moment of departure."

Notes from August 5, 2005 : "Two weeks remain before we leave Oklahoma for Springfield, MO. Many things to do, but each day we seem to do something constructive. We both are anxious to have the transition complete and actually be on the road. Our first stop is Springfield, Missouri. We have accepted a position with Springfield KOA. Scott and Diane King are owner/managers and some of the greatest people you want to meet. We will be working two days a week (14 to 20 hours) and will have the opportunity to visit the sights around Springfield (including Branson). Rumor has it the Christmas at Silver Dollar City and Branson are both "once in a lifetime" events - not to be missed."

Notes from September 14, 2005:  Life has many turns and one must not take things too serious. We made it to Springfield, but the route was not as planned. As you may recall, we were leaving from Marlow, OK to Dallas TX, Shreveport LA, Hot Springs AR, and finally, Springfield MO. Hurricane Katrina and fate dealt a different hand. We had a few mishaps (an understatement) and a few bumps along the way. We finally got away from Marlow. OK and went straight to OKC, Tulsa, and Springfield. We arrived in Springfield and found that we had a lot of entertainment opportunities.

We settled in site #12 at the KOA Campground and set up housekeeping. The owners are very nice people and easy to work with. Our schedule is approximately 7 hours each (2 days) with 5 days off. We could work an extra day or two if we are needed.

We have had to opportunity to go to Wilson's Creek National Battlefield (a civil war battle) where Union forces under General Nathaniel Lyon and Southern Troops under Benjamin McCulloch met in combat along Wilson's Creek near Springfield.

The next adventure took us to Fantastic Caverns, America's only drive through cave.  Also, one must stop at the Bass Pro Shop in Springfield. A must see. It is the original and largest Pro Shop in the USA.

We have taken our second trip to Branson and saw the show "Lost in the 50's". Great production, we enjoyed it. We went on a tour of the Stone Hill Winery and lingered in the hospitality room too long. We were 15 minutes late for the IMAX production of "Lewis and Clark Expedition". Not a problem, we can catch it on our next trip down. Branson is about 40 miles from our kampsite. We both endorse ODEE'S Bar-B-Que Resturant for lunch 11am-2pm on the Branson Strip. Good Food, good price.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Are you sitting on the tailgate of life?

Are you sitting on the tailgate of life going along for the ride or did you move up to the driver's seat and go your way?

Friday, September 3, 2010


We invite you to read previous blogs written on a four month trip in our motor home tour of Mexico. We started from Brownsville, Texas driving along the Mexican Gulf Coast down to the Belize border, then turning west to the Pacific Ocean, and finally driving north along the Pacific Coast back to the USA in the winter of 2009 (January – April).

We wanted more so we took a summer trip by car from July through September with month long stays in Tequisquiapan and Oaxaca. You will find those in the blog archives on the right side of the page.