Friday, October 6, 2017

You know you are old when ...

We have two, nine-hour days in the car to get home. It is unlikely I will find something interesting to photograph unless I take leave photos when we reach the north.

We were talking about the various trips we have taken over the years. Cindy noted that we used to bring back beers we could not purchase locally. Coors was a big deal when we were younger. New Orleans It was Abita from New Orleans if my beer memory is still sharp. No beer this trip. We are returning with several cases of mineral water from Hot Springs. We have unflavored (which is lime) and blackberry/pomegranate. We were rewarded for our large purchase by an extra four-pack we could consume on the road.

You know you are old when you return home with several cases of water.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Travel and tires

Today was a teaching day so we had no other plans than to check into a motel for quality wifi. However, in unhooking the rPod at the Hot Springs National Park campground I noticed a problem with a tire on the camper. Since we were in a community with several tire shops and the tire was not of an unusual type, we were in good shape.

We have had frequent problems with tires on our road trips. During the last outing with the rPod, we ran over a screw with the car. The tire could not be fixed and because the car is all wheel drive, the tires have to be very close to the same size. Big SUVs have expensive tires and the bill for four was over a thousand dollars. The camper tire was inexpensive in comparison.

We went through three tires on our old camper on an Alaska trip, but that was back in the days of driving on gravel.

I do know how to change a tire and have done so many times. However, this process used to be far easier and I can say I did not regret being able to just drive to the tire store.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Hot Springs, AR

Hot Springs, Arkansas, is the tourist remains of a town built because of hot and smelly water. This water bubbled up through cracks in the ground at a temperature of 140+ and was regarded as having therapeutic properties because of the dissolved chemicals. The therapeutic properties brought visitors looking for cures for various ailments. At the heights of popularity, the main street consisted of opulent bathhouses and associated medical services. Eventually, the medicinal capabilities of mineral waters fell into dispute, the bathhouses fell into disrepair, and most services shut down.

The National Parks service pretty much saved the community as a historical site and things have been rebuilt and restored. You can still soak in the hot water, but most such experiences come with a massage, pedicure, etc. I passed, but in my younger days, we did try the natural hot waters of other locations. The hot water is not recommended for those with various medical conditions and I did not bring my suit.

Cindy noted that the male bathing area was more ornate. From the artifacts still on display, I must agree.

Evidently, the hot water soaks were so relaxing you were pretty much shot for the rest of the day. To accommodate this condition, the bathhouses typically had large from porches with rocking chairs allowing guests to cool and recover. 

Monday, October 2, 2017

Suffering Soccotash

The adventure of the day was visiting Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO. Branson is a tourist "destination" supporting the entertainment needs of citizens from the central United States. If Disney or Dollywood are beyond your means and you live in Iowa, Minnesota, etc., you head for Branson.

Silver Dollar City is one of the Branson attractions. It is pretty much a theme park. I guess until now I never seriously considered just what being a theme park means. Evidently, it means you have a theme. This makes some sense - Dollywood has Dolly, Disney has Minnie and Mickey, and Universal has various movies. The Silver Dollar City theme is a bit unclear to me, but the owners do profit greatly so maybe silver dollar somehow fits.

It was supposed to be Cowboy Days at the park. Now, when the theme of a theme park changes, it can be difficult to adapt all attractions to the new theme. I guess there were a few folks in cowboy hats and I heard  "Home on the Range" (which I happen to know is a real place in North Dakota), but must of the park was probably just the same as when it was time for the Moonshine Festival. From what I can see of Missouri, the Moonshine festival seems more local.

One of the unique characteristics of this park is the various craftsman (and women) creating and selling their crafts. This was one of the more interesting to watch. Some guy dressed in a cowboy costume was operating a lathe while some other bigger and younger guy was turning this giant wheel to power the lathe. I never did get the deal with lathes. The options for products seems kind of limited. You can make table legs, rolling pins, and baseball bats, but what then. If I were a wannabe craftsman, I would look for a craft with more options.

Theme parks cater to all ages and must provide something for everyone. A good part of most parks is taken up by rides of various types. These are not intended for old folks who do not have the stomach for such experiences and have difficulty enough standing up as it is and do not need their equilibrium compromised.

As far as I can tell, the options for the old folks consist of music of the type the park operators think appeal to this group (mostly fiddles and accordions and hillbilly family singing groups) and stuff to eat. Stuff to eat is a big one. There is always fudge and you cannot go wrong with salt water taffy. There were also some unique offerings here and I had the opportunity to eat succotash for the first time. With a little hot sauce, it was pretty good.

I knew succotash was a food and I knew that corn was a main ingredient, but that was about it. I knew that some cartoon character used to yell "suffering succotash", but aside from sounding funny this item of trivia offered little insight. Now I can add eating succotash to my list of life accomplishments.

On to a new destination.

Friday, September 29, 2017

I should not complain, but ...

I understand that not having access to the internet for a few days or hours may be good for me. I understand that I am not actually suffering and I have plenty of options to entertain myself. Still, the Missouri State Parks should not make a big deal out of providing internet as a new feature of their modernization efforts if their internet is not working.

We moved our camper to Branson, MO. Yes, I understand that this is a super tourist area with water parks, duck boats, country singers, salt water taffy, etc. and I know my kids will laugh at us for calling this a camping adventure, but after complaining about no internet I might as well go all of the way.

Back to the internet thing. There were signs in the office and I was given a brochure. It explained that the state recognized that many folks like to check their email and post pictures of their adventures on  Facebook. Who would not want to visit Missouri after viewing my photos? The brochure gave basic advice on how to connect to the hotspots that are available on the roofs of each shower building and warned visitors that you might want to consider not making credit card purchases and might want to install a virus protector. I hiked around the campground sitting outside several shower buildings without luck. I mentioned the problem to a couple of maintenance girls. They pointed at the devices on top of the building, but I suggested they try their phones if they did not believe me. They said they would tell someone. It is really just the principle of the thing. We have our own mobile hotspot and our phones would work to allow us to connect using our computers or iPads. It is just the principle of the thing. If they just did not have that brochure.

On another topic. it is national coffee day. Of the many special celebrations that are possible, I never miss national coffee day.

I paid my respects by purchasing a couple of no fat lattes and an unusual apple thing that I could have with ice cream or a slice of cheese. The barista said that folks up north sometimes eat their apple pie with a slice of cheese. I said that I did know that, but I prefer ice cream.

OK - moving on.