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Weekend Trip to St. Louis – Part I – Full-Time RV Life

Breakfast at Rooster’s, downtown St. Louis, and the City Museum, oh, my!  This flexible lifestyle is the best–it allows for impromptu adventures, like a weekend trip to the great city of St. Louis.  While staying in Branson, we decided to kidnap the ‘kids’ (oldest daughter and her significant other) and make the four-hour drive to the Arch.

St. Louis could easily take at least a week to experience all the wonders the city has to offer, but we only had three days and two of them were for travel back and forth.  We experienced as much as we could in that timeframe, and I think we made an impressive dent.  We stayed at the St. Louis Park RV Park, which was right down town in thick of things.

The plan first thing Saturday morning was getting some breakfast with ambiance.  After researching on line, Dani (oldest daughter) found the Rooster–a crepe and sandwich breakfast restaurant.  It was perfect.  We got to sit outside and experience downtown in real time.  The company was exceptional and the food was delicious, too.

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Very nice “downtown” ambiance.

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Love those faces.

 

After breakfast, we walked downtown and admired the architecture of the older buildings in the city.

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The next stop was the most fun and intricate museum I’ve ever seen.  The City Museum is a mesmerizing piece of art–there are airplanes, busses on the roof, giant ball pits, a 9-story slide, hidden tunnels, wrought-iron curved stairways winding through multiple rooms, a ferris wheel, and all kinds of oddities to enjoy.  There were mazes and slides for the kids with hidden caverns, caves to examine, and rocks to climb.  This museum could take all day to tackle completely and still not encompass everything.  While we were only there for a couple short hours, many more could have been spent exploring.  There is something for everyone, and it’s simply amazing to be a part of the hustle and bustle in this unique space.

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An unassuming entrance, but once those doors are opened…

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Watch out school bus–you’re going to fall off the roof.

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Mike had to get behind the wheel to see if he could save it.

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An intimidating view from the passenger seat.

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Just one of the big slides – this one’s on the roof.

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There were even little gardens and fountains to scamper through.

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There was no telling where the tunnels might end.

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A tunnel with multi-faceted mirrors.

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A real bank vault – an obstacle in a labyrinth of mazes.

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There was even a human-sized hamster wheel.

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Just one of the many wrought-iron multi-floor/room tunnels for the kids (and brave parents).

St. Louis was proving to be an exciting city to visit, and we were only up to 2:00 p.m.  Part II will include our visit to the riverfront, The Gateway Arch, and the Old Courthouse.

Still catching up on blogs from Missouri.  I’m getting closer!  Safe travels to you.

 

Where we are currently:  In Michigan for two more days.

Where we are headed:  Indiana, then Louisiana.

Blog Post Location:  St. Louis, Missouri.

While we have no videos from St. Louis, you can keep up with us on YouTube at RandomBitsRV.

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America’s Best Campground – Branson, MO – Full-Time RV Life

We stayed for two months in the Branson, Missouri, area visiting family.  We stayed at America’s Best Campground as our home base to discover the area, enjoy the local life, and visit family.

Below is our experience and opinions of this RV resort.

PRICE POINT, CLEANLINESS, AND APPEARANCE:  The monthly rate was $575, which was reasonable for a tourist area.  There were Good Sam and veteran discounts available.  The park was clean, well-manicured, and very large.  The office was easily accessed upon check-in and check-out and had convenient hours for shopping and asking questions.

EASE OF ENTERING AND EXITING THE SITE AND ACCESS TO HOOKUPS:  Since our stay was on a monthly basis, we received a back-in site on the edge of the park.  It was quiet and nestled in some trees, and there was a reasonable distance from our neighbors.  The access to hookups was easy and leveling was a breeze.

AMENITIES/WI-FI:  The park had a small pool, a hot tub, playground for children with a basketball court, and a game room.  There were also bathhouses, restrooms, and laundry facilities that were all meticulously clean.  They also had RV/car wash area to knock off the road dirt.

Wi-Fi was typical campground fare–advertised as great, but good enough only for slow e-mail.

Warning that pet areas were full of both poison ivy and ticks, as they are located in the wooded areas around the edges of the park and not maintained.   That was really our only negative experience.  With a two-month stay, we extracted numerous ticks and battled poison ivy that if mowed down could have been avoided.  We finally gave up and took the dog to do her business around the bathhouse and laundry facilities.

FRIENDLINESS OF STAFF:  The staff was exceptionally friendly.  We were greeted with smiles and they were extremely helpful.  We receive monthly medications via Federal Express that need refrigerated.  They didn’t just call when the package had been delivered, they immediately brought it to our door.

We were also there during a 2:00 a.m. tornado warning.  When the sirens started going off, they campground staff made sure everyone was evacuated to safety in the garage under the camp office.  All of our neighbors were soaking wet and in their pajamas, but, thanks to the campground staff, we were all safe and sound until the warning passed.

WOULD WE STAY AGAIN:  If we visit the Branson area again, we would definitely stay at America’s Best.  It is centrally located to all of the tourist attractions and the natural getaways that the Branson area has to offer.

Things to do while in the Branson area:  Branson Scenic Railway, Big Cedar Lodge and Top of the Rock, Laura Ingalls Wilder Home and Museum, and even a bit of Cheese Whiz.

America’s Best Campground is a fun place to call ‘home’ in Branson, Missouri.

 

RV Camping at Bambi Lake – Roscommon, Michigan – Full-Time RV Life

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One of the lake views from the campground

Mike and I found a hidden gem of a campground in Northern Michigan.  We came to this beautiful state to visit my dad and stepmom and our good friends, Mick and Jackie, whom we’ve known for many years.

Mick recently took over management of Bambi Lake Retreat and Conference Center–an amazing piece of property that offers so much for RVers and outdoor enthusiasts.  I’m going to post Mike’s video narrative and will add a few notes of my own at the end (you can view the video by clicking here:  RandombitsRV.

Mike:  “Dawn and I are camping in The beautiful Bambi Lake Retreat and Conference Center.  Located in Roscommon Michigan,  Bambi Lake is only six miles from  interstate 75.

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Entrance to Bambi Lake

The 240-acre property is owned and meticulously cared for by the Baptist State Convention of Michigan.   While the property is owned by a faith-based organization, I’m here to tell you that Bambi Lake is open to the public and everyone is welcome.  Just be mindful that Bambi Lake features an atmosphere, suitable for your entire family.

The campground is quietly nestled in the back of the property.  It offers  27 tent and RV Sites.  Each site is spacious and includes 30 amp electric service, and water,  along with fire rings and picnic tables.   Two sites offer 50 amp service.  With Northern Michigan’s mild climate and very little need for air conditioning, you’ll find that 30 amp service is all you’ll need.  There is an RV dump station on-site with easy access. You will need to bring some RV leveling blocks, as most of the property contains gentle slopes and rolling hills.

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Clean and Easily Accessible Bath House at Campground

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Launch a Rowboat and Go Fishing from the Dock at the Campground or from the Lake Beach

The entire campground is covered with huge majestic hardwood trees, and is adjacent  to  State of Michigan forest property, which is also available for your day use.  As an added bonus, you are only five miles away from the Huron National Forest.

The wild-life at Bambi Lake is plentiful with an abundance of deer, black squirrels, and chipmunks, wild turkeys woodpeckers, and even an occasional bear.

There are plenty of activities available for the entire family.   The crystal clear spring-fed lake features beautiful refreshing water next to a sandy swimming beach.   Adjacent to the beach is a  mini-marina, with plenty of canoes, rowboats and paddle boats that are free and available for use.  The lake is stocked, with various game fish. Not into water sports? Be sure to play a few rounds of mini-golf on site.

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The Activity Shack has Mini Golf Clubs, Basketballs, Volleyballs – Whatever Your Sports Interests

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It’s Fun To Do A Few Holes on the Mini Golf Course

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Paddleboat, Rowboat, Kayak – Fish, Swim, Float – It’s All There for Your Enjoyment

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The property also features a network of trails through its forested landscape, and is great for exploring this heavily wooded area on foot or all terrain vehicle. During our visit, The price was a very affordable $25 per night. While the campground is situated at the opposite end of the property from the main entrance,  daylight arrival is recommended, as there are many trees through-out camping area. While the roads are narrow, I was able to navigate our 40’ diesel pusher safely into our site.  There is also a huge playground to keep your little campers delighted for hours.  Also during our visit,  construction was well underway on a  huge lakeside waterslide, that will launch your medium and adult sized campers into the  clear water of  Lake.    Oh,  did I also mention firewood is in great supply, and there is usually no charge.

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A Children’s Dream – Noah’s Ark Awaits the Imagination of a Child

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A Quiet Spot for Parents to Watch Playing Children – Horseshoe Area Close By

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Spend a Day At the Beach – Large Water Slide Currently Being Constructed

If  you are just passing through the area and simply need a place to pull off and sleep for the evening, just a few feet from the main entrance there is a very large field, which is perfect for a short overnight stay,  otherwise known as boondocking to the RV community.   Please call for availability.   While there is no published fee, small contributions are always greatly appreciated.

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A Great Place to Boondock For a Good Night’s Sleep While Traveling – Located Only Six Miles from I-75

Bambi Lake continues to be  well known for its Retreat, and Conference Center.   The multi-use Conference Center  with its multiple lodging capabilities is a perfect getaway for Corporate or faith-based retreats and is ideal for a family reunion or getaway.   It offers  beautiful and modern facilities with multiple lodging,  meeting, and dining capabilities.  The lodge (currently undergoing renovations) has a beautiful relaxing balcony overlooking the lake.  It contains several meeting and break-out rooms, game rooms, and a warm cozy fireplace is always within reach.  While the Conference and Retreat Center has been a longtime favorite past-time of Northern Michigan, Bambi Lake is under new and highly skilled management, and is generating a new focus on family camping and public access.

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With all of the genuine hospitality and enticing features that Bambi Lake has to offer,  is there any wonder why  Bambi Lake Retreat and Conference Center is our new favorite RV destination?  I invite you to come and experience Bambi Lake life for yourself.”

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Dawn: I love this campground.  It’s quiet and peaceful.  We’ve had a few days being the only ones in the park and Lexie (our bullmastiff) has been able to run off leash.  It’s amusing to see her romp outside, trying to catch squirrels and jump after the woodpeckers.  In the mornings, I walk the nature trails through thick forest.  I love to stand totally still without making a noise.  In a few moments, the chipmunks come out to play, the birds start to chirp and go about their business in the trees, and occasionally there is the rustling and distant view of a doe and fawn.  I’ve seen tracks of deer, coyotes or fox, and even bear.  The morning hikes are becoming exceptionally pretty as the leaves are starting to change and reveal a full spectrum of colors.

The video doesn’t mention the grounds have a shooting range, an outdoor prayer chapel that looks over rolling hills and forests, a horseshoe area, or how fun the ORV trails are to roam.  In the winter, the gym is flooded with water and used as an ice skating rink.

Most of all, there are so many quiet places to be alone, reflect, and commune with the natural beauty all around.  We can highly recommend a quiet rowboat sunset lake excursion–the lap of the oars and the colors of the setting sun are relaxing and soothing.

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The camp is centrally located and within driving distance to the Mackinac Bridge and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Traverse City, Alpena on the shore of Lake Huron–all are within driving distance.

Mike and I have enjoyed our time in beautiful Michigan visiting my dad and stepmom as well as the time with Mick and Jackie.  We’ve also made wonderful friends with our campground neighbors.  It will be sad to leave here, but we will be back.  The evening campfires and lure of Bambi Lake Life are calling us to spend more time in the warm months next year.

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Safe travels, Dawn

P.S.  The photos and video of Bambi Lake are much better than my words can convey. Please watch the video here:  RandombitsRV.

Contact Information:  Bambi Lake Retreat and Conference Center, 3468 East Robinson Road, Roscommon, Michigan  48653, Telephone:  989-275-5844, e-mail:  Mick@bscm.org

A Random Bit of RV Closet Organization – Full-Time RV Life

My tiny RV closet is always a mess.  I have rearranged and reorganized it four times since we hit the road in January.   The problem is, I can’t seem to keep it neat and tidy and it drives me nuts.

I had an unexpected chunk of time available on Saturday to reorganize with some new items to assist in making the space more functional.  I decided to take video instead of photographs so I could keep my hands busy.  While my camera presence is a little lacking (okay, a lot lacking), there may be a tip or two in there that could help with small space issues.

Please take a look here at RandomBitsRV on YouTube.   If you have additional suggestions on how to tackle my messy closet, I would love to hear them.

 

I Spilled Coffee on My MacBook Pro – Finding Perspective – Full-Time RV Life

I spilled coffee on my MacBook Pro.  The scream of pure terror, regret, and irritation at my own clumsiness was desperate, loud, and bone chilling.  I cried.  I got sick to my stomach.  I felt the physical stress resulting in headaches, visual disturbances, jaw clenching, and tense muscles.  The hours leading up to discovering what damage I’d caused were excruciating.

Yes, it’s only a computer.  No, it wasn’t a family member that I maimed with my Sunday cup of hot coffee laden with wonderful vanilla cream and honey.  But, in a very real way, it was my life.  My photos, videos, manuscripts, e-mail, ancestry records–all of it.

That was last week, and when everything dried out and the damage could be assessed, my beloved electronic gadget still worked.  I could still connect to Wi-Fi.  My keyboard, while sluggish at first, burst into life and followed the commands of my fingers.  My photos were still intact.  My videos were still there.  The only thing gone was a fried bluetooth module.  We weren’t near an Apple store, so I would need to work around the issue until we could get it fixed.

Until today, when I realized my photos weren’t transferring over to my computer and I would need to do it manually.  Just sync them, right?  I did that.  Between the transfer of my iPhone to my MacBook Pro, the ‘electronic’ brains ganged up on me and decided on their own what photos they wanted saved and what ones they wanted in Never-Never Land.  I lost at least half of my photos, if not more.

I have blog posts to write with planned pictures to go along with them.  I was going to write one today about meeting with another blogger couple who Mike and I recently met for dinner.  I had lovely sunrise photos of a cold and foggy Michigan morning that are all gone.   I took pictures of my dad and stepmother for a future post about them.   We photographed a beautiful Fireman’s Memorial I planned to write about in honor to the first responders all across our nation who picked up everything and volunteered to help in the Texas floods.  Those photos are gone.

I can live with this, truly, I can (I keep telling myself).  It’s not the end of the world and I will adjust and come up with a solution.  I can adapt and survive–I may not be happy about it, but I will do it.  Blogs without photos will have to be okay.

It brought to mind how everything as we know it can disappear in a moment.  My digital life is nothing compared to people who have lost their homes, their livelihood, family members, and sense of security.  My struggles are nothing compared to those who fight for their ability to survive or fight to regain what they’ve lost.

It put things in perspective for me, of course.  It made me embarrassed for being so upset over something that, in reality, isn’t that important.   The loss of data reminded me that memories are forever in my heart, cherished moments with family are always a part of me, and to be fully present in every single adventure.  All of the data is still there where it matters–it’s filed away on a permanent hard drive that makes me who I am.

The floods in Texas have put perspective in the hearts of many.  Watching the way everyday people have become heroes has been inspiring.  So many first responders from all over the country dropped everything to assist.  Other states have sent help with gas, oil, etc.  Churches and private organizations have donated food, personal items, clothing, etc.  Carpenters, builders, and other talented workers have signed up for the rebuilding. It’s nothing short of remarkable how the simple act of helping our neighbors lessens the overwhelming burden of recovery.

Our hearts and prayers (and donations) continue to go out to everyone dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

With prayers, gratitude, and admiration,

Dawn

 

 

 

Follow RandomBitsRV via YouTube.  Click here: RandomBitsRV

Crossing the ‘Mighty Mac’ and Visiting Lake Superior – Full-Time RV Life

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Our RV spot in Roscommon, Michigan, is centrally located and offers wonderful day-trip adventures.  Mike had two bucket list items he wanted to achieve while in Michigan.  One was to see Lake Huron (accomplished the previous weekend) and Lake Superior, which would complete all of the Great Lakes for him.  He also wanted to cross the Mighty Mac, which is the Mackinac Bridge that joins lower Michigan to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  You can see our video of this trip at RandomBitsRV on YouTube.

We’ve visited the bridge and the Upper Peninsula a couple of times now, and each time we’ve had the burning question:  Why were there differences in pronunciation between Mackinac and Mackinaw?  Some say Mackinac with the ‘k’ sound while others use the ‘w’ sound ending.  I found the answer to that trivia question by accident.  The entire area was named by Native Americans as Mishi-Mikinaak, with Mishi-Mikinaak Island their sacred place where they believed the Great Spirit resided.  When the French came around 1715, the name was changed to Michilimackinac (the French ‘ac’ having an ‘aw’ sound).   The British then changed the spelling to Michilimackinaw, which eventually shortened to what we know it today,  Mackinaw.  The Mackinac bridge, Mackinac Island, and the Mackinac Straits use the French spelling and Mackinaw City uses the British.  Either way, it’s all pronounced Mackinaw (‘aw’ sound).  Now we know, but we didn’t then. So sorry for the mispronunciation, Michigan.

Proper pronunciation notwithstanding, we headed out on I-75 North and the excitement began to build as we approached the bridge.  As we left land and began our ascent over the water where Lake Huron and Lake Michigan meet, the deep and light blues of the water dazzled in the sun and sparkled.  As we got farther onto the bridge, azure water surrounded us, reminiscent of the Florida Keys.  When traffic stopped about one mile before the toll bridge, looking over the side was intimidating.  I have to admit, while my husband was looking around in barely contained pure joy and excitement, I was feeling a little bit queasy–more from the height than the lake swirling below.

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With the Mighty Mac behind us, we approached the toll bridge and were getting ready to enter the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  The $4.00 was totally worth it.

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Lake Superior–anywhere–was our destination.  Mike found a state park on line with beachfront views, so we punched it into the GPS and started driving.  The journey took us around the shore of Lake Michigan, and we found a sweet lookout spot where we could get see the five-mile bridge we just crossed.

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It’s impossible to get an acceptable shot in wonderful weather, but you can see it in the distance.

There were crystal clear views of the lake while we drove.  The GPS took us on a long deserted road with trees, abandoned shacks, and no other vehicles or people for miles and miles, and eventually brought us to our turn off for Muskallonge Lake State Park.   We saw warning signs for bears, moose, and other wildlife.  I would have been as excited to see a moose or bear as Mike was to see the bridge, but no such luck this trip.

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We pulled into the state park and, surprisingly, the ranger let us park without paying so we could have our first glimpse of Lake Superior.  It was a short stroll to the walkway and down a few stairs.  The walk was quite pretty, as it was set in a deeply wooded area.

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Our first view of the Lake Superior shoreline.

Seeing the vast expanse of Lake Superior with no other land in sight was a humbling experience.  It’s so big.  I’ve lived on the east coast of Florida for the last 30 years.  I’ve seen the ocean and felt the magic of being so small among natural force so massive.  For some reason, Lake Superior was the same but felt so different.  The sand wasn’t light bits of gritty dust, but more like ground pebbles among large, fist-sized rocks making up the shoreline.  There was no fine layer of salt mist on my skin, tangy taste on my lips, or its sharp scent filling my nose.  The air and water were clear.  The lake was calm and went on for miles.  We stood silently in awe for several minutes taking it all in.

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The shoreline of colorful rocks was beautiful.  There was a small expanse of beach, but nothing compared to Florida’s miles of wide beaches.  The trees opposite the shoreline proudly displayed colors of the changing leaves with signs of an early Fall.

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The rocks had layers of dazzling colors.

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Leaves were starting to change to deep fall colors.

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Hopefully, a sneak peak at what Autumn in Michigan will have in store.

It was sad to say goodbye to the Superior shoreline, but we headed back up the stairs to the truck where we would begin the three- to four-hour return trek over the bridge and back to the campground.

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On the road out of the state park, we found this cute little gem.  I got to see a moose after all:

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Goodbye Lake Superior, for now.  What a day of wonderful adventures, sights, and feelings.  We can’t wait to visit again.

Until then,

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Safe travels, Dawn

 

The blogs are still out of order.  Someday, I’ll catch up.

Where We Are Now:  Roscommon – Alpena, MI.

Where We Plan to Go:  Chicago area.

Location of Blog Entry:   Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Lake Superior.

 

Everything has changed!

A Note From Dawn:   When I started this blog in 2014, it was to journal a road trip cross country (Jacksonville FL to Newport OR) with my daughter. I wanted an outlet to express my thoughts about the adventure, our mother/daughter relationship, and the personal growth the experience brought about in me. That ten-day trip was one of the sparks that ignited the full-time RVing dream and this blog has grown into an account of making that journey a reality. I never dreamed it would bring people into my life whose experiences, opinions, and friendships would mean so much. It’s built for Mike and me a virtual community of friends with a wealth of knowledge and an unselfish willingness to share. It’s especially rewarding when we meet these fellow wanderers in person on the road. Our mutual love for traveling, downsizing, and living our own American Dream bonds us in ways I could never imagine.

Receiving a compliment, word of encouragement, or a gentle nudging to keep doing what I’m doing from my blogging friends means the world to me. Other writers know that pieces of our hearts go into our efforts, and it’s sweet moment to find out we touched someone else, even in a small way.

This is a reblog from a dear friend. His words touched me, and I hope they do you, also.

Thank you to my blogging friends. Your likes, comments, and follows mean so much, and I love reading the talent, experience, and entertainment you provide in your posts. You’re all an inspiration. Thank you.

Please read the reblog from my dear friend, Patrick:

The Paddy Wagon

It has been a while since I written my blog … many reasons. But, suffice to say I am back and will be writing far more than I had before. For those of you that have stuck around – a word of thanks and appreciation. For those that left – perhaps you will come back. No way to really know. The reason I write this blog is really more therapeutic than anything else, but I am highly inspired to write by some of my blogger friends like xsyntriknomad 

Devan

and Random Bits of Trial and Error. They are both amazing bloDawnggers that offer stories of adventure, imagination, experiences, and total inspiration. I love positivity in my life and both of these great bloggers provide me with a dose of positivity whenever it seems I need it. I have been following Devan’s blog for the last two years and love…

View original post 429 more words

Branson Scenic Railway – Full-Time RV Life

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While in Branson, MO, Mike and I took the Branson Scenic Railway Tour.  It’s a 20-mile train ride that goes into the Ozark foothills, through a couple small towns, a few high train trestle bridges, long tunnels, and then reverses direction and heads back to the station in downtown Branson.

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We discovered  a little secret that helped us get boarded early enough to beat the crowds and get a prime seat at the top of the observation car–make reservations well in advance.  We made ours two weeks ahead, which worked to our favor because they boarded in order of reservation.  We made our way through the length of the train and were lucky enough to sit in the back seat of one of the most popular railway cars.  We were surrounded by windows so we had a wonderful view.

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Outside view of the observation car.

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Still sitting in the station on this one, but the windows were wonderful–blue sky and lush scenery (once we got going, of course).

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Mike and I sat opposite of one another and had a tremendous view on the trip out and the trek back to town.

It was difficult to get great photographs because of the speed of the train, and we eventually put the camera away and enjoyed the relaxing ride through the beautiful landscape.  Here are some of the views we did capture:

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View out the side window from one of the trestle bridges.

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We could see where the train was going.

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One of the tunnels that plunged us into complete darkness.  

There are two things we observed about Branson–the people are wonderful and they love our United States military veterans.  Rod, our conductor of the day, was informative and friendly.

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This was one of the few touristy things in Branson we opted to do, and it did not disappoint.  We enjoyed the trip, the scenery, meeting other passengers, and talking to the employees on the train.  This is one activity we would recommend.

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Thank you, Branson Scenic Railway for the wonderful afternoon.

Due to the appreciation of our current surroundings and enjoying time with family and friends, we are still out of order on the blogging.

Where we are:  Splitting time between Alpena and Roscommon, Michigan, with a day trip or two into the Upper Peninsula to visit the Yoopers, have some pasties, and experience the unique beauty of northern Michigan.

Where we are Headed:  Chicago, Illinois–or Michigan City, Indiana–not quite sure, yet.

Blog Post Location:  Branson, Missouri.

Safe travels to you!  Dawn (and Mike)

P.S.  While Branson won’t be covered in our YouTube videos, you can visit the channel any time at RandomBitsRV.

 

Buffalo Ridge, Big Cedar Lodge, and Top of the Rock – Branson, MO – Full-Time RV Life

Johnny Morris, the owner of Bass Pro Shops and Cabella’s, is well-known around Missouri and has quite the presence in the Branson area.  There is the original Bass Pro Shop in Springfield, Big Cedar Lodge, Top of the Rock Ozark Heritage Preserve and Golf Course, Dogwood Canyon, Buffalo Ridge Springs Golf Course, and an unopened wildlife museum and aquarium that has been in the works for the last ten years with an undetermined opening date.  All of the properties are scenic with enhanced and contrived natural settings.  They are also more expensive than we’d like to spend, but we got to experience a couple of the properties on discount during our visit to Branson.

Buffalo Ridge Springs Golf Course.  Dani and I passed this on a geocaching adventure and stopped by to get a bottle of water from the gift shop and use the facilities.  As soon as we parked, we were met by an employee on a golf cart asking if we’d like to be escorted to the golf course.  He blinked in surprise when we said, “No, we’ll walk.  We are only going to the gift shop.”

The gift shop had the usual golf paraphernalia (I’m not a golfer, in case that wasn’t obvious):  golf shirts, shorts, shoes, clubs, hats, etc.  There was a bar, a snack stand, and very nice restrooms.  Everything was exorbitantly overpriced, even our bottled water.  At least we can say we got to see it.

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The golf course entrance.

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A rather pretentious buffalo bull that obstructed the view of the golf course.

Big Cedar Lodge:  Our geocaching done, we took a drive through Big Cedar Lodge, which is a resort of chalets, hotels, restaurants, coffee shops, man-made waterfalls, lush gardens, bridges, spas, and a chapel.  It’s a gorgeous setting for family reunions, weddings, weekend getaways, etc.  Again, it is exorbitantly overpriced, but it’s in Branson and tourists are the target.

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One of the buildings at Big Cedar.  We happen to know the botanist that designed the landscaping.

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There were beautiful gardens and lush landscapes everywhere.

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One of the larger man-made falls through the grounds.  There were “water bridges” on many of the roads throughout.

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Another man-made falls named Devil’s Pool Springs

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A view from the balcony of one of the chalets.

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I love churches and chapels and thought this was a pretty view.

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Another chapel view.

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We walked through the grounds and over a couple of the bridges.  It was beautiful stroll and we enjoyed the scenery.

Top of the Rock Ozark Heritage Center and Golf Course:  Another over-the-top property and probably my favorite, was Top of the Rock.  There is a world class golf course and Johnny Morris had Arnold Palmer’s barn relocated to the property where it houses three restaurants.  It has another chapel, this one with a front view of the golf course and a back view of a mountainside and lake.  It’s quite a beautiful property.

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What I found most fun at Top of the Rock was a golf cart “hike” through a winding road of mountains, rock formations, waterfalls, caves, and bridges.  The golf carts had to be rented and a waiver signed because there was an alcohol bar mid-way through the tour.  Here are a few of the sights on the tour:

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Cart rented, waiver signed, and ready to roll.

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Many of the hand-painted signs on the trail – painted by the one and only Johnny Morris

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Midway through the tour of the Ozark landscape, there is cave.  Inside the cave is this–the drive through Bat Bar (pretty clever, I have to say).

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Also at Top of the Rock was the Ozarks Heritage Museum.  The museum was huge and definitely worth the time (at least three hours).  While I took many pictures, the lighting was not ideal and it’s just better seen in person.  Below are Johnny’s words:

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I think his view on conservation is admirable.  The properties, however, are not financially attainable for everyone.  Behind-the-scenes with employee compensation and a true practice of conservation and respect for wildlife is not the actual reality as the public persona would suggest.  Be that as it may, I don’t see the tourism in these areas going down anytime soon.  Johnny knows what he’s doing.

It was a joy to share these places with Dani, my daughter.  Our time together would have been enjoyable even if it were sitting at a picnic table at the campground, but we were among peaceful and tranquil surroundings.  What lovely places.

I apologize because this blog is out of order, again.  Here’s a relaxing rippling sound to make up for my procrastination.

Where we are:  Splitting time between Alpena and Roscommon, Michigan.

Where we are Headed:  Chicago, Illinois.

Blog Post Location:  Branson, Missouri

Safe travels, Dawn

 

 

New Introduction Video For Random Bits – Full-Time RV Life

Adding YouTube to our social media line-up for sharing our memories and experiences as a full-time RV couple has been interesting, to say the least.  It has been fun, though.  It was a good time getting in front of the camera and trying to sound like we know what we are doing.  We are not experts, but we can say with certainty what works for us.

We would be honored if you would take a look at our first official video (after the teaser trailer we released last week).  It’s a simple introduction and a recap of the last eight months on the road.  Will you comment on the YouTube video page to let us know what burning questions you would like addressed?  Maybe you want to know how we handle something in particular?  Is there as aspect of our lifestyle in which you’d like clarification?  Do you have questions about how we handle community and friendships?  Anything goes–your curiosity will give us fodder for material that interests people who are reading the blog or watching the videos.

 

 

We know your time is valuable and we intend to always respect that fact.  We thank you sincerely for giving us a chance to interact with fellow travelers and those that will soon be starting their own adventure.

We’ll see you on the road.

Until then, safe travels.  Dawn (and Mike)

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