Sightseeing review: Iowa Living History Farms – Des Moines, IA

At Living History Farms near Des Moines, IA we stepped back into the early days of Iowa. From the visitor’s Center we rode a tractor pulled wagon back in time to the 1700s farm which was represented by Kiowa Indian garden and housing. I thought it was interesting that these Native Americans constructed their homes so that they stayed warmer in the winter than did those of the earliest European settlers from the east.

Our time travel wasn’t yet complete because we rode the wagon back to the 1875 town of Walnut Hill that we had bypassed earlier. The Flynn home mansion on the hill is the original house on the property. It was built by a wealthy railroad man turned cattleman, turned business man. It has two stories with three kitchens and is filled with beautiful furniture. The wood is all original and it is lovely! We walked through the town enjoying seeing the smithy, drugstore, general store, doctor’s office, implement dealer, newspaper and church. At most of the buildings there’s an interpreter who told us about the building and its contents. The last house we visited as the Tangen Home; a house representative of that which would be owned by a successful family in 1875. In this case the family was Norwegian. They lived in Iowa in the late 1800s. The house is nicely, but not lavishly, furnished.

Our final stop was back at the visitors’ center gift shop where a variety of candy, toys and other gift and souvenir items are for sale. Let me mention that traveling from farm to farm does require a lot of walking and the trails are dirt with some steep areas. If you ask, the staff can suggest ways to limit walking if you want. We think our time traveling visit was well worth the effort and the price of admission.

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Shortstop: Crows Creek Campground, Smithville, MO

We’re in what we call “repositioning mode” – a few days in which we travel longer distances and do shorter stays to get to a different part of the country. Because of that we did a one night “shortstop” at Crows Creek Campground on Smithville Lake, just north of Kansas City, MO. Crows Creek is a big county run campground with over 400 campsites. Around half of the sites have 30 or 50 amp electric and a good number of the 30 amp sites have water hookups too. I think all but a couple of sites are back-in. There are no sites with sewer connections, but there is a large dump station near the entrance to the campground. We saw a nice playground and the grass was freshly mowed. The restrooms were clean. Many of the campsites are near the lake, although I think all the lakefront sites are electric only (no water hookups). The campground is less than 10 miles west of I35, but County Road E, which you travel the last 3 or 4 miles is rather narrow and a bit rough in spots. Our Verizon signal was a good 4G and it should be pretty easy to get a satellite signal there.

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Sightseeing Review: Branson, MO and vicinity

We also visited the Ralph Foster Museum, at the College of the Ozarks. This is a great museum with something for everyone. We got a kick out of seeing the original vehicle used in the “Beverly Hillbillies” TV series – after all Jed and his family supposedly discovered “Texas tea” right here in these Ozark mountains. There are several collections at the museum including dolls, weapons, and natural history.

Branson and vicinity a great vacation destination and we’re looking forward to future visits and adventures here on future travels.

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Campground review: Turkey Creek RV Village, Escapees, Hollister, MO

Near the campground (at Hollister City Hall) there’s a short, paved trail to Hackett Falls. It’s a small, pretty waterfall. After all the rain we had, the water flow was great when we went there. Even without all the rain, you might want to check it out.

The campground is bordered by Turkey Creek and because of all the rain we’ve kept an eye on the water level. The creek has been a few feet above its banks all the time we’ve been here. Then, when the deluge of rain finally stopped and we thought we were home free, the officials at Table Rock dam announced a water release to take pressure off the dam. That meant another night of keeping an eye on the creek water level. That, thankfully, turned out to be a non-concern.

If nothing else, Turkey Creek is handy to Branson, with one of the primary shopping areas, Branson Landing, being only minutes away.

My satellite TV was easy enough to set up and I enjoyed a good Verizon 4G cell signal. All in all, this has been a good place for us, especially because of our Escapees connection and the camping discount we got here. We’ll likely return here on future trips to and through Branson.

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Sightseeing Review: Pinnacle Mountain State Park, Little Rock, AR

Pinnacle Mountain State Park is just a short drive from our campground, Maumelle CoE Park and at Little Rock, AR. We especially enjoyed having our grandson, Matt, with us for our visit there. At the visitors’ center there are several dioramas, a touch table with bones, rocks, antlers and other items. There is also an area with live snakes, tadpoles, and a baby alligator. Just an easy walk from the Visitors Center is a short trail with stairs is an overlook of the Arkansas River. We enjoyed the view and while there we saw six deer come out of the trees below and cross the field. From there we drove over to the Arkansas arboretum. The paths are paved and along the trail are markers with the names of trees with several stops that have a self-powered, hand crank machines that you crank and to hear recordings of facts about the area. We took a short walk to a river overlook with a bench. I highly recommend this day use park.

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Campground review: Maumelle CoE Park, Little Rock, AR

One outstanding feature of the campground is the availability of several campsites which are specifically reserved for patients at the nearby Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute. These are full hookup sites (many are pull throughs) that give patients and their families a pleasant place to stay while battling the illness. I applaud the Institute and the Army Corps of Engineers for this wonderful partnership.

Near the campground is Pinnacle Mountain State Park, a great place to hike. There are plenty of restaurants, food stores, and gas stations nearby. Downtown Little Rock is around 20 minutes away. We had no problem getting our satellite signal and had a good Verizon 4G signal.

All in all, I’d say this place is a real winner and will be our Little Rock campground of choice in the future.

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Campground Review: Rocky Point Campground – Lake Wright Patman, CoE – Queen City, TX

Highway 59 in Texas is the primary route from Texarkana to Houston to points south. Every year thousands of RVers drive the route traveling south for the winter or headed back north in the spring. I fear that way too many people miss this gem of a campground as they hurry on down the highway.

A later review of this campground is here.

One slight negative is the proximity of the paper mill at Domino, TX. When the wind blows from the east the smell is in the air and its an unforgettable smell. Happily, the mill is to the east and that’s not the most common wind direction. Because the campground is nicely wooded I had to do a long coax run to a spot where I could get satellite TV. It seemed that no matter what I tried my Verizon cell signal fluctuated between 3G and 4G but, in general, I was able to get online without too much of a problem.

This great campground is just a few minutes off of highway 59 and is a really nice place to stay. As you journey along highway 59 just south of Texarkana don’t get it too big a hurry – this is a first rate place to spend some time.

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Campground Review: Lake Tawakoni Thousand Trails, Point, TX

We’ll have good memories of Lake Tawakoni Thousand Trails, just east of Dallas, because it was during our stay here that the horrible storms of the memorable Texas spring of 2015 finally came to an end. We had some threatening weather early in our stay, mostly buckets of rain with some hail, but then things settled down to a more typical weather pattern that we hope lasts for weeks to come.

We especially enjoyed the beautiful sunsets over the lake. This Thousand Trails is a reasonably short drive from both I30 and I20 – about an hour east of Dallas.

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