2019 – Beagle Bay RV Park – Sarcoxie, MO

We were invited to serve as speakers for a series of services at Mt Vernon, MO Church of the Nazarene and this RV park is right down I44 from the church. First, I’ll tell you the good things about this campground. It is very convenient to the interstate. The sites are all pull-through, full hookup, and (I think) all 50 amp. The roads and sites are pretty good gravel surface. Most sites are reasonably level. There’s a pool that appears to be maintained, although it was unused during our October stay. There’s a laundry that seems to get plenty of use. I had a clear view of the sky for the eastern Dish satellites although the shady sites would likely make it difficult if not impossible to get satellite TV from many of the sites. Our Verizon signal was solid. One unique feature of the campground is that nearly every site has porch swings installed.

The close proximity to the interstate is both a good and a bad thing. The sound of traffic never ceases. After a while you tend to tune it out, but, of course, the closer you are to the front of the campground the louder it is. It appeared to me that overnight guests were generally put in sites that put the main building between them and the interstate – a wise move. The campground, in general, just feels tired. I saw a worker painting and, honestly, there’s a lot of painting needed. The bathrooms were clean enough but had a funky smell – a mixture of old plus musty.

Several sites are occupied by longer term residents – mostly working people who get up every morning and return in the evenings. Their campsites are generally orderly and we had no negative impression of them at all. The campground workers were friendly and helpful.

Most travelers stop off just for an overnight and this campground is quite suitable for that: right on the interstate, pull through sites, easy in and out. This is far from our favorite campground, but we’d stay at it again without any hesitation.

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2019 – Shortstop: 2019 – Stanton-Meramec KOA Journey, MO

The Stanton-Meramec KOA in Stanton, MO makes no claims of being a destination campground. It is just a minute or two off of I 44, a handy place for travelers who just want a FHU spot for the night before continuing their trip on the Interstate. There’s a store with restaurant, a pool, and a doggie park. Also, Meramec Caverns is nearby. The camp area is “T” shaped with the main section being a row of pull through sites set up for bigger rigs. The other section is set up for smaller rigs or tents. Also there are several rental cabins scattered around.

As I said, this isn’t a destination campground. On one hand I’d say it serves it’s purpose. However, there are a few negatives. First, the campground is, in my opinion, overpriced for what you get. Second, the sites are very close together side to side. Third, the sites have a slight slope front to back, making it hard to level a motorhome like ours.

We had a good Verizon signal and no problem getting satellite TV.

Having said all that, for this trip, this KOA was in the right spot for us to break up a longer move. Had it not been for that we would have stayed elsewhere, but being so close to the interstate and at the half-way point for this relocation this campground suited our needs just fine.

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2018 — Indian Creek CoE Campground – Morgan City, MO

We really liked Indian Creek CoE Campground, located near Morgan City, MO (about 35 miles west of Hannibal). The campground has many great, wooded, paved sites with nice separation. This corps facility is on Mark Twain Lake, but none of the sites are actually on the lake. A few overlook the water down below but most are in the woods. The roads are excellent and the individual sites are a mixture of electric only and full hookups. I think all the sites offer up to 50 amp service. The sites are long and pretty level side to side but most have a slope front to back. To get level our 5th wheel was “kneeling down” significantly. In the Eastern Campground my Verizon 4G signal was very good.

There are a few things you might want to know. First this campground is out in the boonies. Once you leave Morgan City you are still about 15 miles out into the country to the campground, much of that on smooth, but speed limited roads. It is around 45 minutes to the closest Walmart in Hannibal. Second, we battled both ticks and swarming gnats. Third, if you want satellite, pick your campsite carefully. Generally, you want one on the north side of a road. Those on the west side of a road would be especially blocked from having an eye to the sky.
We almost always like the CoE campgrounds and this one is no exception. We give Indian Creek two thumbs up.

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2018 – Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum – Hannibal, MO

We had a fun afternoon at the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum in Hannibal, Missouri. Our visit began at the museum where we enjoyed going through the interactive dioramas with monitors playing clips of movies based on various books written by Samuel Clemens. The ones I enjoyed most were the cave where Tom and Becky were lost and Tom’s raft where he and runaway Jim had their adventures. Many of his other popular books are represented by film clips and dioramas. We saw a mockup of a pilot’s wheelhouse with a whistle and other items from the Mississippi Steamboat era that inspired Samuel Clemens to write his books. The museum also has first editions of all his books, original Norman Rockwell illustrations from them, and personal memorabilia from his life. From the Museum we walked a few blocks to Clemens boyhood home and the Becky Thatcher house which was actually the home of Laura Hawkins who was the inspiration for Becky. We also saw the Huckleberry Finn House which was home to Tom Blankenship who was the inspiration for Huck. Finally, we toured the John M. Clemens Justice of the Peace office. From there we returned to the museum for the highlight of our time in Hannibal. A very talented actor entertained us for around 30 minutes as Samuel Clemens. We thoroughly enjoyed his presentation and highly recommend it to all, young and old alike.

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2018 – Bucksaw CoE Campground – Clinton, MO

We came to Bucksaw CoE Campground, near Clinton, MO because it gets good reviews and happens to be at about the right place for a few day’s stop as we begin to journey east and north across the country. This campground gets good reviews and is located on Truman Reservoir. It is a bit off the beaten track, especially for those traveling west to east. The north/south route into the area is more traveled and a better road. Clinton is close by; about 20 minutes.

There are many campsites at Bucksaw ranging from tent sites to water-electric to full hookup. Most of the FHU sites are in Loop C. If you want to be close to the lake, though, you might opt for electric only or water/electric sites in Loop B. Also several of the tent sites are close to the lake. When I was booking the site I specified FHU and noticed that one of the available sites was a pull through so I took it. There aren’t many pull through FHU sites (maybe just this one). When you reserve pay attention to site size. Not all sites will accommodate a larger RV. However, many of them will handle any sized rig. Also, the mixture of hookups is surprising – one side of the road, FHU – the other side, electric only. –Or- the section of FHU sites with just one W/E only pull through in the middle of them. The FHU sites were filled with reserved tags on them all the time we were at Bucksaw, so if you want one of these sites you might want to reserve one and not arrive assuming one will be available to you.

This campground is so big that several tenting loops are closed off. Really, I doubt that this place is ever full. Not only is it a big campground, but it is surrounded by lots of other campgrounds, both public and commercial.

The big draw here, is, of course, the lake which actually feels more like a river in the vicinity of the campground. In addition to all the fishing and boating opportunities (there’s a nearby marina) the campground has a nice swimming beach that, I think, is pretty popular. B Loop is in easy walking distance of the beach and A Loop isn’t much farther. C Loop isn’t as close but is a walkable distance.

One thing you might want to know is that Verizon cell service is poor. I ran my cell booster and managed to get a semi-usable data signal part of the time. Without it there was almost nothing. A lady told me that AT&T was better here. Satellite TV was fairly easy to get but, as it always is with satellite, campsite location does make or break it.

Aside from the sounds of kids having a wonderful time over the weekend, this is a very quiet, out of the way campground. We most always favor the CoE campgrounds and Bucksaw is a good example of why this is so: nice big sites, a well-kept campground, for an excellent price.

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2018 – Harry S.Truman Dam and Reservoir – Warsaw, MO

Truman Reservoir Visitors Center sits on a bluff at the east end of the dam, high above the beautiful reservoir. The visitors center is a place for the whole family to enjoy. The panoramic view of the lake and dam from the upper level is amazing. There’s a short film that gives a quick overview of the history of the dam and a timeline with more information about the people and events that shaped this area. The display of replicated mastodon bones was interesting as well as information about the animals indigenous to this area. There are artifacts and other displays. Across from the center there are some historic buildings and trails that are open to the public. We thought this was an interesting and enjoyable place to visit and gain a greater appreciation of the area.

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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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Beautiful Southwest Missouri

We had a wonderful time canoeing along Elk River in southwest Missouri today. The water was very clear and we enjoyed watching fish and turtles swimming along. We traveled about 6 miles of the river. There was current in many places which gave a nice break from paddling.

If you like the outdoors, you would enjoy this trip.

Following the canoe trip we went to Bluff Dwellers Cave (near Noel, MO). It is a privately owned cave that is well cared for with many “living” features. The tour took about 45 minutes and was just right for a cool (56 degree) break after over 3 hours on the river.

For evening fun we went to the small town of South West, MO which is on the MO, KS, OK state lines. This town has a population of 600 but tonight they had a great Independence Day concert and cookout. There were several thousand people there to enjoy free watermelon and free music from the Chuck Wagon Gang – then fireworks after dark. We were pretty tired by the “half time” of the concert so we headed back to our motel in Neosho for the night.