- Lake Eufaula State Park (Checotah, OK)
- Petit Jean State Park (Morrilton, AR)
- Cooper Creek Resort & Campground (Branson, MO)
- Wanderlust RV Park (Eureka Springs, AR) – “The FROG Rally”
- Beavers Bend State Park (Broken Bow, OK)
This was a family planned trip to see Fall colors and take our first road trip with Brenda, Orval and Zoe (Sister, Brother-in-Law and Gabby’s cousin) in their very first camper! We met on Monday, September 25 at Choctaw Casino in Durant, OK and from there began our trip. Our next stop was beautiful Eufaula Lake State Park for an over-night camp at a spot with an awesome panoramic view of the beautiful lake.
Lake Eufaula State Park: http://www.travelok.com/listings/view.profile/id.4336
Petit Jean State Park: http://www.petitjeanstatepark.com/
Enjoyed beautiful weather and temperatures for 7-days during our stay at Petit Jean (Tuesday, 09/26 through Monday, 10/02).
Petit Jean sites weren’t the most-desirable, Section B, Sites #40 and #41, as they backed up to what was described as a quiet park-road, but was actually a noisy main-road (Highway 154) often driven by motorcycle groups out for a ride in the park. Also, sadly there were a few accidents out on the park’s entry roads and while we were there we heard vehicles at high speeds with emergency sirens blaring thru the park along this road more than once. Add to that the many 18-wheel trucks speeding through with very few observing the 20-mile per hour posted speed limit. Our initial plans were to get two sites in Section A, lake-side, but those were not available when we called several weeks in advance to make our reservations. Sites #40 and #41 were suggested as being nice sites that would allow us to have our patio’s facing one-another, turned out however that wasn’t possible due to concrete stop barriers at the site.
All site issues aside, we had a great time and enjoyed taking our dogs and hiking and biking many of the trails where we saw interesting rock-formations throughout the park. We also visited a farmer’s market and purchased home-made jams, tomatoes, etc.
The tour around the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute provided sightings of a large number of various types of butterflies around the flower-beds outside on the beautiful grounds.
Cooper Creek Campground: http://www.coopercreekresort.com/
Arrived at Cooper Creek on Tuesday afternoon and had to set-up in light rainfall. It rained most of the day and the next day, so we did our grocery restocking and hung-out around the campsite. Thursday, October 5 was our first nice day to set-up the Porta-Bote and launch it in Lake Taneycomo. We fished most of the afternoon and caught enough trout to grill out for dinner. Friday was another fishing day, but we decided to catch and release. Brenda caught a large brown trout, we didn’t measure it, but it clearly was the biggest fish caught.
Saturday, October 7, we had dinner at Fuddruckers and went to the Six Show. Six is a show we saw back in 2013 on our previous trip to Branson and since Brenda and Orval had not seen it, we felt it was worth seeing again. It was nice that the show had changed since 2013 and this version was new songs and new performances but still the same great performers — the six brothers. It was a fun evening and highly recommend you see Six if you ever make it to Branson!
Branson honors our Veterans in many ways. Everything from special show discounts to this beautiful Veterans Memorial Garden.
Just up the street from old town Branson is Branson Landing, a modern open-air mall among craft and gift shops that includes several retail stores, restaurants and a Zip Line across the Lake. All of this in a setting with water features for a relaxing ambiance and a nice place to take a stroll along Lake Taneycomo.
The Fall colors were very vibrant after a light rainfall, the large oak leaves fell from the trees into Lake Taneycomo created beautiful collages in the water. The feature picture for this blog is the reflection from the landscape on the water . . . praise God for all of this beauty He created for our enjoyment. There are several small waterfalls running along the shore across from Cooper Creek, the photos do not justify the sound and beauty of these small falls running from way up the hillside.
Enjoyed watching what we believe to have been an otter swimming across from one side of the shore to his home on the other side of the shore. Once he arrived, he blended with the landscape, making it difficult to get a good photo of his entire body.
Our view out the back of our 5th wheel with boat/fishing dock just below our campsite. Fog and no fog:
Monday, Columbus Day, we took a nice drive to nearby Table Rock Lake where we visited both marinas. State Park Marina
did not have a restaurant so we drove to Indian Point Marina where we enjoyed a nice lunch on their floating cafe.
After having a nice lunch, we visited Grand Village Shops to purchase a few souvenir Christmas ornaments at Kringles Christmas store and of course we had ice cream at one of their ice cream shops.
Wanderlust RV Park: http://www.wanderlustrv.com/
Arrived at Eureka Springs’ Wanderlust RV on Tuesday, 10/10 in the afternoon and when we got out of the truck we were hit with a surprise drop in temperatures to the upper 40’s. This was the coldest we had on the trip so far.
Our two sites backed up to a beautiful rolling valley, a site we were told is known as the “sunset site” because of the views of the magnificent sunsets.
We drove to Bentonville the day we arrived for Brenda and Orval to have an opportunity to visit Crystal Bridges Museum. Although we had visited the museum before, we were happy to visit again and to our pleasant surprise there was a special Chuhuly Exhibit. We had seen the Dallas Arboretum Chuhuly Exhibit in 2012 and were excited to share his art with Brenda and Orval. This exhibit was called “In the Forest,” and although very pretty, it was a little disappointing to us compared to his exhibit at the Arboretum.
This Eureka Springs stop on our trip was planned so we could participate in our first ever FROG (Forest River Owner’s Group) event. The Rally titled “Autumn in the Ozarks,” officially began on Thursday, October 12. Thirty-three sites were reserved for the group. Thursday night was a meet-and-greet social where attendees brought appetizers to be shared. We met some nice people and enjoyed the evening.
Friday was a guided trolley tour of the Crystal Springs area then afterwards you could tour on your own using the hop- on/hop-off ticket good for the day. Dogs were not allowed on the trolley, so instead we took our own vehicle back to the historic area and walked the shops. The supposedly haunted Crescent Hotel was a nice stop on the trolley tour. The hotel offers a haunted tour at $22.00 per person, but even if we had been interested, they were sold out.
Next night we attended another FROG organized outing to The Ozark Mountain Hoe-Down show and were so glad we did because it is a lot of fun and we recommend you see it while in Eureka Springs. http://www.theozarkmountainhoedown.com/
Saturday, October 14, there was a FROG continental breakfast followed by a service and maintenance seminar conducted by Forest River’s senior technical manager, Brian Morris. For about 2 hours Brian demonstrated proper service techniques and provided solutions to many common issues. Even the seasoned RVers in the crowd admitted they learned things they didn’t know before. At the end of the seminar, Brian held a drawing and gave away several multi-meters and electric clamp tools. Then he invited all the attendees to help themselves to a variety of spare fuses and wire connectors. Lastly, he made sure everyone had his contact info and explained the best way to contact him so that Forest River could supply parts should we have repairs we need assistance with. One fun thing he told us was how to make our trailer’s clearance lights light up when we are parked at a campground. Later we learned that if you use a 12V automobile flasher instead of a fuse, the lights will blink and this is good if you ever need to leave your trailer out on the side of the road in an emergency. The instructions useing a fuse are here:
There was a group dinner at the cafeteria located at the Passion Play. With weather cautioning an evening heavy rain, we passed on attending the Passion Play that followed dinner. However, we did stay and watch a demonstration by a potter dressed like the times of Jesus. He used an old-time foot driven potter’s wheel to demonstrate the making of a clay pot. He was very good and inspirational and as he was forming the pottery, he gave biblical illustrations and testimony of God’s love for all of us. His pottery was also for sale in the gift shop (Great Passion Play)
Beavers Bend State Park: www.beaversbend.com/
Arrived at our all-time favorite place to camp late Sunday afternoon, 10/15. This was the day we headed different directions than Brenda and Orval. They headed for home, spent one-night at Lake Eufaula and then made it to home Monday afternoon. We headed from Eureka Springs to Beavers Bend for our last 2-weeks of our Fall road trip. Our first night was in Cypress Campground (C-35 in the wooded area above Acorn circle). Monday morning we found a family leaving our favorite site A-22 in Acorn Circle. They kindly placed our holding tent on the site to save it for us while we moved from C-35.
Our first few days were spent relaxing, checking out our fishing spots, restocking groceries, washing clothes in town, etc. We visited the Cold Hole washed out bridge site and observed the rebuilding of the bridge. It was destroyed a few years ago when a bad storm forced the opening of all the Broken Bow Lake Spillways and millions of gallons were forced down the Lower Mountain Fork valley that flows thru Beavers Bend Park. A foreman told us the new bridge and area is going to be beautiful when completed.
As we relaxed at our campsite Tuesday evening, a news crew showed up with a camera at a campsite next to us.. Naturally, curious Bill had to go over and check them out. He learned it was a couple of guys preparing a documentary of Beaver Bend for “Discover Oklahoma.” He ended up talking to them and they liked what he said about Beaver Bend so they asked to come over to our site and video Bill saying things about why we like the park.
Saturday night, October 21, there was a heavy thunderstorm most of the night and Sunday by 11 am, both Cypress and Acorn Circle campgrounds were nearly empty after being completely booked up the previous week. We took advantage of the exodus and put pup-tents on two river sites next to us (sites 18 & 20) for Cathy & Dean Landers and Kevin & Karen Dillard and secured the two sites through Tuesday night (Landers and Dillards were due in Wednesday). Many of the river sites were still vacant when Bill and I went fishing Sunday afternoon then into town for dinner. When we returned after dark, all of Acorn Circle was totally filled, except for one handicap site.
We spent the entire first week at Beavers Bend (10/15-10/24) just relaxing by the firepit, playing cards, taking walks, and trout-less fishing. The office said a trout stocking was to occur on Thursday 10/19, but we think it didn’t because we did not even get a bite neither did anyone we asked around us or on the bridge or anglers coming in off the streams.
Camping in Acorn Circle provides numerous sightings of Eagles flying over the Lower Mountain Fork River that runs along our campsites. Most mornings there is a beautiful early fog rising off the mirror sheen of the cold river. Later in the afternoon we enjoyed watching the flocks of ducks as they swoop and splash their entrance and fly out on the river.
Cathy and Dean (Sister and Brother-in-Law), Chris and Kathie (Brother and Sister-in-Law), and Kevin and Karen (friends) joined us on Wednesday, October 25. Chris and Kathie stayed at Hochatown Country Lodge, located just across the turn off to the entrance of Beavers Bend State Park (Hochatown Country Lodge) There are cabin and several luxury/house rentals also within Beavers Bend. This is one of our favorite sites to find a rentals and a few years ago we rented a large house for a family reunion. Beavers Bend Luxury Cabins
The group joining us were planning nice motorcycle rides during their stay from Wednesday, October 25 through Sunday, October 29. Chris and Dean brought their motorcycles by trailer pull and Kevin brought his in their toy-hauler. Thursday turned out to be a great bike ride day with awesome beautiful Fall temperatures.
Bill and I drove our truck and acted as lead and guide for the motorcyclists on the Talimena National Scenic Drive (Talimena Scenic Drive) which is absolutely a breath-taking ride. The Talimena drive offers many scenic-look out points and Autumn was out in full-color across the mountain valleys.
The Talimena drive leads up to historic Queen Wilhelmina Lodge (Queen Wilhelmina Lodge). We stopped at the Lodge for lunch and enjoyed another beautiful view up there on Arkansas’ second highest mountain top. This is a popular motorcycle ride and we met-up with several other bikers along the way and at the Lodge. Highly recommended, our group thoroughly enjoyed the ride!
A cold-front came in Thursday night, making Friday extremely windy and cold. We waited until afternoon and then spent the rest of the day touring with the group to some of our favorite fishing and scenic sites within Beavers Bend State Park.
Friday night we had dinner at one of our favorite restaurants in Broken Bow, Papa Poblanos Mexican Restaurant. This was our second meal there in the two weeks this trip. After dinner we all went over to the Choctaw Casino sports bar to watch the Astros in the World Series. The campsites at Beavers Bend typically do not have television reception and very little satellite visibility.
Cathy and Dean brought several pounds of fresh fish they caught on a recent fishing trip in Louisiana to have a fish fry. With the weather turning colder with quite a bit of wind, we put up a tarp to block the wind from one-direction and enjoyed watching Chris and Dean cook-up the fish, following with enjoying eating the great meal that also included sides of cole-slaw, corn-on-the-cob and french fries.
You can get streaming video if you have an unlimited data plan and a personal hotspot. Our AT&T services seem to work best and we were able to have reasonable Internet speeds. Bill was able to get the Sunday Astros World Series by streaming our Fox Sports subscription using a Roku in our RV, so that we didn’t have to go to the casino to watch the game.
This five-week trip was a nice Autumn trip and we enjoyed being with our family and
friends. Gabby is absolutely the best traveling pet and she just loves all of her adventures with us in our RV.
Psalm 24:1-2 “The earth is the LORD’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it; for God has founded it on the seas, and established it on the rivers.”