9. Hot time in the cities!          

As soon as we got out of the truck in Omaha, we noticed something was different.  The weather had changed!  Before it was hot, 90 degrees or more, but now it hit us like a brick wall.  HUMIDITY!  It was not bad doing things outside like biking or hiking but now the same exercise seemed more difficult.   Kelly said it was “hard to breathe”.   I don’t know how the locals do it each summer.  Kelly met our “neighbors” camping next to us.  A really nice local couple who were just camping for a couple of days.  Right away they gave us advice on what to do and what highways to take to get there.  It was so nice to have them next to us.

Whenever we get into a town I like to check Trip Adviser for the top ten things to do in that town.  The zoo came highly recommended so we decided to check it out.  It was voted best zoo in the world!  It was better than San Diego and other zoos that we have been to.  Our favorite was the monkeys.  One of the guides there told us that the gorillas are playful and like to play a game with the guides.  She was wearing a green shirt that the gorillas recognize.  If the guides turn their back against the gorillas then the gorilla will pound the glass really hard to scare the children she is with.  Kelly happened to be wearing a green U of O shirt, turned his back and BAM!  The gorilla slammed the window and scared the grown man next to Kelly.  It was really funny.  You would have had to been there.

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We left Omaha the next morning, and said good-bye to our new friends.  Before Kelly left Seaside, our home town, he joined the local chapter of the Elks.  His best friend, Loren, encouraged him to join and to be apart of the organization for his retirement years.  We found out that some Elks lodges let you stay in their parking lot for a fee per night.  Since we wanted to stay near the city core of Kansas City Missouri we contacted the lodge.  A couple had beat us to the only 50 amp hook up and water but they did have 20 amp available for us to use.  We used our own reserve water and had to dump the sewer later. The group of people who worked there were very hospitable and made us feel apart of their lodge.  They told us about the “Hollywood” night dinner and Elvis impersonator show that they were having the next night, so we bought tickets.

My father Robert, was from Kansas City and over the last 8 months I had been working on my Dad’s family genealogy.  I mainly worked on his Mother’s side of the family, my Grandmother Opal.  My sister and I really knew nothing about her since our Father never spoke about her and she died when he was only 16 years old.  I asked the lady at the local visitors center about the Kansas City Library but she recommended going to the Genealogy Library.  So the next morning we headed there to find out more about my family. I would encourage you to find out about your own family history, it is really interesting!  It is kind of like being a detective and solving a mystery.  After a couple of hours, all Kelly and I found was an obituary for my Great Uncle Carl, whom I had met when I was 8 years old.  I found out he had a son, our second cousin??  It is always hard to figure that out.  Still have to pursue that lead. The librarians told me to go to Vernon County by the town where they lived (about an hour away)  and check out the local library which I was planning to do anyway.

Later that day, to beat the heat and humidity, we decided to go to the President Truman Library in Independence, Missouri.  We have been to President Johnson’s house outside of Austin, Texas and home of John Quincy Adams outside of Boston.  When we were Boston, we also went to the John F. Kennedy Presidential library. They all were just fascinating and very educational.  I learned a lot about him.  Of course he became President after President Franklin Roosevelt died. He was the President during the final months of World War II and made the decision to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  He also helped form the United Nations and after North Korea invaded South Korea he sent troops over there and we became part of the Korean War effort.  He had to make very hard decisions during his Presidency some popular and some not.  He did not have any formal education and was a self taught man (the last President elected without a college education.)  He had a famous saying, “the buck stops here!” The saying basically meant, that he had the ultimate authority to make the decisions and that he would accept the responsibility for those decisions.  Unlike a lot of politicians today!

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Kelly at the Kansas City Elks Lodge.

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Hollywood night with Elvis and other celebrities at the Elks.

While we were in Kansas City, Kelly went to the World War I museum, I went to Union Station, we took a trolley downtown and ate at the famous Jack Stack chain of BBQ restaurants.  Our last day in Kansas City all we wanted to do was to stay cool.  We decided to go to a water park, but the water temperature was almost the same as the outside temperature.  As soon as we got out of the water we started to sweat!  That morning, we also took an 9 mile bike ride.  The shady bike pathway was nice but as soon as you stopped the sweat came.

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Union Station is where my Father came home by train on his leaves from the Army.

Our next stop was Stotesbury, Missouri where my Grandmother’s family is buried.  I have been working on my families genealogy on my Grandmother Opal’s side and wanted to learn more. I have traced back to her Great, Grandfather.  Her two brothers and their wives plus her parents are all buried at East  Liberty Cemetery just outside the small town.  

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The town were my Grandmother Opal’s family was from.  We found it no longer exists even though there is still a sign off the highway.

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Kelly decided his way was a better use of time and more direct, than my way. But because of a low bridge, we had to go down a gravel road with the fifth wheel.  At one point, I drove while he went on the roof of the trailer to hold back branches from hitting the air conditioning unit. It was the worst road we will ever have our fifth wheel go on!  The last mile I ended up riding my bike over the railroad tracks to the cemetery, but later found we could barely make it over these tracks to get to the main road.

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I wish I was closer to help maintain this small country cemetery, like we do with Kelly’s family at the Yoncalla Oregon Applegate Cemetery.

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My Great Grandparents.

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My Grandmother’s plot.  I wish I could have met her.  After going to Vernon County I did find out that she taught school in a one room school house on the boarder of Kansas and Missouri.  We found an original perfect attendance certificate that she signed.  I wished they would let me have it but they made me a copy. 

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Then we went to Fort Scott Kansas just over the border from Missouri. This was where my Great, Great Grandfather is buried at the National Military Cemetery there, he died of small pox at Fort Scott.

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His real name was Thomas Jefferson Denton I, but he went by Jefferson Denton.  He died when my Great Grandfather was just a baby.  He fought for the Union side and died during the Civil War.   His brother was a confederate solider, which shows how the war tore apart families.

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It was a real surprise to find that Fort Scott was still mostly in tact.    We took a self guided tour in the buildings that we could go through.  This was the back of the hospital where my Great Great Grandfather died.

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My Great, Great Grandfather could have died in this room, but with so many causalities during the Civil War, they also had to set up tents in the field in front of this hospital.      Now onto Arkansas….

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We made it to Eureka Springs Arkansas on top of the Ozark Mountains.   Eureka means “I found it” in Latin, so the town became popular after European Americans discovered that the several springs surrounding the town had healing powers.  It is also called “The Little Switzerland of America” because of its mountainous terrain and the winding up and down paths of the streets and walkways.  It has a unique character since many Victorian homes are still in the village today and other houses have an alpine look to them which is from the influence of the first Europeans to settle here.

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The town reminded me of Cannon Beach with well kept gardens and art abounding.

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This church is the only church in America that you enter through a bell tower.

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The 1886 Crescent Hotel is considered the most haunted hotel in America.  It was also a Cancer hospital, College for Young Women, a morgue and a sanitarium.  It has been featured on several TV shows because of its scary past.

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Because of the threat of health risks the government made the city cement in all the springs so that people would not get sick drinking the room temperature water which could contain bacteria.

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We saw the 68′ statue of Jesus and toured the bible museum there.  If the statue was any taller it would have had to have lights on Jesus head, so the sculptor decided it was tall enough.  It is the 45th anniversary of the statue and you can also enjoy the Great Passion Play which is also part of the whole complex.

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With over 6,000 bibles in this museum, this one page was one of the most valuable at $100,000 and was written on calfskin.  The collection was 2nd to the largest and most complete to the only other collection which is in Washington DC at the Library of Congress.  They had bibles written in 650 languages.  They have a first edition and 1st printing of a King James bible and that is worth $500,000!   The most valuable to us as Christians are the God given words in the bible that are used for guidance and the words also give us encouragement to live our life the way God intended us to.

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Another classic Victorian home!

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It took two hours for us to drive to Branson Missouri from Eureka Springs. I had visited the city 10 years before with a senior group when I was a travel agent and a lot had changed since then.  The town now has two by pass roads because the traffic is so heavy at times.  The best time to go is still Spring or Fall.  The first night we went to see Jim Stafford.  He is now 72 and you might know some of his once famous songs like “Spiders and Snakes” or “My Girl Bill”.  Well his singing is more of just a spoken word,but his guitar playing is still very good.  We also saw the acapella group Six, a 60’s song review tribute band, and a magician.  Most of it was good.  If you go to see an act at the same venue they give you a discount, so we took advantage of that. 

On Sunday, we headed off to church.  It was a mega church.  The Faith Life Church with pastor Keith Moore.  I did not know it was going to be so big, (it was close to our KOA.) Turns out the service is televised and the other day while we were flipping through the channels we saw him preaching on our TV as well!  The church had a very professional feel to it and Pastor Keith preached a very good sermon.

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We took a “Ride the Ducks” boat ride and went up four wheeling to overlook Lake Taneycomo.  Kelly got to be captain for 5 minutes of the ride.  We also went to Silver Dollar City.  A western themed amusement park outside of Branson.  Kelly got to go on his roller coasters and I watched.  (I did go on one, but my neck can’t take it.)  The park also has musical and dancing shows to watch.

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We had a good time watching these performers imitate famous singers at one of the shows we went to.  Can you guess who they are supposed to be?  It was our son’s Andrews birthday that day and I Facetimed him while “Michael Jackson” sang Happy Birthday to him.  “Taylor Swift” also wished him a great birthday. We had a good time in Branson, but it was time to move on to Little Rock….. More later.

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