St Croix River Road Ramblings

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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Branson MO

Day 2: Princeton MO to Branson MO

The tires were up; the roads wet, but not very slippery when we left the motel at Princeton MO at about 7:30 with the goal of getting to Branson by afternoon. The ground had about 3-4 inches of new white snow on top of both bare areas and old snow drifts. The temperature in the morning was 30 degrees with the local forcast to stay in the 30’s all day.

The forecast for Branson was 61 by mid afternoon with partly cloudy. By noon, we were in mid MO. They had not had any fresh snow, but there were some snow banks in the ditches. Mostly open—no snow!! As we drove along the temperature kept rising to 45 at noon and finally at about 3:30 when we pulled into Branson, it was 61!

We stopped for lunch at the Truman Dam along Hwy 65. The visitor center was closed, but we had a picnic in 44 degree, sunny weather. Felt pretty good as the first time we have seen over 40 since Nov.

Northern MO had a lot of farmland. The land became more rolling and wooded as we progressed southward through the state. After Springfield, we were in the edge of the Ozarks and left farming behind. An area north of Springfield on the north side of the Missouri river was very flat and all farmed.

We drove through mainstreet Branson. It is amazingly filled with tourist places. Most of the big theaters are closed until sometime in March. The Roy Rogers Museum is closed, possibly permanently. Some big theaters were for sale. The economic downturn seems to have hit Branson too.

We looked for a cheap motel. The advertised prices ranged from $24.50 to about $40. Many of the larger hotels didn’t list a price and many were closed for the season and a few for sale. We forgot to bring along our own Raid and Glade (necessary for the cheap motels) so picked a respectable looking one called the RIA Motor Inn towards the west end of town--$44.50 with tax. It is OK.

As it is Saturday night, the town was quite busy and full of traffic. We went to
Billy Bob’s Diner, a small mainstreet 1950s d├ęcor restaurant. It had meta-flake red kitchen chairs, metaflake red oil cloth covered tables and a black and white checker board floor. There was a counter with rotating stainless, red top stools. I had the burger basket and Margo the chicken basket. Pretty good!

We didn’t go looking for tickets for a show. We had planned to be here a couple of days, but the forecast says rain Sunday and cold (highs of 30s) for Monday and Tuesday. So we will poke along tomorrow towards Hot Springs Arkansas. I might take the mineral springs hot bath treatment to get my leg feeling better.

I was really sore in my thighs today. When we had the flat tire yesterday, I was out in the wet snow trying to take off the wheel, and getting up and down (good exercise for my legs), but since I hadn’t done a thing for 3 months, the muscles were sore as heck today! Sure is a pain getting back in shape.

I am using just one (left) crutch to walk the last two days trying to get my right leg working again. The ankle gets sore, the knee, the foot, and the leg. I mix aspirin, ibuprofen, and Tylenol to try and kill the pain. Works sort of—of course you have to not mind a belly ache and bleeding out the rear end as side effects (and maybe a failing kidney).

No car problems except after I started the engine this morning, I heard sort of a metal scraping/grinding sound from under the hood. I popped the hood and listened awhile. I think it is something running on the main drive belt (maybe the idler/tensioner pulley, or the water pump bearings or the alternator bearings or maybe something else). When we get settled somewhere in a warm place, I will work on the diagnosis. The Roadmaster has so much insulation to keep you from hearing the engine, you don’t notice it with the hood down and the doors shut.

Sixty one degrees is really pretty warm!!!