Written by Jose Kevo on 09 Dec, 2004
If ever near Carthage, Missouri, with time to stop awhile, I invite you to a historic strip of Route 66 that runs through town. Don't think you're lost just because almost everyone in the neighborhood appears Hispanic. I'll greet you at the door...and welcome you…Read More
If ever near Carthage, Missouri, with time to stop awhile, I invite you to a historic strip of Route 66 that runs through town. Don't think you're lost just because almost everyone in the neighborhood appears Hispanic. I'll greet you at the door...and welcome you inside to my own private island.
My home is El Barrio-goes-beach shack, but don't let that fool you. It's straight-up nouveau ghetto! Favorite possessions include photos and obscure must-haves from around the world. Otherwise, if it's not from a yard sale or flea market, it's authentically Wal-Mart, including more than 100 various-sized trees and plants that help ice (or, in this case, melt) the balmy tranquility.
During the months while the jungle is pumping sun in the backyard, the interior all but doubles in size, with exposed walls and ceilings splashed in Caribbean colors. Stages of daylight transform hue-schemes, thanks to 11 windows bordering the four main rooms that open into an el-shape. It's like an inside greenhouse that's unfortunately impossible to heat in the coldest of winter. That's a clue for not expecting to find air-conditioning either, for now, but windows open, with nice, fan-enhanced breezes.
The house is probably around a century old and isn't in bad shape, for a rental property. There are two bedrooms, but don't assume sleeping options are limited. If you're like most, making it past the living room might prove difficult. A double-wide beach hammock from Venezuela has became my potato for veggin' out. It's got a couple of cruise levels based on tautness; a sagging chill mode great for conscious activities, and low-rider, more suitable for sleeping.
Across the room is a plush, extra-long couch, great for taller people. The highlight has been tagged the human burrito blanket, a native masterpiece of handwoven wool found in the mountain village of Sintra, Portugal. It's seasonably common to see two people, stretched out with heads at opposite ends, watching television and/or napping while double-wrapped under the palm trees. Come evenings, appropriate black lighting can provide a village streetlamp affect or a Dark Side of the Tropical Moon.
Otherwise, I'm willing to offer up El Cuarto del Mar -- the Sea Room -- that might leave more than just your mind swimming. Walls and ceiling fuse the marine-colored palette with a Caribbean comforter, accentuated by beach shots. When needed, additional warmth comes from an electric blanket. Stimulation and motivation are further invigorated from a basic weight bench and wicked curl bar off to the side. I can stir up an alarm clock, should you need one, but my inner-ticker has me up naturally by 6am to put coffee on.
Since the last one flew the nest again, The Dominican Room is the official guestroom, inspired by 15'x12' flags covering the two longest walls. Should you feel totally lost, there's a couple of appropriate maps to help you get your bearings. There's a large collection of memorabilia from the country's baseball greats, including an extensive baseball card collection shelved with 20 years' worth of photo albums. A double-wide futon can sleep two smaller people comfortably. I think the mattress is too hard, but I've never heard any complaints.
Don't let the dinosaur in the corner scare you. It's great for homework and writing journals, but my computer is so old, it runs on Microsoft 2.0! That's right -- no Internet -- and while listing things, there's also no cable, DVD, cell phone, or much of anything beyond simple life. High maintenance has never been part of my nature. The computer and/or stereo are usually on far more than the television. Antonio moving back home forced agreeing to my first-ever answering machine, but I'm more pleased with his second demand.
A new stero system that included a CD player was really a must for any household deemed Latino. Sharp Stereo vibrates a smooth groove that conjurs my biggest one-way ticket back to the islands with constant music; loudly, when need be. It must work. English-speaking friends regularly request copies. Even neighbors raised on oom-pah and mariachi solicit backyard concerts.
Merengue and bachata from DR and salsa from PR have long been my favorites, but the stack of 50-cent CDs from Venezuela are still tearing down the house with fusion remix versions of the three styles above, as well as regional country music. When the timing is right, if you don't mind cassettes, an older, eclectic deluge is especially heavy on classic rock, jazz genres, and throw-down black gospel for all the churchin' you'll ever need.
I've been told the house actualizes stepping into my journals. The smallest of keepsakes and mementos are shrouded by entanglements of garden, including quite the European collection. Perhaps it's a bit much, but what else could be expected from my personal travel Hall of Fame?
The main entry contains a large shrine from my concepts of the Caribbean religion Santeria. In addition to photos and candles, it's a memorial to persons and things of special significance: a small bowl of dry rice and pigeon peas, hoping my family will never go hungry, a pile of Dominican pesos in bills, and coinage. There's my half of the heart-shaped brain coral that was split with a machete, the boarding pass from rushing to a farewell, and other simple things that all have a keep-forever purpose.
For now, it's been unanimous that all that's missing is sand -- something often given serious thought and discussion, especially after sitting around and indulging the atmosphere for awhile. My property manager sometimes takes hours just to collect rent. When appropriate timing no longer mattered, Donna was easily convinced of how simple it would be to extend the baseboards paritioning off bedrooms/kitchen and filling the rest with sand. Obviously, when later coming to her senses and remembering first-hand my spontaneity, she called the next morning, saying she'd absolutely kill me if I did!
Aside from lounging around places, my dining room is anchored with a large glass-top table accommodating six padded chairs, straight out of the Garden and Patio section of a magazine. It's the perfect fit for meals, talking over drinks, or candlelight card games in the middle of Midwest electrical storms. For calmer evenings, a built-in hutch begs inspecting international compilations of shells, Coca-Cola products, scenic jigsaw puzzles, and decorative magnets. But don't be shy if chairs and table are moved for opening up the dance floor.
Hosing down after working up a sweat is my least appealing option. Currently, I've got a claw-foot bathtub that's unfortunately the junior model and useless for actual baths. For now, it's a shower hose. Seriously, I've done little to the bathroom, which doubles as a utility room. There's a washer and dryer and an ironing board, should you need it beyond casual wear.
The kitchen is basic, with what there is to work with, but foods coming out of it are even more commanding than the three shades of lime green trimmed in sea blue. My only house rule is that no one lights up inside, regardless! But even for non-smokers, the back porch is a magnet for gathering over diverse conversations, providing some of my most memorable times. An unexpected perk is that the house came with no gutters, so rain showers cascade off the roof, just like in the islands, and it's also peaceful watching snow fall from favored interior snuggle spots.
Whether sitting around outside using steps, milk crates, or pulling out dining room chairs and my papason throne, the backyard stretches a good 30 yards to the alley. A privacy fence next door and garage help to enclose the densely shaded area. Limbs and other natural debris keep a woodpile stocked for campfires and bonfires.
There's room to park a camping trailer out back, but we've enjoyed the convenience of tent camping -- roughing it steps away from home base. Understand that backyard presence is open-invitation on my block of Hispanic neighbors. As a guest, they'll respect your privacy or welcome you in with a bottomless beer. Taking life easy is just in their blood...usually along with a high BAC!
In the mad scheme of things, I've decided to buy this house, add on some space, transform the outside to be Caribbean, and develop the backyard. That's right, a bed-and-breakfast: Jose Kevo's Caribbean Cabaña and Cocina. A day at the beach out in the middle of nowhere. I can promote the hell out of it through all the Route 66 hype. Meantime, everyone just randomly shows up and eventually contributes something. Until the day comes, consider the rate based on worth of experience.
* Additional back-yard photos.
Written by Jose Kevo on 08 Sep, 2004
If you think about it...those early stages of awareness towards the world beyond us, is that not birth of the travel bug? Growing up in middle America's 4-State region, I recall frequently crossing borders to Kansas and Oklahoma. Trips to Arkansas were fewer…Read More
If you think about it...those early stages of awareness towards the world beyond us, is that not birth of the travel bug? Growing up in middle America's 4-State region, I recall frequently crossing borders to Kansas and Oklahoma. Trips to Arkansas were fewer and more special; usually a family drive including grandparents through foothills of the Ozark and Boston Mountains-(molehills!) chains. However, it took several years to figure out the grown-ups' disguised comments always before crossing into Arkansas.
They Came By It NaturallyPinned in the southwestern corner of Missouri two counties from where I lived, McDonald County was always epitome of a Hoot and a Holler, backwoods hill people living by a code of their own. Don't I know it from stories my father eventually discussed forthright from early days on the Missouri State Highway Patrol, and ongoing feuds and fiascos dealt with after becoming zone commander for the entire region.
Often lawless and more derelict than a barrel of drunken monkeys on moonshine, there were plenty of Mc-County jokes to go around based on factual trivia. More than once they filed to secede from the State; out to reform their own Republic of Redneck, and well-defended from stockpiles of arsenals continually seized. And town water systems in the centralized metropolis of Anderson (population 1,845), used to be cursed with sulphur water...that rotten egg taste/smell that permeated every public place entered.
There's one High School for the County which became my teenage Close Enounters with the Inbred Kind through athletics. As a conference member, we dreaded games in McDonald County no matter how easily beaten regardless of sport. Frequent 0-? football seasons during those earliest stages of civilization might've been enough to get a local fan riled up, but they still had other priorities; like varsity basketball players showing up half-way into games cause the rodeo, hoe-down whatever in the barn out back ran late.
Walking back to the bus later was often a more heated rivalry than actual competition. The old sign along the main highway inferring "don't let the sun go down on you in our County if you're black" had long been gone, but mentalities hadn't changed. No matter how many parents, fans stuck around to escort us out, we could still count on trouble because of teammates, uppity cheerleaders, and any unjustified conflict scenario you care to imagine.
That's not saying we didn't have our "own kind"; perhaps twice-removed cousin types that migrated north to Carthage, population 12,886...with a big ol' Hee-Haw saaalute! But perceived wealth and culture still hadn't tamed little hairs on back of necks, and more than once buses pulled out with us mashed against windows like Garfield-cat dolls trying to see who's daddy kicked who's daddy's ass?
Between school and north to County line were two speed-trap towns surviving on revenues generated from tenacious police forces; Real McCoy's portrayed by bumbling Barneys and Cletus Einsteins stereotyped in every classic script. They were ruthless in performing duties lining up cars, trucks, even our buses along the road's shoulder until personally greeting and ticketing all that passed through their fair municipality.
There was always that hesitation of playing stupid; keep right on heading towards the County line. But even if they didn't unleash hot pursuit, one harbored deep-seeded fear they'd burned license plate number into deviant minds for next time passing through. About the only thing more frightening than truth-based County jokes were sordid rumors about getting locked up in the local hoosegow.
You'd think by the time I left home for University of Arkansas, there'd have been a lesson learned; especially since Dad's position with the State had no influence with County boys. Shall we say I bought more than one pair of shoes for barefoot kids through local "taxation"; the County's version of subsidized public assistance.
Coming of Age in the CountyMoving back from Kansas City in '86 to finally finish my first degree, luck would have it I'd fall right into a group of friends that were camping/canoeing enthusiasts. They'd outgrown childhood stigmas about McDonald County being a potential trouble spot to avoid, and personal introductions to Shady Beach Campground and Elk River ushered in a whole new local recreation.
There's nothing like apprenticing under hard-core veterans for acquiring ultimate levels of skills and thrills while throwing caution to the wind. After those initial two rowdy nights of camping sandwiched around my first all-day float trip, I purchased tent and full accessories of camping gear.
Popularity of camping and canoeing were increasing in the County, but we faithfully stuck with what we knew - Shady Beach, and the standard trip putting in at Highway 71 bridge in Pineville and eventually floating home...an average 4-6-hour float easily stretched into 10 or more stopping to regroup and "refuel" at every gravel bar waiting just beyond next bend in the river.
Turns out, I was a natural with oar in hand...sitting at helm in back of canoe for stearing through whatever watercourse challenges were before us. Every now and then, County Conservation officers drifted by looking for glass containers or other contraband; thankfully not as merciless as roadside coworkers.
There were no speeding tickets or PWI's (paddling while intoxicated), but we always questioned suspicious look in their eyes; no trip ever complete without a recap of the movie Deliverance in comparison with backwoods environs.
We likely scared off any squint-eyed, bucked-tooth, banjo-pickin' kids with our renditions standing in back of canoes...crooning while paddling like Venetian gondaliers. But in film, there were no mentions of sisters, and when you always least expected it, some Daisy Mae-type appeared from the woods; vamping flirtations with undeniable looks and skin-tight skivvies.
Talk about redefining live bait! Perhaps she was another "Jane" or "Stella"...names of local hickville-towns not mentioning across the border in another county was "Purdy"...as if inferring the local "look but don't touch" code. Bubba and whatever menfolk might be waiting just beyond the trees based on real-life skirmishes repeatedly unfolding at Shadow Lake; the County's cross-cultural brawl magnet in form of open-air bar attracting assorted fools from the 4-State region.
Self-independence and knowledge supposedly gained during mid-20's life can be deceiving; unaware of how much there's still yet to learn. New owners took over Shady Beach around 1990 and all but panicked when sun was going down and we'd yet to return. A few weeks later, they remembered us but still sent out search party come dusk. By our third trip back, they knew our names, and marathons on the river were just how things went. They never searched for us again.
Somehow we always managed to survive the combined elements...faithfully making that one-hour drive even if only camping for the night. Before moving to NYC in July '92, it was only fitting my most memorable good-bye party was about 20 regulars for one last County adventure.
The More Things Change......the more they stay the same. Returning nine years later, there were major hints of progress. A new 4-lane highway system allows travelers to whiz right by former speedtraps denting local revenues in Goodman and Anderson. With Tyson and Wal-Mart World headquarters just across the border in booming northwest Arkansas, laborers have found less expensive, country living in McDonald County evident by housing developments erasing endless pastures.
Infusing new life into the County while reviving the gene pool must be working. The Mustangs are now winning conference championships...including hot-shot athletes from the exploding Hispanic population drawn by poultry plants; I even saw a black guy walking along side the road likely unaware of potential lynching in decades gone by.
Over three years had slipped away trying to coordinate others' schedules with weather for re-experiencing this ritual. Determined not to let another summer pass me by, an early August day with heat index over 100-degrees proved perfect setting for rediscovering my local favorite past-time only now on a first-time solo adventure.
When later speaking with family, Dad may have long-retired from the State Patrol but turns out still has stories I guess the entire 4-State area is aware of. Huh? He asked if I'd seen new signs posted along the river prohibiting nudity?
Turns out just a few weeks before, ladies had taken children to swim in the river when a pair of canoes approached with passengers butt-naked! One grabbed camera for collecting hard evidence. The floaters pulled over; confrontation ensued including camera getting tossed into the water. As only local fate would have it, the lady attacked happened to be wife of the County sheriff!
One has to laugh at probability and bare facts! No matter how progressive in population and appearance things continue moving forward, one's got to believe McDonald County will always be a local showcase for outdoor adventures...of course, anchored with a Hoot and a Holler!
Written by Re Carroll on 01 Mar, 2004
Mark Twain put Hannibal on the map and many of the buildings in the downtown core
have been featured in his stories. For a small town we found quite a lot to see and do in
Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum - 208…Read More
Mark Twain put Hannibal on the map and many of the buildings in the downtown core
have been featured in his stories. For a small town we found quite a lot to see and do in
Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum - 208 Hill St.
Originally located in Clemens’ boy hood home, the museum was expanded to encompass the house next door. The Clemens house has been restored to its mid 1800 era with lots of period furniture. The museum annex in the back has photos of some of Hannibal’s real life citizens who Twain’s characters were modeled after as well as one of Twain’s original white suit jackets. Standing proudly beside the house is the white picket fence that Tom conned the neighborhood boys into painting.
Becky Thatcher House -- 211 Hill Street
Just across the street is the home of Laura Hawkins, Clemens’ childhood sweetheart who was the inspiration for Becky Thatcher. The main floor has been converted into a gift shop and tearoom, but upstairs are two restored room: Laura’s bedroom and the parlor where statues of Laura and her mother are shown preparing for a local dance. Thick sheets of Plexiglas keep visitors out of the rooms but the antique furnishings make it easy to get a sense of the era.
Grant’s Drug Store/Pilaster House -- Hill and Main
The house was built in the 1830s and the upstairs was where Clemens family lived for a few years until his father died in 1847. The main floor has antique pharmaceutical and health instruments on display.
Mark Twain Lighthouseatop Cardiff Hill
Built in 1935 to commemorate Twain’s 100th birthday, the lighthouse was never intended to be put into operation. Situated on top of Cardiff Hill, it was originally dedicated by President Roosevelt and later by President Kennedy and again by President Clinton after extensive restoration. The lighthouse isn’t open to visitors but I found this to be one of the most peaceful spots in Hannibal and the views of the town and the river were more than worth the climb.
Just outside of Hannibal is a hill top overlooking the Mississippi that provides scenic views of town and the chance to watch barges and tug boats ply the river. Legend says it got its name because of an Indian Romeo and Juliet who decided to run away together. Unfortunately they didn’t get far before they were tracked down by her family on this hill top where they chose to jump to their death rather than be separated.
Sawyer’s Creek -- Located on Highway 79 just outside Hannibal, this fun center/shopping arcade is a good place for kids to burn off excess energy with miniature golf, bumper boats and a video arcade. Although much of the park was closed for the season we fed the giant koi in the fish pond and browsed through the Christmas shop, wine shop and candy store.
The Caves - Cameron Cave and Mark Twain Cave are both located in the large Mark Twain Cave and Campground complex. They can only be visited on a one-hour guided tour and we got there too late in the day. Guess we’ll have to do that on our next visit to Hannibal.
Written by eddr on 08 Feb, 2006
Shopping can be fun or a drag. Knowing the best places to go is crucial. For a great day, my girlfriends and I love to find bargains at resale shops in St. Louis. The first stop is always Women's Closet Exchange on Gravois Road. The…Read More
Shopping can be fun or a drag. Knowing the best places to go is crucial. For a great day, my girlfriends and I love to find bargains at resale shops in St. Louis. The first stop is always Women's Closet Exchange on Gravois Road. The shop is open Monday through Saturday and is filled with gently used brand-name apparel. Shopping is fun here because everything is on racks according to size. Here you will not only find clothing but also beautiful accessories to complete your outfit, all at a fraction of the retail price. The friendly salespeople will tell you about the sales and then find you a dressing room. They gladly comment on outfits and put together everything with just the right touch. This is our favorite shop in town.
The next stop is The Scholar Shop. They now have two locations: one on Clayton Road and one in Webster Groves. These shops sell gently worn items for very little. All proceeds support the Scholarship Foundation. You will have to hunt a bit more here, but it is well worth the search. Vintage clothing and accessories can be found here, as can St. John suits, Talbots sweaters and shirts, and a variety of fur coats and jackets. Prices here are very cheap. On my last visit, I purchased a vintage silver/black flower-design evening bag for $10. I have also found beautiful Gap shirts for $5!
Resale shops are great, especially when you will be traveling and don't want to invest a fortune in a wardrobe for a particular climate. Or when you need a cocktail outfit for a dressy occasion and don't want the high price tag for an outfit you will wear once or twice. A day at these two shops will yield benefits to your wardrobe and your purse.
Written by btwood2 on 01 Jan, 2005
Due to ongoing Civil War guerilla warfare, much of the original town of Carthage had been destroyed by 1863. Following the war, the town began to be rebuilt from the ashes. Lead, zinc, and marble mining, plus productive wheat fields, created considerable wealth.…Read More
Due to ongoing Civil War guerilla warfare, much of the original town of Carthage had been destroyed by 1863. Following the war, the town began to be rebuilt from the ashes. Lead, zinc, and marble mining, plus productive wheat fields, created considerable wealth. This, in turn, led to those who profited from these industries, business ventures, and farming, building stylish Victorian mansions.
Town Square: We began our architectural tour on Town Square, dominated by Jasper County Courthouse. It was completed in 1895 after more than a year and a half of day and night construction. The courthouse, built of native stone quarried locally, was designed in the Romanesque Revival style by architect Maximilian Orlopp, who also designed the Dallas County Courthouse in Dallas, Texas. The building is still used for Jasper County government offices and also contains a historic mural and historic artifacts in the lobby. The perimeters of Town Square contain mostly viable businesses and a wide variation of building styles.
Victorians galore! Main Street and Grand Avenue between the 900s and 1400s are where you’ll find the highest concentration of Victorians. Undaunted by wet weather and drawn to the big homes looming in the mist, we continued our Victorian tour at the head of Grand Avenue in our Hyundai Elantra, with heater and defrost fired up high. Towel at the ready for window shots, it was impossible to resist exiting the vehicle to get a better feel of these imposing mansions up close. So, cameras in pockets and hoods on, we made our way, sometimes on foot, then again by car. One of these days, I’ve got to get a book that clearly categorizes Victorians. Just when I’m beginning to recognize familiar styles, a drove of new ones pops up, seemingly unlimited and bounded only by imagination. This was again the case in Carthage.
Ghostly presences: Not a few of these rambling Victorians are purported to contain ghosts. The Grand Avenue Bed and Breakfast, built in 1894, is one. Albert Carmean bought the home shortly after the original owner went bankrupt. Albert was a jack of many trades, including circuit court clerk, bank chairman, and owner of a mine and hardware store. He died in 1933 following a brief illness. Especially in fall, his trademark cigar smoke is smelled in the house. An interesting account of a ghost inspection of another Carthage Victorian residence by the Missouri Ghost Hunting Society was found to be quite full of manifestations of not-so-departed spirits.
Just south of St. Anne’s Catholic School, we thought we’d stumbled upon a Civil War unknown soldier graveyard of rows upon rows of white, anonymous crosses, but no, these crosses symbolized the 4,000 unborns whose partially begun lives are cut short by abortion every day, making a powerful and controversial statement. The Catholic presence is strong in Carthage. Not much further south lays a monastery dedicated to Mary, home to Catholic Vietnamese seminarians and priests.
Carthage has a gluttony of fast-food chains and buffet restaurants where a person can eat their weight in American food, seafood, and Chinese selections. Otherwise, there's nothing in between for rare times I feel like eating out, except tucked-away small eateries necessitating making a…Read More
Carthage has a gluttony of fast-food chains and buffet restaurants where a person can eat their weight in American food, seafood, and Chinese selections. Otherwise, there's nothing in between for rare times I feel like eating out, except tucked-away small eateries necessitating making a run for the border-and we're not talking Taco Bell!
Numerous tienditas have sprung up all over town, serving the booming Hispanic population. My favorite is called La Tiendita on the corner of River and Chestnut and across from Carter's Park. It's a smaller market, but on weekends they run a restaurant off to the side with authentic Mexican selections and atmosphere. Choices are limited, but you can't go wrong with soft-shell tacos for $1 or the gargantuan-sized burrito loaded with shredded beef, rice, and all the trimmings for $3.50.
Limes are great for helping take the bite out of the fiery picante sauce. A reach-in cooler is stocked with a selection of soft drinks and juices, and there are even more choices in the store part. If available, I highly recommend a glass of the Guatemalan favorite horchata, a sweet blend of milk and rice and flavored with spices or peanut butter. Leaving here stuffed for about $5 is well worth avoiding typical Mexican fast-food places.
Mauricio's is a full-service restaurant at 129 Main with more than 125 choices on the bilingual menu, which are ordered by the number; plates range from $3 to $12. They've worked hard to attract the downtown lunch crowd with widespread advertisements and even accepting credit cards. Unfortunately, I think food has been highly inconsistent, depending on whether kitchen staff is Mexican, Guatemalan, or Salvadoran for the day, but local Caucasians, not knowing any better, rave about this place.
Guerrero Supermercado is on the corner of 4th Street and Lyon, off the square, and certainly offers an interesting look around. Colorful piñatas dangle from ceiling along with clothing and other treasures from home. The Hispanic community is so dyed-in-the-wool with tradition and loyalty, even Coca-Cola and Pepsi products are imported from Mexico, with thick glass bottles that are labeled in Spanish. Tropical fruit, as well as standard produce is better and less expensive than anywhere in town, but my most common purchases are phone cards specialized for Latin American countries; $5 for 55-minutes when calling the Dominican Republic.
It's been a pleasure watching the owners start from a small storefront and develop into this larger successful location. They've since obtained a liquor license for satisfying thirsts for cervezas (beer) at lower cost and added a butcher shop with meats and seafood cut to order. Aisles are stocked with all the fixings for traditional meals, including fresh spices and seasonings that rival the new bakery for dominating aromas. Pan Dulces (sweet breads) are traveler's best purchase and come in large forms of biscuits, cakes, cookies, and pastries laced with fillings and sugar-spiced toppings at three for $1. Advertisements and booths with tables suggest that there's a restaurant inside, but it has yet to actually get off the ground.
Written by MilwVon on 12 Jul, 2007
While driving to see what was around Branson, we stumbled upon the Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery. Located south of Branson off Hwy. 165, you can't miss it as it sits just below the Table Rock Dam.There are many large fish "tanks" that have a variety…Read More
While driving to see what was around Branson, we stumbled upon the Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery. Located south of Branson off Hwy. 165, you can't miss it as it sits just below the Table Rock Dam.There are many large fish "tanks" that have a variety of sizes of trouts being raised to stock the local lakes throughout the Ozark Mountain area. As visitors walk around the open area, there are signs to explain how fish are bred and raised until their release.It was interesting to see some of the tanks loaded full of very small minnow sized fish ("fingerlings").... so many that you could really only see the swirling black mass in the water. As they grow, the fish are separated out to give them more space. They are moved probably three or four times before they are eventually netted and placed into a tank on a truck that will transport them to their final lake destination.This fish hatchery produces over one million fish annually! This is the largest in the Missouri Department of Conservation system and is the most visible of their trout preservation program. There is also a visitor center on site that provides additional information about the fish hatchery and conservation programs.Summer hours are from 9am to 6pm and there is no admission fee. Visitors do have the opportunity to buy fish food from small vending machines to throw into the tanks. It was fun to watch the fish come up to eat the food pellets as they were thrown into the water.If you have an hour or two, we would recommend a stop by this interesting educational facility. Close
Called "The best dinner show in Branson" by the AARP we felt that might be a bit of a stretch. While the show was fun (I’ll get to that in a minute), the dinner was poor. Guests had the choice of grilled rib eye steak…Read More
Called "The best dinner show in Branson" by the AARP we felt that might be a bit of a stretch. While the show was fun (I’ll get to that in a minute), the dinner was poor. Guests had the choice of grilled rib eye steak or chicken breast served with fruit, potatoes, coleslaw, and dessert with unlimited soft drinks and iced tea. I should make my first editorial comment here about the menu. On their website they state that the meal would include soup, dinner roll, and fruit cobbler. While we weren’t necessarily wanting soup in the 90+ degree heat, the warm watermelon and cantaloupe wasn’t very refreshing either. There was no roll and instead of a fruit cobbler they served a rather skimpy strawberry shortcake. We had the steaks which were on the fatty side, even for a rib eye, and either severely overcooked or raw. All in all, the meal was a big disappointment.The show starts shortly after they start serving dinner. The premise is that there are two "camps" or teams of lumberjacks competing in a variety of activities typical to men performing this job in the wilderness. The "Lone Pine Camp" was in competition with the home "Tall Timbers Camp" with two lumberjacks on each team. The show was emceed to explain each of the activities and the history behind each. He was informative and entertaining, adding to the show. Much of the antics were slapstick type humor, and was acceptable for young children.Some of the competitions include axe throwing, log rolling and team sawing. There were also a couple of competitions that involved members from the audience, including axe throwing, which frankly surprised me. The children rolling logs on the ground seemed much safer!The dinner and show started promptly at 5:30pm...and lasted 90 minutes. If you can make a request regarding where you’ll be seated, ask for the Lone Pine Camp area for two reasons. First, you will be seated out of the sun for a majority of the show. The Tall Timber seating area has full sun for the entire show with the sun setting directly in front of you. This was especially hot, plus it made for horrible photos. Speaking of photos, the second reason to sit in the Lone Pines’ Camp is that there is this really ugly netting hanging in front of the Tall Timbers’ Camp to prevent wood chips from flying into the seating area. This makes for very bad photos.Regarding photos, I should also point out that while their website states that no photos are permitted during the show, they did allow them. Several people sitting around us complained that they didn’t bring in their cameras, figuring they wouldn’t be able to take any actions shots, based on the Tall Timbers Lumberjack Show website.All and all, I would consider the Tall Timber Lumberjack Dinner Show to be about a six on a ten point scale with ten being outstanding.Additional information:681 Long Lonesome RoadBranson, MO 65616PH: (866) 338-2957Website: www.talltimbershows.com/home.html Ticket prices:Adults $35 + taxChildren (under age 15) $25 + taxNote about purchasing tickets: If you buy your tickets from the website www.BransonShows.com you will pay more for your tickets! I was able to find tickets on eBay for $32 + tax from a local ticket broker, saving about $3.50 per ticket. Close
Written by meanderR on 14 May, 2006
There is much to do and see in St. Louis. We'll start downtown:
-Take in a baseball game. The city revolves around the Cardinals. Nearly everyone is in tune with how the season is going, or the latest news on the team. And with a…Read More
There is much to do and see in St. Louis. We'll start downtown:
-Take in a baseball game. The city revolves around the Cardinals. Nearly everyone is in tune with how the season is going, or the latest news on the team. And with a new stadium, the question should be: Why not?
-The old courthouse downtown is one of the older buildings in downtown. If you're a history buff, then I'd recommend this, as you'll learn that it was the site of the Dred Scott case for freedom from slavery. And since it has been around since 1826, it'll be a good starting base to learn about the St. Louis history.
-No visit to St. Louis is complete without venturing into the gateway arch-the most recognizable piece of the skyline in St. Louis. This monument to Westward Expansion also provides a good history lesson. And wonderful views of both downtown and eastward into Illinois.
-Since you're downtown, and you've just learned a bit about St. Louis history, now it's time to explore. Next take a walk around "Laclede's Landing". This area of the city is immediately North of the arch, so you're not very far. As you may or may not have learned by now, this area was actually the birthplace of St. Louis. In 1763, a French fur trapper named Pierre Laclede, along with Auguste Chouteau, settled here and named it St. Louis, in honor of the patron saint of the king of France.
Now it is an entertainment hub. There are enough bars to keep one busy, a casino and plenty of eateries. The cobble stone streets and cozy, historical homes, and it's proximity to the city make this an ideal respite from the hustle and bustle of downtown.
-Not far is the burgeoning Washington Avenue, immediately west of "the Landing." This is the up-and-coming loft district of St. Louis. Once full of dilapidated buildings and poverty, this area now shows the wealth of the upwardly mobile caste. Hip, trendy bars now pepper the area, while new eateries are also beginning to appear. This is the area of the city where you sip a martini.
-On the opposite south side of the city you will find Soulard. Another historic district that offers plenty in the way of eateries and bars/pubs.
Written by CassiLandrus on 02 Mar, 2006
If you’re looking for a track with a view, NasKart is the track for you. Going west on highway 54, just as you enter Osage Beach, this track is on the left. Don’t be fooled by the office that sits back in a corner,…Read More
If you’re looking for a track with a view, NasKart is the track for you. Going west on highway 54, just as you enter Osage Beach, this track is on the left. Don’t be fooled by the office that sits back in a corner, looking like some illegal activity might be going on there. You also don’t want to be fooled by how disgusting the office is inside. Don’t mind the couple of worn down, old arcade games and the random pieces of dirty, white plastic patio furniture. (I wouldn’t use the restroom in this place.) Also don’t mind the shaggy-haired skater in the corner strumming his guitar and fussing with his Crate amp.
Do, however, pay attention to the beautiful view NasKart offers. Behind the office is the track, which doesn’t pose much of a challenge for the competitive go-karter. It does, nevertheless, sit on the top of a hill, overlooking the northern part of the beautiful Ozark Mountains. This is a track where you can take your time in your kart and breathe the fresh Ozark air while casually waving at the other racers.
Situated on the right side of Business 54 (Bagnell Dam Blvd.), just after Risky’s as you’re going toward the Strip, Castle Rock is a miltifun center that is more attuned to the hustle and bustle of lake life during summer. It’s evident from the looks that this place has been at the lake for a while. However, that doesn’t stop it from having lines of people waiting in the sticky, summer heat. Though this track is short and fairly boring, leaving little to be desired in the way of go-karts, it does have other attractions, including mini golf, bumper cars, an arcade, and even a rock climbing wall. And don’t worry, they got rid of the bungee ride someone died on a few years ago.
Just across from Castle Rock is LeMann’s. This one isn’t too bad. It has a nice track and decent karts, and even though it’s right next to the highway, it’s far enough down the hill that you can have a little privacy while go-karting. However, the best thing about LeMann’s is not its location. The best thing is that it’s open during the rain! Whereas most go-kart tracks close for safety concerns as soon as the track gets wet, LeMann’s braves the weather and continues selling rides. So, if you want to race a go-kart and die, LeMann’s is the place for you.
If you’re looking for a track with a more experienced crew, try LaPointe. The manager of this track has worked here each summer for 5-years. In addition, the cashier and many of the kartboys have also been returning for several years. This track has some of the coolest go-karts (the ones without the plastic body covers), and the track is long and challenging as far as go-kart tracks go. They also have a PA system for the kartboys to instruct people, as well as flashing lights to warn when some douche has run his kart in to the wall. LaPoint is also 25¢ to 75¢ cheaper than most other go-kart tracks. The best thing about LaPoint is, despite its convienent location just off Highway 54 behind Burger King and across from Wal-Mart, few people know it exists. Therefore, it’s rarely busy.
Putt ‘N Stuff Family Fun Center:
At the lake, Putt ‘N Stuff is the Zeus of go-karting. In addition to mini golf, bumper cars, and the infamous Super Swing, Putt ‘N Stuff boasts having the fastest go-karts at the lake. Their track, though I feel not equal to LaPointe’s, is long and curvy. This track is pretty averagely priced and offers packages including all of its attractions. The crew here are also very experienced…and stoned.
Putt ‘N Stuff can be easily spotted from its location on Highway 54 going west, just past the Grand Glaze Bridge. It has a giant skull sitting on top of some fake rocks. Everything else on the grounds is painted a faded blue color with red, yellow, green, and blue bumper cars and go-karts accenting its worn down look. If you happen to miss the skull while driving, this décor as well as the water fountains on the golf course will be sure to catch your eye.
For many people, go-karting is just a brief 5 minutes of fun. For others it’s a passion, and for some, even a religious experience. I recently spoke with some go-kart enthusiasts to get their opinions on the subject. Avid go-kart aficionado, Liz, said, "I am glad that I don’t work at a go-kart track because I would smell like tourists or gasoline, but sometimes I get jealous of my friends that do because they get so many free rides." Bret takes go-karting a little more seriously. When asked for his opinions, Bret was a little more fervent about the racing aspect of go-karting. "…Go-karts are fun and loud (meaning more fun). I only wish go-karts went fast enough that it took some skill to drive around the track faster than everyone else." Still some, like Meghan, have a more deeply personal relationship with the lake and go-karting there. "The lake is where peoples' souls go to die, and go-karts are the lake's version of those boats that Greek myth guy paddles you to hell in."
If you don’t know what kind of go-karting you prefer, I highly recommend trying all tracks and all types of go-karts. Who knows, you may surprise yourself. You may turn out to be a speed demon who likes a nice view when you thought you were a more casual racer. It’s possible you may be so enchanted by the tracks and their zooming mini-autos that you decide to take up residence at the lake, retire, and spend your days giving speeches, filling gas tanks, and smoking doobies when your manager isn’t looking. And still, some may even find enlightenment. However despite your relationship with go-karts, one fact holds true; somewhere at the Lake of the Ozarks, there is a track best suited for you.