Topeka and Branson

Steve’s Topeka brother had a vacation planned to Colorado leaving two days after their father died and so it was fortunate timing for us to be there for his mother and to also be in town for a funeral that we thought would happen in a few days. Two more weeks and we will return to Kansas for it. Steve’s mother doesn’t cook so we went out to eat quite a bit and I fixed a couple of meals. Steve tossed and rearranged in her apartment for two days. Then a sister and another brother arrived from different states and they took over in getting rid of Steve’s dad’s clothes and throwing out more from the storage room. I’m sure next time Steve goes to Kansas that more “stuff” will appear and so there will be another sort and purge.

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A nephew, Steve, his mother, his only sister, one of 4 brothers, and a niece

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Steve’s sister and brother surprised us with a visit at the campground just as Steve was repairing a leak where rain had come in at the edge of a vent fan. That was the only leak after many days of rain and now it is fixed.

Finally, the day before we left, Steve and I got away to the botanical garden in Shawnee Park where we stayed. It was more beautiful than it was the last time when we were there September 2013 because of the tulips blooming around the park. We even went back again the next day and half the tulips had been taken out as some of the blooms were not so fresh anymore.

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And speaking of tulips, our Tulip, the little motorhome that we sold in March went on a trip to New Mexico with her new owners. I had warned them that Tulip was famous. Actually I was kind of teasing because of the decals we had put on her and almost removed before putting her up for sale. Anyway, they were approached by a couple in a similar motorhome that right away knew who Tulip was because of my blog. Now that was a feel good day! Thanks Rhonda and Steve (new owners) and Jud and Liane (blog readers).

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Picture is courtesy of Rhonda. We do miss the ease of getting around in Tulip that is for sure. But the trade off is having a much better living situation and since we spend many more hours living in a motorhome rather than driving one there are no regrets.

When we left Topeka we still didn’t know where we would go after Branson, Missouri because it’s too far to Kentucky and then back again to Kansas now that we get half the gas mileage as before. And we would be rushing too much to drive from Kansas to Texas in time to see friends that were leaving. So we have stayed in Branson almost two weeks trying to figure it out. We both like Branson quite a lot and don’t mind being here one bit. There is beautiful natural scenery with water everywhere, hills, rock walls, a state park with nice walking paths, and plenty of greenery. It’s an easy little city to drive in with good shopping. Probably the main thing Branson is famous for are the shows, mostly along one boulevard. There are 60 different shows going on now but we haven’t gone to any. It’s just not something we like to do.

What we do like, is Branson Landing. It is a long waterfront promenade on Lake Taneycomo of shops, entertainment, and restaurants a block from downtown Branson. But the best part is a 7.5 million dollar water fountain spectacular, synchronized to light, sound, music, and fire. It goes off every hour beginning at noon and lasting until 10 at night. However, there was severe flooding in Branson last December and the fountain was damaged. We went to Branson Landing multiple times with just one goal and that was to see the fountain. It was working only once and that was during the daytime. We really really want to see it at night but have only a few more chances before we leave.

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View from the bridge that crosses Lake Taneycomo. It’s a very short drive from Turkey Creek RV Village to Branson Landing. There’s also a big city RV park underneath this bridge on the city side.

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The RV park we are in is just 1/4 mile on the other side of the bridge. This is the shortest route to the RV park but also the absolute wrong route to take with an RV as we had to go through downtown and take a right on a busy two lane city street where it was impossible to swing wide. The concrete post of the light there has been hit many times but Steve managed to miss it.  He is still very traumatized from my poor navigating.

 

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Hundreds of condos are above all the shops the length of the promenade at the Landing. 

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When the fountain is functioning properly, fire shoots out of these tubes at the back of the fountain.

 

Molly went with us last night and was she the hit of the Landing. At one point, five ladies were crowded around her. Person after person came up to us asking permission to pet her. Not just because of last night, but every single time we are out, we meet the friendliest people ever. Really, we have not ever been anywhere that is as friendly and nice as Branson. Too bad Branson isn’t out west for us to visit over and over because that is mostly where we will be in the RV.

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Molly, 12 years ago.

And we had some excitement four nights ago. Readers in the US may recall the severe weather warnings that there would be many tornados in the midwest. Our area’s forecast called for a very slight 10% chance of a tornado. It began raining and thundering around midnight but we went right back to sleep. At 2 am the phone went off with the severe alert sound and the message to get to shelter immediately because of a tornado nearby. Then the sirens began. We could see people from the RV park going to the office so we quickly got dressed and joined them. There is a rock house with garage for the lawn equipment behind the office that is protected by a small hill and this is the shelter we were all crowded into along with our wet pets. Actually we were pretty drenched too after making a run for the office in the pouring rain. About 30 minutes later the alert was lifted and we returned to the motorhome safe and sound.

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A huge limb came crashing down behind the RV across from us. Most of it had been cleaned up before I took this picture. And a house next to the office had a big part of a tree barely miss the roof when it fell. We never did hear of a tornado touching down in the area though.

Bad News/Good News

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Shortly after our arrival at the campground in Topeka yesterday afternoon we found out Steve’s dad had passed away just four hours earlier. He was 90 and had several major health problems but there was no indication that he couldn’t live a few more days, weeks, or even months. We had originally planned to leave Monday but because we had to flush the motorhome’s tanks and lines we left a day late. It’s a shame that Steve did not get to see his father before he was gone. Today, he is helping his mom and one of his brothers make arrangements. Steve’s dad was a very good father and the family was devoted to him.

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The good news is we have one of the nicest camp spots we have ever had at Lake Shawnee County Park in Topeka. We have been here before and liked it but this time we have one of those perfect spots looking out our front and side windows onto the lake. People who drive cross country know Kansas to be one long, very boring drive that seems never ending. There isn’t much to look at from the highway and thus people assume there is nothing to see in Kansas. Check out this park. It is a gem! The campground is reasonably priced, very quiet, and sits at the edge of the lake and is about 4 miles from interstate highway 70. The park also has a beautiful botanical garden and I hear the tulips are in bloom. Can’t wait to see them later.

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The other bad news is that all of Steve’s family cannot travel here now for a funeral and so there will be a memorial service the middle of May. We had an itinerary all mapped out to go to Branson, Missouri, southern Kentucky, up to northern Kentucky, and then to Texas to visit friends mid-May before they leave for Europe on the 22nd. One month later we have reservations in the northwest part of the country. Hopefully we figure out a sensible change of plans but I sure have no clue right now how to proceed.

And why are we going to northern Kentucky? Well some more bad news is that our mattress evidently came from hell. It is one of those Sleep Number beds that is supposedly an upgrade but I would almost rather sleep on the floor. Original Mattress Company, with factory locations only in the eastern half of the US, can custom size mattresses for motorhomes with just three days notice. We went to St. Paul in 2010 to have an orthopedic plush mattress made for Tulip and it was the best mattress ever. Flippable too which is a rarity these days.

Seems like the bad news is winning over the good news. Let me think a while.

Oh yeah, the weather is perfect today. Full sun and high of about 76 and nice and cool at night.

Back From Kansas

It’s been one busy week and we are both looking forwarding to some down time this weekend.  As most everyone knows, there has been flooding in Colorado and in Manitou Springs.  Last week on Thursday it rained so much that all roads in and out of Manitou were closed.  No way in and no way out, even for residents.  The problem was that Steve works until 10 pm and the day before his phone had quit working except when plugged in. I couldn’t get in touch with him to let him know he should just spend the night at my mother’s house instead of driving the additional 10 miles to get home just to have to turn around.

Was I ever shocked when he came waltzing in about midnight soaking wet.  He had walked 1.6 miles (we clocked it) from where he parked the car.  Actually, the police had the road blocked about 4 miles from here but Steve asked if he could park the car in the grocery store parking lot and then walk. The policeman said okay and Steve drove to that parking lot and when the policeman’s back was turned he scooted down a back road to at least get a bit closer to home and to a point where he knew for sure that he couldn’t get through.

After not much sleep we got up at 5 to leave for Kansas.  At least by then the roads were back open but we still had to hook up the tow car in the pouring rain. Then we picked up one of Steve’s brothers (Bill) who caught a ride with us back to Kansas. It took them forever in the absolute downpour to get Bill’s bike tied to our back ladder.

Once we got out of Colorado Springs the rain stopped and the trip to Kansas was great.  I loved it because Bill sat up front with Steve and I relaxed (and slept) in the back.

We stayed at the Lake Shawnee  campground in Topeka and it was a super place to be.  Our site was right on the very huge lake that is actually a county recreation area.  Directly across the lake from the campground is a botanical garden that was only begun about 3 years ago.  It is 20 acres of gorgeous flowers, arbors, a covered bridge, and many water features.  The gardens are constantly being enlarged and I consider them to be one of the nicest I had ever seen.  And it’s free!  It’s so nice to see residents’ tax dollars being returned for the citizens enjoyment.  The recreation area also has a golf course, there is water skiing on the smooth lake in addition to kayaking and paddle boat rentals.  There is even a heated fishing dock.

The campground is about 2-3 miles off of I-70 if anyone is interested in making a stop there. I suggest staying an extra day to have time to see the gardens.  Our site had water and electric and a dump station was available on the way out. No internet though but now that I have a smart phone that’s okay.  Plus we were so busy there was hardly time to sit around.

Steve’s parents live in the independent living part of a nursing home and no longer drive so we drove them to and from errands and family gatherings. Another brother had us over twice. And we hosted a meal and gathering one afternoon at the lake.  One of Steve’s nieces had just returned from Kyrgyzstan after three years in the Peace Corps and we had not seen her in a very long time.  Lots of catching up as usual.

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Too bad we had such grey and rainy days in Kansas.  The humidity was 92% before it started raining.  Then once it started raining, the humidity was 67% according to the weather forecast.  How can that be?

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Shawnee is much longer than it is wide.  There is also a 7 mile paved path all the way around the lake that is perfect for bike riding or taking a nice long walk.

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Tracking Steve

Steve left Topeka, Kansas this morning and plans to drive straight through to Manitou Springs.  I don’t call him when he’s driving but am able to track his progress through gas station transaction alerts.  After our debit card information was stolen last year we set up alerts on our checking and credit card accounts.  We receive an email almost instantly when there’s any activity on any account.  This feature is so valuable and makes us feel more secure about our accounts.
IMG_6605     It’s a sweltering day in Kansas and even in eastern Colorado.  Steve is going to encounter temperatures of 106 Fahrenheit (41 Celsius).  I don’t think I have been in temperatures that high in my entire life.