Branson, Bentonville, and a Tornado Warning

We’re continuing our winter RV trip south by exploring some of the places we’ve always heard about but never thought we’d have the opportunity to explore. First stop: Branson, Missouri.  From Gary and Kristy’s house in Kansas City we headed to the southern most part of the state and based ourselves at Table Rock State Park, just outside of Branson. We prefer to be a little removed from the cities at this point. We have more room and it gives us plenty of space to social distance.  This campground was just the ticket. 

While at Table Rock, Steve got in some long runs in preparation for his marathon in Nashville in a few weeks. He really enjoyed the fall colors along the trail. We had one day of wet and windy weather but otherwise it was cool and clear. Branson, we found, is a lot like Las Vegas for families with a central strip packed with big attractions and theaters. 

While in Branson we took in two shows. First we got discount tickets to see Anthems of Rock. It’s not the typical country-western show you find here, but we knew the words to every song and sang along. 

We also attended the Dolly Parton Stampede, a legendary show that features 32 horses as the stars.  A little singing, a little comedy, and a lot of horsemanship made for a very entertaining evening. We kept saying that Dad would have enjoyed this one. 

One day we took a little road trip to the south and drove through Berryville, Arkansas. Steve lived in this little town when he was around six years old. He couldn’t find his old house but we did drive by the plant where his Dad worked. It’s now a Tyson Foods processing facility and the entire area smelled like chicken nuggets.

From Berryville we headed to nearby Bentonville and the home of Walmart. We’d heard that this was a happening area and we weren’t disappointed. If I had been fit to ride, we would have hit the many, many mountain bike trails in the area. Since I’m still in the surgical shoe, we’ll have to save that for the next visit.

Instead we toured the Walmart Museum and learned about the founding and subsequent growth of the world’s largest retailer. The museum is in the location of the original Walton’s 5 and 10. Steve particularly liked Sam Walton’s old truck, which Sam drove until his death in 1992.

If you are ever in Bentonville we highly recommend you visit the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Established by Walmart heiress Alice Walton, the world-class collection of art and the stunning architecture rivaled most of the museums we visited in New York.

My favorite piece was the Georgia O’Keeffe Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1. which I later learned was acquired by Walton in 2014 for $44.4 million.

We left Branson and continued our trek south. As pitstop on our way to Memphis, Davidsonville Historic State Park in Arkansas was a fun choice. Again, there were very few people around and we could explore the adjacent historic park on our own.

Davidsonville was the site of Arkansas’s first post office and courthouse. The townsite was established in 1815 and abandoned within 15 years in favor of more readily accessible locations along the Black River. Today there are two “ghost structures” that indicate the location of the original post office and courthouse, along with an interesting interpretive walk through the historic site. 

The real fun at Davidsonville occurred around midnight when we were awakened by our weather radio alerting us to a tornado warning in our area. We were invited by the ranger to wait out the warning in the visitor center and it only took about 30 minutes to be back in our beds, safe and warm. No tornados, no damage, just a false alarm, but it made for a little excitement!

Our next stop is now Memphis, so stay tuned for the next blog featuring the blues and a little Elvis.