I love the Corona beer commercials. They always revolve around a beach scene of some sort and a dash of humor is thrown in. No words are spoken, just the commercial with the ocean in the background. Thus, begins my story of the last minute search for a beach.
Last week we were to go to Puerto Vallarta for our annual birthday celebration for the Mister. As most of you know, the beach is my most favorite place. I need the beach to recharge my batteries. Hurricane Jova put a bit of a damper on it. We cancelled on Wednesday not knowing what would happen to our dear Puerto Vallarta by the time of our scheduled arrival on Friday. We were able to reschedule the trip in February. I’d rather be safe than sorry. Puerto Vallarta was spared severe damage, thank goodness. We were without vacation plans. We were without a beach.
We decided to hit the road and head south. Not too far, we didn’t want to spend ALL the time in the car. The fall colors were just starting to pop and a road trip allows for great viewing. The “plan” was to go to Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Lots going on in that area. War Eagle Art and Craft Fair and many more art and craft fairs in the area taking advantage of all the Fall traffic.
On our way to Eureka Springs we stopped in Branson, Missouri to spend the night. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, we started Wednesday night trying to find lodging. There was nothing to be found from Bella Vista, Arkansas down to Rogers, Arkansas up to Eureka Springs, Arkansas and into Branson, Missouri. We decided to take our chances anyway and head south.
When we got to Branson, we found a motel on “the strip” for one night. All full up thereafter. We took it. We then had dinner with the brother and sister-in-law and niece. They live about 45 minutes from Branson and met us at the Branson Landing for a spontaneous dinner invite. We explained the circumstances of our unplanned trip south. The Sister-in-law told us all about War Eagle. Over 100,000 people visit during the three day event. Traffic was stop and go slow. Tons of people everywhere. It didn’t sound promising. Not quite that “beach feel” we were looking for. We got to talking and Dogwood Canyon was mentioned. We’d have to check it out. Tourist information, here I come!
The grandson met us for lunch on Saturday and we had such a good visit just talking and catching up on stuff. I think it’s pretty nice when a seventeen year old grandson will meet the grandparents for lunch. A call over to our friends at Happy Hollow found us a cabin for only two nights. Bass Masters had a tournament coming up and lots of tournament fishermen were at Table Rock lake pre-fishing.
We had a cabin facing the lake and enjoyed our evenings sitting on the veranda enjoying our beach. That left Monday night and we would figure that out later. We had places to go and things to do!
We headed over to Dogwood Canyon. The roads in the Ozarks are twisty, curvy, hilly, and loaded with color. We saw a sign advertising Talking Rock Cave. We love caves. That was added to the list of things to do. We pulled into Dogwood Canyon. It was stunning. The last time we were there was 1996 just after it had first opened. It had certainly changed….for the better. We signed up for the tram tour. We were loaded up and driven around the park. The guide was knowledgeable about the history and the flora and fauna. The two hours went by in a snap. It left us wanting more of the park.
The nature park is a work in progress started by John L. Morris, the founder of Bass Pro. His love of nature and conservation led to the creation of this park. There are 10,000 acres with a little over 2,000 acres developed into the park thousands of people enjoy each year.
Crystal clear streams with trout, bike trails, hiking trails, and an area where elk, bison, and deer are raised. It was so pretty we did not want to leave as the sun was setting. We ended up scheduling an ATV for the next day.
Sunday, we headed over to Talking Rocks Cavern and “did the cave”. We went about 300 feet down into the earth and then back up. Lots of history and geology. If you like caves, and we do, it’s a nice little one to go through.
Back to Dogwood Canyon where we had a quick lunch of bison burgers (from the bison raised in the park) and then off to the ATV tour. I had found my beach. I was in the Ozark wilderness, laughing until my cheeks hurt, sitting next to the Mister as he drove the ATV through the hills. It was his birthday and he was loving it!!!
Monday, we were able to get a room at the Hilton Hotel on the Branson Landing for our last night in the Ozarks. Our room had a view of Taneycomo Lake and it was walking distance to the Landing where we had a birthday dinner. Then, drinks back at the Hilton. The little bar was cozy and Monday night football was on. We had a great conversation with the bartender who was back in the Midwest after living many years all over the United States. This was the official end of the birthday weekend.
Now, he is on his way to Washington D.C. for business and I am home writing, downloading pictures, doing laundry, and feeling good about our makeshift little trip. We saw beautiful nature, ate great food, and met delightful people. We toasted in another birthday and let the road lead us to where we needed to go….I guess the “beach” doesn’t have to be at the ocean all the time.
Disclaimer: Does anyone really know the Gravy Company? Not Corona, not Dogwood Canyon, not Talking Rocks Cavern, not the Hilton Hotels, not even the Branson Landing. That doesn’t stop me from liking them. However, Happy Hollow knows us and they love when we write about them.(Friendship is our only compensation from them.) While I’m at it…no animals were harmed in the writing of this blog. I think that pretty much covers everything. Find your beach.