Only 24 hours from Tulsa

Trip Start Apr 16, 2012
Trip End May 06, 2012

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Where I stayed
The Landmark Inn

Flag of United States  , Missouri
Sunday, April 22, 2012

We woke to a bright sunny morning at the Meramac Caverns motel and said goodbye to the ladies on reception, assuring them that if we ever came back to the States we'd call in again (but Gareth said only if they taught the little boy that we spoke English first, not them. He didn't really but I could tell that's what he was thinking.) (I wasnt!!) We drove down to the caves car park, which was surprisingly empty and parked up, going off in search of breakfast. We were brave and ordered a breakfast platter, not knowing what it consisted of, but it was really good (crispy bacon, hash browns, scrambled egg and toast) and was just what we needed after only having one meal yesterday (yes that's right, just in case any of you think that all we write about is food!)

We joined the tour group and guide, ready to enter into the caverns where Jesse James (may have) hidden out after a robbery. This tour guide was really good at his job and very patient with the group who seemed to constantly change from dawdling miles behind everyone  or trying to push infront of the him. Although the caves didn't start out being that spectacular, once we got further inside to where the formations were they became quite stunning, especially where they used lots of coloured lights to show them off and most of the group had managed to turn off the flash on their cameras to show them at their best. We worried a little bit when we were told we'd have to walk up 58 steps to one of the caverns, thankfully we were given the chance to opt out but we thought we'd just about be able to make it. Not so sure about the rest of the group though, who seemed to have trouble walking on flat ground. Once at the top of the highly strenuous climb we were able to see the 'wine table', a three legged formation that stands 7 feet tall and is the only one like it in the world (it looks a bit like a dinosaur in the photo). We then took our  seats in the theatre room, the rest of the group to one side and gareth and i completely alone on the other side. The guide explained that their would be a music and light show against the formation known as the 'stage curtain' and the music began, first a Missouri waltz, accompanied by the rhythmic clicking of the light switches as the guide performed the light show. Someone clapped at the end, which he was quite pleased about. He then told us there would be a special light at the end of the next song, and warned us to watch out for it. Again the music started up, God Bless America this time, and again he clickety- clicked his way through the light show, culminating in, you guessed it, A STARS AND STRIPES LIGHT! Of course. I just had to clap this time.

After Laura was clapped out, the tour ended, we decided to get an ice cream in a cone, now imagine what we can get in england as standard, now at least quadruple what you're thinking of, the flipping thing was massive and only cost just over $5 (about 3 in real money) Neither of us could finish it so we binned what was left and headed to the car. Now the next stop on the trip was meant to be a chainsaw wood carving place only a couple of miles down the road but when we got there the car park was empty, so fearing we might be part of the next carving we drove straight out and hit the i44 west route to a town called rolla where after  30 miles or we changed to route 63, the next 100 miles where the straighest roads i have ever seen (see pic) a pretty boring drive all told but i stuck on the drum and bass and the music of dubstep and car crunked for most of this section. Once we reached West Plains we decided to change to route 160 which is a single lane road much like our 'a' roads, after 50 miles of forest roads and a few twist and turns we both needed a pee so stopped off at a petrol station in the town of Gainesville. Now ive experienced some of the sights of hammys bottom but the 2 floaters hanging about in the loo even he would have been proud of, i flushed and pee'd and bought some beer so i could drink to forget that experience. Now im glad i didnt drink and drive because the next 30 miles where some of the best of my driving life, the road twisted and turned, went up hill and down hill, a few good straight, surrounded by trees or by views as far as the eye could see of forrestry, we had hit a mountain road, i had no car in front of me and boy did i make use of that fact, i had the tunes booming out and a big grin on my face, i just hope i didnt scare laura too much, saying that i never hit the limit as the car isnt the best handling in the world but she (the car) did me proud. We travelled over bridges spanning vast expanses of lake, huge birds circled overhead, i reckon they were eagles but i could be wrong, im no stan when it comes to ornithology.

Eventually we caught up with other vehicles which ruined my fun a bit but after crossing 2 more massive lakes we entered the town of Branson and found a quaint motel to stop at and for the umpteenth time explained to the owner that we are from england and are on honeymoon and are driving to vegas, i might make up another story tomorrow when we check in to another motel.

What a pleasant surprise this stop is, considering we pretty much picked a place off the map to head for today we've done really well. Gareth had a fantastic drive down while I tried to work out what kind of roadkill i could see (lots of armadillos i think, although not so crunchy on the outside any more!) and Branson Landing, which is a new multi million dollar lakeside developoment, is a lovely place. We enjoyed the $7.5 million fountain show, featuring lights, music, water, fireworks and fire (great combo huh?) before wandering down the street to find somewhere to eat. Although it was really quiet everywhere you could tell that in-season this would be an amazing place to be. We saw lots of shops, which we decided should be tomorrow's first stop, before settling on the Texas Land & Cattle Steakhouse for our best meal yet. We topped off the night by having a drink sitting on the rocking chairs on our veranda, nice!
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cherie pollard on

hi missed you glad your back really glad you did this I can keep track its like I am nearly there it sounds like you are having a great time enjoy.

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