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Road Trips 07A: Carthage, Missouri, from-to, Kiowa, Oklahoma (with RV)
INFORMATION with animated SLIDE SHOWS
IN THIS LENS we will take a circular trip through familiar territory in eastern Oklahoma, go to "new" places in southwest Missouri, return back down through North-West Arkansas, and return to South-East Oklahoma.
FEATURED WITH SELECTED PICTURES: Joplin, Precious Moments (at Carthage), Fantastic Caverns (at Springfield), Branson, once-wild ducks and geese, And Runestone State Park (where Vikings once tread). FEATURED OTHERS INCLUDE: Towns, parks, and places that we are familiar with.
This picture was taken at "Precious Moments", near Carthage, Missouri, in June of 2007.
NOTE: The expanded, "Road Trips 09: Branson, Missouri" includes tips, based on extensive travel in Eastern Oklahoma and Western Arkansas.
We loved our Casita Trailer. The trailer size was their maximum, seventeen feet. For camping (and shopping on the road) it was a breeze. For shopping, all you needed was two, end-to-end parking places and to be able to pull forward on the way out. For camping, we frequently heard "Oh well! We can put you into number xxx". Reservations were almost never needed and I usually planned for an alternative park. Having all of the options to make us self sufficient has helped on occasion. All of that being said; watch out for wandering into an area when major events are being held.
Note: The fiberglass body gel coat (that makes it shiny) makes it needful to store the trailer out of the sunlight.
Restaurants and RV parks named, are the ones that we used. Our favorite campground finder was the Good Sam Club. Their "Parks and Campgrounds Directory" was a very valuable guide finding the services and quality that we wanted.
History Buffs might want to check out the following on Wikipedia: Towns, Places, and "Bald Knobbers".
Thank you LensMasters, for us being Blessed and Featured in the "Midwestern States" section of United States Travel Angel .
The Complete Set of Selected Pictures
Chapter 1: Kiowa, OK, to Joplin, MO - Going: Oklahoma portion of the trip
A good place for us to start this loop (and end it) is at Kiowa. You could join it at any point and set your own itinerary.
Of course, we had lunch at Wheeler's Restaurant. We will take US Highway 69 North until it connects with Interstate 44.
We stayed at the Joplin KOA and here again, the people make the difference. This is a family operated business and despite dealing with the remnants of recent flooding they were both courteous and helpful, making our stay very enjoyable.
Armed with online information and some brochures we set out to explore. Grand Falls is fairly easy to find and worth the effort. We chose the Joplin Museum Complex for another few hours and like it. We could not find Wildcat Park. Maybe it was a little too "wild" for us. We also had fun looking for the A&W Root Beer Stand on the north east side of town that was apparently already gone and raised.
That brings us to FOOD, which is another good subject. The Candy House Chocolate Factory was a really memorable stop and you know the reason why. Decker's Bar & Grill delivered great Decker theme, hot dogs with toppings to suit our taste. The food at the Great Wall Chinese Buffet was pretty good.
Chapter 2: Joplin, Mo, to Branson, MO - Going: Missouri portion of our trip
Like most towns in states dividing the "North" and "South", it has an interesting history, mostly centered on the Civil War. We chose to only visit the Precious Moments Park and Chapel this trip. This is perhaps the most beautiful, man-made thing that I have seen and that is another reason I chose Carthage as the Trip Title.
We chose the Springfield KOA for the two nights we were there. There were people parked in the space that we were assigned but there was no problem getting the one next to it. It is a great place to watch the trains come roaring through at full speed, day and night. You might like to visit Fantastic Caverns as we did. It was nice and you get to ride the entire cave tour. I also recommend the Springfield Golden Corral. It is a popular eating place in town and a good one. The Bass Pro Shops and museum (previous visit) is absolutely awesome.
We will travel south on US Highway 65 from Springfield to Branson and catch another live show.
You would think from our pictures that Branson KOA was isolated and in the mountains. It really isn't because it is just off the famous Branson strip a few blocks. This is a great place to stay at a great location. The Branson CafÃ© is a popular place to eat in the original city location which is a great place to browse. The Uptown CafÃ© is further west on the strip and was a little pricey but a very good "theme" restaurant. We thought the Moe Bandy Show was a good value. We chose 50's at the Hop because it was (then) close by. They were just getting established and apparently it has become a major hit with us seniors. Note: There are attractions for every age group in Branson.
For more about Missouri please visit this excellent Lens:
Chapter 3: Branson, MO, to Fort Smith, AR - Return: Arkansas portion of the trip.
This is another progressive city and the largest in this part of Arkansas. It is also a good place to gas up and eat.
We travel south from Branson and then choose US Highway 412 and State Highway 45 west. It was "Hungry Time" at the small town of Huntsville. At Granny's Kitchen the food was good, the patronage was very local, and the atmosphere was neighborly. Huntsville is in a nice setting, nestled in a valley along a mountain creek. We found Withrow Springs State Park (north of town, previous visit) to be in a near pristine, mountainous environment and it was very quiet when we were there.
Fayetteville, Arkansas (no pictures)
Out of Fayetteville, driving south on Interstate 540 through the Boston Mountains is very fast and very beautiful. Note: Picture taking should be done with caution. The road shoulders are frequently wide enough to park on but there is absolutely no room for errors on the part of you, or other drivers.
Old US Highway 71 was "the" route, before Interstate 540 was constructed. South of town, a sign was posted with fatality data listed for this highway.
I must say that the ducks were more friendly than the staff at the Fort Smith / Alma KOA. The Pictures do not do the "wild life" proper justice. The ducks really "talked" to us in their own way. We surmised what they were saying when the "feller" came around with the feed bucket. It is incredible how tame wild birds can become.
Fort Smith, Arkansas (no pictures)
For some reason we have not visited Fort Smith. We have taken the Interstate Highway by there in both directions several times. We were always focused on getting someplace else. We will cross into Oklahoma and continue our journey south.
Chapter 4: Fort Smith, AR, To Kiowa, OK - Return: Oklahoma portion of the trip
I had heard of this place for many years and finally we are here. First of all, you will note the name starts with the letters "Heaven". Then there is the mystique of Heavener Runestone State Park. Maybe I expected it to be otherworldly is why it was a little surreal, yet earthy. Go see for yourself.
Haileyville, Oklahoma (no pictures)
From Heavener, we take US Highway 270 west to Haileyville.
Caution: If you are in a sedan, I would advise not taking State Highway 63 back to Kiowa, Oklahoma. It is definitely a secondary state road. That being said, it was interesting.
Extensive travel in south-east Oklahoma and the mountains parts of Arkansas leads me to suggest a road trip in any of these areas. Especially scenic are Interstate 540 (fast speeds) in north-west Arkansas and the Talimena Scenic Drive (slow speeds) from Mena through the Kiamichi Mountains. We also like US Highway 65 (fast speeds) from Harrison, Arkansas to Springfield, Missouri.
AGAIN: The expanded, "Branson trip" includes tips, based on extensive travel in Eastern Oklahoma and Western Arkansas.