Southern Fun

A strange thing happened as we started heading south through Missouri, Arkansas, and Tennessee…it got cold. Nights approached or reached freezing and we found ourselves using the heater in the wee hours of the morning. Daytimes were pleasant, but not necessarily warmer than Penticton. Ironically, most people we met, when they learned we were from Canada, commented along the lines of “wow, it sure must be cold up there!” We noticed a pervasive attitude about weather that suggested that there was already a huge wall at the 49th parallel to keep the Canadian winter in Canada. Some people apologized for the cold weather “snap.”

This post highlights some of the fun parts of our travels through south Missouri, Arkansas, and Tennessee, including 3 major music entertainment centres (Branson, Memphis, Nashville).

[The next post, part 2, will address the more serious socio-political elements].

MISSOURI:  heading south from Springfield, we first found ourselves in a major caving area, so took advantage of one of the cave tours at Talking Rocks Cavern. One of the deepest caverns that involves a guided walk down about 300 steps.


…then, the town of Branson, an entertainment mecca that is a cross between a 1950’s style Las Vegas and Disneyland. The place was BUSY, even with the seasonal closure of the water parks, golf parks, swimming and fishing, and we learned that the fall is actually the busiest season all year. We took in a 1970’s Music Celebration, hosted by Barry Williams (of Brady Bunch fame, but actually an established singer, songwriter, musician, and actor). There is definitely a show for every kind of musical taste, especially in the form of revues or tributes. Moonshine tasting and camping at Table Lake State Park rounded out our Missouri experience.

ARKANSAS:  starting with the stunning scenery of the Ozarks (with stop at Jasper)…

…via hillbilly homes in the Ozarks …


…all the way to Hot Springs National Park, which is the smallest National Park and is actually within the city of Hot Springs (also the birthplace of past-prez Bill Clinton). Hot Springs is a very popular resort town for not only the citizens of Little Rock, but for regulars from Texas, several of whom were overheard to say that “it’s only 4 hours from Dallas, dear.” We spent the day shopping for crystals, “taking the waters” at one of the baths, and found ourselves at the town’s annual Chili cook-off (tasting over 30 different types of chili for a mere $5 each, set in a converted parkade all decked out for the holidays, the singing of the national anthem, and Christmas carols with a local men’s choir). 

Crystals, Faith, and Entertainment share a parking lot (co-located):

Historic Bathhouse Row (the Quapaw house is open to the public):

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TENNESSEE:  We were in Memphis over U.S. Thanksgiving which meant that much was closed, and the streets were quiet. That also meant that we could easily drive around and view the various neighbourhoods. On the way to Nashville, we were able to explore the Cumberland valley. And then, had the joy of meeting up with Jane and Nigel in Nashville. 

Memphis – Mississippi River (and boon docking at Bass Pro Shop/Entertainment complex)

Memphis – entertainment centre (Beale Street)

Memphis – neighbourhoods

Nashville slideshow:  Opryland decked out for the Holidays, the downtown Honky Tonk area by day and night, fun with Jane and Nigel, a 5-bar evening, and Stuart enamoured with diagonal crosswalks.

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We didn’t do too badly for a bunch of 50+ folks!

2 responses to “Southern Fun

  1. Hi you two. I am so enjoying reading about your adventures and your photos are exceptional. I am sharing the geography experiences with Gerry who would love to take me to experience the deserts and canyons of the US. We just returned from 3 weeks in Greece and had our own adventures navigating the country by car-note to self ; brush up on your Greek alphabet. Look forward to seeing you on your return (if ever?)

    • Congratulations on your marathon, it is never easy to run 26 miles, even in a great location. Yes, Greece is amazing, and we too had an interesting time driving around the country, but never more challenging than trying to return the rental car in the centre of Athens!

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