We are in Denver. This is how we got here.
After visiting family in Troutman and Atlanta, we set out for the west, with a first stop in Mississippi. Our destination for the night was the John W. Kyle state park, the campground for which sits on a small lake right under a huge earthen dam holding back a much larger lake (Sardis reservoir). There are several campgrounds lined up beside each other, most managed by the Corps of Engineers.
Before we pitched or bus, we made a couple of touristy stops. First, we drove through Tupelo, where we stopped by Elvis Presley’s birthplace.
Next we went to Oxford, home of the University of Mississippi. What we saw of the university did not reflect the southern stereotype of white columns and Spanish moss, but the town of Oxford retains its image of history. There’s a square around the Lafayette County courthouse.
On one side of the square sits the J.E. Nielson Co., a clothing store that claims to be the oldest documented store in the south. The rest of the square consists of restaurants, boutiques, and offices. Unlike Chapel Hill, the storefronts have not been overtaken by chain establishments. We had what turned out to be dinner at the Ajax Diner, an authentic old restaurant that serves down-home cookin’, including lots of veggies and catfish. We got a bunch of fried okra.
Within walking distance of the square is Rowan Oak, where William Faulkner lived. It is not the home of a pauper.
We spent our second night on the road in Branson, Missouri, the Gatlinburg of the Ozarks. The Ozarks are not as impressive as the Smokies, although they are impressive in their own right. They seem to stretch on forever across Arkansas and into Missouri. The drive would be sensational in the fall.
Our campground was in the heart of the show district. Branson traffic is at least as bad as that of Gatlinburg, but the Music City Campground was remarkably quiet.
We opted to go see Illusionist Rick Thomas for our evening’s entertainment. I was a fun show with a Greatest Hits of Magic air about it. There were doves appearing from nowhere, pretty assistants, one of whom was secured in a box and cut into pieces, levitating objects and people, and even a helicopter appearing on stage.
For his last trick, he conscripted a lucky couple from the audince. Rebecca did not have to stay up there long, but I was in the spotlight the entire trick. He took my watch and made it appear from inside a tin can inside a box on display in the audience from even before the trick. With the watch reading 3:17, as I’d requested, when the can was opened.
We drove across southern Kansas to Dodge City for the final stop before Denver, where we stayed at the Gunsmoke RV Park. It wasn’t a bad campsite, and it had a nice, cool swimming pool. The town itself left everything to be desired. It was hot, with little to do. The tourist attraction seemed to be a strip of old-western store fronts that appeared to have been recently constructed. It cost ten bucks to get inside the fenced perimeter, which we chose not to pay.
Couldn’t leave fast enough. Hence the expression …