Wise Words

"Wait on the Lord, be strong and of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart...wait on the Lord. Psalms 27:14


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Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The Return of Me!

So, I'm back. Yes, I understand it's been a while. And really, I just wanted to run away and stay there with the people we were with in Branson. Branson in and of itself isn't that great. It's like a Vegas for the Midwest but the clean version and without ALL the neon – though there was plenty of that. The traffic on the main street (Hwy 76) was a nightmare. What normally would take 5 minutes to get from one end to the next if you were in a "regular" town – only 2 stoplights on the main section of Hwy 76 – usually took at least 15-20 minutes if not more before show times. We stayed in an RV park just outside of Branson proper. No stoplights on those roads either except for something like 3 on a 15 mile stretch. But, I digress, I'll talk about that in a little bit.

I wanted to first off say a very big and wonderful THANK YOU to my two amazing guest posters – CMHL, who did most of the posts while I was MON (Missing On Vacation) and No Average Girl, who did just the sweetest post last week Thursday. You two are beautiful, wonderful and real true, blue friends! Thank you both so much! I am indebted to both of you. :) I will post another post wherein I answer the questions from the HDQ last week – CMHL, you answered Monty's question spot on by the way! – and do my own answers to the Friday's Feast.

So, here's my experience – the abridged version:

We started off on Tuesday morning and made really good time and mileage for a minivan. It took me only 1 ½ tanks to actually get to Branson, which is over 700 miles from Austin. My MPG averaged between 24 and 40, depending on how fast I was going and the condition of the road. Driving through Oklahoma there was A LOT of "controlled" burning going on. Trees, shrubs, etc right next to the roads. Some on inclines. Fairly steep ones. That sloped toward the road. And some of them didn't look too sturdy. Sometimes the smoke coming across the highway was so bad it kind of obscured the road in front of us. I guess they don't have the same burn concerns that we do in Texas. Nice to know for future reference, you know just in case the grass around the burn sites catch fire or something.

We stopped in Van Buren for the night. That's in Arkansas for those who haven't heard of it. Driving the first day was no sweat. No problem, just driving along...singing my song, side by side. Oh, sorry, that song popped into my head for a second. It was the second day that was the real booger.

We started off for Branson Tuesday morning. It should have been no big deal. I had directions, etc. What I didn't have was signs for two of the turn offs I was supposed to have taken. The first one was for 412 in Arkansas that cuts over toward the part of Missouri that we needed to head for. Driving, driving, keeping my eyes on the road, coming toward Bentonville, which, for all you trivia fans is the home of what major store corporation? That's right, Wal-Mart. Well, Bentonville is past where it said the cut off was on my map. So I stopped and asked someone how to get to it. Apparently it was about 25 miles in the other direction. So, I turned around and drove off in the other direction and there it was. The sign was clearly there, coming from the other direction, however it was not to be seen coming from my original traveling direction. Then there was Branson itself. They are doing a lot of road construction on I-65. A LOT. And, unfortunately for me, a lot of the road construction was new and there were no real signs to tell you what cross-street was what on 65 leading in to Branson. I passed my cut off 3 times. It had two signs, one was 65 (but I was already on 65) and the other one said "V". I was looking for 265, neither of those two signs indicated that the road I was passing was the right one. Finally I stopped at the C-store right at the corner of 65 and 65 and they enlightened me that what I was looking for was indeed the road right in front of there. They just didn't have the sign up b/c of the construction in the area. Gee, MoDOT, so helpful of y'all.

I made it in to the RV park where we stayed and unpacked and WHOA the little rented trailer we were staying in was really, itty bitty. At least it had a small TV with cable and a full kitchen – even if the stove and oven did have to be lit with matches. The shower left something to be desired and me at 5'7" barely had enough head clearance to stand in there. It was maybe 5'10". All I have to say is that the Branson KOA is NOT the place that you want to stay for your trip to Branson if you are expecting anything beyond the basics. They have a "free" pancake breakfast that costs 2.00. 5.00 if you want meat with it. Is this a variant of "new math"? The wireless connection is nil. I didn't bring my laptop but one of the people we were meeting works on the internet as his living as a writer and columnist. He HAS to be connected, no ifs, ands or buts about it! He couldn't connect unless he was no more than 50' from the office. That really didn't help him out any.

Don't get me wrong, the surrounding area is beautiful! Hills and trees and beautiful temps. Even in the high 80's the temps felt MUCH cooler than what high 80's in Texas feels like. Nights were in low 60's. Days were a mix of sunny, cloudy or showers/sprinkles. We ate wonderfully, thanks to Joe, the camp cook. This guy is a gentle Giant with a capital "G". He says he's only 6'3", I think he's a bit taller than that and he's big. He was rather quiet unless he had something to say and then everyone listened. Em had a kiddie crush on one of his boys – the youngest who was 14.

Now you may be wondering what I was doing in Branson of all places. Well, I went to meet with other members of the Omega Letter group that I am a part of. Everyone that was there are extremely strong Christians in their faith. I've known most of them in the forums roughly between 1 and 4 years, but I have never met any of them in person. We all knew each other so well from being online that it was more like a family reunion. We all clicked and just couldn't stop talking until we were too tired to blink. LOL! Then we'd start over again the next day. I've said before that the OL group has become my non-blood family. They have been with me through the worst parts of the last 4 years and it has been wonderful! I truly am blessed to know them. They have done nothing but encourage, listen, offer advice and pray for and with me over the things that have gone on in my life and they do it willingly, gladly and without hesitation.

Anyway, the four days flew by and before we knew it, it was time to go home again. (VLS – Very Loud Sigh!) I could have stayed there in that fellowship for a long, long time! All of the people who were there said that it felt like this was a preview of what heaven will be like! Emily made wonderful friends with the 8 year old granddaughter of a very dear friend from the Houston area. In fact, she and her husband live in the same town outside of Houston as Em's beloved Aunt Sarah and Uncle Jeremy ("The X's" sister and brother-in-law). We're already planning a get-together once they finish moving into their STUNNING 5 bedroom house. Yeah, this place is magnificent!

I'm especially looking forward to going there as there is another OL member in Houston and he and his wife have twin boys about 6 months older than Emily and I've been wanting to get them together for about 1 ½ years now but the timing hasn't been right so maybe now...who knows?

Anyway, I will post pictures about the weekend later – yes, with my short hair too.

It's good to be back! I've missed y'all. :)


cmhl said...

welcome back, Nic!!!! you were missed!!!

Killired said...

here from the *all-stars*
glad to see that i am not the only crazed blogger with 8 million + items on my sidebar!!!!!! woo hoo!
nice to meet you nic!

no_average_girl said...

it's great to have you back, girl! cmhl and I had a blast while you were gone! :-) Love you and glad you're back safe!

BTW, my feast is up!

BarBarA said...

She's Back!
Tnanks for pointing out that i missed your link on the new blog...I've added it!!
I'll be back later today to catch up with your blog.

Chrixean said...

We missed you! Welcome back :-) I've posted my Thankful Thursday and am looking forward to yours :-)

rashbre said...

Saying Hi. I see you spotted me on the Allstars, so returning the greeting. You've been travelling a lot and I can't wait to see the pictures!

Duke_of_Earle said...

Welcome back, Nic. You were missed indeed.