Silver Dollar City Christmas Parade and Train Ride

This is the companion video for the weekend at Silver Dollar City. We saw the Parade both nights along with the train ride.

Silver Dollar City Christmas Light Holiday November 7-9 2014

I know it is a bit early for Christmas activities, but Vicky made reservations for us to go to Branson, MO and Silver Dollar City to see the Christmas Festival and Holiday Lights. We took the opportunity to take the RV one last time for the season and of course had to invite the kids along with everything else that entails.

 The RV park is actually owned by Silver Dollar City and is only a mile away. They have a shuttle service that takes you too and from the park and that is what we did the first night.

 The colors were still sharp down in Branson and it was a warm and sunny weekend

We arrived on Friday afternoon and the RV park wasn't yet filled up, but it would be packed in the next few hours as more people arrived for the weekend.

The sunset the first night was dramatic, and then we headed over to Silver Dollar City on the Shuttle.
Our tickets were for Saturday but if you arrive after 7 pm the night before you can get in on your ticket and then come back for the next day as well.

The entry to Silver Dollar City was brightly lit. They have over five million lights in the park.

This little guy was enjoying the heat lamps that the ticket takers stand under. He was quite happy to just sit on the wand and not move even though thousands of people walked right past. 

One of the attractions of Silver Dollar City is the awesome park food they have - giant cinamon rolls, funnel cake, pigs in a blanket, Apple turnovers with ice cream, etc.

The lights inside the park are dominated by a musical tree with 250,000 lights that play to music everty30 minutes
 Lights on every tree with great icicle hanging lights that look like they are dripping off the trees

 On of the other attractions is the blacksmith and the glass blowers, both were out entertaining the crowd and making great looking products

The lights were everywhere and on everything. We stayed the first night for the Rudolf parade as well

 The next morning we had the day to ourselves in the beginning. we were meeting the kids for lunch later before we would take everyone to the park later Saturday night.

The RV park has rustic cabins you can rent as well as the RV spaces
 We walked all around the RV park in the afternoon and took in all the views and chatted with the very friendly RV people.

 One thing you do notice is that for a small town it has tons of power lines strung every where. Branson is a very touristy town and needs lots of electricity to work.

 We went back to the park at dark and the kids wanted to ride the roller coaster, elephants, the tea cups and the Ferris wheel, so we took them all around the park. We also watched the parade again ( see the movie) and then we went on the train ride.

The train goes around the entire park and for this holiday there was a special surprise. 
 The train stopped and we listened to "grandpa" tell the story of the Nativity.

with all the wise men and animals coming to life in lights
 The next morning everyone came over to the RV park before they went home and we played in the playground and went to breakfast at Bill Gail's Cafe. This has been an institution in Branson for almost 25 years and it was voted best breakfast in Branson and it was also right next to the campground we just walked down the hill.
Unfortunately it is not a secret and we had to wait 2 hours to get in
 It was all fantastic and the pancakes were as big as your face!

 Sunday night left Vicky and I alone at the RV camp. Most of the campers had gone home so we had a quiet night out by the fire. We picked up some hillbilly decorations for the RV with our lighted bears and peppers/catus lights on the RV awning.

The wind picked up and the temperature dropped overnight. We went to bed when it was in the 60's and woke up in the 30's!

It was now a work week for me so we packed up and headed from Branson to Joplin for a set of meetings. we arrived at the KOA Joplin RV park around noon and it was 28 degrees
 Everything on the RV froze during the night and to top it off I ran out of propane on one of my propane tanks and had to go outside at 3 am to switch it over and it was 22 degrees out.

RV season is over, but we took advantage of using the RV until the last possible moment. It is now safely winterized and covered up at the RV harbor.

Night On Bell Mountain- October 25-26 2014

The weather is changing the leaves are turning, nowhere better to go to see it all than Bell Mountain. Our favorite Missouri view point and the highest point in the State with a good view. Joe (Gideon) had put a call out for anyone interested in a quick overnight and myself, Hairbear (Brian), Fred hiked up to the top together and two new hangers to our group MGuns (Butch) and his wife (Dee Ann) joined us later in the day.

The parking lot was jammed with cars and the top of Bell Mountain was jammed with people as we would see later in the day.
 It is just 6 miles to the top and there are a few "Look Outs" along the way. We noticed right away that this area of Missouri had been especially dry, not much water and the colors were more muted.

Brian's dog Bonnie was along for this trip and she is an excellent trail dog.
 The Boys-(L to R)  Joe, Brian, Fred

This is probably the largest lizard I have seen while walking the trail in Missouri. This guy was about 8-9" long
 It was actually very warm- The temperatures got to be about 85 and very sunny. You actually worked up quite the sweat walking up today

Wildflowers still in bloom

 you could see the color in the trees

The trail is very rocky and as you move toward the middle you start to see the large outcroppings of Granite the mountain is made of.

Made it. the view from the top. The guys actually put on a good pace. Up in 2 hrs 15 min. There were so many groups up on the top we had to spend 15-20 minutes finding a spot to hang. We missed getting our favorite site by just 30 yards as a couple walked to it just before we did.

 Getting our hammocks set up- Gideon in his Darien UL from Dream Hammocks.
 Fred in the Danger Bird also from Dream Hammocks. Hairbear was in a DIY gathered end and I was using my Warbonet Ridgerunner Bridge Hammock again.

The view over the edge from my hammock
 After getting all set up ( we were so hot we were down to just shorts on Oct 25th!) it was time for the post hike afternoon nap. Leaving the parking lot at 11 am, we were up to the top by 1:15 pm, so it was great just to relax.

MGuns (Butch) and his wife (Dee Ann) arrived later and they had some unusual hammocks- Amok Draumr hammocks.
These are Norwegian Hammocks where the suspension is on the sides of the hammock.

Dee Ann had hers all done and then at night it was lite up like a Christmas tree.



The sun started to set behind Bell Mountain, the shadows started getting long and the colors started to "pop" with the more subdued lighting

Reds, Gold, Orange, Greens

 We had some very nice rocks to sit on and a good view to start dinner and chat

Above ( Joe, Dee Ann, Brian)
Below (Fred and Butch)

 The sun through the leaves made everything shine.

 We built and nice fire and there was good conversation until it was time to sleep. No tarps tonight as the sky was perfectly clear. Lots of shooting stars, the Milky Way, and satellites to view.
It is never hard to wake up in time for the morning sunrise. I was up and sitting on my rock ledge to watch the dawn

The full morning view

 After breakfast I had to back up and get going as I had a brunch appointment back home, so I made the trip down by myself as everyone else lingered on top for awhile longer

 the colors were much more dramatic in the morning with the angled light.

It was also much cooler this morning than yesterday so hiking downhill was not any trouble. I made the 6 miles down in 1 hour 45 minutes. Pausing just briefly to take pictures

 The colors in the trees were really showing through today

Part of the number of cars in the parking lot on Friday was the forest service doing some trail maintenance by putting up better signs at some of the trail junctions. You can see the new signs on the tree above the old signs for Bell Mountain and the Ozark Trail

Thanks much for a great overnight. Bell Mountain never disappoints.
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