Sunday, April 6, 2008

Flinty's Excellent Adventure

My brother and his family gave us a Christmas gift certificate to the Big Cedar Lodge in Ridgedale, Missouri. It wasn't this past Christmas though but Christmas, 2006. That was Dad's last Christmas as it turned out and it was the beginning of the most difficult time for him and for me.

There wasn't much opportunity in 2007 for us to take a trip. It was a hard year that one was. A few times we tried to make reservations but it just never worked out for one reason or another. Finally I made the reservations on March 2nd this year. This place is expensive and packed all the time. So they have a strenuous cancellation policy as in you have to cancel like 22 days before your arrival date to get all your money back. At 21 days you only get half and then it goes down from there.

Ridgedale is about 10 miles south of Branson. I took my young family to Branson back in the early or mid 1980's. It has grown so much larger since that time and is truly a magnet for all sorts of tourists. The area is hilly (more like short mountains) with beautiful lakes and streams and lush forestation. The area around Branson is very beautiful. I personally don't like Branson that much. There are too many people for me and way too much traffic and just too touristy. But I am told by friends that there are wonderful live shows there and that I just need to learn to live a little better.

Big Cedar Lodge is actually a rather large compound of several lodges, many cabins, restaurants, and other buildings all nestled at one end of Table Rock Lake. The lodges and cabins are arranged on the side of the valley face so that every room or cabin looks out onto the lake. There are no bad views. The lodges are 3 story structures out of steel and concrete but finished on the outside with wood logs so they appear to be log buildings. The inside is plaster and very modern and nice. There is a definite outdoor theme with room decor including pelts and stuffed animals of various types.

Even though it is located in such a rural setting with a natural hunting and fishing theme it is strangely formal and elegant. Several restaurants suggest reservations for evening and business casual attire is normal. It suggests to my mind what the old Adirondack lodges must have been like. Although I admit the only thing I know about Adirondack lodges is what I learned from Dirty Dancing.

In our room there were 2 deer heads looking at us from one wall. I find it a little disconcerting to have dead animals looking at me when I'm in bed.

On another wall there was a bear skin and some pheasants and a raccoon was doing something on yet another wall. The rooms are huge with a fireplace that you turn on with a switch. There's cable and wifi and a bathtub and a shower and room service as needed. We also had a small refrigerator and a microwave. The bed had this down comforter that itself was wrapped in 2 sheets.

The lodges are set into the slope of the valley. So the road takes you behind the lodge where you park and the entry from the road is on the 3rd floor of the lodge. You come in and take an elevator down to your room if you are on floors 1 or 2.

It is very quiet here. Every room has a balcony and each balcony has two wooden rocking chairs. It is wonderfully peaceful to sit out there on the balcony and look out over the valley and the lake.

On the morning after we arrived I got out for my normal exercise time and decided to walk down to the registration building and then back. I knew it was pretty steep from driving up to the lodge in the car but you really do get a much better sense of how steep it really is when walking. I think I am in fair shape since I exercise nearly every day but in no time I was huffing and puffing.

Well the way down the hill isn't so tough although you have to be careful because you can pick up pretty good speed. But going back up is hard. On the way I met a much younger man on his mountain bike. He was going down and I had enough air to say "hi." I thought to myself that I would probably kill myself on a bike going down but if I made it down I'd have to carry the thing back up because there's no way I could peddle it.

Then I saw a father and a daughter. The daughter was in her mid-teens I think. She was jogging. Her dad was in his early 40's I'd say and he was having a tough time keeping up.

Judy took the photo of me and the stuffed bear. Did I ever tell you that she called me her "teddy bear?" The bear and I have a strangely similar body shape I think. He's quite a bit taller though. But even our arms are similarly positioned. He's looking a little more to the left though. Some people have told me I am sometimes grouchy as a bear. I wonder how bears got the grouchy reputation?

After we left Big Cedar we drove around Branson and then headed to Springfield. We had lunch there and then stopped at the big Bass Pro shop. It is really big. "Shop" is definitely the wrong word. The thing has its own stream and waterfall. We were quite interested though in this place where you could have names custom embroidered onto shirts.

Later we found a movie theater in Springfield and stopped to watch Fool's Gold. Kate Hudson was in it with Matthew McConaughey and Donald Sutherland. I think I like Kate Hudson so much because of her mother, Goldie Hawn. Even when the movie is not so good I enjoy watching Kate Hudson. This movie is not going to win any awards but it was really nice for us.

On the way back home we got off the Interstate and traveled part of old Route 66. First we stopped in Claremore and I actually got a Starbucks there. I had one the previous day inside the Bass Pro Shop so I wasn't in too much withdrawl.

Later we stopped by this new place in Arcadia, OK called "Pop's."

It's a gas station with a diner and a fountain and it is designed by an innovative architect from Oklahoma City.

It has this huge pop bottle like thing out in front that is lit up with neon at night. It is pretty impressive. In keeping with the "pop" theme the gas pumps are ultra-modern and make you think of soda pop bottles.

The walls of the building are glass and slanted on an angle. Inside there are shelves on the glass walls and on those shelves are hundreds and hundreds of soda pop bottles.

They have a rather large collection of different soda pops that you can buy.

I bought a sarsaparilla and a root beer. The place was very busy when we were there with nearly every table taken in the little diner area. The diner is kind of old fashioned and nostalgic.

I suppose it is the nostalgia that maybe is the big draw. Or maybe it is the uniqueness of the thing or the kind of kitschiness that it is meant to make one remember about old Route 66.

It is surprisingly close to Edmond, Oklahoma where my kids live. I knew about the place but in my mind it should have been further away. But that's just how much things have changed since my childhood and how spread out our population is in Oklahoma City.

But we had a lot of fun stopping by Pop's. Since we were in no particular hurry we didn't mind the slowness of the old 2 lane road either. But just in case anyone has forgotten let me say that 2 lane roads are really, really slow. There is no hurrying period.

We also saw the old round barn in Arcadia that has been restored. I remember seeing this thing as a child although I do not remember very well the trips we took when I must have seen it. That was a time before the Interstates that seems so long ago now.

I remember it being pretty much like it is today and then I remember it nearly collapsing. According the web site the roof did collapse in 1988. Volunteers raised money and provided labor to rebuild it. It is a true round barn. It was built in 1898.

The End.


Lori1955 said...

Welcome home. It sounds like you had a great trip. You really should have gone into Branson though. I love that town. And what fun that Big Bass Pro shop is!!! I loved that. Wish I had been to that soda pop place. It looks so cool. Hope you both got plenty of rest and relaxation on your trip. We have missed you.

Cinnamin said...

Hi Flinty, glad to see a new edition to your blog! LOVE the photos, thanks so much for sharing your adventure with us! This really looks and sounds like a great place - Your very own deer heads in your room - Woo hoo!! ;)

The closest thing we have to this is Stallion Springs Resort up near Tehachapi.

We too were "gifted" with a week up there and had a great time. The only wildlife spotted were HUGE raccoons outside of the restaurant windows, as they watched us eat dinner one night, they were the biggest raccoons I've ever seen!

Welcome back!

cornbread hell said...

welcome back. i love the round barn. must go read about it...

rilera said...

Welcome back Terry. Sounds like you had a great time. I love the picute of you with the bear!

¸.•*´)ღ¸.•*´Chris said...

Great pics! What a wonderful place to get some R&R. I would love to sit out on that deck just once with a Sunday paper and a hot cup of coffee. Pure heaven.

nancy said...

glad you had a good time terry. you and judy deserved to get away for a little r&r. i have missed your storytelling too. reading this post i almost felt like i was there with you and judy. thank you! i love the movie, dirty dancing. it's one of my all time favorites!

Joanne said...

Welcome back, Terry. What a wonderful post. I'm so glad you and Judy enjoyed your trip. Looks like I have some catching up to do along with explaining my absence in my blog. Love the pictures. I'll read the rest tomorrow. Promise!