Thursday, June 15, 2017

Life at the Ranch in Missouri

It has been 10 days since I last wrote in this blog. I have a hard time getting inspired to write when we are sitting still. I wrote in by last entry that I felt "conflicted" coming back to Missouri. I will try to explain.

We love our life on the road. We love to see new places and meet new people. We have found that we love the feeling of waking up in the morning and looking out the windows to a new scene. We certainly want to keep traveling as long as we can. The conflict comes in when we think about our children and grandchildren. It is also related to the ranch. We love coming to the ranch. We love hanging out with all of the people that come here and we love the activities in this area.

So, there is the problem. How do we have both?

Our current plan is to stay here a while and let our feelings tell us when it is time to leave. I have no idea how long that will be. We also need to take care of a few things that are much easier when we are sitting still. Kim is taking care of a dental problem and I am working on an air conditioner issue in the trailer. I also want to work on the slides to get them operating perfectly.

We arrived at the ranch on May 25. What have we been doing since? Well, we have been very busy. Just this week is the first time we have been able to just relax. We have been spending time with some of the grandchildren and I have been doing some riding at the ranch. We have the ultimate place to ride dirt bikes. I have never found a workout that is as much fun as riding my dirt bike. So, I am even getting in a little better shape. I am also looking forward to water skiing this summer. We are currently waiting for the lakes to come down a bit to make the lakes safe for our boat. They have had an incredible amount of rain this spring here in Missouri.

The ranch is very green this year. We have an amazing variety of birds. We had one hit one of our windows while Isabella was visiting. I got this great picture of her trying to nurse it back to health.

While Jake was here, he decided to make pancakes. They turned out...interesting. It is so rare to get a shot of him smiling, so I have to publish these.

We also had a 4 day visit from Will. He is riding his motorcycle very well. It won't be long and he will be riding with the older guys. Will and Isabella are also playing baseball and softball. Both are doing very well. I just love going to the ballpark. It brings back great memories of coaching my own children.

We also had a visit from Amelia. She is growing up so fast. No great pictures, but she is just so cute I had to publish one.

One of the cool things that happen here at the ranch is some riders from around the state come here to train. Logan Lowery is from Northern Missouri and is a top 20 National Professional Rider. He spent last week with us and invited two local pros to ride and train with him. Here is a shot of Logan in the center (age 19), Noah Clark (age 15), Nate Rector (age 16). There are very special young men. Not only are they great riders, but are equally great people that are totally dedicated to being successful.

I really enjoy hanging out and even doing a little riding with the guys.

I have also spent a fair amount of time doing maintenance on my machines and the tractor that we have here at the ranch. One of the things about being here is there is never a lack of things to do. That can be good and bad.

The ranch is a unique situation. We are 10% owners of the ranch. Many of the owners rarely come to the ranch and have very little to do with what is going on here. Two other owners are very involved and take care of this place alone when we are not here. The cool thing about this place is it makes money by selling annual memberships and putting on events. The income basically covers our expenses. So, we have a place to come and hang out with full hook ups and there are no on going costs. It did take a significant investment to start with, but it works for us.

That is about it for now. I will try to write periodically while we are sitting still. As our future travel plans come in to focus, I will update this blog. For now, have a great summer.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Natural Falls State Park

I am writing this entry from the ranch in Missouri. We arrived here on May 25. We have been very busy since we have been here. I will write more about life here on the ranch in future entries, but for now I will finish our recent travels. The last stop on our 7 month+ trip was Natural Falls State Park in far Northeastern Oklahoma.

We left Beavers Bed State Park on May 23 and drove north on Highway 259 then 59. There is a significant ridge that runs east/west from Mena, Arkansas to Talihina, Oklahoma. There is a beautiful drive along the ridge. We had to cross that ridge, so we had a steep climb and just as steep descent. In all of our travels we have traveled through many mountains and that made this area easy by comparison. We did stop at the top to take a look. It is a nice view.

It was mid week and we knew we could stop at a number of different places at the end of this day. The only thing we were thinking is that we wanted to get to the ranch before the coming holiday weekend. It is strange how much we try to avoid the campgrounds on holiday weekends. It was not long ago that we looked forward to the three summer holiday weekends. Now we just try to avoid the packed campgrounds.

Kim was watching the weather radar and monitoring a weather system moving north of us. We decided to keep moving north and make just one stop at Natural Falls SP. The drive was just short of 200 miles, but not bad at all with mostly empty rural roads. The scenery was very interesting. This is all lands that were used for the relocation of the Cherokee and Choctaw. It is all very sparsely populated. Kim determined that we would arrive at the SP just as the storm was hitting, so we stopped for dinner and then made it to the SP just as the storm was leaving. Now, that is good navigating. We do make a pretty good team.

We had our choice of sites when we arrived and chose #8. It is a very long back in. We were perfectly level, so we decided to not disconnect.

We decided to stay two nights. The park advertises a nice waterfall, so we went to check it out. The falls are 77 feet high and is very beautiful. We were shocked to see something like this in NE Oklahoma. The water exits the limestone cliff at a number of spots in addition the the main falls.

There are nice trails and boardwalks all around the area. We really enjoyed the views.

There is Kim at the upper overlook.

I just love the way people obey the rules.

We continued on to the other trails in the park. There were not long, but had some very steep hills. We did find another falls over a small dam.

Natural Falls SP is very well maintained and even had a Disc Golf Course. This is a fairly small park with only about 25 sites. We had good cell coverage and good OTA TV.

We liked the waterfall area so much we took another walk in the evening to go see the falls. This time we had the views all to ourselves and we sat and enjoyed the view for a long time and talked about our trip. The following day we made the final 190 mile drive to the ranch.

We have mixed emotions about coming back to Missouri. I will write about those feelings in coming entries.