My travel buddy, Connie Molder, and I have been taking off on road trips the past several Tuesdays. We’ve made a bull’s eye out of a four-state area map and numbered areas that we could get to within a three-hour drive. We draw out three numbers, ask our Face Book followers to vote and on “Travel Tuesday”, the voters tell us where to go. It’s been a hoot. There are a couple of reasons for this escapade; 1) We want to stay in touch with our travel family and 2) We are bored and ready to travel.
Last week the winning vote sent us to Sallisaw, Spiro, and Poteau. We hit Visitors Centers, we Google and we ask locals that we encounter along the way. We try to see and do as much as we can within our day and video our finds to be viewed on Face Book. Discover Oklahoma, we are not. We can hardly manage the camera on the iPhone.
This week, our voters sent us to Paris! Arkansas that is. We stopped in Ozark at the Visitors Center and peppered the greeter with “what to do?” questions. As it turned out, it was her first day on the job, so she called in her supervisor and we had a brain-storming session of things to see. We made our way to a tiny museum housed in the old depot on the banks of the Arkansas River. We took a look around at their collections but a three-ring notebook caught my eye. The cover read “The Stories of the People of Ozark.” Inside were brief profiles of resident farmers, quilters, and story-tellers. Susie, the museum volunteer, said Sonny, the one with stories, might be found sitting in a recliner in his yard. I quickly asked for directions.
After traveling Timber Road and taking a right into Beulah Land, we hit gravel just as Susie described. Turns out Sonny is a busy guy and he wasn’t in his story telling chair and his truck was gone. I was so disappointed. Wouldn’t that have been a hoot? There’s characters in every town that people should have the joy of listening to them regale tales. Who comes to your mind to send an out-of-towner to visit?
These one day adventures have given us the chance to travel.
We have turned off the interstate and taken the Scenic Route. We have admired lush green pastures and manicured lawns. We have “Ahhhh’ed” over flowers, wild and tamed. We’ve bragged on bridges. We’ve pointed out places that are picnic perfect. We’ve bought fuel at tiny gas stations. We’ve gone in junk stores and purchased treasures. We’ve laughed with locals and seen the places that “somebody oughta do something with that place.”
We’ve made several discoveries along our way. Even though our states are arranged where we might travel through three on one trip, each state is reopening at a different pace. Things in Oklahoma seem fairly back to normal in appearances with social distancing being the requirement. Arkansas is currently still asking customers to wear a mask upon entry into restaurants and attractions. Missouri seems to have a combination of things happening. It’s difficult to tell what is state required and what is business required. I would suggest being prepared with a mask or bandana in case the place you are headed has posted: Face Mask Required.
It certainly seems the family owned businesses are ready and welcoming for us to come eat, shop and spend some money. The bigger the business, the farther away the owner and the slower the reopening of the establishment is my opinion. Sadly, this means government operated places, like visitors centers and resorts may not have the open sign out. Best to call ahead. We were surprised to see campgrounds with “Full” signs. We weren’t sure if that was due to restrictions on the number of sites rented or if folks are ready to be somewhere else, even if it’s sleeping in a tent.
Until we can load the motorcoach and be Good to Go, I will explore the territory and report back. It’s the best I can do. Follow our Girls Travel Tuesdays on our Good to Go Facebook Page at: www.facebook.com/G2GwithPB.
Patti Beth Anderson has more than 20 years of experience in the group travel industry taking people all over the world. Her motto is "I return with the same number of people I left with… not necessarily the same people, but the same number nevertheless. So no 'crankpots' allowed" She may be reached at 918-786-3318 or email@example.com.