We have not been camping this week but luxuriating at a lovely bed and breakfast just south of Branson, Missouri, courtesy of our daughter and son-in-law. The hosts at the White River Lodge, Bill and Becky couldn't be more welcoming and this amazing log home has all of the amenities. A variety of bird feeders on the decks brought us glimpses of an indigo bunting, gold finches, cardinals, woodpeckers, and a large crow or something who thought the suet block was for him.
On Wednesday we drove to Dogwood Canyon, a nature preserve privately held by the guy who dabbles in Bass Pro Shops and Cabelas. It's a beautiful area, but the signs that give warning that this is a wilderness area and watch out for poisonous snakes and other wild fauna are somewhat belied by the mowing and landscaping going on. When I asked one of the employees if the numerous waterfalls were natural, he said mostly but they had been 'enhanced.' Your ten dollar entry fee only gets you in the gate and into a museum, restaurant, small nature center, and of course the gift shop. If you want to walk on the paved trails back through the canyon, that is ten dollars more, with other forms of transport (bikes, trams, jeeps, horses, etc) proportionately higher. We hesitated at first, balking at the $10 charge to use our own feet to explore, but finally decided we would go the bike route and sprung for $15 more apiece.
The trail back through the canyon floor runs very gradually up hill, which is still a challenge for us old folks, and we stopped several times to rest and enjoy the scenery. At one spot, we visited with an employee who explained what he was waiting for. There is apparently a senior tour golf tournament being held this weekend at the Top of the Rock golf course (also owned by Mr. Bass Pro), and he had graciously invited the golfers out to fish and relax in the Canyon after a rough day of practice rounds. The staff had established ten sites along the trail where the golfers would be dropped off, provided with poles and equipment--I didn't see any bamboo, by the way--and helped in their fishing efforts by expert guides to catch the wiley trout. The staff seemed to be 'enhancing' the number of trout at each pool by providing little fishy snacks.
The golfers were supposed to be dropped off at any time, but had not yet arrived by the time we came back down the trail, returned our bikes, and left the park. Perhaps the golfers were expected to pay for their 'wilderness' fishing experience, but somehow I doubt it. However, being Senior citizens ourselves, we appreciate Mr. Bass Pro's attempt to help out these retirees who are no doubt on fixed incomes and mostly dependent on Social Security, and if they were not being charged, we were certainly glad to donate our $50 so that such a charitable cause could be carried out.
Some random thoughts about writing, camping, and eating.