An Ozark Life

Though I love the manicured lawns and tranquil museums of the city, there’s just something special about living in the country. I’m grateful for the long stretches of green, knowing the hills I’ve passed might belong all to one person, or no one at all, or a few contented cows.

Even though I live on a highway, it doesn’t stop my retired neighbor from driving his golf cart a half mile to see his buddy up the road. There isn’t a golf course for 20 miles.

Then there’s the guy 3 houses down who used to ride his horse to the biker bar at the junction so he could drink all he wanted and still get home. The horse knew the way.

One morning I was about to pull out of the driveway when I saw my father parked across the road in his van. He was sitting in front of the little white church where maybe 4 cars arrive each Sunday. The bell still rings at 10am that day. Dad wasn’t alone. Our neighbor to the west was visiting through the van window, one hand wrapped in a rope attached on the other end to a very large bull with horns that curved up past the driver’s side window.

“Hey!” he waved as I slowed to get a closer look. “Just out walkin’ the baby.”

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What do you love about where you live?

Uh-oh, I’ve said too much

I don’t see myself as an expert in anything. Heck, I Youtube how to do half my life. But when you write a book, people naturally see you as an expert in that field. (I am thankful every day I don’t write romance…)

While I’m no expert, I have lived in the Ozarks for 25 years, and in Missouri my entire life. I am a travel nut, so I’ve been to every possible historical, cultural, adventurous, museum-ish place I could reach. And as a teacher and homeschool parent, the urge to collect experiences is twice as strong.

Lake Taneycomo

(Photo courtesy of Branson Convention & Visitors Bureau)

Completely by accident, I have become a vault of useless knowledge about vacationing in Branson. It started with a few years at the Convention and Visitors Bureau, organizing tours for big groups and assisting travel agents (remember those?). Then I worked for tour businesses and bus companies, booking shows and restaurants for legions of Shriners and church ladies and retirees who, thank God, had decided to let someone else do the driving. As a step-on guide (that’s someone who “steps on” the bus and is your tour guide for the city) I dressed up like Ellie Clampett from the Beverly Hillbillies and spun stories that passed the time in traffic – a skill which has served me well in front of a classroom in my present life.

In the years I traded full-time work for a family, I was busy catering to children, then teenagers, and back to adults again. I’ve seen Branson boom and watched the lakes rise and fall, entertainers come and go, hotels change names, and decided for myself what was the best of the best. I don’t know a tenth of what the old-timers do about this area, but that’s what makes it fun to keep learning. I consider my new book – 100 Things To Do In Branson Before You Die – to be like dipping a toe in Table Rock Lake. You’ll get the feel of the water without plunging all the way in.

It’s funny to be pointed at as an “expert” at book signings and events, but that is part of the deal until the next thing comes along. At least you can always ask me for directions and where to get the best ice cream! (Andy’s Frozen Custard…you’ll love it!)

100 Things To Do In Branson Before You Die

100 Things to Do in Branson Before You Die front cover-page-0

The experts say, “Write what you know.” Well, what could you know more about than your own hometown? That’s the idea that occurred to me when I was on vacation a few months ago. We were enjoying San Antonio and utilizing a little guidebook called “100 Things To Do In San Antonio Before You Die”. It was easy to jump to just the thing you were interested in, without being bogged down in explanation and history – totally different from the weighty volumes of my own town.

light-bulb-146568986322dLight bulb moment!

  Why not write a book about Branson that would fit in with this series and be a quick reference for residents and tourists alike? I contacted the publishers of that San Antonio book, Reedy Press, and it was the fastest sale of a book idea I’ve ever had! Within hours I had the go-ahead, and a deadline of just a few weeks.

I’ve been working like a madwoman to collect ideas for fun spots to eat, play, learn, and explore. It’s more difficult to try to be brief on each stop than to put all my knowledge on the page, but that was the challenge. (Besides, I can put all that extra info HERE for YOU!)

The manuscript has been completed, the cover art is done, and we expect a publication release date for Spring 2018. Stay tuned for ordering info and more tips about the Branson area!