This entry is part 22 of 29 in the series Coast-to-coast: San Francisco to Savannah

April 22, 2024

Coast-to-coast: San Francisco to Savannah (Part 22)

By Simon J. Lau

We’re currently in Branson, nestled deep within the Ozarks. Spanning across Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Kansas, the Ozarks are renowned for their dense forests, rolling hills, and pristine streams. From what I’ve seen so far, the forests are indeed very dense. Additionally, judging by the abundance of roadkill I’ve encountered driving across Missouri, I suspect there are plenty of critters here, especially armadillos.

In Missouri’s Ozarks region, two areas stand out: Branson and Lake of the Ozarks. Branson fit better along my path of travel and was more developed. However, since arriving, I wish I had chosen to visit Lake of the Ozarks instead. Branson caters more to families and those seeking a packaged vacation experience, with its live music shows, theaters, and various family-friendly attractions. None that appeal to me. Conversely, Lake of the Ozarks focuses more on water sports and leisurely dining experiences at lakeside restaurants. I’ve already told Jean that next time, we’re visiting the Lake of the Ozarks!

Despite this, we made the most of our time here. This morning, we ventured to Table Rock Lake, a vast reservoir situated adjacent to Branson. Formed by the construction of Table Rock Dam on the White River, the lake spans 43,000 acres. Although Branson feels relatively chilly now, I can envision how delightful it would be during warmer weather to embark on a jet ski and explore the reservoir.

The town also constructed these neat “bird condos.” There were two “complexes” setup and many birds were flocking to them to feed.

In the afternoon, we visited an abandoned homestead. This property was once owned by a retired University of Tulsa professor, Dr. Lyle Owen. The home was entirely self-sustaining: There was no plumbing (only an outhouse), they collected rainwater for use, and the only source of heat was a fireplace. Additionally, there was a giant chicken coop on the property.

Dr. Owen and his wife, Stella, embraced a sustainable lifestyle long before it became fashionable! 

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