Elvis & Tigers are Here!

We left the Black Hills in South Dakota and began heading towards Missouri.  We spent our first night back on the road from here in a Nebraska State Park just outside the town of Ogallala along Lake McConaughy.  We appeared to be the only ones there and we were well rewarded with this incredible sunset!  IMG_8316

This lake is Nebraska's largest reservoir with over 100 miles of shore line.  It is also 20 miles long, four miles wide and 142 feet deep at the dam.  It’s a beautiful area for sure!  IMG_8322
On our way south, we stopped in Chanute, KS and spent a couple of free nights in the City Park so we could take the tour at the Nuwa Hitchhiker factory.  It was very interesting and we really learned a lot!  I highly recommend taking the time to do this if you’re an RVer who finds themselves in this area. 
After our time in Chanute, we headed toward Branson, MO.  We first headed to Pea Patch RV Park which is a Passport America park there, and we had the very WORST experience we have had at an RV Park.  First off, they lied to us, which is always a pet peeve of mine!  He disregarded our own ability of knowing what/where we can take our rig and when Sal was trying to get back out of the place (after trying to fit in where we knew we couldn’t fit but he kept telling us we could) and the ladder on the back of our rig was dragging on the ground, the man from the RV park looked at me to say, “Oh. It will all be okay.”  This put me over the edge and then had me hollering at him telling him, “This is our HOUSE”  not just some weekend rig!”  And telling him that he had no right to tell me anything about what was okay with it and how dare he try to tell me what is okay with it or not!  After all of this, we all took off to find a better place to stay!  We ended up at the Branson Stagecoach RV Park and had such a different and wonderful experience!  The people here were extremely helpful and nice!!  If you find yourself in the Branson area, I HIGHLY recommend this place!!  It was less expensive and we got so much more for our money. 
Anyway, I will get off my soapbox now and tell you about our Branson experience!!  Shortly after driving into town, we were greeted with this!  IMG_8333Branson wasn’t was I was expecting.  It was so much bigger than I thought it would be.  We hung out in town the next day and took in an Imax movie and then went to the Kirby Van Burch Magic Show that night.  My personal opinion was, it was okay, but it didn’t live up to all the hype.  I wasn’t allowed to take any pictures during the show, which made sense once I thought about it.  I really had only wanted to try to get pics of some of the large cats he has in his show anyway, and realistically, they weren’t on stage long enough for any photos anyway! 
The next day, we went to an afternoon show to see Joseph Hall’s Elvis Tribute show.  It was FANTASTIC!!  He was on America’s Got Talent a few years ago and although I saw him on the show, until I saw the clip from the show, I didn’t remember it.  Anyway, this show was so much fun!  IMG_8341

His show focuses on three basic part of Elvis Presley’s career.  He starts with the early Elvis from around 1956.

After that, he moves on about 12 years or so to the leather suit.  He has definitely studied all of Elvis’ mannerisms and facial expressions!    IMG_8356

He started this career by going to a Halloween costume party dressed as Elvis.  He did some songs that night and that is what started his interest!  Four years later, here he is!  He always thought he would end up in the restaurant business after he and his dad owned a restaurant.  It seems like he was born to do this though!  He is great!!  This is what he saw as Elvis’ Vegas years.  Joseph is a great showman!IMG_8362Later that night, we took in the Presleys’ Country Jubilee show. We weren’t sure how much we were going to like this or not, but we were very pleasantly surprised!  It was actually a lot of fun!  IMG_8380

The Presleys’ actually built Branson’s first music theatre in 1967.  They did their part to help the town to become the live music capital of the world!  IMG_8404

Their music is pretty much a blend of country, gospel, and bluegrass, with a bunch of hilarious comedy thrown in too.  It really was a lot of fun.  IMG_8390The next day, which was our last full day in Branson, the rest of the gang decided to go to an acrobatic kind of show, which they said was incredible, but I had found out some information about the National Tiger Sanctuary nearby and I couldn’t miss out the opportunity to visit!  The first cat you see when you start the tour is T.J. (Tiger Jack).  Isn’t he beautiful??!!  IMG_8419

By these animals coming to live here, it is keeping them alive.  They have all come from some situation that they would be put to sleep or else they could come here to live out the rest of their days.  Some of them have come from some sort of show and a few were actually pets to other people before.  IMG_8435

These animals were just magnificent to see and you could really see that they all had different personalities too.  IMG_8479
Such as this gal.  This is Tina and she’s only been at the sanctuary since August of this year.  Unfortunately she is de-clawed on all four paws and is missing a bit off her tail from an African wild dog or a lion. Luckily for us she has been spayed. She makes all kinds of noises when you get anywhere close to her enclosure as if she’s talking to you!  She reminded me of our cat, Sophie, who pretty much does the same thing!  IMG_8502They have other big cats besides Tigers too.  This is a mountain lion named Banshee.  She originally lived down the street from the sanctuary until her owner passed away in 2008.  Being an ex-park ranger from California, these are the “big” cats I’m used to thinking about, but seeing her after looking at the tigers, she seemed so small.  So beautiful though!!  IMG_8529

Midnight came from a private individual, who bought her as a baby. When a child came into his life he thought it would be best not have her around.  IMG_8573

This lion, Merlin, was a show cat at the Kirby Van Burch magic show. When the trainers and Kirby realized that Merlin did not like the showbiz, they decided to find him a place to live out his life comfortably.  After they came and visited the sanctuary, they thought this would be the perfect place to donate him to.  IMG_8599Branson wasn’t exactly like I though it would be, but we definitely had so much fun while there!!  Definitely glad that we went, and we would definitely go back again!  If you find yourself in the area, you’ll have a great time!  Hope you enjoyed reading about our visit.
Happy Trails!


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