October 21, 2010

Welcome to the Ozarks, Forsyth in Southern Missouri

Southern Missouri Ozarks
Yesterday, we left Carthage to head into the Ozarks. Our primary goal before entering the Ozarks was to stop at Mansfield, MO. That was the adult home of Laura Ingalls Wilder, who wrote the "Little House" series. Linda really wanted to learn more about her, after seeing some information about her at a couple of the prairie sites we visited in the Great Plains. It was only an hour out of our way, so we went on over there.

A view from our campground at Forsyth, MO
After her moves from Wisconsin, to Kansas, to South Dakota and so forth, after Laura Ingalls got married to Almanzo Wilder, they decided to set up a farm at the edge of the Ozarks in south-central Missouri.

But, before we got to Mansfield, we had to make a quick stop at the World Headquarters of Bass Pro Shops in Springfield, MO. This huge superstore has aquariums full of fish, turtles, birds, and other critters of the Ozarks and Mississippi Valley. It is also full of hunting, fishing, outdoor hiking and camping gear. They even sell full-on boats inside.

A stuffed Alligator Gar about to eat a bass
Hilina had an amazing time running from tank to tank to look at snapping turtles, gars, an alligator, live ducks, and much more. In addition, they painted the inside like you were in a swamp. Sometimes you were on the surface walking through a bald-cypress stand with taxidermied turkeys and deer, sometimes you were underwater, with duck feet sticking out of the ceiling and 6 foot gar attacking bass and crappies.

Live tank behind a beaver dam
However, about half the store was closed for remodeling, so I am sure there is much more to see normally. If you ever end up in Springfield, check it out. With lots of summer gear on clearance, I even bought a shirt and an Arkansas gazetteer.

View from our campsite
Anyways, we visited the home of Laura Ingalls Wilder and it told the story about how her precotious daughter Rose Wilder Land (a famous author in her own right) convinced her mother to write down all of her childhood stories of frontier life. Laura was almost 60 years old when she began publishing these books. Linda bought several of them to read along the way.

Sunset on Bull Shoals Lake
Lastly, we arrived at Forsyth, MO just about 10 miles from the Arkansas border and just 15 miles from Branson. We'll stay here a few days to explore the Southern Missouri Ozarks before venturing down into Arkansas. We are at a city run campground right on the shores of Bull Shoals Lake, which is the White River dammed up. These city run campgrounds of the midwest are a steal! It is only $12 with electricity/water. The one we stayed at in Fort Scott was just $8. We paid $16 for the one in Scottsbluff. Compare that to $35/night at a California State Park and you may not even have electricity!

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