Day 32: Rest Day (waiting out storms) - Steel City to Cow Town 2014 - CycleBlaze

October 10, 2014

Day 32: Rest Day (waiting out storms)

There was a lot of rain overnight, but it was surprisingly warm in the morning. 70F at noon. It quit raining from 11 AM to 4 PM, allowing me to explore the town a bit, have lunch, take a few pictures. The temperature dropped rapidly in the evening.

Most of the theaters, restaurants, and motels are lined up on 2 miles of 4-lane road that's gridlocked most of the time. It takes a VERY long time for a pedestrian to cross the road. The strip is uphill all the way from Branson Landing to the Shepherd of the Hills expressway, gaining several hundred feet.

I'm waiting in Branson for 2 days because of the intense storms. Several inches of rain are forecast. Enough to eliminate a mild drought.

I wish I could have gone another day down the road before the storm hit. Then I would be stuck in charming Eureka Springs instead of depressing Branson.

Branson, Missouri. Next door to my motel.
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Branson was not planned. It developed gradually, starting with music theaters such as Andy Williams' Moonlight Theater. Now there are dozens of theaters with live music, and dozens of chain motels and restaurants. The tourist development is quite dense now, but it's all roads and parking lots with little landscaping and few parks or public plazas. Unplanned industrial tourism run amok. I don't mind the cheap motels, though.

The musical theme started as 1950-1960's country and easy listening music. But as the original audience dies off many theaters now delve into the 1970's. Some theaters occasionally have hit musicians such as The Lettermen, Osmonds, Gatlin Brothers, and Mickey Gilley. But most of the theaters merely have top notch tribute bands.

The shows are relentlessly nostalgic and don't have an ounce of rebellion. Consequently Branson is very popular with retired Baptist ministers, retired military officers, and other conservative people over age 70. Branson aspires to be the nation's top destination for traditional entertainment with no gambling, no prostitution, and not much alcohol. Las Vegas for conservatives. They have my permission to use that slogan.

Roadside industrial tourism in Branson, Missouri.
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Besides the theaters, Branson has a large number of industrial tourism attractions for families. Go karts, splash parks, mini golf, toy museum, dinosaur museum, wax museum, car and farm museum, veterans museum, etc. I imagine Branson is packed with families during the summer vacation season. But on a cold rainy October day the visitors were mostly old folks.

Land-locked Branson, Missouri.
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I haven't seen a bike rack in weeks. Branson has thousands of low-paid hospitality workers, many of whom can't afford a car. Branson still doesn't have bike lanes, though.

The absence of bike racks and bike lanes in this region seems odd to me. In my low-income rural Oregon county the main town has bike lanes on nearly every major road. Most stores have a bike rack. Bicycle and pedestrian facilities are taken for granted in the west coast states, even in small towns.

WalMart in Branson has the first bike rack I've seen since Cumberland, Maryland.
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I planned my route to Fort Worth and learned what lodging is available in each town. I decided that the Talimena Scenic Drive is beyond my abilities. 6310 feet of climbing between Mena and Talihina is too much for one day. Instead I will go a few miles north, more on the edge of the Oachita mountains. With one rest day and no weather delays it should take me 11 days to get to Fort Worth.

The evening was very cold, wet, and windy. I had no desire to go anywhere.

Distance: 7.2 mi. (11.5 km)

Today's ride: 7 miles (11 km)
Total: 1,586 miles (2,552 km)

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