Branson Bound and Budgeted

Our Branson adventure begins at the Old Highway 86 Corps of Engineer campground.  This beautiful  campground features electric and water hook ups.  Our rate was $10.50 per night due to Dan having the National Parks Senior pass.  This is 50% off the regular price.  The campground is a peninsula with lake views on both sides.  The land  “base” is a view of a small Ozark mountain watching over us.  It almost felt European.

The campsites line the edges of the peninsula with an additional row in the middle; however, even the campsites in the middle row seemed to have a good view of Table Rock Lake; although, our site was on the lake’s edge.  The campground features a boat launch, swimming area, sand volleyball, basketball, a playground, and a shower house, of course.  To me, this campground felt like heaven.  It was so pretty, so clean, and it felt a world away.  Even the weather was perfect.  From our campsite, we could watch the lake and see the Branson Belle silently go out and make its way around the lake.  While it wasn’t huge, offering 77 campsites, it was large enough for us to easily achieve our minimum goal of  7,500 steps each day.

Our Campsite
Swimming Area

The only drawback of Old Highway 86 was that it did not offer full hookups.  By only showering once each over our three night visit, we made our holding tanks last until we left.  We could have stretched this by using the shower house, but we like our camper shower’s convenience.   There was no public wifi offered here, but that was fine during our short visit.

 People were friendly, and we got to know one of our neighbors particularly well.  At one point, our stove fan, stove light and light above the sink stopped working.  We called our RV dealer who instructed us to check our fuses; however, one of us dropped a fuse into Never never land.  So, we needed a screwdriver to try to retrieve the fuse.  Dan left and somehow came back with Dennis.  Dennis was a gold mine of a find for us.  He happened to have 40 years of RV experience, tons of travel and RV tips, and, at one point, he was even an RV dealer.  He said if he couldn’t fix the problem, no one could.  Truth be told, neither Dan nor I fully believed him at this point.  But we did believe him later, as Dennis did fix our problem.   A connector in the range hood had shaken loose.  Dennis had a number of RV and travel tips for us, and we appreciated his help and friendliness.

Our bestest friend at Old Hwy 86

When we left Ole’ 86, we raved about it to the guard shack attendant.  She proudly told us the Old Highway 86 campground is one of the top three in the nation.  I asked her what the other two were; however, she claimed not to know.    I would really like to know.  In fact, it’s kind of bugging me.  So, if you know, please tell me in the comments below.

The next 9 days and evenings were spent at Table Rock state park just a few miles from Branson.  I won’t give a chronological accounting of our time there.  Rather, I’ll group by activity and provide my comments that way.

Our campsite was nice, though it did not have a view of the lake.  In addition, our site (#221) did not offer any shade, so it was pretty hot in the afternoon.  We were so happy to have air conditioning and our awning, and we used them both.  The full hook ups were great, but I just have to say it:  I liked Old Highway 86 better.  Dan is partial to the full hook ups.

Perhaps my favorite part at Table Rock state park was the Lakeshore Trail.  Most mornings, we began our day by walking from our campsite to the marina where we linked up with the Lakeshore Trail and walked about an hour along the lake, in mostly shade, before returning to our campsite for breakfast.

Twice we played Putt Putt.  We noticed a sign coming in town which advertised free play for fathers on Father’s Day.  We took them up on their offer and saved about $16.  Later in the week, we used a Groupon I had bought previously.   So we spent another afternoon at another course enjoying unlimited play.  The Groupon saved us $12.50.  I recommend searching a city’s Groupon deals before you visit.  There were several offerings for Branson.

On Thursday, we went to Silver Dollar City.  We chose Thursday because we could purchase our tickets in advance at the Country Mart in Branson for $45 each.  This saved us about $47.  The deal was listed on their website.  The receipt is brought to the park for entrance; however, if it is not used, it can be returned to the store for money back.  Fortunately, the weather cooperated with us, and we enjoyed a full day at Silver Dollar City.

We also visited Branson Landing.   This area offers  area a free trolley which we rode.  We stopped in at  Dick’s 5 and 10 store where I purchased our only souvenir,  a “travel trailer” salt and pepper shaker set.  I had seen one of these at the RV museum in Amarillo and wanted one for our camper.  Also on the Branson Landing, we enjoyed the 3 minute fire and fountain show.  We had dinner at a nice restaurant on the Landing and walked along the riverwalk trail.   

We enjoyed the free activities at the Dewey Visitor Center and the Shepard of the Hills Fish Hatchery.  At the Dewey Center, we watched a 20 minute film about the dam.  At the Fish Hatchery, we watched an 11 minute film about the hatchery, saw hundreds or thousands of trout,  and even saw a 2-headed live snake.

Both films were really interesting, and I highly recommend even though there was no popcorn.  The Fish Hatchery also had some hiking trails, but it was too hot for us to enjoy.

One evening, we walked down to the marina for dinner.  We enjoyed it and some ice cream afterwards.  While the dinner was reasonable, about nine dollars for a sandwich and chips, our two ice creams (1 sundae and 1 frozen bar) added up to $9 which is too high in my book.  Speaking of books, I was happily surprised to see a free, little library at the marina!

This was the first RV trip we have taken since Dan officially retired.  As such, I was a bit more money conscious.  While I am the budgetmeister of the family, Dan is a willing and cheerful participant.  We really do work together as a team.  Our camping fees were $300, and we budgeted $850 for spending money which would include everything else, including gas and cat sitting.  We came in $30 under budget, averaging $93.11 per day.  This was a 12 day trip.  The only activity that we would have liked to have added is one or two shows in Branson.  However, as Dan remarked, the shows will be there next time.  The question, though, isn’t what show will we see, but rather, where will we camp?


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