If you’re familiar with my blog, you know I love talking about how my husband, Jason, is awesome. (Read about how we met here and our wedding here.) Well, this RV road trip was no exception. In the beginning, his calm, patient demeanor got us on the road despite a series of unfortunate events (experience the nightmare here) and now that we were finally having fun, he made sure we kept going the distance. Which is to say, he drove the RV. The. Entire. Time. I am not only super grateful, but I fully admit that keeping me off the road means keeping America safe.
Luckily, it was only a 1.5 hour drive from Gaston’s in Arkansas to our next destination, an amazing family resort right outside of Branson, Missouri, called Big Cedar Lodge. We actually visited this place with my parents back in January. We had so much fun then that we all wanted to come back – there’s that much to do here!
OK, full disclosure: Big Cedar Lodge is a wallet-ripper. But it’s worth every freaking penny because the customer service and hospitality are like no other. I am talking Disney cruise-level awesomeness. Or Blackberry Farm – and if you’ve ever been to this legendary Tennessee resort, you’re probably still dreaming about it. Y’all, I could go on and on about this resort, but I’m going to narrow all the awesome down to five things you absolutely positively must do when you go. You’re welcome.
CHRISTY’S BIG CEDAR TOP FIVE
1. Ancient Ozarks Natural History Museum
This expansive collection brings together prehistoric creatures, an astounding collection of Native American artifacts, and galleries showcasing the American West and Civil War. You could seriously spend all day here, there is so much to take in. Unfortunately, my boys only lasted about 90 minutes, but I feel like they packed a lot into that time, and we all learned a lot.
2. Lost Canyon Cave and Nature Trail
Our whole fam took this tour back in January, and it was by far the coolest 2.5-mile golf cart ride on the planet. The views were stunning, and it really did feel like we were on a tour of a billionaire’s private grounds.
3. Fun Mountain
Think of 50,000 square feet filled with every type of activity imaginable! Fun Mountain is a game room on steroids, and our boys zipped around this space like little Energizer bunnies. They bowled, played video games and spent countless hours racing go-carts and traversing the breathtaking, three-story open-air ropes course (yes, you read that right: an outdoor ropes course!)
4. Cedar Creek Spa
I wish I could say I took some time off from parenting to indulge in some much needed relaxation at this spectacular spa, but the only Smiths who partook in the pampering were our boys. That’s because the spa people have thought of everything and have a menu of services specifically designed for kids ages 10-18! Don’t worry if you’re trying to go to the spa to escape that exact age demographic – I feel you. The spa is spread out over 18 thousand square feet, so there’s plenty of relaxation space for everyone, and children under 18 do not have access to steam rooms, saunas, hot pools, the ice room or grotto pool.
5. Backyard Baskets
One of the coolest parts about having your own cabin is the ability to have a basket of ingredients and fixings delivered to your door. We were able to grill dinner as a family – an important element of privacy, especially in these pandemic days. Our Backyard Basket brought everything we needed right to our front door to prepare in our cabin’s cozy kitchen or on our private deck-side grill.
We reluctantly left Big Cedar knowing that there was still time left in the year for a three-peat. I am serious. It might just be the only way we will be able to wrap up this crazy year on a high note. And speaking of crazy … next stop Our Unforgettable RV Road Trip, Tulsa.
Let me just stop here and say, although our epic adventure got off to a rough start, never once did I feel like anyone in our family was at any risk from germs … until now.
We decided to stop for the night in Tulsa, OK and we chose to stay at the Mayo Hotel, a historic boutique hotel with a splendid hotel lobby. The hotel building was constructed in 1925, and an extensive $42 million renovation brought it up to today’s standards of luxury.
We arrived just in time for cocktail hour. We ditched the boys in the hotel room and went up to the Penthouse Bar for a mini date. The bar is located on the rooftop patio of the hotel’s Presidential Suite, where Elvis once stayed. It was a magical way to relax and unwind.
And now, for the promised crazy. As we were leaving the bar to go back to our room, the elevator stopped at the floor below, and lo and behold there was a full blown wedding happening! And they all wanted to travel on the elevator at the same time. With us. Being squashed like sardines in an elevator with a gaggle of drunk wedding guests has never been fun, but thanks to the pandemic, now it’s truly terrifying. It’s a miracle that I didn’t catch the virus right at that moment, but we did find out that we could hold our breaths much longer than we thought!
Nutty wedding guests aside, the Mayo Hotel and Tulsa were wonderful, and I wished I had planned for us to stay longer. Thanks to the Covid Cray Cray, most of the places we wanted to visit were closed or nearly so. We tried to visit The Gathering Place, an innovative theme park with tons of outdoor activities, but it was pretty much shut down. Tulsa will be tops on our list once the world is safe again. Our list will definitely include a Gathering Place re-do, plus a stop at Buck Atom’s Cosmic Curios, Discovery Lab, the Tulsa Zoo and the Oklahoma Aquarium.
A friend recently visited Tulsa, too, and raved about the Greenwood District, where she and her family took The Real Black Wall Street Tour and enjoyed dinner at Wanda J’s Next Generation Cafe and dessert at Frios popsicle shop next door, so we will definitely plan to check all that out on our next trip.
Broken Bow, Oklahoma
For the final stretch, we headed to Broken Bow, Oklahoma. We decided to finish our RV road trip strong by staying in an RV park one night and in a cabin for the last and final night before our trek back to Fort Worth.
All eyes were on Jason as he pulled into the park. Y’all these RV Park People were watching us like they had front row seats to dinner and a show, with Jason on the marquee and judgment on the menu. The pressure was on, but Jason was a pro. He parked our massive 6-wheeled freighter like a seasoned land yacht captain.
Booya! I wanted to run around the place, smack everyone upside the head with my poorly-folded-up map and scream, “Move along, nothing to see here!” But I didn’t, because we still had work to do. And by “we,” I mean Jason and the boys still needed to hook up the electricity, water and the poop tube. Yes, you heard that right. Thanks to Jason, the Smith boys can say they took a crash course this summer — and earned an A+ in Sewage 101!
Since it was late and hot when we arrived, we decided to cook dinner in the RV and save breakfast for the campfire the next morning. I Little House on the Prairie’d that special breakfast, and it was a hit! I was quite impressed with myself, I do say. The boys enjoyed bike riding and visiting with other trailer neighbors as we sat in our foldout chairs next to the RV campfire. I could almost hear the banjos in the distance!
Soon after, we headed over to our cabin for the final evening of our RV road trip. The cabin was called “Hi Five,” and we booked it through Hidden Hills Cabins. Y’all, this place was so amazing, I was totally impressed. I mean, as a devoted wife, of course I would book the best dern cabin in Oklahoma to celebrate my husband’s birthday! I had a surprise cake and balloon set up upon our arrival and a S’mores kit to boot!
Things to Do:
- Girls Gone Wine: (wine tasting with cute gift shop)
- Hochatown Amusements: (golf)
- Hochatown Petting Zoo: (it’s awesome)
- Beavers Bend Depot Train ride: (ice cream, kids pony rides and a train ride to feed deer)
- Beavers Bend River Floats: (peaceful and relaxing 2.5 mile canoe/kayak trip)
- Bass Fishing Guide: Josh Richards 580-306-6966
- Trout Fishing Guide: Steve Branson 580-306-5613
- Mt. Fork brewery: (great food, good beer)
- Abendigos: (great patio with live music on weekends)
- The Blue Rooster: (best fried chicken)
- Grateful Head: (hands down the best restaurant in BB)
- Rock Bottom Boys BBQ: (good BBQ)
- Rolling Fork Takery: (awesome quick grab and go food)
- Beavers Bend Brewery: (good beer and great atmosphere)
- Tacoklahoma: (great tacos)
We unloaded the luggage from the RV and unpacked the coolers like we were permanently moving in. Jason fired up the gas grill (that fried all his arm hairs off one arm) and cooked a steak dinner while the boys and I enjoyed the jacuzzi. Dinner was delicious, and we ate S’mores until we could eat N’more!
With full tummies and a night sky filled with sparkling stars, Jason and I sat together, held hands and listened to our boys giggling together as they took turns yelling “PENIS!” – just because they could. Yup, that’s life as a boy mom. I couldn’t have been happier.
Whew! Well, if you’ve made it through ALL three of Our Unforgettable RV Road Trip articles, then now it’s time to celebrate with a little giveaway. I have actually been waiting since pre-COVID to share this special book! A collection of hidden gems all in one book, “Spectacular Weekend Getaways of Texas”. And you definitely don’t want to miss page 13 where author Jolie Berry shares all about my recommendations for Fort Worth.
We are going to do a little something different this time around and host this giveaway over on my Instagram. And if you want to purchase this book, you can find it at PS The Letter in Fort Worth.