Carthage Missouri for a Month

Carthage is located in Southwest Missouri just outside the city limits of the larger town of Joplin. Many snowbirds pass here on I 44 heading towards Oklahoma City on their way to Texas. I 49 also intersects here heading south through Fort Smith Arkansas where much has recently been done to complete I 49. There is a tunnel north of Fort Smith for those of us who wish to avoid them.

Time with Family

I noted in an earlier blog that Karen and I decided to spend more time in Missouri, the State we were both born in. Why not take advantage of this full time RV lifestyle to explore areas closer to “home” you never had time to do while working fulltime. I think advice I’ll give others when asked where to take the RV will be – closer to home to see everything you have missed. I was born in the Kansas City Missouri area where I lived for 56 years. Karen was born outside Rolla Missouri (half-way up I 44 between Springfield and St. Louis). At the time her father was in the Army stationed at Fort Leonard Wood which us Army guys refer to as Fort Lost in the Woods. Her family moved from there to Michigan. My mother-in-law hated the heat, and all wanted to be closer to their family.

My ancestors settled in Southwest Missouri having migrated from Eastern Tennessee in the 1800’s. My cousin Kathy and Stepmom Harriet invited me to one cemetery to pay our regards. Located in Jasper County is the Cave Springs Cemetery. An important spot for much of my family to include the Henry side. The nearby schoolhouse was rebuilt after the Civil War as it had been damaged during fighting. Nearby Carthage had been burnt to the ground. The war was different in this area in that it was a heavily contested boarder area. Families fought each other on both sides. It was not uncommon for Bushwackers to pay a family a visit while avoiding Home Guard Militias assembled to protect the town.

That’s me outside the historic schoolhouse at Cave Springs. On the left is a hand water pump which is reported to be directly over the cave
Ancestor Moses Duncan. They married into the Seneker family
Great Uncle Brice Henry is on the cemetery marker of civil war dead. He had joined the militia while brothers took family to Kansas to avoid Bushwackers.
Lucenda Henry was married to Brice. My cousin Kathy brought along photos of family. This is Lucenda with their child. Not too happy a face on those photos. I learned several stories to include how Lucenda was busy loading guns one day while Brice fought off 20 – 25 Bushwackers who had come to kill him as he was loyal to the Union. He survived only to have Brice killed latter in battle. I have a copy of the book titled Cave Spring Henry’s which is well formatted. I have decided to write up our family history from Tennessee to Missouri and have been researching formats for a possible book.

After the visit with family at the cemetery we had lunch in Carthage.

Mt. Vernon Missouri – Apple Butter Days at the Cabin and Family Reunion

Before traveling to Carthage from Branson Missouri, I attended our family reunion which has been held since the 1930’s. It is always located at a church the family formed on the Ozark Prairie at nearby Mt. Vernon. Karen and I will be buried there a long time from now, next to six generations of my family. The reunion took a twist during the pandemic as it was continued online. This was the first meeting in person after the covid thing ended. We talked and after next year we may hold the reunion in person every other year and online in between.

We attended the annual Mt. Vernon Apple Butter making days which is a homecoming for many. My sister Mary and I continued the family tradition of conducting living history at an 1850’s cabin, restored by my father and uncle and lived in for a 100-years by shirt-tail cousins. My father would never have allowed us to have skilled artists setup in the yard of the cabin when it is open for display. Well, he in no longer in charge and we moved on to make things more interesting for visitors. This year we had a flint napper, pioneer era broom maker with machine, blacksmith and wood carver all setup on the porch or yard. We had a special visitor as well who had been born in the cabin.

Sister Mary cooking. Remember to sit sideways at the fire so you don’t set your dress on fire. Those stones for the fireplace were disassembled during reconstruction, piled up with numbers written on them to put them back in order. The numbers wore off but fortunately a retired man was a master stone mason. With the aid of many they built two of the best fireplaces ever constructed to include six feet of concrete under the hearth stones so the fireplace will not move over time.
If you count Canada, this gentleman is an internationally known flint napper (makes arrow heads). He is originally from the area and agreed to put on a display. I was fascinated to no end by his skill and devotion to the art. He made a living traveling to shows around the country and also collected his materials from original sources. He made a knife out of volcanic rock he dug from Oregon. It was fun watching his old classmates meet up with him for presumably the first time in a lot of years.
The lady on the left was born in this cabin. Her mom visited years ago and told the story about the birth to include it was so cold that night a bucket of water froze inside the cabin. The visitor had never heard that story. She delayed a trip home out of state to be around the place although she has little memory of it.

Not Everything was About Family at this Stop in our Travels

We toured the area of Joplin which was once a lead and zinc mining town. An interesting note is that Stephen F. Austin, a founding father of Texas, moved with his family to Missouri from Virginia as his father was in the lead mining business and ore had run out at their claim in Virginia. Karen and I might be among the few Missouri people who now technically call Texas home and have visited Stephen Autin’s hometown in Virginia and purposefully traveled the landmarks in Texas as well. Although Stephen settled in the Southeast corner of Missouri known as the boot hill.

One famous person who did “settle” in Southwest Missouri was George Washington Carver. The national monument in Joplin is a well-done place with a huge museum and walking trail, much of which consists of paths made from a rubber like substance. George Washington Carver is a fascinating man and worth the read if you care to research his accomplishments. During an RV trip we had tried to visit George’s grave in Tuskegee Alabama, but the college grounds were closed because of covid at the time. Geroge’s mom was a slave and purchased at the age of 13 by Moses Carver. I did the math and at the time Moses paid the equivalent of one third the value of his farm to purchase her. Apparently, it was common for slaves to be stolen. George, his mom and sister were stolen. Moses Carver paid to have bounty hunters track them down. Sadly, only George was found and remained separated from his family forever. Moses raised him and taught him the value of education. George developed his love of plants while a child walking trails at the farm. He became a famous inventor and educator and was known for more than his discovery of how to make a living from everything made from a peanut.

George had a very high voice for a man. So cool to find video of him speaking during an internet search. Just thinking this man went from slavery to international fame. His national monument was the first for any African American in the USA.

We enjoyed walking George’s trail through the farm and contemplated the meaning of several of his quotations displayed on signs.
Wyatt earned his Bark Ranger Badge by following all the dog rules.
I was concerned upon arrival and finding three school buses in the parking lot. Turned out we enjoyed following the kids around, like here at the Moses Carver house. Park staff had set up multiple displays of pioneer crafts for the kids. Good thing our dog Wyatt likes meeting new people as the kids practically mauled him.
We know to always pack a lunch for the trail. There is always a picnic table nearby. These become memorably moments at times. Maybe not in this case, but in others the table is setup at a scenic viewpoint.

We Have Stayed in Carthage Twice Before

We have made Carthage one of two stops near family in south Missouri when in the area. We tend to stay a week or two. This time we spent five weeks. Coachlight RV Park had a reasonable monthly rate and if one decides to stay a day or week later, they will extend the monthly rate of $20 per day with full hookups and a concrete patio. In other words, if you stay a month then you pay far less than the daily or weekly rate even for a day or two extensions. It is very uncommon for RV Parks to do this.

This is a quite park and easy to get to off the interstate. There are no amenities other than it’s a favorite for RV rallies who make use of the meeting hall. The place was fully booked when I called a couple months before arriving. Great – how can I get a monthly spot when they are full. So nice the manager remembered us and said come on out, you may have to move spots, but we will fit you in. There are several large RV Dealerships in the area with the RV Park being next to one. The dealership sometimes uses spots in the park to setup rigs recently purchased. Management gave us one of those spots and never had us move. Nice to slow down and have the mail delivered from Texas and get a couple parts delivered for warranty work on our rig. We were in town for the Carthage Maple Leaf Festival which we stayed clear of because of the crowds. The fall colors were again wonderful this year.

We enjoyed the fellowship with neighbors and our good friends Dean and Cheri (Travels with Bentley Blog) drove over for a visit. The couple are a fine example of the good people you will meet while traveling fulltime in an RV. They are selling their fifth wheel and bought a nearby home. Currently they plan to downsize to a travel trailer as they still enjoy traveling at times. If it were not for our life fulltime in an RV we would not have had the chance to meet people who will surely be among our longtime friends.

First time in 20 years that we had trick or treaters for Halloween. Two bags of candy were gone quickly when the neighbors brought the kids over before departing for town. Their mom is a traveling nurse from Georgia.

We crashed a rally being held at the park. This one was a blue grass music rally where the RVers are from nearby Oklahoma. The Kansas boarder is also just a few miles away in case you want to knock out three states for your RV travel map!

When the Leaves Fall – We leave!

That’s our motto. We usually move a couple hundred miles south when fall is ending to enjoy the milder weather and get a chance to see another round of fall colors. Not this time. The RV is in storage, and we took the truck to Michigan. Karen’s mom is not doing very well, and we are staying near her for a few months. The doctors gave my mother-in-law three to six months and three have passed. I have always loved my mother-in-law. I’m thinking she does not hold me to the same standards as others because I can’t recall a single time she was not smiling when we visited and has always made a place in her home for me. We have never had a disagreement.

Found a covered storage spot with electricity in Joplin that has good security for $180 a month. Another reason to stay longer in Carthage was to find the perfect storage place. We took time to drive the route to the storage facility, sign the month-to-month contract and have management show us the easy back-in spot before we moved the RV. I also had two court trials to attend as a result of my old past job in Kansas City. Yet again both trials were postponed. These cases are from 2018 and having to setup near Kansas City or an airport is getting very old.

More on Michigan later. Yup, it has already snowed a little. Karen said she would make things fun on snow days, if you get my drift. Can’t wait for it to snow again.

This morning in Howell Michigan I found all these pink rods around everyone’s driveway and sidewalks at the condo complex. Neighbor says they are placed as markers so they know where to snowplow. Bet they were laughing if they noticed the Texas license plates on my truck. Damn, I have only begun to wish we were in Florida or Texas again for winter. Guess it’s a good thing the other neighbor has left for Arizona so we can use his driveway. My truck is two feet longer than the garage, so I’ll have to move it to the neighbors in time for the plow to catch our driveway. Damn again….

Today’s RV tip is minor but hopefully something new. Most who live fulltime in an RV give up on their black and grey tank gauges working. We are just happy not to have a sewer clog or smell. On the Vanleigh RV Owners Forum folks have been discussing the issue after a vendor attended a rally during which they offered waste tank cleaning and advice. This includes to stop using black tank treatment which turns everything to a pasty slug. They say, and we all agree, use a lot of water when flushing. They go on to suggest if the waste is suspended in water, it will exit the RV easier and even using two ply toilet paper is not an issue although I’ll not chance that. The vendor, Kleentank.com suggests if you want to use a waste tank treatment then mix Pine-Sol with Calgon Bath Beads. Costs maybe $10 for 50 treatments of the mixture. I’m going to try this the next time we setup the RV. We have always used Happy Camper as a treatment. If you are looking for a side job while on the road, Kleen Tank can set you up as a dealer.

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12 thoughts on “Carthage Missouri for a Month

  1. So good to read your post. And I appreciate your RVing tips; the small tips are just as important as the big tips. Prayers of peace for Karen’s mom, you and Karen.

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  2. I think I’d love to explore those areas. We love Missouri. So special when you can go to the places your long ago relatives were. Cool stuff about the cabin. Sorry to hear about Karen’s Mom. We’re a bit behind you with my Dad. That’s why we’ve been mostly in CA this year snd probably next. While watching TV last night we both mentioned how the weatherman resembled you 😊. If we make it to Indiana next April, I’ll check on where you’re at. It’s been a long time since we crossed paths!

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    • Would love a meet up. After canceling the last two trips I’m holding off making new plans more than a couple months out. I’d like to make it to Texas if we get out of here sooner than later. Also have been eyeing a trip to the southwest which was part of an original plan. Weatherman looks like me LOL

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  3. As usual Mark, another great post. It was so good to see you and Karen again. I’m sorry we couldn’t spend more time together. Life sure gets in the way sometimes. Dean and I have been talking about picking out a place we want to visit within 50-100 miles around us. There is so much to see in the 4 state areas of KS, MO, OK, AR. I hope we can meet up again and allow for a little more time together.

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  4. So good to read another one of your posts. Your RV tips are great; small or big tips all help! Prayers for peace for Karen’s mom, you, and Karen.

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  5. Always love reading your posts and hearing about your travels. We actually flew into Springfield and picked up a class A Serrano RV and drove it back to Los Angeles to ship it back to New Zealand, our home country. Enjoy Christmas with your family and these last days with Karen’s Mum. December and Christmas time here is summer time and our family get together is mostly centered around salads and BBQ foods. Love your thoughts on the black tank treatments. Rob

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  6. We have never used tank treatments, we’ve used Calgon and Dawn, has worked for many years. Sorry to hear about Karen’s mom, glad you’re able to be there with her. We hold our breath when we leave IL, we know it’s only a matter of time before we get the call to come back. In our 20 years in VT we explored it immensely, by visiting most of the covered bridges in VT we hit most of the state. Enjoy your Christmas with the family.

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