I want to thank everyone for the calls and emails asking how we’re doing. Long story short, we’re doing great.
My wife and younger children have been staying at home under self-quarantine, but since we live on a farm with no neighbors close by, they’ve been catching up on yard work and “exploring” our barns and fields and woods.
They miss their friends at school but thankfully, they’re in great spirits and are enjoying new adventures daily.
I’ve been working at the Traveler office through the week but our other full-time staff members are all working from home. Our lobby is closed to customers but we’re offering curbside and drive-thru service.
Other than that, everything else is pretty much the same at our office. We will continue printing and delivering a monthly print edition and all stories will be on our website, just like usual.
In fact, our website features lots of stories that are NOT in our print edition. We only have room for so much! All Traveler subscribers are given FREE ACCESS to our website. So, if you’re a subscriber and want to log in to our website, give us a call and we will set up a username and password, and email it to you.
Changing gears a bit, I’d like to mention that now is the time for us to help one another. Even with social distancing requirements there’s plenty of ways we can help our neighbor, elderly, shut-ins and small businesses.
Small businesses like the Traveler and all of the family-owned campgrounds and resorts you see every month in the Traveler are vital to not only this state’s economy… but also to the overall well-being and state of mind of Missouri residents. We love our campgrounds, rivers, state parks and nature areas… and we need them now more than ever.
Living in this crisis time of COVID-19 is new and unusual for us but one thing we DO KNOW is that we will get through this. That the virus will be treated and contained, and we will see our lives begin to get back to normal.
Normal for many of us this time of year includes researching and making reservations for summer floating and camping at campgrounds/resorts throughout this state.
With that in mind I want to encourage Traveler readers to stay safe and calm, and keep making reservations.
I spoke with several campground owners in the past few days and they’re pretty busy right now. They’re making reservations daily for summer floating and camping, not to mention putting the finishing touches on improvements at their properties.
In fact, several are busier making reservations now than they were during this time last year!
Here’s what a few of the outfitters I spoke with had to say:
• Bass River Resort in Steelville — Open for camping, lodging and floating right now. Booking on a limited capacity and spreading floaters/campers throughout the campground. They’re pre-registering guests ahead of time so they don’t have to go into the campground store unless they need to purchase items.
• Shady Lane Cabins in Eminence — “We are still getting reservations for the summer and will continue business same as usual,” said Jeanie Anderson, owner. “We are hoping that people are anxious to come to the Ozarks to enjoy our fresh air and clean rivers!”
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• Adventures Float Trips in Lebanon — Taking plenty of reservations for June and July, but doesn’t usually open for business until April 17. Linda said she will reach out to her clients near the end of April and see how they’re doing and if they need to reschedule, she’ll happily do so. But so far, no slowdown in reservations.
• Beaver Creek Campground, Cabins & Canoe Rental — Owner Jan Dougerty told me they’re open and taking reservations. Business as usual.
• Circle B Campground in Eminence — Officially opened for the season on March 30, with lots of reservations coming in.
Also, Missouri State Parks officials have been referring people to private campgrounds in Missouri while the state parks are closed to camping.
Larry Helms, executive director of the Missouri Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (MOARC), appreciates working with Missouri State Parks.
“We look forward in our continued relationship working together to support the camping industry in Missouri,” said Helms, in a press release to MOARC members in late March.
“Missouri private campgrounds in the state will do all they can to step up while Missouri state parks are temporary closed out of caution over the COVID-19 virus. We will do all we can to accommodate state parks referrals for campers looking for a place to camp here in Missouri. It is an honor to work with the Missouri State Parks leadership and pray that this national emergency will end soon.”
It is my hope that residents of Missouri and the Ozarks will use this time to get outside and re-discover Mother Nature. Take a walk. Buy a mountain bike and hit the trail. Grab your rod-and-reel and see if there’s any fish in that small creek you pass by several times a week.
Better yet, continue planning your summer adventures. Call and book your cabin stay or reserve some kayaks for a nice float. Find some new recipes for the grill.
There’s also some great deals on campers right now, so call my buddy Brad at Bill Thomas Campers or Randy at Midwest RV or Meg at Apache Village RV.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ozark Heritage Project (OHP) is donating books to local hospitals, nursing homes and individual families.
As of March 23, OHP had donated a little more than 100 books. Families are asked to contact Rick Mansfield by phone at (573) 663-2269 or email at email@example.com. The various offerings may be seen on the Rick Mansfield Facebook page, and range from short-story collections of historical fiction to a murder mystery.
My sincere thanks to Mr. Mansfield for his generosity.
(Jimmy Sexton is owner and publisher of the River Hills Traveler. He can be reached by phone or text at (417) 451-3798, or firstname.lastname@example.org.)