My youngest brother, Gordie, recommended we listen to Matthew McConaughey’s memoir, Greenlights on our travels. I was a bit hesitant, as I thought the actor was rather self-absorbed. I mean, what could I learn from a man who made a name for himself running on beaches and showing off his six-pack abs?
The timing was perfect to listen to the story, narrated by none other than Matthew himself. (We came to know each other on a first-name basis through the journey.)
Brad and I had quite a few road hours on our travels from Nashville and onto Branson. Throw in a little unplanned side trip to Red Bay, Alabama for a quick repair, and the roughly 6 1/2 hour audiobook helped pass the miles.
Our trip to Red Bay required an overnight stay where we were not intending to be. Matthew would summarize this situation by saying, “Greenlights.” In other words, green lights mean go. But sometimes in life, the green lights might change on us, causing us to redirect. And as life plays out, we end up with a Greenlight we weren’t expecting. Such was the case with our Harvest Hosts overnight stop at a little farm and orchard along the way. I’ve never camped in such a quiet, peaceful spot. Until the neighboring rooster woke us up early the next morning.
“The problems we face today eventually turn into blessings in the rearview mirror of life,” Matthew offered.
Our view at Blessed Bounty orchard, an unexpected overnight.
I was surprised to learn that Matthew spent several years traversing in a van and Airstream trailer that he customized. He named the trailer Canoe, in honor of his visit to the Squamish Nation reservation in Vancouver. The tribe gave him a handmade oar, a symbol of the tribe.
Matthew said, “The oar guides the canoe, guides you through life—so I named the Airstream the Canoe. I mean, the highways are like riverways, they’re just concrete.”
Our oar was guiding us to a place that was on both of our radars for some time; Branson, Missouri.
We stayed the week at Table Rock State Park, just fifteen minutes from the city of Branson. The lake is absolutely gorgeous, with a huge marina and a several-mile hiking trail around the perimeter. Over the weekend, a huge Bass Fishing Tournament, sponsored by Toyota happened on the lake. We’d wake up in the morning with the sounds of the National Anthem being sung to send the fishermen off for the day, and hear the announcements of the daily divisional winners in the evening. Top prize? $200,000!
The marina at Table Rock State Park, the Showboat Branson Belle and sunset at the park.
We wanted to take in a show, and at the recommendation of a friend, went to see Reza, an illusionist. Reza’s huge acts were amazing, but his smaller tricks were simply mind-boggling. I would have gotten a picture of him, but he kept disappearing.
Where did Reza go?
A huge bonus was catching up with a dear high school friend. Hannah Spotts and her husband Mike, who joined us for dinner at the campground. It was such a fun and lovely evening. Hannah recommended we visit one of her favorite places in the area…
Johnny Morris, owner of Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s founded this extraordinary 10,000 acre conservation area with hiking and biking trails, trout fishing, and horseback riding. Tickets to the tram are extra, but the bonus is at the top. We enjoyed our close encounters with the herd of bison, including a rare White American Bison.
Salina, Kansas was definitely a Greenlight. We stayed/played at the Salina Municipal Golf Course, which is one of the nicest muni golf courses we’ve ever played. Luna had a blast joining us during the round, and was quite chill afterwards while we had dinner on the patio at Ya Yas. We took a nice stroll through the surprising downtown. Fun!
Our last stop before hitting Denver was yet another Harvest Hosts site…Rafter W. Ranch. We camped out in their field, away from their grass-fed cattle, and enjoyed hiking the property. We picked up some steaks before we left the next morning, on to our next adventures.
We finished listening to the audiobook, and could relate to this quote from Greenlights.
“We cannot fully appreciate the light without the shadows. We have to be thrown off balance to find our footing. It’s better to jump than fall. And here I am.”
Thank you, Matthew for your insights, your stories, your inspiration. We aspire to Just Keep Livin‘.