Bob Mitchell: It's a small world after all

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

If you don't know to be cautious about conversation topics while dining, there might be a lesson ahead for you.


One came our way during a September jaunt west to visit the grands, and to see where one of the families is going to build a new home. There are six of them in the household and they are making the move about on schedule.

After our time in Colorado Springs, we responded to a long-standing invitation from Robert and Janice Sims to come by their place south of Denver. We had no indication of what they had in mind.

Setting the GPS to guide us into their complicated neighborhood, we headed up the old road toward Denver to avoid the traffic on I-25, which is normal for even the natives in that area.

When we got onto their street, Robert and Janice were out in their yard watching for us as we reached their driveway.

Going in for the usual stop requirements, we learned they had plans for a two-night stay at Blackhawk, in the Rocky Mountains west of Denver. The location was in a valley, Canyon City and Blackhawk, with virtually nothing there but casinos. The rebuilding of former mining towns and a declaration of Colorado's legislature made casino gambling possible in the state.

Up past Redrock

Our route through Denver eventually led to a popular entertainment location, Red Rock, owned by the city of Denver. Just seeing how parking lots had been carved out of the rock formations was something to witness.

It was interesting to learn how many trams operated, getting people from the various lots to the entertainment area.

They told us some of the outstanding groups and individuals that had appeared in recent years, most of them performing before capacity audiences.

Beautiful Ameristar

After reaching Blackhawk, we pulled into the Ameristar casino and hotel, were reservations were for two complimentary suites. Upon reaching the interior of the facility, it was obvious this was one of the most beautiful of the many Ameristar facilities we had visited over the years. At first indication, we pretty much agreed, between Sue and I, it had been a feat just to carve the location out of the mountain. It was equally a wonder how the materials had been packed up to the altitudes.

The suites were just that, amounting to about four large rooms, complete with electric fireplaces. And, on the front of the building was an excellent view of the canyon and the several operations that were included in the two locations.

Now to the title

During dinner the first evening, the two couples were naturally visiting about Cassville, as both Robert and Janice were interested in the town's most recent goings-on. When Cassville was mentioned several times, a couple seated nearby -- and there weren't many other tables occupied on the weeknight -- came over and asked if we were talking about Cassville, Mo. They were elated to learn that was our subject, announcing they were from Monett. Introducing themselves as Mr. and Mrs. Bill Vanderhoff, they dropped a piece of history on us.

Started Lakeland Café

It was Bill's father who started Lakeland Café on Highway 60 in Monett many moons ago. The café was a popular one for many years, attracting groups from Cassville for weekend dining. He said he still had a brother in that community. My intentions were to look him up.

The Vanderhoffs live west of Blackhawk most of the year to facilitate his love of hoof-hunting and doing some guiding. Lakeland it is now known as Big Baldy's Bac-Woods Barbeque.

The Vanderhoffs were equally interested it recent happenings in Barry County.

Some spike notes

On the way west, we traveled through Syracuse, Kan., whose lone claim to fame, as declared at the edge of town, is being "The home of the first all-female city council." The sign didn't declare of how far-reaching that title went.

Then on our way back to Kansas City after completing a South Dakota arm of the trip, there was a sign south of St. Joseph that said, "Last rest stop in Missouri." Bruce and I wondered at the time, "Where are the remainder of them?"

Cassville sidewalk

To those who might be wondering about the heated sidewalk that was once in front of Barry County Bank (now Commerce) that might have been destroyed in recent sidewalk replacements in Cassville: It was removed years ago when the city did some project in that area. Contractors tell us the only heated walk at the facility is at the back steps.

Year almost over

For those who might need the reminder, there are only 18 days remaining before Christmas! Or, in other words, where has the year gone?

Bob Mitchell is the former editor and publisher of the Cassville Democrat.

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