I suppose it’s polite to tell people you’re taking vacation before the trip instead of after.
Anyway, my parents brought my grandparents, my aunt and uncle and cousin, my brother and my family on a trip to Branson Missouri. I’ve been there several times before. My family hadn’t though. Also this is the first time I’ve gone “independent” of my parents. yeah, they were there, but we did a lot of our own thing.
Saturday was the first day of the trip, a day consisting mostly of driving. One of the more interesting parts of the trip was the fact that unlike my home state of Flatinois, Missouri is very hilly. Hence the term “Hillbilly Territory”, though Branson seems to be trying to shrug off that stereotype.
After a long drive we arrived at our destination of Stillwater Springs resort. My parents rented a great big condo and we got our own room in it. Much time was spent at the very nice pool across the street thanks to the blistering 110 degree weather.
Sunday was spent out in this weather all day. The wife and I packed the kids up and headed out into the city pretty early. We only got as far as the $5 store before giving up due to traffic and cruising off towards Tablerock Dam. The store had a bit of excitement. I found a set of knockoff Transformers including a knockoff robot masters Optimus Prime. Also while checking out some guy comes in wondering who owned a brown jeep.
Turns out this jeep had rolled down the hill out back and nearly off a cliff. That would have been fun. I snapped this photo of the incident. Can’t see much though. He had it free by the time I brought the kids around to see two minutes later.
After a bit more driving we ended up decided to go to Moonshine Beach near the new addition of Tablerock Dam. The kids wanted to do the beach more than anything an it was heap so I wasn’t complaining. This was where I got the chance to try out something a bit different photography wise. I had a disposable Underwater camera at my disposal. Unfortunately I haven’t scanned any of the photos yet. They’ll show up on my Flickr stream eventually.
After the beach was the boat. My parents have this thing where they have to rent a pontoon boat while on vacation in Branson. It’s quite a bit of fun. We all went swimming off the side of the boat int he middle of the lake too. The best part though, for the first hour my brother paced us in a rented Jet Ski. I took turn driving it. Quite a bit easier than it seems like it should be though I kept getting worried I’d loose my brother or myself.
After the boat we made the kids rest for the rest of the day. Too much time out in the sun.
Monday we had the Dixie Stampede planned for the evening. Most of the day was spent at the pool at the resort otherwise. The Dixie Stampede is similar to the more common Midievile Times. You get served dinner while watching an area style horse show. This one was western themed with some civil war themes underlying. We were on the North Side. The dinner was huge and rush unfortunately. You get an entire Cornish Hen, plus a piece of pork plus baked potato corn soup and an apple turnover. They serve and clean this up in what feels like a matter of thirty minutes though it may have been closer to an hour.
The best part though, just before dinner is served, our waiter comes up to my wife and I and asks if we’d like to be in the show and do a little race. We agree to participate and he takes off to do more serving. Shortly after they do the Pig races, my wife decides she can’t wait any longer and heads of to the bathroom. Unfortunately, while she’s gone, the guys running the show come looking for the couple they had picked out previously to come down to the show.
Not finding us with my wife missing, they take my brother instead. My brother, and my cousin. They protested that they were not a couple and that they were “not from the south” but the show guys apparently didn’t care. The show must go on. So they went down as a couple and did a stick horse race together. My brother was apparently talking to one of the female riders out on the floor and the announcer poked jokes about him getting her phone number.
Tuesday brought the last of our planned trips. Originally we had planned to go to Celebration City with the kids but after some cost analysis we decided instead just to go shopping and hang out at the pool. However we did have a family trip to Ride the Ducks.
Ride the Ducks is an attraction where you ride in a beefed up military vehicle around the area on a tour. The catch is that it’s an amphibious military vehicle, capable of both earthbound and sear travel. Basically, they take you out on the lake.
I’ve done this a couple of time in the past. The route was a bit different this time however so it make things a bit more interesting. It’s a good relatively inexpensive way to see much of the area so if you’re planning a trip you might consider doing this on the first day. They also have a new facility down by the new Branson Landing shopping area.
The Branson Landing is where we went next. We had dinner at Joe’s Crab Shack then went shopping int he strip mall. The kids all wanted to go to Build a Bear. We took them but had to come back the next day to actually buy anything. My wife had 90 dollars in coupons she’d forgotten to bring. A month or so ago she’d taken her Girl Scout troop to the Build a Bear and spent a ton of money so they sent her a bunch of coupons. Great bonus really. The kids in all got about 150 dollars worth of stuff for 75 bucks.
The part I wanted to see at the Branson Landing was the fire and water show. Unfortunately, I didn’t catch the fire part except for at a distance while eating at Joe’s Crab Shack. I get the impression from the informational sign that the fire only comes at the Star Spangled Banner show at 12PM, 3PM, and 7 PM. There are still periodic shows of just water synced pretty well to music played out over the central promenade.
Wednesday brough the previously mentioned Build a Bear trip and a long drive home.
T he entire gallery of photos for this trip can be found here: Link.