Monday, October 10, 2016
A Branson Smorgasbord
We went to Branson for the shows . . . but I came home with the memory of the outdoors . . . laying on my lounger chair outside the Minnie Winnie trailer . . . smelling the clean fresh air . . . looking through the trees at the clouds rolling across the blue sky. The shows were great but I would return to the Ozarks for the outside life.
After a rewarding family reunion in Indianapolis, we packed up and started out early for Branson. It was a grueling ten hour trip of driving with quick stops only for snacks and stretching legs. Arising at an early hour is tough on my 89 year old bones and the solution is a comfy nest in the back seat of the car and return to dreamland.
The route included a zig zag through St. Louie. I had transferred planes many times here but had never seen the Gateway Arch. We came close enough that I can now cross it off my Bucket List.
It was still daylight when we pulled Minnie Winnie into the Shenanigans RV park and tied her down. After a quick meal from the refrigerator, we relaxed with three games of Mexican Train dominoes. I was behind in our running competition but due to my rested condition while others had slaved, I won three games in a row. So watch it, Mr. B.!!!
The next day would be grocery store and organizing the days ahead. We drove around hilly streets with all imaginable entertainment – from Ghost tours to Wax Works -- and menu choices from well-known fast food to the top priced elite. Reservations had been made in advance for four shows and we knew we wanted outdoor time and possibly a train ride.
My report here will not be a review of the attractions we attended but rather impressions of our sampling of all that is offered.
The first show, the Haygoods Family Entertainment, was written for a younger audience. The country songs came out with a rock pattern and streams of lights covering the audience. I was ready to leave after the first 15 minutes but was glad we stayed when the talent -- some awesome solos – overcame the zooming lights.
After looking over our table full of brochures and maps, we settled on the next morning plan of a Free Trolley Ride around the historic area and exploring Downtown. However, sometimes Plan B turns out better than Plan A. After waiting 30 minutes for the trolley, she told us that it was her lunch hour and she didn’t know when the next trolley would be coming. We spotted the Branson Scenic Railway at the historic depot and walked across the street. This turned out to be a winner and we made reservations for 2:00 pm the next day. I also bought mighty fancy souvenirs for only 99 cents.
We walked a few steep blocks toward the main street of stores and spotted the Free Trolley Ride, ran for it and got on. Progress indeed! Three blocks of riding to reach the downtown and now that can be crossed off the list of To-do’s.
Back in the good ol’ days when I had been hunting for cheap antiques, this area would have been a goldmine to search the cubbyhole stores. Now it was fun for about 30 minutes, my favorite place being Dickie’s with rows and rows of “five and ten cent store” type of variety.
Lunch time. The recommendation was Landry’s Seafood House, which turned out to be the classiest joint we attended in Branson and worth every expensive penny.
We barely could get in a nap before our evening show; I love my sleepy hour outside with overhead tree branches partially blocking out the sun and cloudy skies.
Our evening destination: “The Shepherd of the Hills”, an outdoor amphitheater with lots of action – a love triangle, the beautiful Ozark girl planning to marry a city slicker, but the rugged hometown boy overpowers the bad guys and wins the girl. Lots of melodrama and excellent horse action.
At halftime the audience was invited to meet the actors and I couldn’t resist heading for the outdoor stage. My feet moved dancing to the square dance music. The good-looking “bad guy” with the drooping mustache and cowboy hat held out his arms to invite me to dance. Do-se-do and swing me around. When I ran out of air and had to quit, I gave him a hug and headed back to the grandstand. On the way I asked one of the ushers for his name. She said, “Ed.” OMG, I ran back to my dance partner and told him, “Ed was my love, departing two years ago.” He understood and embraced me again.
After the show we began our departure across the field to the stairs. My partner came running toward me, held out his hand and said, “This is from Ed.” He handed me one of the empty blank shells used in the gunfire. My arms went around him and when I looked into his eyes, we both had tears. We both knew that this was sent by my Ed.
More attractions filled up our calendar and the days were passing too quickly. We went to the morning show of the Blackwoods in the Starlite Theatre: Gospel, Country and Patriotic with wonderful harmony plus a back screen showing various Blackwood family members with big name artists throughout the years. We all loved them.
The other event for the day took us on the Branson Scenic Railway. At 2:00 pm we boarded and ate a good lunch sitting high in the dome car. Our 1950’s train took us on a 40-mile round trip through the Ozark foothills. Lots of trees with interesting shots of the engine rounding the curve.
This was the last night for playing Mexican train dominoes. The score had changed from day to day but our ending tally showed Mr. B ahead by one game. I vowed to pass him on the next visit.
I had been looking forward to a hike through the woods, along the lake, someplace with a trail that was reasonably flat instead of steep climbs. Table Rock Lake was the answer. We had an easy walk of a couple of miles plus bringing home some pretty camera shots of trees and lake
Our last show ranked high on our list of “likes”: “Country Vault” with excellent renditions of favorite country singers.
The day had come to go home. The three hour drive to Kansas City for a nonstop flight is transition time from “I don’t want to leave” to “Can’t wait to get home.” Sister has taken such good care of the old lady and we have had so much fun together.