Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Summer Road Trip 2010: Branson, Missouri

Branson is a (mostly) one story, G-Rated, country-fried, mini-Vegas. Complete with a strip with too much traffic, lots of shows, hills, humidity, mini-golf, go-carts, bumper boats, pools, craft malls, thrift stores, antique stores, and super affordable motels, inns, and even some flashing neon.
After arriving in town, and hitting up a few of the shops....too many to be exact, we headed over to the Sight and Sound theater for a production of Noah.

I had asked some people that frequent Branson regularly for a list of their favorite shows, and this name came up over and over. There are lots of variety acts, singers, dancers, and circus acts, but this particular show is a fictional tale of the non-fiction story of Noah from Genesis. If you want to get technical, you might say the performers overacted a bit, but I enjoyed the production. It has a great message, they paralleled the story nicely with the new testament account of Jesus, and even had an invitation at the end. The theater had fabulous seats, and during the last scene of the first act, Noah loaded his ark down and they had an amazing mix of real, animated, and costumed animals. The second act was mostly performed at almost a 360 degree view. The audience was completely surrounded by the various animals on the ark, and the scenes took place all around as the family cared for....and, OK....sang about....their experiences, but it was really family friendly. The storm was a little frightening for younger kids, but they also provided a 'cry room' for families that wanted to continue to watch the show, but perhaps had restless kiddos in tow (or for husbands who just saw the charges on their credit card bill from the shops...I'm sure they don't discriminate in the cry room.). It was a really neat experience.
Afterwards, we crept back along the (always) traffic-filled strip, and got ready for Day 2.
Day 2 included more shopping....lots, and lots, of shopping.
We started in the historic part of downtown. We went to Dick's 5 and Dime for the second time in as many days, and I was able to fill my basket again.

I want a 5 and Dime closer to my house! I love that place, it has everything I never knew I 'needed.' I bought so many things I had on a 'wish lift' for craft ideas. It's just aisles...and aisles of weird, useful...junk. And there is tons of candy, very, candy...

...yarns, threads, dishes, soaps, scrunchies, cards, every size sponge hair curler your grandmother and her friends ever used, games, silk flowers, plastic flowers, character salt and pepper shakers, paper dolls, party supplies, buttons. It sounds kinda like a Walmart, but it's not even close....I mean....have you ever seen a larger supply of fake mustaches?

We ate lunch at the Hardluck Diner, another recommendation. It's an old fashion soda shoppe, with hot dogs, malts, and hamburgers, BUT all the waitresses sing. As in really sing, not an act. You can purchase their 'ready to break out, individual' cds at the gift shop after you eat, and even convince them to include an autograph. The food was good, and the service was great, especially considering they had to deliver food, and drinks in between their songs.
After lunch, we fulfilled my cousin's dream by heading to the Titanic Museum.

My cousin is a bit of a Titanic History buff. I can not explain why or how this happened. I thought it would probably be interesting, but I was prepared to be completely bored b/c no matter how interesting it might be, I envisioned myself spending the whole afternoon there while she got her fill. I'm a (self-proclaimed) good cousin, so I kept my thoughts to myself, bought my ticket, and went into the camera-prohibited museum. It is a great collection! They had all sorts of artifacts, pictures, and stories from the Titanic. They have 21 rooms set up to show you the size, and grandeur of the ship, simulations to show you the temperature of the water, an area of 'decks' that you could walk up to show you the tilt of the ship's floors at different points throughout the tragic event. There was even a life boat, and depending on the seat you sat in, there was an 'umbrella'd' speaker above portraying the story of the person that sat in that seat in that particular lifeboat. You were given a name and some basic info at the beginning of your trip, and at the end you found out what happened to 'you.' My card did not have a happy ending. :O( They did a really good job of capturing what the Titanic was like, what happened before, during and after the sinking, honoring the stories, and memories of those lost, and there were guides throughout the entire museum experience to guide you through the, easy to follow, 21 rooms that progressed through the story in time order.
After the museum, we made a few more stops in town, swam for a little bit in the pool at our hotel, and then rounded out our evening with an ice cream dinner. It's important to get the required amount of calcium in your daily diet, you know?
To wrap up Branson, it's just a really quaint, but crowded, town surrounded by lakes, affordable adventure possibilities, and family oriented fun. It's filled to the brim with crafts, and antiques, and action. There are quite a few hills to walk and drive on (sort of a weird experience for a prairie girl). The humidity level can be a little intense, but the surroundings are beautiful. Another little fact I learned is that it's a town filled with American pride, and it host a LOT of events for veterans, and military folks.

I can't help but respect a place that takes time to make these special tributes. I'm sure I'll be back, there are plenty of shows, and shops left for me to explore, despite it being my second trip, I look forward to a future swing through town, and maybe a little more time exploring the lakes, and rivers around the town.


Tammy@ Not Just Paper and Glue said...

We LOVE Branson and Silver Dollar City is our favorite stop.