Thursday, December 12, 2013

Weekend roadtrip: Branson, MO

In October, Jeff had a conference in Branson, MO. We (i.e. the rest of the family) have not been traveling with Jeff as much as we used to, but this was a new destination and the timing was perfect, so off we all went. I started to second guess our decision when we were all car sick after the brief but curvy drive, but all I needed was one glimpse of the view from our hotel room balcony and I knew we had made the right call.

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Jeff headed straight to the vendor's hall to set up his booth, so the kids and I drove down the street to kill some time at the fish hatchery. Who knew feeding hundreds of thousands of trout could be so entertaining?

Our hotel--the Chateau on the Lake--was amazing. It had an indoor and outdoor pool, an amazing breakfast buffet, a playground, a movie theater, and a beautiful botanical lobby. Although it was too cold to swim outside, the outdoor pool overlooked the lake and was gorgeous. Somehow we fit all six of us into a hotel room, and Sawyer did really well for his first roadtrip. The girls, however, kept us up all night the entire stay. They are terrible sleepers, even at home, so it wasn't really out of the ordinary.

We went to dinner in downtown Branson, which is a more of a small, oldish (albeit charming) town than a city. I picked a little diner based on an online recommendation, but the food did not live up to the review. It was fine, but the experience made up for it. The tiny restaurant only had one waitress, and she was scrambling to take care of everybody. She was probably a little curt because of it, and had zero patience for Savannah's indecision. We felt bad for her, though, and left her a nice tip because she was obviously very overwhelmed. At one point I had to walk Izzy to the bathroom (which was at the back of the restaurant, past all of the tables and THROUGH the kitchen!) and a man stopped me and asked if we homeschooled our children. I am guessing he overheard our conversation where we had been quizzing Logan on spelling words. Nope, I don't have the stamina for it, I told him. He then asked if we were LDS. Not sure what gave that away. Our glowing aura? Or Jeff's BYU sweatshirt? Must have been the aura...

On day 2, I decided to take the kids to the Titanic museum while Jeff worked. The museum was awesome (and looked like the Titanic from the outside--can you see it in the picture?) but very crowded. Trying to maneuver the stroller through the crowds was difficult, not to mention keeping track of all the kids and carrying a kicking, screaming Isabelle when she threw one of her several tantrums. I think I would have enjoyed it more if (a) it had not been so busy or (b) I had been there without kids. I was still pretty impressed by the experience and would recommend it.

When Jeff was able to break out of the conference, we went as a family to a go kart track we had eyed while driving through town. There were actually several tracks, but the one that caught our eye was a three story wood track. I felt like I had stepped into Mario Kart!

On our last day, we drove down to the water to enjoy the view before heading home. It was crazy windy and a bit chilly, but still so beautiful. I love living in a new part of the country and exploring cities that I've never seen or even heard of. It looks like our Pendleton family reunion will be in Branson this spring. I can't wait to go back!