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Branson Ducks, Zombies, & King Kong

What a crazy day we’ve had in Branson! First, we slept in. Ah, love vacation! I did keep my iPhone handy, though, in case an EDJ call came through, but things must have gone smoothly today. *crossing fingers* Papa from Mexico (my dad) called and said he was going to be able to come down for awhile, so we just lounged around the hotel room until he arrived.

I did something I’ve never done on vacation before: I worked out. *dies* It’s a good thing, too, because I didn’t eat the best today.

After Papa arrived, we headed to the Branson Ducks.  The kids had a blast, but I was sorely disappointed.  For $120 the six of us spent about 10 minutes on the water and the rest of the time either in Branson traffic or driving up and down quarry trails.  I rode the ducks as a kid, and I swear we got to ride all over the lake IN THE WATER, along the dam and everything, but all we did today was make a big splash when the duck hit the water, and then drive around a little island. 

Plus, they gave us all those annoying quackers.  Forget waterboarding and ripping fingernails off — just trap parents in a vehicle with three kids blowing those duck calls at the top of their lungs.

Then we went to The Fish House over by Bass Pro at the Landing.  Another disappointment.  (See my last note about how I hate to eat in Branson.)  The service was lousy and they were not busy at all (we got there around 4 PM).  The food was okay but nothing to write home about, and the waitress spilled tea all over my lap and didn’t even say a word in apology.  The view was pretty awesome — the restaurant hangs out over Taneycomo Lake.

We had to make a quick trip to Wal-Mart because someone forgot to bring underwear (That Man).

Then off we went to the Hollywood Wax Museum where a huge statue of King Kong climbing a fake Empire State Building wars against the Titanic museum on the opposite side of 76.  We took a hilarious picture of all us clutched in King Kong’s paw, and yes, this time we were suckers and bought two copies for the low low price of $16.  *rolls eyes* 

Part of this attraction is a zombie ride called Castle of Chaos.  We weren’t going to do it — fearing the monsters were too little.  But the guy at the door told us the age requirement was only 5 years old, and it was like a movie.  Note to self:  never believe the guy trying to make money by selling tickets.

We LOVED LOVED LOVED the zombie ride.  We, as in the grown ups.  I cackled and shot zombies and squealed when a bat got in my hair (they rig the seats so that it’s “five dimensional”, e.g. things touch your head and the seat moves).  Of course I had to shoot with my left hand, because I had Middle Monster clutched in my right arm.  She kept her 3-D glasses on and only got near tears once, but she really didn’t like it much.  Littlest Monster started bawling as soon as the lights went out.  That Man said she kept hiding her face and shooting anyway.  Once, she shot her seat because it started moving.  Princess Monster sat with Papa and took her glasses off.  The big chicken.

The third part of this attraction is a Mirror Maze, which sounds kind of dumb, but I swear it freaked me out more than the zombies.  I had to walk with one hand out in front of me to keep from smashing my nose on the glass.  Once I reached the exit, I stayed put, while everyone else lingered looking for all five of the hidden characters.  They never did find the prince, but the monsters LOVED that maze.  They’d to that again in a heartbeat.

We topped the night off with ice cream at Coldstone, and then Papa headed home.  The monsters are swimming now and I’m protecting the netbook with a towel because we’ve got a bunch of rowdy spashers tonight.  *glares*

Sis, you have GOT to get down here and ride the zombie Castle of Chaos.  You will love it!!

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Our Annual Branson Trip

We only live 30 min or so from Branson but we rarely come down here (tourist traffic is terrible).  However, last year we started a tradition of coming down for a long weekend while the monsters are on spring break.  We find a hotel/condo with an indoor pool and in suite kitchen.  The monsters swim themselves silly and then eat frozen pizzas, etc in our suite, because eating out in Branson is ridiculously expensive and the food is…ugh.  I really don’t care for it at all.  The only place in Branson I can eat and not be totally disappointed (so far) is Famous Daves, but I swear it’s not as good as what we had in Minnesota.

Each time we come down here, I dread the traffic and tourist joints.  Everywhere, people are hitting you up for trinkets and junk.  Let me take your picture!  Oh, by the way, give me $40 (Dixie Stampede).  Drives me nuts, so I’m already grumpy.

But oh, don’t get me started on the lousy 3G coverage down here.  *sobs*  Last year, the hotel said “wifi” but we didn’t read the fine print.  The internet was down in the basement lounge — it wasn’t strong enough to reach each room.  This year, we’re in a different building (owned by the same co) and so far, I do have wifi in certain areas, but it’s not strong and I keep getting kicked off.  I’m just praying that the Evil Day Job doesn’t need me to log on for some reason.  I may be sitting out on the balcony shivering (it’s chilly and rainy) to get a decent connection!

Plus, Middle Monster just slipped and fell on the tile here surrounding the pool (she wasn’t even running).  I think she’s okay, but she doesn’t want to get back in, which concerns me.  She just told me she wants to go back to the room….and eat.  So I guess she’s fine!

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Home Again

The monsters had a blast.  Mom and Dad are broke and exhausted.

Oh, it wasn’t that bad.  It just always costs more than I had planned, and Branson is sooooo expensive!

We decided to somewhat splurge on the hotel and then at most, allow one show.  We carefully picked a hotel with an indoor pool and a full kitchen, thinking we could eat most of our meals at home.  We stopped at Wal-Mart soon after hitting town and stocked up on frozen pizzas, pop, yogurt, cereal, fruit, bagels, etc.  That was probably the smartest thing we did, because each time the monsters got out of the pool, they fell on the food like a pack of STARVING wolves.

The hotel itself scored high on a few items, but not so high on others.  Indoor pool – score.  Master bed – sucked.  Literally, we were both stiff and sore each morning and I’m exhausted.  The mattress was a slab of marble, and the pillow, a pancake.  The master jacuzzi (macuzzi, as the monsters call it) – score.  All of us tried it out, and it was big enough for me plus two monsters at once.  Indoor pool – score.  Only catch, we had to walk outdoors 70 yards or so to reach it, but it really wasn’t bad until we were wet and had to rush back to the hotel to change.  (Remember, it was cold enough they were calling for snow.)  Wi-Fi – sucked.  As advertized, the hotel did have Wi-Fi — but not in the rooms.  I had to go downstairs to the basement “lounge” which I never had time to do.

Other than the beds, I would stay there again.  We had a nice balcony off the master — but couldn’t use it because it was too cold.  It had a lovely view of the covered outdoor pool and the wintered grounds.

The trout fish hatchery was cool (and free!) – except it was sooo cold and wet Saturday.  Our hands were frozen but that didn’t stop us from feeding the fish.  The Table Rock Lake dam was cool, and we made the big loop Saturday afternoon through the Ozark mountains and lakes.  There were red buds in bloom – gorgeous.  However, it was too cold to take any of the trails from the lookout points.

We splurged on one nice dinner out, a sort of tradition the few times we’ve gone to Branson.  Landry’s Seafood is That Man’s favorite place to eat (even though Famous Dave’s BBQ finally came to the Branson Landing).  However, it was extremely expensive, and not that good this time.  The kids’ meals were ridiculously overpriced.  That Man was happy with his food, but I ordered the (hopefully) healthier broiled platter, and ended up eating 2 shrimp, 2 scallops, and a tiny bit of the tilapia that was fried, not broiled, and tasted like muddy catfish.

Saturday night we decided to do one show.  It was between the Acrobats of China and Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede.  Of course, horse-loving Middle Monster was dying to see the “Dancing Ste-pee” as she called it.  They do have the stables open to the public so you can meet the horses, and she went on and on about Nico the gorgeous black Fresian and Midnight, a smoky gray quarter horse.  She dragged us there three times to see the horses, and since that part was free…. We went.  However, the show itself is probably the most expensive show in town because it includes dinner.  We went back and forth, and finally decided to do the Stampede.

We had such a blast.  Middle Monster was riveted from the first horse’s appearance.  The only one who didn’t have the best time was Littlest Monster, who cried at one point because it was too loud.  It didn’t help that Mom was cheering loudly at the time.  (I can have a big voice when I need to.)  The show is loosely based on the Civil War, and we were on the North side.  So each time the gray soldiers galloped by, we were supposed to boo.  It’s a very interactive show, and I missed parts because we were eating DURING the show and one monster or the other had a question or needed help.  They served a massive amount of food – score.  No silverware – sucked.  Try three monsters eating their cornish hen and “drinking” their soup with no silverware.  Ugh.

Anyway, it really was fun.  We were parked in the next to last row (we’d gotten there too early – so Middle Monster could meet the horses again – and the previous show hadn’t let out yet, so the lot was full).  We expected to be stuck in traffic forever.  However, by the time we all hit the potty again and stopped at the gift shop (Mom and Dad are such suckers), the lot was mostly empty and we had no problems exiting. 

[Aside:  back in the “good old days,” exiting a Branson show was a nightmare.  There was only one major road through downtown, called “the strip”, and shows lined up and down steep hills.  All the shows got out at the same time, and all traffic had to pass through the strip to get to the camping areas, Shepherd of the Hills, and Silver Dollar City.  Talk about nightmare!!!  As a kid, I remember sitting in the car (no air conditioning in July) in front of the same show trying to get out of town for 45 minutes without our car moving an inch.]

We had to be out at 10 this morning.  The monsters were hoping to swim one more time, but we just couldn’t fit it in.  They’d swum about 3 hours Friday night, and 1 hour Sat. night.  We’d planned to stop at a “Chuck E Cheese” sort of nightmare place, but it had gone out of business.  (Thank God.)  We stopped at a nature thing on the way home, threw a few rocks in the creek, and finally hit home.

Within 10 min. of unloading the car, we had company and I blew more money on a really good cause.  (Aunt BB and Uncle J have started a new home business to fund an adoption.  I just hope I’m not allergic to the essential oils we bought.  Most perfumes close off my throat and make me sneeze like crazy.)  By the time we did dinner, got the monsters’ baths done, etc. we’re both collapsed on the couch and trying really hard to not see the mountain of laundry waiting in the next room.

Only book I successfully finished was Desire Unchained, which I loved.  We had too many monster-driven activities for me to read as much as I hoped.