Consider the Following – It’s nice to take a few days off

With visitors at the office down to a trickle and traffic on the roads significantly less noticeable, it was easy to tell that a lot of people were likely on vacation last week.
Speaking of vacations, the wife and daughters and I recently went on what was our first real family vacation (out-of-town wedding weekends and day trips to visit faraway grandmothers don’t count). We drove to Branson, Mo., and spent several days enjoying amusement and water parks, shows, museums and more.
At first, I wasn’t sure I wanted to go. I was a little nervous about leaving the office for more than a few days, something I haven’t done since my honeymoon more than a decade ago. I also wasn’t convinced I wanted to visit Branson — who wants to see a bunch of “comedy” shows with crazy country folk wearing fake crazy teeth? Those people freak me out. And as someone who bores easily in the car, an 11-hour one-way trip wasn’t appealing.
My wife decided that she and the daughters (ages 4, 6 and 8) were going even if I didn’t. I briefly selfishly thought about all the things I could do if I stayed home but ultimately, I realized that those little girls are only young once and I would likely regret not making the trip with them so I jumped aboard. We made the trip with my wife’s parents and some family friends.
We left for Branson at 3:30 a.m. We thought the girls would sleep in the car but no, they stayed awake and were bright eyed and bushy tailed for practically the entire ride, napping only briefly near the end of the drive.
The trip down wasn’t too bad. It usually isn’t as you’re excited about getting there. The scenery improved the farther south we drove on I-35 and before we knew it, we were in Branson, checking into the condo that we would be calling home for the next several days.
After an hour in the pool, we went to a restaurant that I was assured I would enjoy because the waitresses throw buns at you. Yes, part of the supposed charm of this place is that they chuck buns at the patrons — but it wasn’t as bad as it might sound. Things were great until we noticed that everybody that came in before us, at the same time as us, and after us had been served their dinners and some were even leaving. Long story short, the manager gave our meals to us on the house to make up for the trouble.
The next day, we visited Silver Dollar City, which is an amusement park built in the Ozark Mountains right outside of Branson. If you like amusement parks and have never been there, consider making the trip. The park had some great rides, including Outlaw Run, which boasts the “World’s Steepest Drop for a Wood Coaster.” Two words describe this coaster: Awe. Some. The park had a great atmosphere was a lot of fun.
I went golfing the next morning and was doing great until I shot a 10 on the ninth hole. It was a pathetic display that I hope to repress very soon. We went to a water park in the afternoon and I found the courage to go down one of those incredibly steep water slides a couple of times. The slide was no problem. It was climbing up the stairs that freaked me out.
We witnessed a guy get stuck in one of those tube tunnel rides. It was surreal — I thought that only happened on TV or in the movies.
We saw a music and water fountain show that evening at Branson Landing, which was kind of like an outdoor shopping mall, and the next morning, we hit an outlet mall before most everyone saw a show on the Showboat Branson Belle.
I passed on the showboat so I had some time to kill. I thought about driving to Arkansas just to say I’ve been there but I ran out of time after hitting a couple of stores and the Ripley’s Believe It or Not museum. I rejoined the group and my wife and girls and I spent a few hours at the Titanic museum, which was fascinating. Each visitor assumes the identity of a real passenger on the ship and as you take the tour, there are clues about whether or not you survive. In the end, everyone except for me in my family made it to a lifeboat. Just my luck!
We saw the Kirby VanBurch magic show that night. He was pretty good. As the 4-year-old daughter said after one of the illusions, “That guy’s a genius.”
The ride home was the one aspect of the trip I wasn’t looking forward to and I did all right until somewhere between Des Moines and the Minnesota border. I was getting a little antsy from the insanely boring Iowa “scenery” but somehow I managed.
It was definitely worth getting out of the office for a few days to take a vacation and ultimately, Branson ended up being a lot of fun.
And fortunately, I avoided seeing any “jamboree” shows with crazy country folk wearing fake crazy teeth — although there were plenty of opportunities. If I ever make a return trip to Branson, maybe I’ll summon the courage to see one of those shows … but probably not.
Hope you had a great 4th!

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