Branson Bust

 August 14, 2010

We did our best to get into the spirit....

Look at them there Asian babies!
...but our first vacation as a family of seven was basically a bust.  I think we may have been shooting a little high thinking we could be as classy as the Griswold’s and I assure you that when the temps are reaching 105 degrees and  higher no family is as nice as the Brady Bunch. We left Branson today two days ahead of schedule.

Ladybug on plastic bull
So here's the scoop, Branson was not a good call on my part.  The heat was a huge part of our misery but honestly Branson was IMO just a bunch of cheese ball shows and bad barbecue.  Apologies to my friends who like the wasn’t for us.

if it don't move...put some sauce on it!
We pretty much knew from the first day that we were in trouble.  I am just going to put it out there, we are not country folk.  Big Brother said something like “Mom, I think we’re more east coast than this”.  He may have had a point but I wasn't ready to admit to it yet.  So it is not what we expected, this could still be fun, right?

Determined have an “authentic” Branson experience we decided to eat at a rib joint recommended by the locals.  The place had a sort of hillbilly hunting lodge theme and more flavors of barbecue sauce then I thought possible.

 If you wanted to eat light or vegan you were plumb out luck in this place. I kid you not if you could kill it, they could barbecue it!  In addition to the animals on your plate there were animal heads mounted on just about every bit of available wall space and a huge plastic bull in a pen (just for sitting not bucking) .

Girls making a new friends
The girls were both fascinated and horrified by the the scene and alternated between hiding in my arms and trying to pet the stuffed animal head hanging over their booth. I am sure the locals thought we were the most ridiculous family they’d ever seen.  At one point Dad, Big Brother and Middle Child all had their cell phones out to search google maps and flight times to make a escape alternate plan.  As the reality of SW Missouri’s proximity to any place we wanted to go fell upon us, we decided to give Branson our best shot.

Besides I had to admit the Cracker Jack munching raccoon on the mantel was sort of funny.

My pal Jack
The next day we went to the  Chinese Acrobats of the New Shanghai Circus.  The show itself was pretty low budget stuff (mind you we were told this was one of the best shows in Branson).  I am pretty sure I saw the kid who sold me popcorn doing a Kung Fu demonstration later in the show. Perhaps one should not attend a show like this one just weeks after travel to China. Really how could it compare? We tried not to judge too harshly.
Macy and Nina at the New Shanghai Theater
 The “entertainment” got more interesting when we went to lunch though.  In the spirit of the show the girls were dressed in traditional Chinese dresses which not surprisingly caught some people’s attention.  One gentleman at the restaurant became very interested in them and proceed to ask “Are them (yes he used the word “them”) girls Asian? (At least he said Asian right?) “Yes they are.”, I responded without looking up at him. He didn’t take the hint and continued on, “So ummm what kind of Asian are they?”

Whaaaaaaaaaa? Really????

“Well you tell me first,  what kind of redneck are you?”,  I answered in my head.  Fortunately Dart took over the conversation from there while I “fetched” my Asians another piece of corn bread from the tin pail on our table.  So much for day two.
My five kiddos all together on Table Rock Lake
On day three we decided we should stay away from the strip and headed to Table Rock Lake. We rented a pontoon boat and spent the day tubing and swimming.  We cruised the lake (which was beautiful) and stopped at a lakeside restaurant for lunch. But by mid afternoon once again the heat prevailed.  You know when people say the water is like bath water?  Well no joke the lake was I was sweating IN THE WATER.  Despite our best efforts there just wasn’t any escaping the incessant heat without retreating indoors.  And so we did....later that evening we went to the Dixieland Stampede.
Kiefer embracing the Dixie schmaltz

The Stampede is dinner show where Dolly Parton your hostess with the mostess serves a homestyle chicken and pork loin dinner without utensils along with some sweet tea in a Mason jar.  While you enjoy your literal take on finger licking good, a horse show slash rodeo slash civil war reenactment ensues.   In high cheese fashion, the audience is divided in North and South sections and a series of audience participation contests are held to earn points for each side. Win the most points win the war! The night we were there the South won (somehow I think history is often rewritten at Dolly’s world). We happened to be seated on the South side (clearly no one checked our papers) and so we enjoyed our well earned victory.

We also enjoyed watching a family of four insisting that they be moved to seats in the south. “Look at my son” the irate mother yelled as she motioned to little Jeb in his grey confederate cap, “he can’t sit in the North..We are Southerners!!!” True story...wish it wasn’t.

By far the best part of visiting Branson for me was being able to visit with my Kaz Mama BFF Stacy Segebarth and getting to finally meet Amber from my China LID group in person. Honestly they made the whole trip worthwhile.

Apart from that it’s not likely we will be heading back there anytime soon.

Amber and her sweet baby girl Sydney

Stacy and her girls

On a brighter note, we did enjoy our stop in St Louis...

 And the girls got killer tans...

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