Friday, March 9, 2012

Branson Trip

We are a family that LOVES to travel. In fact one year ago today we were in the car headed towards Disneyland - such a great and expensive memorable trip!!  Unfortunately we don't have the bank account to take us to far away, exotic places very often.  So we feed our travel appetite with little weekend getaways every now and then.  

Two weeks ago (as you read below) we took Julianna to Branson to reward her for her hard work doing her chores.  It was a BEAUTIFUL day for the quick 3 hour drive.  Drew and I love seeing parts of the country we have never seen before and this drive didn't disappoint.  So many cute little towns and beautiful scenery along the way.  Missouri really is a beautiful state!  

We made it to Branson around 11:30 a.m. and drove around and explored.  We didn't even think about it being the winter season and that the town was pretty much deserted.  Fine by me.  I am not one for crowds and lots of traffic, so coming this time of year suited me just fine.  

We made our way to Table Rock Lake and checked out the Dam and the Hatchery.  I had read on line that this was one of the free things to do in Branson and since we are always on a budget, I thought we should check it out.  It was actually a lot of fun!  There is a little Visitor Center where they have aquariums of some of the local fish, wildlife and......snakes.  I about died when I saw a Rattle Snake that is common for being in these parts of Missouri.  Um, no thank you.  Once I got past my heebie jeebies, we went outside to see the hatchery.  It was very cool.  Lots of trout of various sizes.  Jules and Drew fed some of them and they went nuts when they saw the food.  Jumping out of the water and splashing us.  Jules loved every moment!  

After that we drove around some more, went by the lake and checked out the new and improved downtown area on the river.  It was really neat to see the old building mixed in with the new.  They have some AMAZING shopping down on the Riverwalk.  We didn't stop, but I am thinking - Girl's Weekend in the near future!!  J

The entire time we were driving around, Jules kept asking about all of the cool theatres that line the main drag in Branson.  She said that she wanted to go to a show really bad.  We told her that they cost a lot of money, but that we promised her we would do something fun that night.  Each time Drew and I looked at each other with a gleam in our eyes!  J 

We made our way to our hotel and rested for a bit.  While we were resting, Jules was looking through a book about all of the shows in the area and came across the ad for Dixie Stampede.  Her eyes got really big and she was so excited to see the pictures of the horses.  She said if she could have any wish, it would be to see that show sometime.  I told her that it was a lot of money, but someday we might be able to go.  J After  that, Drew said that he wanted to take us to a nice dinner, so we got ready and headed out.  Drew and I were SO excited to surprise her with the tickets.  On the way to the theatre, we told her that because she had been so good and had done her chores and gone above and beyond by doing more and always helping me out without being asked, that we wanted to give her a special surprise.  We told her that she was in fact going to Dixie Stampede that night!  That we had the tickets all week and the reason we came to Branson was to take her to this show. 

I am surprised you couldn’t hear her screams of happiness and joy!  She was SO excited about seeing  the show!!!  An even better surprise was when you first arrive, they have all of the horses from the show outside in their stalls that surround the theatre, so you can see them all and take pictures with them.  She couldn’t have been happier and had a smile on her face the entire time.  It was really a great family night.  We couldn’t take pictures while inside the theatre, but let me tell you it was awesome!  Your ticket includes a pre-dinner show, so we saw a really talented comedian/juggler and then made our way into the arena.  Because of where we sat for the pre-show and a last minute bathroom stop for Jules, we were one of the last to be seated.  Well because I had booked so early in the week, we found out that we had FRONT ROW seats!!!!  And because we were the last to be seated, we were able to sit comfortably on the end with no one on one side of us AND we got to see all of the action as they were coming in and out of the arena.  Jules got a lot of attention from the cast as they were coming in and out.  Kisses blown to her by all of the ladies and salutes from all of the men. 

The show was really great and had lots of fun elements. They divide the arena into "The North" and "The South" we were The North.  Throughout the show, each sides has cast members that compete for your side.  There were wagon races, pig races, dance offs, a lumber jack competition and races where the audience got to participate!  In the end THE NORTH WON!!! :)  Jules loved all of it and seeing all of the horses!  The food was good too, except no utensils, so we went through lots of wet naps.  All in all a GREAT family evening and one VERY happy little girl!  J The show was over by 7:30, so we explored some more and then went back to the hotel to hang out and play games.  Some of the best moments of a trip can be just from hangin’ in the hotel room!  J 

On Sunday , we slept in a bit, packed up and then headed out to take a few more pictures we weren’t able to get the evening before. 

We took our time getting home.  We had nothing that had to be done, so we weren’t in a race to get there.  We stopped a few times along the way and explored.  I love trips like that.  You just see where the day takes you.  We made it home around 5:00 that night and had one tired girl on our hands.  After getting things ready for the week, loosing a tooth and settling in for the night, Julianna said “Thanks for the BEST WEEKEND EVER” and then fell asleep!  J 

It was a great weekend and were to blessed to be able to surprise her with the trip and even more blessed that the tornado that ripped through the town two days later didn’t happen while we were there and thankful that no one was killed by it.  It was a little bittersweet to see all of the pics of the the buildings that were damaged or destroyed, knowing we had just been in some of them a few days before.  Again, so thankful that no one was seriously hurt and will continue to pray for the area as they rebuild. 

Here are some of the pics from our trip.  Enjoy! 

We HAD to stop here on the way.  I mean when you see a store this big that says "Candy Factory" and you have a sweet tooth as big as mine, how could you NOT stop!  The most delicious taffy ever!  I made Drew shield my eyes as we drove by on the way home.  I couldn't be tempted again.  Their red licorice taffy was seriously some of the best candy I have ever had!

At the Hatchery.  They had some HUGE fish there!  

The lake was so calm and peaceful that day.  I love this pic I took.  May hang in in our living room! 
 The Train Station.  Love.

 There is a Hollywood Wax Museum in Branson.  This is what is on the top of their building.  I LOVE it!  

 The store of Dixie Stampede.  Pretty interesting story.....
 SO excited at the pre-show!

 Afterwards with her own horse to take home!  She was IN LOVE with the real horses.  Her dream is for us to have a farm where she has her own horse.  Someday!  :) 

We went back the next morning to take her pic with the butterfly.  Too much traffic the night before.  Such a beautiful day and such a GREAT trip!! :)

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