October 18, 2011

Hellooo, Branson!

Awoke to a dreary, rainy day.  Just great! The weather forecast called for rain for two days, then bright, sunny skies and warm temperatures.  Not to worry.  Missy arrived with three books in tow, just in case the weather didn't cooperate.  But, the sun broke around mid-day and I was ready to explore. We'd been given a mini-suite on the top floor to appreciate the spectacular view...of the parking garage. Just kidding. Although it did face the garage, we could see sections of  "Historic Downtown Branson" and the foliage beyond.  The spectacular view, however, was on the other side of the hotel.

Branson is billed as the "Live Music Show Capital of America."  "Someone you love is always playing in Branson," is another saying.  Hot damn!  Alan Jackson is in town.  I'm in heaven. Definitely on my list of things to do. We need food, first, and then we can figure out what to see and do.  Stepped outside of the hotel and there's the Branson Scenic Railway.  Well, well.  Since I didn't do a lot of research for this trip (other than to plot a route there and back and check the weather) because everybody knows that there is plenty to do in Branson, including:  live shows, museums, golfing, yada, yada,  a train trip is an ideal way to see the area and learn a little of the history.  Got tickets and moved on to Branson Landing for a meal.

Branson Landing is a combination town square, retail, and residential development located on the Lake Tanneycomo waterfront.  How's that for a name?  Which Indian tribe came up with that?  Not their doing, boys and girls.  It's an acronym for Tanney County, Missouri.  And, of course, if it is located on a lake, with two other lakes (Table Rock and Bull Shoals) on either end, then there must be a marina, right?  Complete with a paddle-wheeler and more. Not to be missed is the hourly water and fire fountain display, set to music.  Don't ask me why my video of the show won't upload...go to YouTube and look at one of the videos there. AAARGH!

Lots of shopping to do in the Branson area; however, I contented myself with strolling in and out of the stores located in the Landing.  The waiter, at the restaurant where we ate lunch, disabused me of my plan to see Alan Jackson.  I'd missed the notation in the advertisement:  "tribute."  In other words...impersonator.  There are, however, real "legends" playing Branson; Andy Williams for one. Lee Greenwood, Ann-Margaret, among others. Damn!  I was really psyched to see A.J. Had the best ever piece of coconut cake (large enough for two) at Dino's (cakes are their specialty) and laughed at the barely-pregnant woman who, single-handily finished off her humongous piece of carrot cake--I shared mine--proclaiming that she was "eating for two."

Hand-dug Tunnel
Headed back for the train ride. Claimed a seat in one of the dome cars.  Relaxing and a much better way to take the curves around the mountains.  The conductors mentioned that one of the tunnels had been dug by hand.  The other tunnel's debris was hauled by teamsters.  Teamsters?  Now that brings forth the image of the union...wonder if there is a connection?  Yep, that's how the Teamsters Union began, with the owners of "teams" banding together to haul goods, provide services, etc.  The views were awesome.  Also learned that they sheared off the tops of three mountains to make room for the Branson airport.  Get out!

The organizers of the conference presented a fantastic evening of entertainment.  Well, you knew there was an ulterior motive for choosing Branson, didn't you?  We were puzzled at the presence of a SUV in the banquet hall, assuming that it was a prize to be raffled off.  We became even more puzzled when a gurney, complete with covered body, was wheeled in.  It was a little close to the table for my comfort.  Especially since we were chowing down on a great steak.  Then the lights dimmed, sirens and flashing lights erupted from the SUV,  and ghouls came from everywhere.  The "body" got off the gurney and we were treated to a very good enactment of Micheal Jackson's Thriller.  Following that was a performance by a surprisingly good juggler.  He handled the sharp knives, unicycle, etc., with panache, keeping a running monologue going which had the audience chuckling.

SF was scheduled to present a lecture on the following day.  Carried it off with the aplomb we've come to expect. Had a few "know-it-alls" in attendance but there are always one or two in every session, right?  Among the exhibitors was a massage therapist who, temporarily, put my shoulder out of pain and agony.  Why didn't I think about applying heat?  Trying hard to stay away from another cortisone shot and tired of eating pills by the handful. 

Had dinner with friends of SF's who also attended the conference.  Marilyn and I hit it off immediately, talking nonstop. They are from Joplin, MO, and their home was obliterated by the tornado.  I get perturbed just hearing the warning siren; the thought of being in a crawl space while winds of 300 mph and more are destroying everything in sight, sends chills down the spine.  Lawd, Lawd.  Wonderful evening.

The trip home is next.  Be safe. Be Blessed.

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