The Caffeinated Ginger family recently went to the Table Rock Lake/Branson, MO area for vacation. This has been a yearly excursion for us the past several summers. It’s a convenient drive of about five hours or so and there is a wide-variety of family-friendly activities offered in the area.
This year we took our new travel trailer on its virgin journey to Missouri. My Chevy Trailblazer was none too happy about lugging that trailer around the countryside, so the trip took about six hours instead of five. We did stop for a breakfast break at Braum’s and two gas station breaks because the Chevy was really thirsty and was guzzling the petro. At one gas stop, we saw this sign:
After the Chevy bravely led us to our destination, our first priority after setting up camp was food! It happened to be Mr. Caffeinated Ginger’s birthday, so he chose to go to Danna’s BBQ in Branson. We found this mouth-watering mecca of BBQ a couple of years ago. Casual environment, great food, and the best Memphis rolls to be found on the face of the planet. On this day I had the pulled pork sandwich, fries and Memphis roll. Dear Daughter #2 and Mr. CG both donated their cole slaw to me. It was all dee-lish.
After eating until we couldn’t handle anymore, we drove the strip. The Branson Strip is Highway 76 which goes through the heart of town. This is where most of the attractions are located–restaurants, shows, attractions, shopping. The strip is only a two-lane road with a turn lane in the center. During certain times of the day, say for example, ALL hours of the day–especially on weekends–traffic can be at a slow crawl. The brilliant street engineers of Branson, however, came up with the ingenious idea of marking other routes to detour you around the strip if you choose. There is the Yellow Route, Red Route and Blue Route that are clearly marked to provide a way to not get caught in the snake of tourists winding their way through Highway 76. I’m quite sure all of the locals don’t ever come near the strip. Smart people, they are.
We then headed for Branson Landing, which is located on the edge of Lake Taneycomo and offers lots of shopping, dining and entertainment such as Bass Pro Shop, Joe’s Crab Shack and some really cool fountains that put on quite a show in the evenings. The newest attraction at Branson Landing, however, is Parakeet Pete’s Waterfront Zipline. Parakeet Pete’s is a zipline that pulls brave riders across Lake Taneycomo and then releases said riders to fly back to the other side. I am usually afraid of heights, but for some reason I can zipline. It doesn’t make sense, but there’s lots of things about me that don’t make sense. Just ask my family.
On this particular afternoon, Parakeet Pete’s was having a sale. For about $25 each, we could ride the zipline three times. So before I had a chance to think about my mortality, we boarded the ski lift-type chairs. The only thing holding you in the seat is one seat belt harness across your midsection. There is also really nothing for you to hang onto as you risk impending death. You are first pulled backwards and upwards to the other side of the lake, high above the water and trees. You then are suspended on the other side for a few moments supposedly so you can enjoy the great view of scenery if you aren’t quaking in fear as I happened to be. Then without warning you are let loose to fly back across the water to the landing. I am sure the patrons of Branson Landing as well as the kayakers in the lake enjoyed my screams of
terror delight as we soared over the lake.
Apparently today was not the day we were scheduled to meet our Maker. To celebrate, we then headed for Andy’s Frozen Custard.
Andy’s is a very popular gathering spot in Branson. All Andy’s serves is custard–no hamburgers, no hotdogs, no french fries. Just custard. And it is divine! The variations of custard and toppings to be mixed in is unlimited. On this particular night I happened to spill a huge spoonful of hot fudge all over my favorite WSU shirt, which didn’t make me happy, but at least my shirt died happy in a chocolate coma-induced state. Andy’s usually has a huge line of people waiting to be served, especially in the evenings when the shows on the strip end and the people come to sate their after-show appetites. But no matter how long the lines, Andy’s is quick about getting everyone served.
After eating our fill of custard and me still in mourning over the loss of my shirt, we met this guy who was hanging out by Ripley’s Believe It or Not.
The next day after a breakfast at Cracker Barrel (fried apples! hominy grits!), we headed to the state marina where this beauty was awaiting our arrival:
For the past few years, we have rented a pontoon boat for an afternoon. Table Rock Lake is a beautiful lake for boating, fishing, swimming, and my personal favorite–just floating around in my life jacket.
There is a section of cliffs that is very popular for people to climb up on and then jump several feet off into the water. I did it a couple of times a few years ago. I didn’t really want to do it (it’s that fear of heights and death thing I have), but I had to prove I could do whatever the kids were doing because that’s the way I roll. However, this time I left the cliff climbing and jumping to the experts and they had a blast.
Swimming, floating and lazying around on the pontoon works up a person’s appetite, so we headed to Pizza World for supper.
Now if you are looking for a fine dining experience, this is not it. The ambience leaves a little to be desired, but the pizza was very tasty and the service was excellent. My 16-year-old son thought our host/waiter was the twin of Jesse Pinkman off of Breaking Bad, so that provided lots of bad humor (no pun intended) regarding fictitious drug deals for our dining entertainment.
The pizza rejuvenated us, so we decided to take on a round of miniature golf. Branson has TONS of miniature golf courses–pirate-themed, Hollywood-themed, dinosaur-themed–you want it, they got it. We happened to already be right across the street from Lost Treasure Golf.
Our family at times tends to balk against establishment, so we threw away the score card and just had fun playing golf. However, if we had been keeping score, I’m sure I would be the official winner. (Excuse me while I pick myself up off the floor from laughing.)
Stay tuned for Part 2 of the Caffeinated Ginger Family Vacation and learn how I cheated death not once, but twice!