After our miscarriage I just had to get away. I felt like running away, going anywhere and forgetting about who I was for a while. I told Josh that I no longer cared about saving money and that a vacation would save my soul. And it did, for the most part. Here’s the story of our wonderful week in Branson, Missouri.
We set off on our 3 1/2 hour journey around 6am on a Saturday morning. What a great start to a vacation!
We dropped the dogs off at Camp Little Paws in Branson to stay for the day while we went to Silver Dollar City. We had to go Saturday because park closed for an entire week on Sunday. We couldn’t check into our hotel until 4pm that day so we needed a place for the furkids to stay. It is a little off the beaten path, but I highly recommend them, they accommodated us well and it only cost us $40 for the day for both of them. It is just 5-10 minutes away from Silver Dollar City. The girls also seemed to be fairly happy when we picked them up that night (and they hate being left alone).
Silver Dollar City was celebrating its last Day of the National Fall Harvest. They were closing down to get ready for Christmas. It was holiday confusion on crack, there were Halloween decorations mixed with pumpkins and cornucopias for Fall. The park was also adorned with American flags for Veteran’s Day as well as Christmas wreaths, trees and lights. The whole town of Branson seemed to be in Holiday Limbo. But I did love getting to see so many Christmas lights in October. 🙂 A very nice woman came over us when we got to the entrance and asked if I’d like to use her guest pass that she gets with her Season passes. That was a great money saver, in fact when she approached us I was frozen due to sticker shock. I really enjoyed Silver Dollar City, I love how all the employees get into character, down to their bonnets, overalls and traditional dresses. Josh and I walked around the shops and rode a few rides. Josh’s highlight of the entire trip was the
Giant Barn Swing Giant Death Swing.
Okay, so it probably isn’t as dramatically scary as I’m making it sound. But right before you get on the swing you are told to stand on a number and I was given the number 13. I’m not normally superstitious but I have a bit of an issue with amusement park rides. My Dad often complains to me about how he would stand in line with me for 30 minutes to get on a ride and I would chicken out when it was my turn. So Josh traded me spots, then I became convinced that I just gave us both bad luck. Then the ride operator yelled at Josh to put his hat and my purse in a cubby and he barely made it back in time to strap in before the ride began. So you see, I was already mildly arrythmic before the ish even started.
Me inside of “Grandpa’s Mansion”
Josh also talked me into going down into “Marvel Cave”. You have to walk down 600 stairs to get to the bottom of the cave. It takes an hour just to get to the other side where you ride a cable car back up to the surface. Yes it is dark, cold and there are bats. And I’m not sure if the tour guide was joking or not, but he says that the cable car doesn’t work sometimes so those tours have to walk all the way back, resulting in a 2 hour tour. Here are some pictures down in the cave.
We stayed in a gated golf resort community in Branson West called Stonebridge, about 5 minutes from Silver Dollar City and about 10 minutes from Branson’s main street. The property is 3,200 acreas and includes different sections, or neighborhoods. There are homes ranging from $150,000 to a million bucks or more, some small condos, cabins and hotel rooms. Some of the homes, condos, cabins and apartments are for rent, some are timeshares and some are owned. We were given the option to attend a timeshare meeting and get 50% off our next stay but that was Sunday morning at 9 and….just no. No one pressured us at all and we were pretty much left alone to our cabin. The property is so huge it took about 5-10 minutes to get from the entrance gate to get to our cabin, the community even has its own water tower and an alternate entrance near Silver Dollar City. Here are some pictures.
Day 2: We went shopping at Branson Landing and Tanger Outlet Mall. I really enjoyed Branson Landing, it includes a Bass Pro Shop, Charlotte Russe, Kirkland’s, Build-A-Bear and numerous restaurants and specialty stores. I was especially surprised to see a Tervis Store and pleased to find The Cardinal’s Clubhouse where they sell only St. Louis Cardinals memorabilia. We sat outside on the patio and ate at Cantina Laredo, we even got to watch a fountain show right from our seats. The food was great but I enjoyed the atmosphere even more.
We also stopped in at the Shepard of the Hills Inspiration Tower on the way back to our cabin. I kept seeing it from a distance and was really curious as to what it was. It is a 230 foot tall observation tower. It costs $10 a person to ride up glass elevators to the top where there are panoramic views of the city and Table Rock Lake. You can even see as far as the Boston Mountains in Arkansas.
I stole this photo off of Google, but I wanted to give proof that people zipline off of this tower! It’s called The Vigilante and it’s absolutely, positively crazy.
The view from the parking lot was pretty great too!
Day 3: Josh golfed and I enjoyed nature and the sights at The Ledgestone Golf Course at our Resort. From what I understood from Josh and our golfing partner, the course is pretty tough and it kicked Josh’s butt. But there are some great views of the mountains, hills and Stonebridge homes. It was a perfect 70 degree day and I got a little picture-taking happy. We also went hiking on the property for a few miles. We got pretty high in elevation and got a pretty good workout.
That evening, we went to Level 2 Steakhouse at the Hilton at Branson Landing. It was a very fancy restaurant decorated with red ceilings rafters, black chandeliers and dim lighting. I remember specifically that their chairs were incredibly comfortable, like mini recliners. We asked our waiter at Cantina Laredo to recommend the best steakhouse in town and this is one of the places he referred to us. I had to Tomato Basil Bisque which melts in your mouth and a Caesar salad which was a tad too fishy for my taste. Josh ordered a Tomato Basil Bisque and a Kansas City Strip with Whiskey Sauce and Brandy Peppercorn Sauce on the side. He also got mashed potatoes to go with the steak. Sides don’t come with your meal, all of the dishes are a la carte, very large and meant for sharing. Your waiter brings a whole tray of knives to your table and gives you a description of the knives for you to choose. It was pretty interesting, you are also given a stainless steel knife stand. I didn’t even know that there were so many different types of knives and that it made a difference on which one you used to cut steak. I just chose the dainty looking one with serrated edges. We shared the steak and I snuck in some bites of the mashed potatoes (since they aren’t on my diet). I loved the steak with the Brandy Peppercorn sauce. I also thought the mashed potatoes were heavenly, but I’m often deprived of potato love. We both had steak left over when we split it between the two of us, so it was pretty large and filling. Here is a picture of my salad. This, my friends and followers, is what I call food art.
Day 4: We slept in and then went to Dogwood Canyon Nature Park about 45 minutes away in Lampe, Missouri. The park has a very scenic, paved and level walking trail. It was $13.95 per person plus $2.95 per dog per day to go hiking. The paved trail is 3 miles one way and crosses over the Arkansas border. We only went 2 miles in for a total of 4 miles. There is also an unpaved, nature hiking trail that goes pretty high in elevation, we didn’t take that trail due to it not looking as scenic on the map. There were things to see in every direction. There were streams and waterfalls all along the trail, along with beautiful trout swimming in the water (that Izzie was terrified of).
Day 5: We ate at one of the cutest places in town, The Bradford Eatery located at the Bradford Inn Bed and Breakfast. It is only open Wednesday- Saturday from 11am-2:30pm but trust me, it’s worth it to carve it into your schedule if you are visiting. Josh ordered the Chicken Pot Pie with the Bradford House Salad and a Strawberry Lemonade. I got a Spinach Quiche with a Bradford House Salad and a Coke. We shared our meals and loved each of them equally. We also shared a piece of Strawberry Rhubarb Pie a la mode. It was delicious. From what I hear, they run out of dessert fast so get there early! They were running low when we were there and that was at noon. We ate outside on the back deck, which has a wonderful view of Branson. We were the only ones on the back porch, which was surprising since it was fairly nice outside. There were a lot of people inside and several waiting for a table, I figured it was a pretty lucrative business.
Afterwards we drove down to Ridgedale, Missouri to visit Big Cedar Lodge and the Top of the Rock. This is Johnny Morris’ (the founder of Bass Pro Shops) property. We didn’t actually visit the hotel, we went through the Lost Canyon Cave and Nature Trail. It costs $20 a person to ride in a 4 person electric car through the trail. There were some good views and it was pretty well worth the money. They were doing construction and it kind of ruined it for me, mostly due to the fact that I could see them making the waterfalls. I wanted to at least pretend that they were real.
You can also board a shuttle to go to the Par 3 golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus and visit The Osage Restaurant, Arnie’s Barn, The Buffalo Bar, The Wine Cellar or the golf pro shop. There is also a wedding chapel and honeymoon suite on site, overlooking Table Rock Lake. If Josh and I ever get married again, this is where we are going.
That evening we attended The Revollusionists Magic Show at Music City Theater. You have to go to a show when you are in Branson. So many of them look cheesy and have mixed reviews. Josh was interested in this show and every review was pretty positive. Josh called and bought tickets in the front row! I was worried they were going to call us up on stage, but luckily we had an outgoing audience full of willing volunteers. My favorite part was when one of the magicians made a motorcycle appear and then disappear on stage. They had 4 different magicians that night, each specializing in different types of magic. There were a lot of mind-boggling tricks that I had never seen before. It was Revolutionary. Haha. The real stars were the female assistants. They were in almost every act and had to put themselves in many less than desirable positions, yet they don’t get much recognition in the show or on the promo posters. I don’t even think they introduced them by name. Out of 5 stars I would give it 4, just because the theater was less than desirable. It looked like a dollar movie theater inside. Of course I really have nothing to compare it to as I’ve never been to a show in Branson before. But I definitely recommend the show. And the cotton candy. 😉
Day 6: We packed up and headed home. We stopped at Natural Falls State Park in West Siloam Springs, OK on the way home. The cost was $4 per car. The park features a 77-foot waterfall cascading through rock formations. You can walk through the Dripping Springs Trail to a railed observation platform that allows hikers to overlook the falls and there is another observation deck with seating located at the foot of the falls. There are several short hiking trails throughout the park and you can travel down the the valley where there is a crystal blue lake (more like pond) where the water from the falls pool up. We took the Ghost Coon trail, which is 1 1/4 miles. It wasn’t very scenic, however there were some hills and tough spots, but mostly enjoyable for a beginning hiker. Our dogs had a great time as well and weren’t panting too hard.
And then on home. I got to feeling pretty sad when we got home. Not because I don’t have an amazing life. My life is pretty great and I had a lot to come home to. But I was smacked in the face with the reality that I am still coming home with empty arms. We didn’t talk about fertility on our trip at all. We usually talk about what we’d do when we bring our children back but this time we just focused on what we could do as a couple and with our furkids. So maybe it was just because I hadn’t thought about it much that whole week. Maybe it was because as soon as I got home my neighbor asked where our baby was. WTF?!? Truth is, vacations are great but they can’t heal grief. It can help you forget about it for a while but it’s always there. But I was recharged and ready to get back to work. Which is just what I needed.