Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Branson Trip Report

Wahoo! Okay, ain't gonna lie. I am whooped. It'll be a miracle if this post is coherent. Let's do this thing.

I had been looking forward to this Branson trip for quite some time. I hadn't been to Branson since our last family trip in 2008, and we had a wonderful experience then. (It's amazing how much you can do without kids, haha.) We didn't have a ton of plans this time, but the idea of getting away from the everyday was definitely appealing, and I knew that by this time of the year we'd be going a little stir-crazy around here. When the day finally arrived, I was more than ready to hit the road and get the heck out of dodge for the weekend!

Funny thing about Southern Missouri...it's like a whole different culture down there. Country folks. (Yes,  even more country than the kind we see around our parts.) There are lots of barbecue joints. And in no other place have I ever seen so many billboards proclaiming Jesus on one side and adult video stores on the other. There are A LOT of adult video stores. Haha.

The girls did surprisingly well on the 5 hour trip there. They slept 2/3 of the way, and awoke the first time for some of our share of that roadside barbecue. It was delicious!

We were following Eric's parents and grandparents on the way there, and we would be joined by many other family members later that night. 

Evie enjoyed drawing tattoos on her pig placemat. :)

I had to get a shot of one of the long tables, because I thought they were awesome.

I'm not sure if I spent more than two minutes at a time sitting here, because we were well into the drive at this point and the girls needed to stretch their legs. So we marched up and down and all around and checked out the bathrooms, and well...you get the idea. The natives were restless. 

Eventually we changed diapers, and loaded back into the car. But not before we were instructed at the cash register to take the scenic route through town to get back on the interstate (or highway, or whatever.) If there's another thing Southern Missouri is good for, it's tourist traps. And God love the people who make the signs that point you in every which direction. I think different rules of space and distance apply to the roads down there. If a sign says three miles...it's really seven. If you're "almost there," you're thirty minutes away. 

But who doesn't love a good tourist trap?

That there is the world's largest rocking chair.
Eric's Grandma thinks she's seen that chair somewhere else.
I wouldn't doubt it.

After more driving, and more adult video stores, and another stop for smoothies and coffee, we finally made it to our resort. We were so blessed to be treated to this trip by Eric's grandparents who own a timeshare. (Thank you, grandma and grandpa!) Our family would be sharing a condo with my sister-in-law's family, and the other four couples would be sharing another condo just behind us. The idea was that we would basically spend our time in the "big" condo and just sleep and get ready in ours, which is exactly what we did. 

When we rode the elevator to the third floor and stepped into our home away from home we were super impressed with our digs for the weekend. I honestly didn't know what to expect, but what we found was a three bedroom, two bath living space that was easily twice as large as our first apartment, haha.


Living Room:

Dining Area:

Part of Bedroom #1:

Looking out of bedroom #1 (Told you I took a lot of pictures, haha.)

Part of the first bathroom:

Bathroom #2:

Bedroom #2

Bedroom #3

The other part of the master bath:

And my husband:

He came with the room. :)

The girls had a BLAST running around and weaving in and out of the maze of doorways. They made themselves right at home in no time. 

I may or may not have encouraged jumping on the bed. Hey. It's vacation!

And while Eric and I were unpacking, we noticed that it was getting just a little too quiet for comfort. 


The girls were obsessed with all of the free lotion bottles in the bathrooms. Every time I thought I picked them all up, they'd find another one! And they thoroughly enjoyed emptying out every cabinet in the place, too.

It was dinnertime by now, and we heard there was some Italian beef cooking in the other condo, so off we went! When we walked into that condo for the first time, we were really impressed with how nice it was! It had four bedrooms, four bathrooms, lots of common living space, and even a full laundry room. We didn't bring our camera over with us, so I videoed a little walkthrough before the rest of our group arrived. (Sorry for the shakiness and bad lighting - I hope you don't puke! Haha.)

We took it easy the first night, just getting settled and waiting for more party people to show up. After a grocery run we were wiped and ready to call it a night! And goodNESS what a night it was. I hadn't really thought of this before, but this vacation was Gracie's very first overnight trip away from home. I didn't count on the fact that our babies might get a little homesick. But they did.

Evelyn definitely mentioned several times that she was ready to go home, but within a few minutes she was out. Gracie, however, fought sleep until almost three in the morning. I would get her to drift off, but as soon as she woke up and realized she wasn't in her normal crib she would scream bloody murder. It was a looong night. 

But after a few hours of rest, everyone was ready to have a fun family Saturday. :) We had plans to go to an indoor water park this day, so after showers and breakfast we all suited up!

We learned as we were dressing the girls that Evelyn called our condo "Branson's house." Evie thought that Branson was a person, and she still does. She's so funny. :) So for the rest of the weekend, anytime we had to go back to our room Evelyn would ask if we were going to Branson's house, and we would crack up.

I love babies in bathing suits! 

We threw some sweats over our suits and met up with Eric's parents. 

I cannot even begin to tell you how much fun Evelyn had at the water park. From the minute we walked in the door her face lit up, and she didn't stop smiling the entire time. Obviously we didn't want to bring our camera here, but we did manage to get a few (bad) phone pictures.

Gracie was very scared and clingy at first. The water jets and all of the sounds kind of freaked her out a bit, but eventually she adjusted and started having a really good time. :)

This was definitely a favorite:

Every time the bells would sound warning the bucket dump, we would have to run around and watch the rush of water splash everyone. The girls loved it!

We stayed until we were sufficiently pruny, and then we went back to feed the kids and put them down for naps. Eventually everyone else began to trickle in from their various activities, and then it was time to play, play, play!

And eat, eat, eat! I'm telling you we ate so much and snacked so much all weekend. Everyone brought a lot of food with them, and the more people that showed up, the more food there was. We had a FEAST on Saturday.

And once we devoured our yummy dinner we decided to go swimming again. This time at our resort pool. We were informed that this pool was nice and warm and perfect for a little February night dip. So we wrestled the kids into their suits and made the trek to the rec center. 

What we discovered when we got there was that the water temperature would have been perfect for a hot summer night, but NOT a night in February. The water wasn't super cold, it just wasn't warm. The kids didn't seem to mind, but most of the adults were chattering. We knew that there was a nice, bubbly hot tub that we could take a dip in...but...it was outside. And we had to pass through a fence to get to it. And we were wet. And it was freezing outside.

Our desire to relax took over our better judgement. So...we took it in shifts. Each of us grabbed a towel and a kid, and one by one we dashed from the indoor pool to the outdoor hot tub. The hot tub was just far away enough from the door that once you were in, you couldn't really communicate with the next person coming out. If we COULD have communicated this is what we would have said. "Nothing, and I mean nothing in the world is going to prepare you for how amazingly cold you are about to feel. Knives are going to pierce you all over your body. You will want to die. But once you're in, you're good! Ready, set, go!"

Haha. The hot tub was amazing, but only if you could survive the icy tundra to get there. So we defrosted for a bit in the steamy night air, and somehow, we all eventually made it back to the mothership for a little birthday celebration. 

It was Eric's dad's birthday, and there were balloons and cake and laughter and all of the things you expect at a proper birthday party. The kids helped their grandpa blow out his candles. :)

It was a great end to a great day. 

That night Grace was the FIRST one asleep, and she slept through the night with no problems at all! I think it was a testament to just how exhausted we all were. :) I was very thankful for a full night's sleep, because the fun wasn't over yet.

But Sunday's activities will have to wait until tomorrow. I have a special, sponsored, blogpost to share with you tomorrow. We were invited to one of Branson's biggest attractions, and we had a lot of fun exploring a bit of history on our trip. 

So since I can't really wrap up our entire trip tomorrow, I'll just let you know that by the time we were leaving on Sunday afternoon, the family gathered around the lunch table and did what so many other families do, I'm sure, at the close of a vacation. We started brainstorming the next one. :) There are several ideas, and they are all GOOD. We'll see. :)

The girls did great on the drive home, and they were very happy to be back in our "normal" house Sunday night. They definitely enjoyed the trip, but I get the impression that in their little minds we had moved without warning them, haha. We want to thank Eric's grandparent's once again for this great little vacation. It was refreshing and fun to get away for a while!

If you made it this far - high five! Have a great day. :)


Heather said...

Have ever mentioned how much I love your girls? Loving Evie wearing her hair in a ponytail...too cute. And Grace about hanging herself with that hat trying to get it off...too funny.

Adrien said...

I wish I could "like" your comment. :D Like!

Cassie said...

awwww ya - love this!
and happy birthday greg!!

Ashley Mitchell said...

Your girls never disappoint. :)

oneknightstands said...

The video was a nice touch. Denny and I wish we could have gone, your blog did a good job of detailing the trip. Thanks for sharing the vacation.

Katie said...

The picture of Evelyn looking at Grace out of the corner of her eyes in their swimming suits made me laugh out loud. So cute!

Melissa W. said...

That pig placemat was awesome...

The rocker...rocked...(sorry, couldn't resist) and so did your condo for the weekend!! WOW!!

I love the look on Gracie's face in the window picture. The girls look soooooo adorable in their swimsuits. Gracie tugging on her hat is just a hoot. Bahahaha.

High five to you!! Great post!

Anonymous said...

Awww your girls are so adorable!

What a fantastic swimmingpool, it really looks amazing.

Thank you for sharing this great post with us

Life on the Short Side said...

I was reading this blog post and I thought...huh, that bbq place looks familiar. Then I saw the rocker and I realized that it was familiar! That bbq joint is right by where I grew up! (You actually passed right by my home church on your way to the rocker.) My husband loved going to check it out as he had "seen it on the Travel Channel". Haha!


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