Fall Break was a good time. It wasn’t very restful, but I can rest when I’m dead. We took off after school on Wednesday and drove to Kansas City where my sister lives. It was an eight hour drive in the rain and fog, so it wasn’t a whole lot of fun.
Thursday, October 26
After breakfast and showers we headed into downtown Kansas City to the Negro Baseball League Museum. It was a great display and very informative. I’m not sure the kids totally understood everything and what it all meant, but they do have a little education about our country’s past and how far we have come. I recommend for everyone to stop by the museum. One warning, though. They won’t let you take cameras in. That was a little disappointing. I wanted to get some pictures of the legends field (a bronze statue of the best Negro league player at every position). In the gift shop I got Malarie a novel about a girl who pitched in the Negro leagues, Kaleb a set of Negro league baseball cards, and Mackenzie a key chain. There really wasn’t anything to get for Marissa. I wanted something with the Indianapolis Clowns on it, but there wasn’t anything. Just so you know, there is also a jazz museum in the same building. That really wasn’t up our alley, so we didn’t go there. If you want more information on the NBLM check out this website: http://www.nlbm.com/
After leaving the museum we ventured out to Arrowhead Stadium and Kauffman Field. It was pretty cool. We took pictures of ourselves in front of the stadiums. Hopefully, next summer we’ll be able to go to a Royals game. It shouldn’t be too hard to get tickets since they are so bad. Then we went shopping and back to my sister’s condo for the evening.
Friday, October 27
We left and headed to Branson. It was state roads all of the way, but the speed limit was still 60-70 mph. We saw some really beautiful country, in between rains. The drive took about four hours. When we got to Branson we had to check-in at the welcome center. We were part of a tour package. The first place signed us in, then sent us to a second location. The second location signed us in, checked the availability of our rooms, then sent us to a third location. At the third location, we got the key to our rooms. We were put up in the newest condos with two adjoining condos. It was bigger than our house and very nice. When we went on the tour our guide was surprised we had such nice accommodations. After settling into the room, we went swimming, then grabbed something to eat. I don’t think we did anything else. I really can’t remember. Branson is not a fun place to drive. The main strip is horrible. The place wasn’t designed to have so much traffic.
Saturday, October 28
Mom and Dad came to the condo to watch the kids while we went to the sales pitch. The guy at the sales presentation was nice enough. I told him up front we weren’t going to buy and the last time we went through this, the salesman got mad and sent someone else over to high-pressure us. He promised that wouldn’t happen, and it didn’t. The places were nice, but I wasn’t going to finance a place for more than my mortgage payment. Plus I didn’t have a couple thousand dollars sitting around as a down payment. After leaving the presentation, we had to go to another place to pick up our gift. We then went and got tickets to a show and went back to the room.
We loaded up the kids and headed for downtown Branson. The traffic was so bad that we lost Mom and Dad, whom we were following. We parked in a back lot downtown and went through some of the stores. Never go through an old downtown store with a stroller. It was horrible. I was glad to just fight my way out. We ate at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant. It was wonderful. Those are my favorite kind of diners. The food was good, the people were nice, and the place had atmosphere. Then we walked down to the water where the pavilion is. It is a new multi-million dollar shopping area that looks like a little town in itself. We went through some of the stores, including the Cardinal’s Club House. They had just won the World Series the night before, but the stuff was more than I wanted to spend. We watched an Elvis impersonator, a commercial being shot, and a drum-line beating on trash cans. We almost took a carriage ride, but had to hurry to our show. The carriage driver told me how to take back roads, which I’m glad he did. We saw some of the most beautiful country. We stopped twice and took pictures. The first time was from an overlook that looked across the water at Branson. We could see our condo. Then the drive took us around to the dam. We stopped and took pictures with the lake and fall foliage behind us.
The show we went to that afternoon was The Acrobats of China. The kids were amazing. They could contort their bodies and balance themselves on anything. They also had a lot of other tricks. The show was two hours and they amazed us the whole time. We picked this show because it would keep the kids’ interest. It was during Marissa’s naptime, so she was a little fussy. An old woman in front of us kept getting mad at her, so Brooke moved back where no one was sitting so the old bitty wouldn’t be bothered. I wanted to say something to her about the reality of having children (I assume she doesn’t have any or she would have been a little more understanding), but I figured people like that are so miserable anyway that it was pointless to say anything. I did feel sorry for her husband, though. The rest of us moved back after intermission. Malarie got some autographs and a picture with one of the performers. The rest of the kids were afraid to approach anyone. If you want more information about the show, check out this website: http://www.acrobatsofchina.com/
After the show we went to the family fun place and rode go-carts. The younger children got to ride some rides. Then we went to the Majestic to eat. There was an hour wait and the kids were too restless for that. We were told that the place was so big that we wouldn’t have any trouble getting in. The hostess, who seemed to be afraid that I was an irate customer, said it was beyond her control but that only one dining room was open. I asked her if she could give me $30 for the voucher I had. She said no, but I could order take-out. We did that for me and Brooke. The kids wanted McDonald’s anyway, which saved us about $30. Now, you have to realize my disappointment at not eating in the place, because I had look forward to it all day. I had to pay the bartender and I told him I wasn’t happy about half of the room being unused. He said they didn’t have the staff for it. Now, let’s think about that. It’s a Saturday night in a tourist destination and the place only has enough staff for half of the tables. Sounds like some bad management to me. But that’s not the worst of it. I paid for the meal and was charged a $7 tip. $7 for sitting in the lobby for half an hour waiting on food that really wasn’t that special. The chicken on my wife’s chicken alfredo wasn’t even fully cooked. We had to throw it out. When I questioned about the tip, they said it was part of the voucher. So, with the tip I paid $15 for a meal that cost around $40, so from that stand point I shouldn’t complain, but I should have gotten the voucher for somewhere else. I would never recommend The Majestic to anyone. In fact, I would suggest you spend your money somewhere else. The people weren’t very nice, the food was less than ordinary, and everything was overpriced. I refuse to even give you a link to them. I don’t want to give them any rating points.
Before getting McDonald’s we stopped at the baseball card store called Play Ball. It’s on 1141 W. Highway 76. There’s no website, or I’d link to it. The store was closed, so I walked up to see when it opened. There were no hours posted, but I saw some guys sitting in there talking so I asked them. The worker opened his door and invited us in. Kaleb got two packs of soccer cards, which we can never find, a pack of football cards, some free baseball cards, an album and sheet protectors. I am very grateful to the gentleman for opening his doors.
After eating in the room, I took the kids swimming, then we all went to sleep.
Sunday, October 29
We took our time that morning because my dad had told us it was a six hour drive home. Come to find out many hours later that it was a 9-10 hour drive! We stopped at a craft store on the way out of town. Then before getting on the Interstate, we stopped at Lambert’s Café in Ozark, MO. When we pulled up there was a line of people out into the parking lot. I asked the guy at the end when the doors opened. He said not for another half hour, but that if we wanted to get a seat, we’d better get in line. We didn’t want to wait that long, so we ran over to get a gift for my aunt who took care of the dog while we were gone. When we pulled out of the candle outlet, the line at Lambert’s was gone. So we stopped and got right in. The kids loved how the workers threw rolls at them. The food was really good and filling. I felt wasteful, but I couldn’t eat another bite. I was supposed to get a cigar at the end of my meal, but I forgot about it and so did the waitress. Oh, well, I didn’t need it anyway. I thought I might smoke it next month when I win at National Novel Writing Month. The price was reasonable, the food was good, the atmosphere great, and the people very nice. This was the kind of dining experience one would expect. My hat is off to Lambert’s. And let me add that word of mouth is very important. People told us to stop and eat there, otherwise we wouldn’t have. I’m glad they told us about it and I’m glad we decided to stop, even if it did put us getting home even later. Here’s the website for Lambert’s Café: http://www.throwedrolls.com/ The site has a place for pictures, so I’ll scan the ones we took there and send them in with what I’ve said here. Everyone stop at Lambert’s Café when you have the chance.
We quickly learned that the drive back to New Castle wasn’t going to be 6 hours. After eating, it took 3-4 hours to get to St. Louis. We happened to go by while the Cardinals parade was going on, but we didn’t see anything. We just heard about it on the radio. We finally got home at 8:30. We were tired, but glad to have had the experiences. Branson was a nice place to visit, but I think we still prefer the Smokey Mountains in Tennessee, or just a long weekend in nearby Cincinnati.