where we've been and where we're going

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Dolly and the Titanic

In August D and I spent a week at home in Missouri with our families. For a short trip, we went with his family to Branson, the down-home, country music center in the Ozarks of Missouri. A land of antiques, family fun, country music shows, and tack. If it is one thing, it is tacky and a magnet for those who love tacky.

Luckily, I LOVE tacky. Yes, I hate chain restaurants, but I'll take a tourist trap any day. I'm not one of those travelers who avoids tourist traps simply because they are such. Don't get me wrong---my very best and most memorable experiences as a traveler have been when I was most deeply embedded in the local culture: a wedding in Morrocco, produce shopping in Parisian markets, spice-shopping in Rome, the cow-herding festival outside of Geneva. But I also took the elevator to the top of the Eiffel Tower, toured the Globe theatre, and saw Bono's house. Honey, I've seen the corn palace, and loved it, despite my food-aversion to corn. Oh no....I love tacky.

So Branson was great fun. We took a long drive along the strip to check out our options before stopping for a family-competitive game of miniature golf at one of many, many places this was possible. Then we ate lunch at Dick Clark's American Bandstand Grill. Oh yes we did. The walls were covered with memorabilia (real or reproduced? unknown. They say real, but who knows?) and we watched old shows while we ate. I had a quite yummy but bad for me spinach artichoke chicken sandwich and an icecream/alcoholic drink despite being in the company of my inlaws. Oh yes. I'm a wild one.

After lunch we walked around the Landing, which is a nice shopping area along Lake Taneycomo that starts at the (what else?) Bass Pro Shop. There are national chains (Kirkland's, Victoria's Secret, Ann Taylor, Yankee Candle, etc.), Missouri-centered shops (Cardinals gear, fishing items, etc.), and boutique-style shops (quilts, crafts, etc.). It's a lovely place to stroll, shop, snack, drink, and listen to street musicians. After this, my SIL and MIL and I went antique/craft shopping without the boys at the Apple Tree Craft and Antique Mall on the Strip. It's a flea-market-style place with booths for people to rent and sell either crafts or antiques. Your money then goes to the individual seller. There's everything from artists, hand-sown garments, antique dolls, holiday crafts, to kitchy collectibles. We spent a long time wandering the aisles, and there was definitely something for everyone. MIL found a painting for her kitchen, SIL found gifts for her parents, and I found the cutest Halloween crafts: old bottles labeled to be items for a witch's brew, such as Newt Eyes and Witch Fingernails. Love it.

The next morning we all went to the Titanic museum, which is exactly what it sounds like, except it's a museum for both the shipwreck AND the film. I would have liked a little more on the ship, but I guess there's not that much to go over, is there? There are few artifacts from the ship itself, for obvious reasons, though they have several from its sister ship that was apparently very similar in design and execution, though, of course, smaller. There are lots of photos and testimonies and stories, as well as artifacts from the movie, such as costumes and autographed scripts. My favorite section was the one where you could climb a fake bow to feel what the angle of entry must have been like for the frightened passengers and put a finger in water the same temperature it was that night, to feel how very quickly your appendage began to hurt and then go numb. It was something. I wouldn't recommend the museum to everyone, and now that I've done it I wouldn't repeat it, but most of our family enjoyed it, including me.

So we didn't see a show, and we didn't do Silver Dollar City. As my in-laws grew up going there, I'm assured I'll have my chance when we introduce grandkids to the mix. But all in all, my first trip to Branson was great fun and a great time with my family. If you were to go, a weekend is plenty of time to understand the place and have a great time, but there's certainly more to do if you want to stay longer.