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Published: July 20th 2015
Branson Bass Pro
Helpin' ya to Kill stuff since 1981 (or whenever)
With Ian and Sandra’s visit rapidly drawing to a close, Fiona and I decided to take them to one of the ‘must-see’ places of America’s Mid-west is Branson, Missouri. Branson is often branded as the ‘Vegas of the Mid-west’ due to the vast amount of ‘manufactured’ tourist attractions and specialty shows which line the main road through the town. Nestled within the beautiful ‘Lake of the Ozarks’ region of southern Missouri, Branson does very little to leverage it’s amazing natural beauty and instead promotes kitschy cover shows, theme parks and other family entertainment.
We loaded up the car (The Golden Girl, cause she's both old and gold!) and literally just managed to squeeze our luggage and six passengers in. Whilst it can seat six passengers, the third row of seating is really limited in space, so we squeezed Paddy into the back amongst the leaning tower luggage. We made the four-hour trek into Branson and were immediately struck by the beauty of the region. The Lake of the Ozarks is an immense lake system which is partially man-made, but it covers a huge area of Missouri. In fact, the interconnected lake system boasts a longer coastline than the
Fish n' Taxidermy
The massive Fish tank complete with taxidermy surrounds
state of California. We checked into our timeshare which was a cozy little 2-bedroom unit with a foldout bed which would be where the kids slept for the nights.
Unfortunately the weather didn’t look great for our first day (Sunday) so we decided to head to the outlets as we thought most people would be at Church for the morning. Well, it appeared that every living person within 50 miles of Branson had exactly the same plan – the outlets were absolutely packed! However, the Memorial Day sales provided some absolutely cracking bargains so we all dug in for a good day of shopping. Bargain of the day was probably shared by Fiona and I who managed to get a $800 leather jacket for $89 and an accompanying handbag for free….seriously! By the end of the day I had RSI from swiping my credit card, and Ian looked like a pack mule lugging mountains of shopping bags. The poor kids behaved so well being dragged around the shops all day, so we decided that we should probably return the favour one or two days of the trip.
The next day we headed into the
Branson river front whose most notable feature was the giant Bass Pro shop which sat right on it. If you haven’t been into a Bass Pro before, they are the outdoor person's version of heaven. They sell everything you could imagine to support outdoor pursuits from sleeping bags, to boats, to military grade assault rifles, cross bows and other miscellaneous devices designed for killing stuff. The walls and roof are adorned with hundreds of stuffed animals and it had a giant fish tank full of massive fish. The fish tank was so big that Bass Pro actually employed a full time staff member (who was a marine biologist of some description) to manage and care for the tank and its inhabitants. The hunting department proved the most interesting with several racks of assault rifles, bows, cross-bows and even sling shots available to provide you with the broadest possible options to kill stuff. V-Cool.
After getting our fill of stuffed dead animals and the various devices used to make said animals dead, we enjoyed a really terrific lunch in the Bass Pro affiliated restaurant which sat out over the waters of the River. Amusingly, the decor of the
Kitsch No 1
restaurant must have come from the Bass Pro shop as it was almost exclusively taxidermy fish and the fishing equipment which adorned the walls. We all enjoyed some really great food, including Ian who got owned by a 1 pound hamburger with bacon…..it was one of the most impressive single meals I have ever seen…..it was bigger than his head.
To burn off the ridiculous burger, we wandered along the waterfront which had been transformed into a very attractive shopping and restaurant district right in the heart of the old town. The centerpiece of the river walk were the dancing fountains which were orchestrated to dance to music being played over loudspeakers. Patrick decided that he really wanted to try zip lining across the river with Grandpa. Ian reluctantly agreed and got a thrilling ride which had Patrick hooting and hollering and so excited he could barely speak! Grandpa was less impressed as he had almost soiled himself at one point when he thought he was going to fall out of the zip line capsule. Fortunately we captured the whole thing on video!
After seeing the sights of the Branson Old Town we
Mater - good version though!
decided to venture to the attractions of Highway 76 (??), the Branson strip. Branson’s strip is an eclectic mix of kitschy tourist attractions which really have nothing to do the region or the town itself. Despite the kitschiest, there is a seemingly endless supply of things to do for both adults and families. Almost every popular band in the last sixty years had some group doing covers from the Beatles, to John Denver to Nirvana. There was a Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum, Ripley’s Believe it or Not, Celebrity Car Museums, and the list goes on. I’ve put a few photos of the kids with Optimus Prime, Lightning McQueen, Mater, the Dumb and Dumber car, and a random giant American Cock (yes, I probably could have said rooster) to show the types of kitsch we could go see…..it was awesome!
Tuesday we decided that it was time to give the kids a bit of payback (in the good sense) from being such little troopers the day we took them to the shops. Despite some cloudy weather Fiona and I grabbed the boys and headed to White Water, the Branson Water Park. This park was set up really well
Dumb and Dumber Dog
for families with the attractions seemingly dispersed based on age. There was an area for toddlers to splash around in, then a separate area for kids up to about 10 years old and then all the adult attractions. We let the kids loose on a giant waterpark playground about four stories high while we enjoyed a little adult time on the sun lounges. Fortunately the clouds had kept the crowds away so the boys had the area almost to themselves. However the weather quickly cleared to give us a beautiful sunny day to enjoy the park with almost no crowds. We took the kids on a couple of the more ‘adult’ slides which were actually really fast and exciting. Needless to say, the kids were grinning from ear to ear when we hit the pool at the bottom, and there was no getting them back into the kid’s section! While we were running amok at the water park, Ian and Sandra were enjoying a leisurely day with the most peace and quiet as they’d had in the two weeks since they’d arrived in Kansas!
After a couple of jam-packed days we decided to have a relaxed day using the
facilities at the hotel. The kids hit the pool and play grounds while Ian and I hit the golf course. Ian proved to be the worst caddy and cart driver in the history of the human race due to significant confusion between feet and metres and the squinties (cause he never brings his bloody glasses!) It was a beautiful day though, and a very enjoyable round of 18, despite the lack of skill and volumes of divots I dug out of the ground.
On our last day in Branson we ventured out to the local theme park, ‘Silver Dollar City’, which is based upon a 1880’s western theme – not so much the wild west, but more about living in a small town in the era. The park was beautifully laid out making maximum use of the environment in which the park was set. Like the water park, it was really well set up for families with areas exclusively dedicated for young families. We had an absolute blast both watching the kids on the rides and joining them on quite a few that were for both adults and kids. After exhausting the kids throughout the day we
Yes folks, you heard right....Branson has a massive American Cock....it's eyes seem to follow you.
took them home and got them into bed nice and early with time to enjoy a couple of drinks. We then cracked open a card game known as ‘Cards Against Humanity’, and if you haven’t played it before, do yourself a favour (in the words of Molly Meldrum) and look it up. It proved to be an absolutely hilarious night with tears of laughter running down our faces as Sandra proved to have a far dirtier mind than any of us had ever imagined!
The next morning we moved at a leisurely pace and had a nice relaxing morning before packing the car and heading home. Packing the car proved to be a game of ‘super tetris’. With all the shopping that we’d done every square inch of space had something jammed into it. We even had to take the stroller out of the car and strap it to the roof racks. The Golden Girl got us home despite being filled to capacity, but shortly after getting home we found out she needed a hip replacement. $4000 dollars and a new transmission later we had the car back and ready to roll for our next
The Dam at Branson
Saves the town from flooding every 2-3 years
adventure…..the Colorado Rocky Mountains.
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