Marissa: Come snuggle with me.
Mallory: I’m outta here.
Every morning on this trip, Marissa has asked me to snuggle with her in bed before she gets up. Today was no exception and the above conversation was a transcript of how it all went down today. At 14, Mallory has outgrown the snuggle stage.
Our plans today included some shopping and checking out some new parts of Branson. The outlet mall opened at 9am and we rolled in by 9:30. KK and PK had stopped by around 11am the day before and let us know the parking lot was full when they showed up. That helped motivate us to arrive at a decent time.
Shopping is an individual sport in this family. Our party of 7 split up into 5 groups and we agreed to meet up later.
I wonder if there is a way to certify other tourists to take photos for you. In the above photo, please note that our legs have been cut off in the frame, but the photographer did include six feet of windows above our head. This is not a Branson problem – this is a National Issue!
We bailed out of the outlet mall around Noon to grab some lunch. On our very first day in Branson, our Duck driver made the comment that you should never spend more than a few minutes in traffic on the main drag – Highway 76. Throughout our time here, we have been working on our effort to avoid taking 76 anywhere, as it is stop-and-go traffic most of the time.
Stephanie guided us from the Outlet Mall to lunch without taking us on the highway, with KK providing backup navigation support. We felt like locals.
For lunch, we had picked out a greasy hamburger place called Billy Bob’s Dairyland. It was highly rated on TripAdvisor, and we liked the fact that it shared a building with a gas station.
All of us ordered the hamburger, except for Mallory, who wanted the foot long chili cheese dog. The hamburgers were very good, highlighted by the toasted bun. The fries were on the small side, but tasty. I think maybe I got the bottom of the bag.
Billy Bob’s Dairyland is known for their homemade fried pies. They had about 20 flavors. Miles and I walked to the front of the diner and viewed their selection, then tried to recite most of it to our table. Just about everyone in our group ordered a fried pie, except Marissa, who opted for the sundae.
Stephanie asked the waitress about the coconut pie, and she said it was their most popular. So Stephanie ordered the coconut, as did PK and KK. Miles got the apple, and I ordered gooseberry.
Later I told Mallory: I just can’t believe that coconut is their most popular flavor of fried pie.
Mallory: Coconut is what more than half of our table ordered.
Me: Good point.
From Billy Bob’s, we drove the back roads to Old Town Branson to check out Dick’s 5 and 10. It is an old time store with over 210,000 items in it. If that would make you think the aisles are narrow and the shelves (and ceiling) are packed with merchandise, you are correct! This store was specifically recommended to us by my friend Barbara at work. Thanks Barbara!
Once we left Dick’s 5 and 10, the travel party was ready for a break so we drove back to the hotel. Stephanie and I dropped off everyone there for naps and more Phase 10 card games, and we drove down to Branson Landing.
Branson Landing is a waterfront outdoor shopping mall on the banks of Lake Taneycomo. From where it is situated, it looks more like a river than a lake, but it is a beautiful setting nonetheless.
While the mall itself is clean and quite busy, Stephanie lamented that it was only comprised of national chains. You could plop this mall down in Tulsa, Kansas City, or Los Angeles, and you couldn’t tell the difference. There was no local flavor. At least for us, Branson Landing is not why we would make the effort to drive to Branson.
One of the key attractions at Branson Landing is a zipline that stretches across Lake Taneycomo. This reminded us of a story a Park Ranger told us at the Grand Tetons several years ago. The Ranger mentioned that if the Rockefellers had not purchased all the land around the Grand Tetons and held it for the public, that we would be seeing ziplines stretching across Jenny Lake. I guess he wasn’t far from the truth.
For dinner, we got to meet our old friends Randy and Mitzi, and their granddaughters Jess and Lexie, in Hollister. They live relatively nearby in Arkansas, and we are glad they made the drive up to see us. Randy was the genius that hired me right out of college. Need I say more?
Randy was, and is, a tennis lover. Because of him, Stephanie and I started playing tennis back in the early 90s. Today, Mallory uses that same racquet of Stephanie’s when she plays on her tennis team. We need to get Randy to come back to Tulsa, so he can whip up on another generation of Kings on the tennis court.
After exiting the restaurant, we probably spent at least an hour visiting outside on the sidewalk. It was such a pleasant evening, and the street the restaurant was on was straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting. Randy and Mitzi’s granddaughter, Lexie, kept Marissa busy the entire time giving piggy back rides and horsey rides. I imagine Marissa’s knees will be sore tomorrow!
Once back at the hotel, Miles and Mallory went to the grandparent’s room for another round of Phase 10. PK had won the afternoon round, so even though it was Miles’ turn to win, Mallory took the crown. (I got in trouble by Mallory yesterday for not initially reporting her victory.)
I also stopped by their room to see how their evening went. They visited a local steakhouse, and KK boasted that he ate the entire steak “because that was as good as it was ever going to taste”. I don’t think he believes in leftovers.
Another day in the books of naps, card games and low-impact vacationing. We win.