Branson Kind of Fun

Branson Kind of Fun

Click. Click. Click.

It is 10:30 p.m. on our last night of vacation. We are in Branson, Missouri, for spring break and I am desperately trying to fall asleep.

I have learned the hard way that if you want a waffle at the free breakfast bar you have to haul your cookies down to the hotel lobby before 7:45 a.m. The senior set will have had their fill of the mini chocolate muffins and chewy bagels by that time, and it’s early enough to beat the other hungry families who will claw their way to the front of the line if you show a second’s hesitation. I have missed my waffle the last two days. Tomorrow will be my reckoning day.

I can’t sleep, though. My youngest daughter is in the bed beside mine biting her nails.

I didn’t know she chewed her nails in bed before this trip. It’s the kind of information you learn only after spending 72 hours in constant contact with the fruit of your loins. This trip has broken down all barriers of personal space. Our room is so small we can hear each other pee.

Click. Click. Click.

The trip has been fun, but it’s been a Branson kind of fun.

If you don’t know what Branson is, its a tiny city in the Ozark Mountains. It claims to be the “live show music capital of the universe” – a label which is true if your idea of live music is limited to gospel, country, and  songs written before 1985.

Before I poke too much fun at the place, it’s important to point out that we chose Branson. Willingly. We wanted to take a trip, and our destination had to meet the following requirements: it needed to be a place we had never been to; it needed to be within driving distance; and the whole trip needed to come in under $800. That left Branson.

There was a Hollywood wax museum with figures that didn’t look so much like celebrities as they did celebrity cousins. The eyes were right, but the cheekbones were off.

And if we wanted real, live celebrity cousins, Jerry Presley  – “Elvis’ Cousin!” the billboard reassured us every time we drove up and down the main strip –  was performing at the God and Country Theater.

It wasn’t all bad. We filled up our days with overpriced museums, goofy golf and candy shops where our daughters bought bags of mango-flavored gummy bears and banana Runts that I am convinced were laced with cocaine.

We taught our youngest daughter how to play poker. Our oldest daughter adopted the towel swan that was on one of the beds and named him Ralph. We couldn’t call it “Towel Swan” or “Ralph the Towel Swan.” We could only call him Ralph.

We were making the best of it. But that was kind  of the problem. The trip was just ok. We were in our room by 6 p.m. almost every night. We would swim for a while, play some cards, watch some Simpsons and go to bed.

At home, we crave this kind of family time, but instead of giving us a feeling of warmth and togetherness, it was just giving us ample opportunity to get on each other’s nerves.

Click. Click. Click.

It wasn’t lost on me that in the morning – the final day of our trip – we would be traveling to the tiny farmhouse where Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote the Little House books.

Wilder was a woman who made a successful career out of writing about living in one-room cabins. She wrote almost an entire book about living in a dirt dugout.

For the last couple of years I have been fantasizing about living in a  cabin in the woods like Laura and her family did. It would be ideal. We would live off the land. I would have ample time to write. I would be inspired.

Yet there I was, stuck in a room that smelled like chlorine, mac and cheese cups and three days’ worth of farts. My daughter was biting her nails. My husband was pooping within hearing range of where I lay sleeping. And just down the road, a wax Nicholas Cage was preparing to haunt my dreams.

I idolized Wilder and her pioneer lifestyle but couldn’t last three days in a room with free breakfast, cable TV and access to a hot tub and pool. Maybe it was time to rethink things.

Click. Click. Click.

I’m trying my hardest to ignore the nail biting.

Her big sister is not about to let that shit slide, though. Oh no. She has had to share a bed with her for three days. Heads are gonna roll.

“Can you knock it off?”

“What?” my youngest snaps.

“You’re biting your nails!”

“I am NOT!”

She totally was.

“You totally are.” I chime in. Because taking sides always helps the situation.

“I AM NOT!!!”

She starts to cry the fake tears of someone who has been rightly accused but is not about to give up the charade now that she’s this far into it. It’s a performance worthy of a wax Oscar.

Even though we  know and she knows she’s biting her nails, we let it go. Sleep is more important than trying to argue with an irrational nine-year-old cannibal. Besides, its dark. We can’t prove anything.

Click. Click. Click.

Seriously? Now she’s just fucking with us.

19 thoughts on “Branson Kind of Fun

  1. Love this post! Reminds me of a family trip up and down the east coast for college tours. By the last day of the “vacation”, I drove straight through until 4 am, just so we wouldn’t have to stay another night in a soul crushing hotel room.

    PS – I hope the Laura Ingalls Wilder stop was fun! Her books were my favorite growing up.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was the highlight of our trip! It was very inspiring to stand in the rooms where she wrote those books! Definitely worth the stop if you are ever in the Ozarks. It’s a long ways from Maine though 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  2. We love Branson! But the key is to stay in a condo with a separate bedroom and living space. Just make sure you skip the timeshare presentation or you’ll hate yourself. It’s not worth the free stuff 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I haven’t done Silver Dollar City since I was 10 yrs old but I remember having a great time! Jud and I did the Ripley’s Museum when we went there before kids. Next time we plan on visiting the Titanic museum. I always stop by the Tanger Outlet stores too 🙂


  3. We have always splurged on the condo. When the time came to share beds it was a complete nightmare and no one slept. I created spoiled monsters. Vacations are never as relaxing as they are supposed to be, especially with kids.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jean – you are such a riot! I remember such a trip to St. Louis with my girls that was similar! Although, AJ and I were the ones fighting with each other in a huge traffic jam! The girls were laughing at all the F-bombs coming out of our mouths!!! Aren’t family trips the most fun to laugh about later?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha! I think I heard about that trip 🙂 Oh…by the way. When we were at the Laura Ingalls Wilder museum, we learned that Laura wrote a column for the newspaper and used the name “Mrs. A.J. Wilder” since her husband was Almanzo Wilder. The girls got quite a kick out of that!


  5. Funny! Next time arm yourself–Earplugs (or earphones mixtape lady!), eye shades and a couple of advil pm, (or prosac if you can get an RX). I loved Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books. I still get misty eyed thinking about old Jack freezing to death under the wagon. Great, now I’m depressed. Have to go read some more fun posts!


  6. Hi Jean, I’m a friend of Ilona’s. That’s how I found Mixtapes and Cupcakes. Great little essay up there, hahaha! And I have a confession to make- I used to be one of those assholes who raid the continental breakfast and take the good stuff……. you know, stuff a half dozen cheese danishes in their napkin before checking out of the hotel at 5 AM and hitting the road to get a head start on everyone else. I don’t really do that now because I have kids. I just take three or seven bananas, they keep well in the car.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Aww, I could have steered you in a better direction for that vacation. Come back to Branson when it’s warmer. Do Silver Dollar City and White Water. Go to College of the Ozarks and visit the Ralph Foster Museum (kids are free, and adults are only a couple of dollars). They have the REAL, HONEST-T0-GOD CLAMPETT MOBILE there. Go to the Shepherd of the Hills fish hatchery (free). The Dewey Short Visitor’s Center at Table Rock Dam (free). Ride The Ducks. Visit Dick’s 5&10 downtown. Swim at Moonshine Beach. If you see a show, see The Haygoods. Eat at Danna’s BBQ, Billy Bob’s Burgers, Billy Gail’s for breakfast. Splurge on Sunday brunch at The Keeter Center at C of O.
    On one of our family vacations, my son threw a rock in Niagara Falls and the power went out all over the entire eastern seaboard. On another, my son peed on the Continental Divide and was nearly caught and arrested by park rangers (he was 13). On another one, my daughter threw up IN THE HOLOCAUST MUSEUM, plus a subway station, another national museum and a national monument, my son set off an alarm in the National Portrait Gallery and my husband caused a video presentation to shut down. Maybe I shouldn’t be giving travel advice….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Guess we needed a tour guide! We did go to Table Rock dam (gorgeous). And our girls insisted on stopping in at Dick’s every day😊 I think my youngest spent her whole vacation fund there! And I should be thankful I wasn’t traveling with your family – haha!


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