October 2021

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My Mom & sister Desirae were making plans to take my nephew Brodie to Branson, Missouri for Fall Break and I suddenly had the idea to just go and join them.  So I jumped on a plane to Springfield and met them in Branson for a fun time.  Once I decided to go, my Dad got the fun idea to come up for the Saturday and surprise me.  It was a very fun surprise and we had a lovely day together and a very fun trip overall.  
 While I was in Springfield, I decided to visit Fantastic Caverns.  It is well named, as it truly is 
 a fantastic thing to see.  This is the entrance. It's the only drive-through cave I'm aware of. It's huge! 
It was discovered in 1862 by a local farmer, but he kept it a secret because caves had a 
tendency of being taken over as barracks or storage for Civil War troops at that time. 

The propane vehicles are not only easier on the visitors, but it keeps the visitors contained so
that no one is tempted to touch things they shouldn't touch.

  The first explorers responded to an ad in the paper, leaving out the detail that they
were a group of twelve female cave explorers. After his initial shock, John Knox
set them loose on the cave and they began to map out the system of caverns.  

The first ride-through tour was given in 1962. Our tour guide's presentation was full of corny jokes, 
which are my favorite kind!  

Sometime around 1920, a new owner turned this area into a speakeasy, 
complete with a bandstand and dance floor.

I then headed to Branson to meet my family for lunch.  Our first activity in Branson was 
to visit the Sight & Sound theater, a truly amazing place where they put on theatrical
shows from Bible stories on a 180-degree stage using live animals in the production. 

 Our group - since I was alone I rode shotgun.  It was a fun tour!  

Here we are, ready to see the Jesus show.  It was great!  

  Next we visited Wonderworks, a kind of science museum designed to be fun.  
 Brodie working hard to pull himself up. Check out these fun facts! 

Dad surprised me by showing up at the hotel that morning.  He had made the 3-hour drive in the 
wee hours of the morning.  He was so sweet to do that!  Our first activity was to go out for a big
breakfast and it was a good one! 

 Photo op!   

Next we visited the Top of the Rock Nature Trail.  This is a very beautiful area
created by Johnny Morris (of Bass Pro Shop fame.)  You get your own golf 
cart and can explore the huge nature trail at your own pace. 

  There are several waterfalls along the way.

Looking over a bluff at the scenery below.

  A collapsed cave.
 This wooden bridge was built by Amish craftsmen. Mom & Dad at a lovely overlook, with Desirae and Brodie off to the left. 
 Group photo, but Brodie had just gotten in trouble so he was a bit sad in this shot.  Inside a cave along the trail.
 Heading into the bridge.  It is a very substantial bridge, reminding me of The Timbers Lodge! 
   A very small cave along the way.  They play a bear growl on a speaker system
 here to scare the kids. 
 A chipmunk!  I never see them down south but I can't say that anymore.  The "swing wide" sign is trying to get the golf cart driver to make the passengers
 get soggy!


  Dad & his girls

A real smile from Dad captured in a photo - great job Mom for catching that!  :-) 

   Photo bomber Brodie learned from the best, Mom is a well-known photo bomber.

The lake view

 Here we are at an overlook of Table Rock Lake.  

Dad took off back for Westville, so we headed out to the wax museum.  
Here Desirae & Brodie hang out with Elivra.  Desirae and Elvira are both
sassy ladies! 

 I think this is a marmot, another thing I'd never seen before in the wild.   

One of my favorites, Jean Luc Picard, sharing a profile shot with Brodie.  
It's also cool how they did the hair, they must insert the hairs one at a time.  It's amazing! 

  Mom has always been a big fan of Elvis! 

I'm not very convincing as one of Hugh Hefner's Playboy Bunnies! 


  Hanging out with Dolly Parton.

Brodie the pilot, scaring his passenger Aunt Shawnna.


At Dolly Parton's Stampede - a huge dinner show where they ride horses and play games 
during your (very good) meal.  It's always a favorite of ours. 

Next we went to a dinner show of a magic act, Escape Reality. Group photo of our dinner outing.

A really cool deep sea fishing display at the aquarium.

 I next headed back to Springfield where I enjoyed a visit to the Fabric Outlet
 (a very dangerous place for me!) and stayed at the beautiful Angler's Lodge.
I was able to visit the Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium too, it was great! 
 I sure do love seahorses! A huge elk in the display area.
This Alaskan moose was so big it was unbelievable.  It is a #2 world record taken by 
Heinz Naef of Dawson City, Yukon ,Canada in September of 2013.  
Wolverines.  Eric is always telling me cool things about wolverines but I'd never seen one. 

Here are some fun facts about them.

  In the African exhibit area.  

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