Branson Bound

We spent our last day in Wichita doing some mall-walking and people watching followed by the hunt for Christmas Light displays. We ate at the Old Mill Tasty Shop, a soda fountain and malt shop in Old Town. They still make soda the old fashioned way in any flavor you want, I had a cherry vanilla Dr. Pepper. Dave had a root beer float and we shared a Peanut Butter Banana Honey sandwich on homemade white bread. Then to top it all off the three of us shared a Butter Pecan malt with pecans. It was all so yummy and something you can’t find in too many places anymore. We ended the day with homemade candied bacon on vanilla ice cream….wow….soooo good!! And so sticky we didn’t dare try to touch the phone to get a picture…

On Sunday morning we got up bright and early to hit the road for Missouri, time for me to finally meet Dave’s parents!

We spent an hour the night before de-icing the car and lucky for us the freezing rain turned to just wet rain so everything didn’t freeze over again. The roads were fine and clear but the fields and trees were still encased in ice, it made for a really pretty morning drive.

We came into Missouri on Route 66 which took us right into Joplin. We drove around a bit and found Cunningham Park. The EF5 tornado that swept through Joplin in 2011 came right through this park. It’s now a beautifully done memorial park. From the displays you can look down the path of the tornado, a 6 mile swath devoid of trees. There are hundreds of survivor stories from that day, I love the stories of the Butterfly People.
Cunningham Park
Butterfly People

From Joplin we started following the backroads that headed in the general direction we wanted to go. Looking at our Atlas we found the George Washington Carver National Monument and took a detour to check it out. Worthy stop but we didn’t have enough time to really delve into the exhibits. After chatting with the Ranger and volunteer inside we decided to spend the little time we had walking the interpretive trail to see the Carver Cabin. Next time we come out here we’ll make sure to plan a couple of hours to walk through the Center. George Washington Carver was an impressive man.
The Carver Trail
George Washington Carver Bio

We pulled into the Colonial Mountain Inn around 4, unpacked, then hit the town for a BBQ dinner! Neither of us had ever been here so it was quite an experience! It’s a very bright, flashy, colorful, and busy town, even now in the “off-season”. There is so much to do there with the shows, amusement parks, museums, restaurants, zoos, tours…. We wanted to see all of it but almost every activity would take a day to truly explore, and none of them are what we would consider budget-friendly, definitely something to save up for. The museums alone will take us a week to check out. We just didn’t have the time this trip so we settled for a couple of meals out and a driving tour. We still had fun!
We also highly recommend the motel. It’s under new management and a renovation but the owners are super friendly and very hospitable and it’s affordable! The day we left there was a crew there from a show called Hotel Impossible on the Travel Channel, apparently they will be featured on it. Check it out if you’re in Branson.

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