This last weekend my wife and I took a little time for ourselves. A very gracious friend picked the boys up from the school bus on Friday afternoon and had them until they left for school the following Monday morning.
After I arrived home from work Friday morning, we loaded the car up with our luggage and hit the road for Branson, Missouri. After 7 1/2 hours of on again-off again rain and construction we finally arrived.
We checked in at a resort sales center, who had offered me a 4 day/3night stay at a local hotel for a mere $130 (plus hotel taxes which amounted to an additional $13) all in exchange for going through a 90-minute presentation on the joyous wonders of being a time-share owner. And to boot they threw in 4 tickets to local touristy attractions that Branson is so famous for. I figured 90 minutes wasn't too much to ask to get a weekend alone with my wife and no kids. We had never taken a honeymoon, and we both needed an opportunity to relax from normal everyday life as well as a chance to reconnect with each other since we cross paths more than we live together.
So after we checked in and got all the information we would need for the hotel and the next day's sales presentation, we checked into our room, unpacked, and decided to look about the town for a bit. My wife had never eaten at a Fuddruckers before, so we had an early supper there, purchased a nice little ring for my wife at a jewelry store next door, and then went back to the hotel for the evening.
The next day, Saturday, was breakfast at Denny's. For those of you who don't know me and my past, I have a reputation about eating at Denny's restaurants. Look honey, It's Denny's! Can we go eat here, please? When I was young there was an incident somewhere out west when I embarrassed my mother by pointing out the human equivalent to the Stay-Puft Marshmallow man sitting on a pretty tiny chair. When I was 16 and ran away to the Twin cities, I made a suburban Denny's my little home away from home. When my buddy Jay got married a few years back, I got into town at 3:30am, about 3 1/2 hrs early for the wedding. I went to the Denny's and enjoyed some pie, coffee, and a long conversation with the loan overnight waiter.
Apparently the omelet has hypnotized me
Since then, I have been given a listing of at least one Denny's in every state except Wyoming. I think Wyoming people must be Denny's haters. You'd think they would at least have one, but alas they do not. So it has been my goal to have photographic evidence of myself at every Denny's I eat at from that point forward. I got a long ways to go to hit them all, but I can get there a lot quicker if Denny's would just pony up and sponsor a long road trip to eat at all their locations and write up reviews or something in exchange for it all. So if any of you know a Denny's executive, maybe you can whisper this great idea into their ear?
After that we visited the Ripley's Believe It Or Not center. A lot of interesting things to be found there. My favorite part however was near the beginning they have this exhibit talking about genetically inclined abilities about folding, rolling and curling your tongue. And they have a nice mirror there so you can try to see if you have the correct genes to perform these tasks. I did not attempt these things, and wasn't overly impressed. The thing that was impressive to me about this particular exhibit was later on, when you found yourself on the exact opposite side of that mirror. Only from the backside it was a window. Many brave people started making funny faces in the mirror while manipulating their tongues. Both my wife and I got a good laugh out of watching these people unknowingly make fools of themselves to our delight.
Anyways, so we go to our 1pm appointment, go through the presentation and tour of timeshare ownership, collect our show tickets and go on our way. We went to a local Italian restaurant named Floretina's. Very nice place to eat and not as expensive as it looked. All the food came in the exact right amounts that I wasn't going to leave either hungry or overstuffed. I actually dressed up for this meal, as did my wife. She recently made herself a VERY nice blue dress. And trust me when I say this: She looked stunningly gorgeous. So gorgeous in fact that even though one of the waiters had to wait on the hostess to find us a seat made sure to give her a look over and talk with her the very second we walked into the place. He was not our waiter, but our waiter also stole a glance at her, as well as a few other male patrons. Lucky for me we were already married, otherwise I might have found myself with stiff competition to keep her as my date that evening. You will notice there is no picture of her in full length with that dress. One reason is because I suck at operating her camera, the other is because that is a vision for me. If you really want to see it, you better be lucky enough to grace us with your presence personally on a night she decides to wear it.
At the hotel before dinner
After dinner, we went down to Branson Landing. This is a trendy shopping district along the White River/Lake Taneycomo. It used to be a river, but after some damming up somehow they gave it lake status despite its more stream-like quality. We took a ride on a moonlight cocktail cruise on one of those old paddle wheel river boats. It was a nice time, albeit a bit chilly. We spent about an hour or so on the boat with the final attraction was the fountain and light show. The water fountain they had built cost a few million bucks and was designed by the same guys who did the great fountain at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. This one, in addition to the coordinated fountain stream works featured pillars that emitted fireballs choreographed into the show.
This is how I look while concentrating on working her camera. I had already turned it off once, and switched it over to view pictures once before getting it to actually take a photo. I R intel a jent!
Now she takes the picture instead...much better, and on the first try!
Dani enjoying her Pina Colada on the upper deck during our cruise. Now, quit oggling my wife and continue reading!
On Sunday, we checked out the Hollywood Wax Museum. I was really not impressed with this place. The building was a big skyscraper rendition, with King Kong atop the tower. My wife got a few pictures of this, along with a shot of the big ape's butt, and later one of me appearing to pinch the ape's butt. For the record this was not my idea, but hers. I just decided to oblige since my "special" behaviors are often not exposed to her on purpose. She gets a kick out of me acting like a retard (for those of you offended by the use of the word 'retard'...get over it).
She thought it hilarious to get a picture of me pinching King Kong's butt. As you can see, even the thought of buttplay with an artificial monkey humors me! Inside we saw a variety of movie stars in wax form. While a few looked pretty close, most of them were horribly, and I mean horribly, not anywhere near the likeness of the person they were trying to portray. It's pretty bad when you have to read the little signage with a description of the person and what TV or movie the portrayal was from to know who you are looking at.
After that we went to the historic downtown district, got a couple small gifts. A wallet for my oldest son since he lost his a long time ago, and a t-shirt for the youngest. We also picked up a gift for our friend who watched over the boys for the weekend. Then, after wandering around for a little while, we took a short ride in a horse drawn carriage. I saw Dani look over and get a look on her face that said she wanted to do that while we were on our way elsewhere and someone else was getting in to take a ride. I asked her if she wanted to do that when we came back around. She of course tried to play if off, trying to use me as an excuse saying I wasn't interested in that kind of thing. Of course in reality I had seen it the night before and had been thinking about it. So she got her wish and we took a carriage ride around the downtown area.
After that we hit the hotel pool for a little bit, took a walk, and finished the night with dinner at another hotel. The next morning came way too early. We packed up, checked out and hit the road to come back home to 'real life'. 8 hours on the road, a short time home, and back to work for me that night, and the next morning for her. I had a lot of fun getting away with my wife for a weekend, with no real cares or worries. Just leaving everything behind and existing in the moment with each other was great, and basically allowed us to fall in love with each other all over again. I think that it also caused us to prioritize the important things in life and how we were going to make sure we could live life together as a family rather than just being legally attached and running the hamster wheel of normal everyday boring lives.