Doing the right thing, after we exhaust the alternatives



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Branson: art of tickling & eating ribs

I threw a case of metaphors into the back seat for easy reach, put the top down and headed for the strip. My '54 Desoto merges into the steady procession of two lane traffic that winds for several miles into the twilight. The traffic, slow and polite, allows pedestrians to cross and motorists to hang a left. Along the route, the eye takes in giggling teenagers, Go-kart tracks, motels, shops, a hot-air balloon ride, a helicopter, a gazillion restaurants, live theaters around every turn, a water park.

Traffic is slow enough that I hold brief conversations with the drivers going the other way. Some exchange pleasantries, or offer what was handed to them a few cars back. Bad attitudes and rap music? Gone. Instead, its Broadway musicals, indoor civil war battles, comedians, magic acts, country music, and rock from the 50's to the 70's. Just to show that things are beginning to loosen up a little, they've allowed the Doobie Brothers a one-nighter.

The one thing you do not see is anyone, of either gender, with a provocative anatomical display topped off with a cascading blonde wig and a feather boa, cooing to passing cars. No night clubs with DNA caked dance poles. And, come to think of it, I don't recall seeing a McDonalds either.

I expected the ubiquity of single-toothed Ozarkians, laboring over a cob of corn and english syntax. But everything has its limits. This ball-capped genre is seen in only a few shows. Rarely attempting to paraphrase Hamlet's soliloquy, they are usually content to pull their lower lip over their head for comedic effect. I now do this myself as a matter of routine. The tourists are amazed, thinking I'm one of the locals. And besides, it allows for a quick nap.

By midnight, the traffic has vanished. Doors are closed, lights are out and the visitors rest up for the next days doin's.


Bunker Mentality

Come sunrise, I opt for the heart attack special: eggs, pork sausage, hash browns and bacon. All buried under well seasoned cream gravy, so I can trowel the stuff directly onto the walls of my vena cava. My breakfast is served on the back porch of a condo at the Thousand Hills Golf Resort, sited next to the cart trail on a golf course. The windows and porches on this side of the building are screened, allowing the golfers to have some fun with us vacationers. While watching a spin of golfers blitz the ninth hole, more than one errant slice sends an incoming round within a few feet of my plate and careens off the wall.


A Good Place to Start

A repository of local events is the Branson Tourism Center. It should be noted that no hucksters are allowed in this building; it is staffed by a congenial group of folks who are polite and well informed. They tell of places like Table Rock Lake, where your adventurous scribe took measure of the Chateau and the Branson Belle sternwheeler. The latter proved entertaining, but don't go there just to sample the chow.

Being one who enjoys stage performances, I quickly found the best seats for popular venues were sold out. Probably before I got to town.

Moon River

Andy Williams is a class act.

Bring tissues. No one seems to be prepared for the emotion. My wife and the ladies all around us were dabbing their eyes and noses. Even I began to lose it on a couple of memorable tunes. (Reminder to myself: check the dipstick for testosterone level.)


The Jim Stafford Show

Over the years, Jim has created one of the most popular shows on the strip. I would have to venture an educated guess, judging by the daily sellout crowds: this show could be successful in any large city. Appeals to the cosmopolitan visitor from metro areas, as well as the kozmopolitan from the kountry areas. Lots of comedy and music.


Yakoff Smirnoff

There are no Russian comedians, as a rule. It's not in their gene pool. Even today, asking a russian about comedy returns a blank gaze. I'm not sure they have a word for it. The only comedic anomaly to have occurred in modern Russian history left the country and arrived in the U.S.

This show has stood the test of time and is a proven crowd favorite over many years; its funnier than I thought. Yakoff expresses a love for the U.S. that surly teens won't find in rap diatribes, makes you glad we added this fella to our list of citizens.


The West End

Silver Dollar City has its own character, trying to distance itself from Six Flags and Disney. Every morning, hundreds of cars parade through the forested hills to the parking lots using the standard drill. Cars are signaled into parking spaces and shuttles move you to the ticket area.

Morning arrival is necessary. Too much to see, too many rides for a half day. Their breakfast buffet is a good idea. One of the morning discoveries is to hear the blacksmith shop off in the distance, smell the fires starting for different crafts, and compare this to the silence of the forest before the crowd builds.

A one day ticket will get the family through most of the sights and experiences. In addition to touring the cave, glassblowing, woodcarving, leathercraft, antiques, fifty-seven shops, seventeen rides, eleven theaters and four restaurants, there are a lot of trees, which is great. The trees serve a number of purposes.

They provide for the woodland critters who live just off the path.

They provide shade when I need to catch a little, uh, lip.

And the treehouses allow the kids to run around like howler monkeys.

Reminds me of one of my uncles who lived about three million years ago, also known to run through the trees shouting his favorite aphorism: "Hoo-hoo-hoo-wha-wha-WHA-WHA-WHA!"

Breaks me up every time I hear it, he was always such a kidder.



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