Well I’m sitting at the Petro Pete’s truck stop in Albert Lea waiting for Eric to pick me up. My tour group has left me. I was sad to see the bus pull out of the parking lot. :( Hopefully Eric will be here soon but until then I want to reflect on Branson (surrounded by gruff truck drivers).
I had a lot more fun on the trip than I thought. We had a good group of people. The trip started early Monday morning. We had a long ride to Clinton, MO. We stopped in Albert Lea for our first coffee break. Mom and I shared a cinnamon roll. Exciting right? Anyways the next stop was in Des Moines at some buffet place. It was pretty awful food. The root beer was good and buns. That is one thing about buffets it seems like they do dinner rolls right. That was about it. After another couple hours we stopped at a rest area and the final stop was in Clinton. This put us about 2 hours from Branson. The hotel was nice, the pool was warm but they let people smoke in the pool area. Really? What is this the 1970s? Who smokes inside anymore? I guess in Missouri they do. Yuck! I swam about 70 laps in their tiny pool. Mom and I went to Applebee’s for dinner. It was either that or Arby’s.
Tuesday morning we made the last stretch of the drive to Branson. Our first event was shopping in Old Branson which was basically an indoor flea market. Not really my cup of tea. We walked down to Branson Landing which is a more modern shopping area. I really liked that. I bought a nice scarf for $5 and mom got a really nice sweater. We were running out of time for lunch so we just popped into Subway. It took 20 minutes for me to get our subs. I was first in line but there was only one person working and she helped 6 people before she checked us out. So my toasted sub was cold when I finally got it. Mom and I rushed through our subs and hopped on a trolley back to the bus. It was a bit frantic!
After a stop at the hotel to freshen up we hopped back on the bus to our first show, Pierce Arrow. It was a good show but I really can’t remember much about it. I mean come on, I saw 4 more shows since that one. Mom really liked that show. We went to the Grand Buffet for dinner. Again it is a buffet and I’m not a huge fan but it was way better than the first buffet we went to. The dinner rolls were delicious! The rest of the food was ok, I was desperate for something sweet so I had ice cream. If you know me, that is crazy because I don’t like ice cream! We convinced the bus driver that we need to drive through the Christmas lights display. It was nice. They had the 12 days of Christmas illustrated so that was cool. That night we saw the Andy Williams Christmas Show staring the Lennon Sisters and the Osmonds. They were good. It wasn’t Donny and Marie though…it was their siblings. It was a late night as we didn’t get back to the hotel until almost 11pm.
Wednesday morning I went for a run in the Ozark Mountains. I did about 2.5 miles. The first mile was mostly downhill so it was fast. The last 1.5 mile was mostly up hill and it took me 3 minutes longer to run the second mile! I was thinking it has to be elevation. Now the bus driver informed me that the elevation was only about 1000 ft. Way to bust my bubble. I thought I was struggling because of altitude. But I guess it was just my attitude. Darn. Wednesday was a busy day. We had 3 shows and 2 buffets. The first show was Down Home Country at 10am. I thought it was pretty good. I like old country music. After the show we went to the first buffet of the day. I liked this one the best but it was a pizza/salad buffet. It really takes a lot to screw up pizza. I thought it was good. Our next show was the one that Mom was looking forward, her heartthrob…Daniel O’Donnell. It was a long show, almost 3 hours. It was also packed. There were 27 coach buses there! Crazy! I liked this show too. Our last buffet of the day was at the same place as the night before. We were fortunate to sit next to the bus driver. He was really interesting. He was probably around my age and we had a good time taking about sports, running and Australia and New Zealand. He spends 4 months a year driving bus and giving tours over there and he was leaving in January. The finale show was the Grand Jubilee. I really wouldn’t say it was a great finale but it was ok. The thing is I was really annoyed with the female singer. She reminded me of some toothless chick from West Virginia. She butchered every song she sang. How can you screw up “Go Tell it on the Mountain”? The best part is when they dragged on of the ladies from our tour on stage and sang a bunch of Elvis songs. That was entertaining. Overall it was an exhausting day!
Today we drove home, nothing to exciting. We stopped about every 2-3 hours. We had McDonald’s for lunch and it was delicious…I was craving a burger and fries after 3 days of buffets. We stopped at a rest area north of Des Moines and it was freezing rain. That wasn’t very pleasant. We got to Albert Lea about 5pm and Mom and I shared a Pizza Hut personal pizza and now I sit and wait for Eric. I thought it was nice the bus driver came back inside to say good bye. As I said, it was very sad to see the bus take off. Here are some pics from the week: