Wednesday, May 23, 2012 – Branson, MO

For years Teresa and I had planned to take her mother, Thalis, to Branson to see some shows, but we didn’t make it in time.  It reminds me of the plan Thalis and her husband had to go to Hawaii for their 50th anniversary with their kids and family.  He didn’t make it, but she took us all anyway.  So, we’re going to Branson anyway.

Because we have tickets for The Acrobats of China at the New Shanghai Theater at 3 pm, we got started on time for once.  As we headed south, we saw signs advertising all sorts of barbecues. Teresa mentioned she wished we had been able to make it to Kansas City, north of here.  That’s alright, I said, I’ll take you to the Kansas City Barbecue in downtown San Diego.  I don’t think that is what she had in mind.

We have been lamenting the fact that, as far as maps go, all we have is a national map which is missing many of the highways and roads Miss Nuvi, our GPS, selects for us.  We realized we should have visited our AAA office in La Mesa and gotten a set of maps from them.  I located the Branson AAA office and we’ll stop by in the morning and map up for the rest of the trip. I called the office before we left and found out they only sell insurance and have no maps.

We prepared for the trip by picking 32 CDs to play as we drive.  To my surprise, we played them only one night of our drive, and the radio hardly at all.  Those sounds seem so intrusive to our observation of what is all around us, and our conversation.  Driving without the radio on makes for quality time.

The landscape has changed from absolutely flat terrain to a rolling countryside, and a lot more natural greenery.  Also, we may have seen the last of two-lane roads which are always a challenge when you want to pass other traffic.

Another surprise was that we have seen hardly any roadside attractions enroute until now, when we have come to FANTASTIC CAVES.  According to the billboard, you can drive through the caves.  We passed them up because we need to make the show.

As usual, our lunch consisted of nuts, cheese, and an apple, this time supplemented with a freshly made sandwich from a service station food store.

The New Shanghai Theater

Branson was a lot more like I thought it was.  The theaters and motels were packed side by side on Route 76 and some side roads, closer together than I could have imagined. There weren’t many headliners in town this week, but there were plenty of good choices.

We arrived at the New Shanghai Theater at 2:30, which was perfect timing.  The acrobats were girls and boys from Shanghai aged 14 to 25 – mostly girls who were very good.  We had seats in the first row and Teresa had the good sense to convince me that the sixth row would be better, and

Gymnasts from China

it was.

We had tickets to a magic show for that evening, but Teresa convinced me that “Three Redneck Tenors” would be a better bet.  So we left the magic show tickets at the desk for the clerk to give away and headed for the tenors at the Americana Theater.  They were really great.  Funny and very good singers.  The story of the show was that one of the three tenors was done in by a wood chipper and all they had was his leg, which they brought on stage to sing to.  As a replacement, all they could find was a baritone, and the emcee turned out to be a bass, so it worked out quite well! What they do in Branson  is record the show as we watch it, and offer DVDs of the show for salse it ten minutes after it’s over.

We learned that on February 29, 2012, a large Tornado ripped through the town causing heavy damage and injuries, but thankfully, no deaths.  In order not to discourage tourism, they managed to minimize publicity about the disaster.  In fact, it turned out that the Americana Theater required extensive reconstruction, and we were attending the reopening night performance.  It also happened that they didn’t get the audio system for the DVDs working that night, so there were no DVDs to be had.

Kaitlyn and Annette, just back from a magic show.

That evening in the lobby we ran into a couple of young girls who were raving about a magic show they had just seen, and of course they were the ones that had used our tickets. The clerk introduced us.  Kaitlyn and Annette had driven 12 hours from Houston that day for some kind of Christian activity or program.  They were very appreciative.

St. Louis tomorrow.

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