Thursday, May 24, 2012 – Branson to St. Louis, Missouri

This morning at breakfast, a cowboy walked in and introduced himself. He was Leroy New, the star of a Marty Robbins tribute show, and stops in regularly to promote his show that afternoon. It’s a tradition for many performers to do that inarestaurants and motels all over Branson. Leroy is also ordained and does a Sunday service in the IMAX theater. That’s Branson, too.

After a morning swim we headed for St. Louis. But first we wanted to see the contrast between the public Branson, with no trace of damage, and what happened February 29. Sure enough, there were plenty of signs of damage, and buildings not yet rebuilt, or maybe never to be rebuilt. [As for all pictures, click on them to enlarge.]

Tornado damage

More damaage

Even more

Lunch South of the border

Before we got out of town we stopped for lunch at Casa Fuentes, and felt transported across the border. The waitress hardly spoke any English, there was Spanish music and the food was excellent.

Branson middle school music instructors

We saw these four guys across the room who, by the look and general sound of their conversation, didn’t fit in at all to our imagined location in Mexico and we were interested in their story.  It turned out

that either two of them, or maybe all fourof them were music teachers at nearby middle schools.

Justin, just back from Afghanistan

At the Buckhorn exit rest stop, we met Justin who was recently back from Afghanistan. He told us that had TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) and back injuries but that the Army was taking good care of him and his wife. He comes from Elk Grove, California, and he showed

us his tattoo to prove it.

“The Gladiator”

There was an unusual tricycle outside and inside we met Van Nix, who confirmed that he was the owner, and the trike’s name was “The Gladiator” I asked where he had it built and he said, slightly insulted I think, that he had built it himself. “I’m sort of a celebrity around here,” he said. I believed him.

Van Nix, The Celebrity”

We arrived in St. Louis just after dusk. The sight of The Arch dead ahead glowing silver in the dark was impressive.  It was bigger than I remembered.  We got settled in our room, and then got some recommendations for dinner.

At the Drunken Fish Sushi Restaurant

From a long list we selected the Drunken Fish Sushi Restaurant, assuming there would be other choices for me besides sushi.  However, I said to myself, this is the time to give it another try, so I ordered a sushi sashimi combination dinner.  Sushi comes with vinegared rice, seaweed, and other ingredients, and sashimi is fresh raw fish.  To my surprise, they were both delicious. I am a new sushi and sashimi fan.


Then we headed to our Marriott for the night.

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