Apr 20, 201203:32 PMRoad Trips
Exploring the world within driving distance of Columbia.
Day Two In Branson (With A Side Trip To Springfield)
Let me make this perfectly clear: Branson is well and good. Shows are open, better than ever, and restaurants crowded.
We got up and headed to downtown Branson from our condo at the rustic, comfy and convenient The Village at Indian Point. We ate (gasp!) a drive-thru McDonald's breakfast and passed through a busy downtown to head north to Springfield.
As we drove highway 65 through the sylvan Ozarks and across free-flowing crystal streams we passed yet another place where ziplining was advertised. That brought to mind the many other zipline venues that now exist in the area. It's the newest rage just like bungee jumping was a decade or so ago.
We arrived in Springfield in short order I recalled the words of old friend, now gone, Branson banker Ben A. Parnell. It was Ben who cajoled politicians, which led to the construction of Table Rock Dam. Ben also twisted political arms to improve Highway 65 between Branson and Springfield.
Our trip this morning reminded me of what Ben had said about the twisting turning Highway 65: "Every time the state makes a change in Highway 65, the mileage between Branson and Springfield drops five miles." The drive now is short and picturesque. The road continues to straighten through the carved limestone bluffs.
Bass Pro was our destination. That place is also constantly changing evolving and improving.
In front of the 600,000-square-foot Bass Pro Shops flagship store is a vacant Outdoor Museum at the corner of Sunshine and Campbell. That brain child of Johnny Morris, founder of Bass Pro, it's a failed white elephant, forlorn at the gates of the store itself.
Johnny, however, seems either visionary or likes to throw good money after bad because an ADDITION is being added to that vacant museum with elaborate plans for a walk-through aquarium and other exotic features.
Foolhardy? Well Johnny is the same fella who as a brash young man was given one of his father's Brown Derby liquor stores in Springfield. Johnny and his father argued over Johnny's wish to turn a majority of that store into a fishing equipment store. Finally, father and son reached a compromise and one wall of the liquor store was utilized for displaying fishing products. From that wall sprang Bass Pro Shops.
So it is hard telling what will result from a white elephant in Springfield at the corner of Sunshine and Campbell.
Inside the waterfall and aquarium-laden Bass Pro store, the atmosphere and layout is constantly changing. Our visit took us to the fine gun area.
I am not a gun person, although I do believe in the literal interpretation of our Constitution. Simply put, the elegant fine gun room is as warm, comfortable and rich as any private showing room of any jewelry shop, including Tivols, I have ever walked into.
After our Bass Pro Shops visit, we headed to Big Whiskey for lunch. The food was really good but the server-trainee, Amy, was the highlight.
From Eminence, Amy was "released" as a cheerleader from the Springfield Cardinals squad when she became "involved" with a Cardinals first-round draft pick. It was a pleasant lunch talking baseball with her and adding her and her soon-to-be-famous ball-playing boyfriend as a Facebook friends
We drove back to Branson and our condo to rest and freshen up before going to dinner and the Presley show. We marveled more of our homelike abode on the shores of Table Rock Lake.
"No hurry," we thought, "there will be plenty of time to eat and catch the 8 p.m. show."
Where everyone came from we had no idea.
After checking out the full parking lots of several restaurants, we settled on Landry's next door to the Presley theater. Equally full at 6:15 we entered and were told we would have a 15-minute wait.
We were told after 20 minutes that it would be impossible for us to get a table and finish dinner by the time the next-door show began.
We had soup at the bar and then scurried to the Presley Show. We took our seats in the packed theater just before the show began.
The show, highlighted by Gary Presley as Herkimer, and at least a dozen other talented family members never fails. Fast moving, extremely funny and attention-grabbing, the show was over too soon, even after two hours of pop, country, patriotic and gospel songs.
After the show we talked for a bit with Gary Presley who told us his father, Lloyd, patriarch of the family had died since our last visit two years ago. We haven't seen it but Gary said the Presley Show is now on RFD-TV.
Now in his 47th year with the show, Gary is white on the rooftop but spry of mind and body as the show keeps going and getting better every year.
It was a great evening.
A great Wednesday beckons with Joyce's first visit to Shoji and the theater's famous bathrooms.