Things Done In Branson When You’re Brian J. (Checklist)

This week, we took a little trip down to Branson

Drive through a BLM protest

We drove down Highway 76 and the protest on Sunday as we were looking for something to eat. Protesters did not outnumber counter-protesters by much, and the parade of pickups greatly favored those with stars-and-bars. Branson police kept it under control, though, and we drove through it again as it was ending.

Go to Calvin’s Books.
Which did not burn down on Sunday as part of the protest (it’s next door to the store being protested). As you might expect, you’ll see what I bought there in a later post.
See a country and western singer in a cafe at 10am on a Monday while eating breakfast.
One of our vacation “traditions” is that Daddy, now Dad (or sometimes “bro” and “dude”), takes the boys on a walk so that my beautiful wife has a little time to herself. This ramble took us “around the block,” which was not that far, actually (about a mile and a half out and back).

But the out part of our route took us to a cafe. As the mistress d’ seated us, I heard loud country music. And then someone greeting us. A singer was on stage at 10am on a Monday.

Uptown Cafe has live performers for every meal and a show in the evening. So we tipped Jackson and bought his CD. And we came back on Wednesday for the lunch performer.

A number of the restaurants in Branson have performers who come in and work for tips, singing over background tracks on a computer. I respect their hustle and their belief in their art and tend to tip them and buy their CDs whenever possible. I’m also the guy who puts a couple bucks in a busker’s hat or guitar case no matter how good the performer is.

But Jackson was pretty good.

Start Christmas shopping.

On the way back from breakfast on Monday, we stopped at a craft mall and bought a couple of Christmas gifts which I’ll wrap up and forget what they are by Christmas. Which gives me the same surprise and joy for the gifts I give that I get for the gifts I receive. Also, I bought the boys–a little peaked from their half mile walk from where we had breakfast–each a piece of beef jerky bigger than a page of legal-sized paper, which they consumed in the half mile walk back to our rooms.

Hiked Dogwood Canyon.

We went to Dogwood Canyon which is about an hour south of Branson. It’s a park of sorts, a valley with a stream running through it, a couple of springs, and several water falls that the owner of Bass Pro Shops bought and turned into a parkish experience. You pay to get in, and you can rent bikes or take Segway, horseback, or tram tours of it, or you can walk the length of the canyon which is three and a half miles or so and crosses the Arkansas state line.

You know, when I was young, I dreamed of being so wealthy that I could buy 10,000 acres like this for a retreat. I don’t think I ever dreamed of being wealthy enough to buy it and open it to the public. I guess I’ll be content with being wealthy enough to buy all the used books I can carry at any one time.

Also, “hike” is a bit of a misnomer as the path is paved the whole way. So it was a long walk more than a hike.

Visit the cat cafe.

By Wednesday, we were four days without cats, so we not only attended a show called Amazing Pets, but we also visited Branson’s Mocha and Meows cat cafe which was around the corner from the place we were staying–the boys and I passed it on our walk on Monday. And, like Chekov says, if you see a cat cafe on day one, you’ve got to go to it by day three.

We did not come home with any extra cats.

Read lots of books on a balcony with a different vista.

We were on the first floor, so it really wasn’t much of a balcony, but the buildings are arrayed on the hillsides so that you have a view from any room. And I read three books in four nights which is not bad. Yes, you’ll hear about those later, too.

Go for a hilly run.

Branson is a little deeper into the Ozark Mountains than we are, so it’s much hillier–I am not sure that there are any flat spots that have not been made so to hold development of some sort or another. But I said I wanted to take a little run on the hills just to say I did, and Wednesday morning was going to be my last opportunity for it. So my youngest son and I did a little more than a mile around the block and up the hills (and down the hills). It wasn’t too bad. It would have been better if I were an athlete.

Leave early.

Branson is close enough that we’re occasionally tempted to decamp early. If we don’t have anything planned for the last evening in our resort, we might just sit in the resort room reading and whatnot, packing up and planning an early departure. When this happens, I’ll say, “Let’s just go home now,” and we’ll throw our gear in the bags/in the truck and get home an hour later.

It gives us time to unpack, start some laundry, and relax a bit before sleeping in our own beds with our own cats (although having to explain to them why we smell like a cat cafe). Actually, the cats will emerge from hiding at different times when we get home–they hide from the cat sitter and get weirded out when we’re gone for any period of time.

We can’t do that with flying destinations or longer drives, but we can do it when we’re in Branson–and we sometimes do.

Which leaves me with two days of vacation left. To fritter away on blog posts like this one, book reports, and wrapping the Christmas gifts we bought.

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