Road Trip to Missouri!

Last month we talked about family reunions and this month I’m reporting back on mine 🙂 .

At the end of June, my husband and I packed up the car and left Ohio in the midst of a rainstorm to end to sunny Missouri.  The sun is important as we haven’t seen much of it since we returned to Ohio (sigh).  It’s been way too rainy here.

archOur first stop, the iconic St. Louis arch.  I didn’t realize you could go to the top of the arch, but you can!  (They are remaking and landscaping the park beneath the arch – hence all the dirt.)  If you decide to “do” the arch, book your ticket online before you make the trip.Bottom of the Arch  We had to stand in line, to stand in line, to stand in line – but you, intelligent reader, and skip all that.  While we were waiting beneath the arch for our time to stand in line for the pod to take us to the top, I found this carving.  Note the woman at the bottom.  She was the one with the idea to build something to note that St. Louis, on the eastern side of Missouri, is the gateway to Top of the ArchAmerica’s West.  If not for her, the arch would not be.  The arch is 630 ft high.  The handsome guy by the marker is my husband 😛  .  The muddy water is one of the views out the tiny windows in the top of the arch.Mississippi

After a good night’s rest, we drove on to Branson which is in the south-west corner of Missouri, in the Ozarks.  It’s a beautiful piece of real estate with lots of view and vistas.  Branson is billed as the entertainment capital of the West.  It might have been twenty years or so ago, but the city has definitely passed its prime.  Branson advertises that it has more theater seats for shows than anywhere else in Elvisthe world, but based on the shows we attended (one included the Elvis impersonator to the left), the theaters are only 25% to 33% filled.

But we weren’t there for the shows, we were there for family.  We had a great time and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing my brothers and sister again, as well as all my nieces and waterfall 1nephews and their children.  One of the things we did was a golf cart tour of the top of one of the mountains.  Beautiful scenery.  Here’s some pics of the waterfall 2waterfalls and streams.  At one point we drove the cart into a cave – there was a bar inside!  A drive-up bar selling alcohol drinks LOL.  After the stop (you thought we’d just drive by 🙂 ) we continued on.  My pictures don’t do the scenery justice.waterfall 3

Our next stop was a local museum.  Lots of family collections of “things.”  We saw dresshomemade dresses, clock collections, taxidermy of animals from around the world, costumes and instruments from several country stars – all sorts of stuff – including this plate.  Can you see the peacock?  LOL.  They had a stuffed peacock but I couldn’t take a good pic.peacock plate

Lots of family time.  The guys played golf a few times.  Four o’clock was the official happy hour and we had no shortage of various times of bourbon, gin, and whiskey.My sister brought her violin while my brother in law brought his mandolin.  SharonThose pics are just too dark to see clearly.  By the end of the week, my sister and sister-in-law decided to head out for a ladies trip.  My sister, Sharon, had never been on a train, so we took a scenic rain ride.  The trip is advertised as 40 miles that dips into Arkansas.  I thought they were talking about a 40 mile long circle, but no!  The train goes out 20 miles towing an engine.  Stops. Then goes back the same 20 miles it traveled out.  We went train curvethrough two tunnels that were pitch black, and one curved train trestle which gave me a nice shot of the train (we were in an observation car with windows all around).    That’s my sister on the left.

ghostbustersWhile out shopping for souvenirs, my husband and I noticed this truck.  I posted it on Facebook, but if you missed it – here it is again.  The truck says “Rogue Investigators of the Paranormal. I’m not sure if the crew were just staying in the motel or if they were investigating.  Your choice!

As I mentioned, the trip was all about family.  We had four of my siblings, four nieces and their husbands, and eight great nieces and nephews.  Here’s two.IMG_1441

Many years ago I inherited my mother’s spoon collection and I have to admit, I’ve been adding to it with our various trips.  Here’s the three I added from Missouri.  Can you tell spoonswhat they represent?  I’ll send a $10 Amazon card to someone with a proper identification.  But you won’t get the guitar flyswatter!  That goes to last month’s prizewinner, Louisa Cornell.  I promised her a flyswattersouvenir from Branson.  The flyswatter has “Branson” written on the back.  Don’t despair Louisa – I’ll toss another $10 gift card in the envelope as well.

So how about you?  Any road trips you wish to share?  Have you ever been on a train?  How about visited a bar in a cave?  Let’s chat.


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  • Jane says:

    Hello Donna,
    I’ve only been on a couple of road trips. One time we drove up to Traverse City and Mackinac Island. We went to The Grand Hotel because my friend’s favorite movie is “Somewhere in Time.” A few years ago my cousin and I drove up to Toronto and took time to take some pictures of Niagara Falls.

    • I love Mackiinac Island! I remember going there as a kid so naturally we took our kids when they were in their pre-teen and early teen years. It hadn’t changed from when I was a kid! Bicycles and Fudge and that l-o-n-g veranda of the Grand hotel. Did you stay there? Did you know Duffy Brown used Mackinac for her latest cozy mystery series? Great location.

      Love road trips – but it’s much easier when the kids are a little older (don’t have to pack all the baby stuff) and even better when it’s such my husband and I 🙂 .

      Isn’t Traverse City where the huge sand dunes are in Michigan? It’s a beautiful city. That would have been a fun trip. We took the kids to Niagra one year when we thought my husband would be moving in connection to his job. I wanted the kids to see the wonders in our own backyard before we moved away – but then we never moved. LOL. I remember that we couldn’t get my daughter to budge from the car to see the falls. She was too busy reading a book!

      • Jane says:

        I bought a couple of pounds of fudge. I would love to visit Mackinac Island again someday and hopefully be able to actually stay at the Grand Hotel.

  • Fedora says:

    How fabulous, Donna! Thanks for the follow up on your family reunion/vacation! I haven’t had the chance to visit Missouri yet, and loved seeing your highlights! So cool too that you got to add to your mom’s spoon collection! Memorable souvenirs of your visit to the famous arch, Branson, and that special Arkansas train trip! I’m rarely fortunate or clever enough to find such fun keepsakes! DD and I are currently eating our way through southern California in a mini-road trip. We’ve not taken any train rides, at least not very long ones! We did do one with the kids to Sacramento when they were younger, and visited the train museum. Alas no bars in caves for me!

    • LOL – yeah…wasn’t a great challenge naming the spoons, but it is a fun collection – I never knew! Mom had all these spoons – What do you do with them? So I bought a display case and put them in that and hung it in the dining room. At first it had a few openings, so I figured we’d pick up a spoon to “finish the box.” Now we’re working on a second display case! 🙂 It is fun to search for a souvenir spoon and makes a pretty inexpensive souvenir – that’s how they get you. 🙂 Did you know they make several versions for each city and change them periodically?

      Love the sound of eating your way through Southern California – my kind of road trip :-). We’ll be in San Diego in the fall. Any places we should check out?

      This bar in a cave was our first 🙂 . That was a memory we’ll keep for a while . 🙂

  • Mary Preston says:

    My mother has a lovely collection of spoons. It’s lovely to use them.

    The most fun car trips are those I took with my sisters.

    • Hi Mary –

      She used the spoons? Hmm…we don’t do that but I suppose they’d work in a sugar bowl or something. It has been fun to add to her collection – and to spot similar collections on TV shows. I think they mark a period in the 50s and 60s when spoon collections were popular. I sort of poo-pooed the idea until we started “finishing” out her set with trips of our own.

      Love to add a spoon from Australia one of these days 🙂

  • Helen says:

    Oh Donna thank you for sharing what a great post I love road trips and the sights you see a long the way and picking up souvenirs 🙂

    I too have a spoon collection somewhere LOL it got put away years go and I am not sure where you when you put things up and then can’t remember where and yes I have been on train trips a few times and love them

    Have Fun

    • Hi Helen!

      LOL on having a spoon collection put away somewhere. When I inherited my mother’s collection, I tried to see if the spoons were worth anything on eBay. Foolish me :-). The spoons cost next to nothing now – they only have sentimental value. We were watching the next series of Masters of Sex which takes place in St. Louis (you can see scenes of the arch being built) in the sixties. The doctor’s family go on vacation and rent a house on a lake, and what did we notice in the background in the house…a spoon collection! We visited one of our neighbor’s homes a few years back, and what did they have on the wall – a spoon collection! LOL. My son loves to check out the spoons for new additions. It’s been a surprizingly fun collection.

  • Minna says:

    I’ve been on a train many times when I’ve gone to Helsinki or come back. To me train is preferable to busses or cars.

    • Hi Minna –

      This is the area where the US is behing the rest of the world – we don’t have trains! We have some, but only in major cities or connecting the very major cities. In Ohio, a good size state with four major cities, only Cleveland has light rail and there is no train connecting Cincinnati, Columbus, and Cleveland – pretty much a straight shot. Hopefully this will change in the future.

  • jcp says:

    The first is the statehouse in Jefferson City, the second represents Branson ‘country music, and third is a stagecoach to the west or train west-can’t tell.

    Next time, you need to visit Rocky Ridge farm in Mansfield, MO where the Wilders lived for over 50 years.

    • Close – but no cigar, jcp. Not that it matters – you’re still in the running for the $10 gift card 🙂

      Sorry we missed the Wilders farm. That would have been interesting. We didn’t pick the Branson location, but I don’t think it will be repeated for a reunion site. There was a definite cry of “Ocean, Ocean” when the topic of the next reunion location came up. But it was fun to see the bit of Missouri that we did. It’s a beautiful state with great pride in its heritage and its place in America. That much was very, very obvious.

  • Just a reminder – I won’t be blogging on July 23th as I’ll be in NY for the RWA Convention, but I’ll be back next month on the 23 rd

  • Woo Hoo ! I LOVE the guitar flyswatter ! It shall hang in a place of honor in my kitchen. But I will have to hide it when my brother comes to visit as he covets all things guitar. I’ll be at RWA so you can bring my flyswatter with you. I wonder if it would be a bad idea for me to take it onto the plane on the way home to pop children who won’t behave? 🙂 Your road trip sounds wonderful ! And I really like the idea of the bar in the cave. 😉

    Living in Europe as long as I did I spent a great deal of time on trains and saw some amazing scenery from train windows.

    My favorite road trip was with two of my former students. They showed up one Saturday and we decided to hop in the car and drive to New Orleans for the weekend. Neither of them had been. We had a great time and the highlight was the New Orleans Zoo at closing time. We were in the nocturnal animals house and they were closing it down. One of the keepers invited us to meet the animal we’d been admiring – a pangolin. Pangolins are highly endangered asian relatives of the armadillo. This one followed the keeper all over the nocturnal house and we were able to pet the pangolin. He sniffed us and licked our fingers. My two students still talk about our New Orleans adventure and meeting the pangolin twenty years ago.

    And I think the spoons represent the St. Louis Arch, Branson’s Musical Heritage and the train ride you took with your sister and sister-in-law.

    Thanks for sharing your trip with us! Can’t wait to see you in NYC. Who is bringing the GR ??