Many, many, many years ago, during the heyday of Farmville and its brethren on Facebook, I used to play some theme park game where, in order to be able to advance or collect coins or whatever, you would have to send invites to your other Facebook friends, which oftentimes would cause you to lose said Facebook friends. So I would opt for the other ways to advance: signing up for “free offers” and by that I mean I would sign up Henry.
One of the offers was from the Branson Tourism Board. I provided them with his phone number too and I will never forget how perplexed he was once day when he said, “Someone called me at work about travel offers for Branson, Missouri.”
And then they sent him a bunch of brochures and literature, too.
I remember cracking up over this and thinking, “Why the fuck does some town in MISSOURI have a tourism board!? Who would ever go to BRANSON, MISSOURI?!”
Fast forward a few years later and some broad whose blog I used to hate-read went to a theme park there called Silver Dollar City. Now this chick was a hugely annoying blogger who came up during that whole TWEE INVASION and she wears dresses meant for children so I immediately figured, “Oh, if the Skunkboy family is going to this place, it must be lame AS FUCK.”
But then…they got an RMC roller coaster and by now you probably now that I am an RMC ho bag. (True fact: the word for “pumpkin” in Korean sounds similar to ho bag.) So Silver Dollar City was firmly set in my sights, much to Henry’s chagrin because it’s nearly a 13-hour drive (we will not get on a plane in this household unless it’s absolutely necessary – we’ll road trip to our fucking graves, I guess). Anyway, if you don’t know, RMC is the manufacturer of some of my favorite roller coaster and my new life goal is to ride all of them (Japan here we come again, I guess?). I decided over the summer that this would make a lovely Thanksgiving weekend getaway, similar to our Dollywood trip last November.
Henry quickly reminded me that Pigeon Forge, TN is a much easier drive but I stayed firmly planted in La La Land and refused to give up hope.
I liveblogged our drive here, which took basically the entire day/night last Saturday. We had to stop a lot because Henry hurt his back Friday morning at work, as previously mentioned. Honestly, it’s a miracle that we went at all because I didn’t even get him to officially confirm that we could go until Thanksgiving Eve, and we were supposed to leave Friday when he came home from work so that we weren’t rushing to get there. When I found out he hurt his back and wasn’t going to be able to go, I bluffed and said that Chooch and I discussed it and decided we were still going to go, just without him, and that sent Henry into a panic because I’m sure he had visions of us Thelma-and-Louise’ing off a cliff somewhere outside of Columbus, Ohio because let’s face it: there’s no way I was going to last for more than 3.5 hours behind the wheel.
All of this is to say, we didn’t even have a hotel reserved until Saturday afternoon, which Henry booked when we stopped from lunch in Indianapolis. And bitch, you know I complained about it too!
Here’s the dinky Christmas tree in the lobby.
Actually, it wasn’t the worst. The room was really nice except that the bathroom was SO SMALL—the kind of small where the sink is actually outside of the bathroom. I thought that the beds and pillows were way too hard but Brokeback Mountain over here was all, “I stan a (hard-ass) queen (bed)” and kept gushing about how wonderfully he slept. Wow, brag much.
We ate breakfast at the hotel and it was fine. Your typical continental hotel breakfast but the breakfast room was spacious and clean, and there was an old lady working there who I originally hated because she kept being in my way but then she came over to our table to clear our plates and she was super personable and had a nice Southern accent so then I felt bad for hating her which prompted Henry to launch his daily lecture about how I shouldn’t be so quick to hate people and he can really just go fuck himself, you know?
We headed out of the hotel around 9:00AM, figuring we could drive around and explore. FUNNY STORY: the night before, Henry left the hotel to find a store to buy Chooch gloves because of course he didn’t bring any, and he said that some old lady in the parking lot was glaring at him when he came back and nabbed the parking spot she was gunning for. He and I went back out to the car right after that to look for our phone chargers, and Henry was like, “Look! There she is, she’s still glaring at me!” and nodded toward some old lady who was getting stuff out of the trunk of her car. The next morning, we were loading our bags in the trunk of the car before leaving when Henry noticed THAT HE PARKED IN A HANDICAP SPOT, NO FUCKING WONDER THAT BROAD WAS GLARING AT HIM!
“Well, I’m temporarily handicapped,” Henry pointed out, using this as yet another opportunity to whine about his back.
I somehow have no idea what the Ozarks really are I guess and assumed that there would be a mountain we could drive up and you know, look around, but it turns out the entire expanse of land around Branson is considered “The Ozarks” so there was no actual mountain to look at, like the Smokeys. I think that was my first mistake – I kept seeing things about how Branson and Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg are sister cities…but it’s more like step-sister cities. Maybe it’s because we were there on a gloomy, super windy December day, but Branson just felt really sad and run down in comparison to Pigeon Forge. Both are full of Ripleys attractions, tacky museums, $$$ hokey dinner theaters…but Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg are just more beautiful areas.
Luckily, we weren’t there to ride go-karts or play mini-golf, so we bypassed the big touristy area and drove out to some Table Lake thing which is apparently mad-made and that’s kind of weird.
OMG the wind was so frigid. Also, Chooch’s hair, lol.
Our next stop was “historic downtown Branson” which was super homey and even on this cold day, everyone was all warm and friendly. Fuckin’ Missourians, amirite.
Anyway, downtown Branson was rife with variety stores, ice cream parlours, wig shops, whatever Henry’s Warehouse Outlet is…of course, most of the places were closed because Sunday is the Lord’s Day, but Henry kept harping about how DICK’S 5 & 10 was open, and I was like, “Why do you care about this place so much” and then we walked in and he went straight to the candy bar section like he’s been there before, I WONDER.
This was the type of place I hate, because it’s loaded with chintzy shit that I desperately want for my desk at work but also don’t really feel like paying for and no this isn’t my big dark confession about how I’m a klepto, thanks. And for every aisle of Erin-friendly bullshit they have, there are three more that are full of Americana decor bullshit, MAGA hates, and cooking shit.
I kept saying things like, “EW VOMIT, THIS ISN’T MY STYLE” and “EW WHO WOULD PUT THAT IN THEIR YARD” forgetting where I was, and then I would notice people giving me shifty side-eyes.
In the end, I ended up buying a Dick’s 5 & 10 magnet because I guess this is a legit Branson landmark, a mini marquee for my desk, and Henry got candy bars, one of which the cashier pretended she was going to steal and then asked where we were visiting from because we are obviously tourists everywhere we go, and 2 hours after I said “Pittsburgh,” I wailed, “OH NO SHOULD I HAVE SPECIFIED WHICH PITTSBURGH? WHAT IF SHE THINKS WE’RE FROM PITTSBURG, KANSAS? I DON’T WANT TO BE MISTAKEN FOR A DOROTHY!”
Whatever that means.
I literally know nothing about Kansas aside from tornadoes.
Amazingly, I managed to convince Mr. Hot-Blooded to wear a jacket. Getting him to zip it was a war I didn’t feel like waging that day, though.
We went into an antique store after that and I could hear Henry weakly murmur, “Please don’t find anything,” from behind me. Like what Henry? A WHEELCHAIR? A GIANT PIECE OF AN ARCADE GAME? A CHURCH PEW?
What I did find though was this one section full of vintage magazine ads so I texted my brother Ryan and asked, “WOULD DAD LIKE THESE” and he was like, “YES THE CHEVY AND OIL&GAS ONES” and I also found an old 7Up ad too because bottled beverages is another thing that my dad really enjoys – he has several vintage pop machines in his garage, next to his ’55 Chevy and whatever other old cars he has; he changes them up.
We walked out after only spending $9 and Henry mopped beads of sweat off his cheap-ass forehead.
Also, Chooch used the bathroom there because of course he did and then got pissed because we didn’t care about the dumb salt and pepper shakers he wanted us to look at.
Then we spent way too much time carefully selecting taffy from a candy shop run by a nice old lady and I have since eaten so much of it that I might as well get pre-fitted for dentures.
We eventually left downtown Branson because it wasn’t really that exciting and the only thing that interested me (Dino’s Cake & Coffee, home of the Famous 24K Cake?!) was closed. Dino, you motherfucker.
Chooch kept pronouncing it like “dino”saur but I said it was probably more like deeno.
“I know that because there was this guy named Dino who wanted to marry my aunt Susie so bad,” I explained.
“Didn’t everyone want to marry your aunt Susie?” Henry scoffed, because apparently my family stories are jokes?!
I wonder what it’s like to have someone who wants to marry you….
Then we went to some lake thing where Chooch couldn’t skip a rock and I learned about ZEBRA MUSSELS because there were warning signs everywhere but thank god Henry the Pocket Biologist was there to mussel-splain to us that they are AN INVASIVE SPECIES blah blah blah LAKE ERIE HAD A PROBLEM WITH THEM TOO snore snore snore.
In between all of this, I checked the weather on my phone once every 7 minutes because certain rides are not operational if the temperature dips below a certain degree and I was OBSESSED with this all weekend. Henry was like, “Look, we’re here and it doesn’t really matter, you can’t change it, so let it go.”
Is that who sings that? I have made it this far in life without ever seeing Frozen or listening long enough to any media outlet to even know what it’s about. BIG DAB.
Then we drove around looking for a place for me to pee (I’m really picky about public restrooms and we started to near a Walmart but my body language was a clear, undeniable, “DO NOT EVEN” that a speaker of any language would have easily understood, so instead, Henry found a Hardees and bought some fries* while I peed in a handicap stall next to some lady who was shitting.
*(I’m weird about going in a fast food place just to use the bathroom so I will always make Henry buy something.)
Then it was time to go to SILVER DOLLAR CITY!