Doug and Dan enjoy epic Branson adventure

Our first breathtaking view of Branson, Mo., is one to remember.

Probably several of you are waiting on pins and needles for my review of Branson, Mo., which I promised in the Ron White story. Your wait has at least partially come to an end with this the first installment of the Epic Branson Adventure.

Quite some time ago, I mentioned to my friend Dan Haymond that I would like to go to Branson, Mo., someday. In 2013 Dan said he had three free nights in Branson coming if he listened to a time-share sales pitch. Since I did not have to listen to this pitch, I went along in early April 2013.

I saw a lot of shows, rode a train into Arkansas and rode the Ducks, military vehicles that can ride on land and water. The one I rode on was claimed to have been used in the 1949 John Wayne movie, “Sands of Iwo Jima.”

Dan recently said that he had another three nights in Branson if he and listened to another time-share pitch. Again I went along since I did not have to hear this pitch.

You might be thinking to yourself, “How does Doug, who is an unemployed no account with a broken down car, get to see all these performers at Iowa State and then go to Branson?” I saved for these a long time ago.

We left in a rental car on Monday, April 25 just after 8 a.m. for three nights in Branson. We also decided to see some attractions near Kansas City for a couple of days afterward.

I was excited about this trip yet also concerned. My landlord wanted to update the outlets in my apartment building, and I was worried about needing to clean my apartment up. I was able to do some cleaning for a couple of days before I left and then had to wait until I got home.

I had four days to work on this after getting back but ended up spending the first two days with various Pegasus taping events, a birthday party and taking the rental car back. I did spend the following two days working on my apartment, and it did turn out well.

It looks like I live in a warehouse, but it is neat and better organized. Unemployment does have its positive side, and God does answer prayers. I am not sure whether I meet the criteria for a hoarder, but my collection of thousands of Pegasus videos must reveal some type of personality disorder.

I am surprised at my lack of furniture, but that is another story for another time. We were in our rental car and driving to Missouri.

By the time we got to Grimes, I was starving. Dan pulled over to McDonald’s, and I got a breakfast to go that made me feel better. Then we headed on for Branson. The next stop that we made was just over the Missouri border. We looked at some brochures about some things that we thought about seeing after Branson and had two helpful ladies assist us.

In Kansas City we stopped at a restaurant called the Corner Cafe, which reminded me very much of the Machine Shed. I had the hot beef.

Dan also posed with the Osceola Cheese Co. mascot in Osceola, Mo., where we stopped for a bite to eat.
Dan also posed with the Osceola Cheese Co. mascot in Osceola, Mo., where we stopped for a bite to eat.
I posed with the Osceola Cheese Co. mascot in Osceola, Mo., where we stopped for a bite to eat.
I posed with the Osceola Cheese Co. mascot in Osceola, Mo., where we stopped for a bite to eat.

A couple of hours later we stopped at the Osceola Cheese Company in Osceola, Mo. I got my picture taken with a giant mouse.

They have free samples of their cheeses and other items. Last time we were stopped there, I think Dan tried every type of cheese. This time he restrained himself since he is on some type of diet. I tried some of the other samples, which were good, and bought some Coke and a Snickers bar.

One thing that you notice when you get into Missouri is all of the Waffle Houses and Sonic Drive-ins. There must be one of each every five miles.

Show Me staters seem to have a great fondness for Waffle Souse and Sonic Drive-In restaurants.
Show-Me Staters seem to have a great fondness for Waffle Souse and Sonic Drive-In restaurants.

We got into Branson in the early evening and checked in. The last two times in Branson, I noticed that this is a very hilly place. The parking lots at this and the previous hotel were on very steep slopes. If there were ever any ice, all of the cars would slide down the hill, and no one would be able to walk on it.

My brother Rick and my friends Keith and Annette Knoll tell me that Branson was packed when they were there. I have only been there in April, and it was not packed at all.

The show that we were going to see did not start until 8 p.m., so we went driving around the strip and decided to go to a restaurant called the Farmhouse Restaurant. We knew about this place from the previous trip. It seems that the computer did not process our order, so it took some time to get it. We did get a free blackberry crisp each out of it.

We rushed to the theater.

Dan wanted to see an illusionist. There are not a lot of shows on Mondays, but we did find an illusionist named Rick Thomas who performed at 8 p.m. at the Andy Williams Moon River Theatre.

We drove around looking for this theater and then figured out that it was right next to our hotel. We could have walked from the hotel. It too had a very steep parking lot. I laughed at the handicap parking. You would need the strength of Hercules to propel a wheelchair up that incline.

Most of the theaters give a veteran’s discount. I showed them my American Legion card, and they approved a discount, usually around $5 to $7 per show. We went into the theater.

Rick Thomas, his assistant and a bevy of dancers gave us a great show, including a lot of disappearing and reappearing acts. He used a lot of doves and a dog in the acts also. It was really amazing when Thomas and his assistant floated in the air. How they did this was miraculous.

Illusionist Rick Thomas no longer uses tigers as part of his magic show.

Thomas brought several people from the crowd onto the stage for many of his illusions. He used to use tigers but has donated them to a wildlife preserve. He donates part of the ticket and souvenir sales to protecting tigers in the wild.

A tiger in the wild is worth $1 million to a poacher, according to Thomas, and there are not many are left in the wild.

The show lasted about two hours. After the show, you could meet and talk with Thomas, his assistant and his dancers. In Branson you can usually meet the performers during intermission and definitely after the show is finished. Dan and I had our pictures taken with Thomas.

In my next installment of the Epic Branson Adventure, I will describe breakfast at Denny’s and a performance by former Hee Haw regular Buck Trent, and I will share my reflections on the economics of time shares. Please possess your soul in patience until the next installment.

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  1. I’m anxiously awaiting the next installment, and I hope Doug will answer a question that I’ve had for a long time. What exactly is a “Baldknobber”?


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