Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Great Northwest to Deep (Hot) South

We had an interesting (long and hot) trip. We went to Seattle for their Leadership Conference. It was a short time there—flew in on Friday and their event started Friday night. That always makes it hard, because they are still going strong at 10 pm, but that’s midnight to us! And especially when we had to get up at 4:30 am to catch our flight—we are really beat by the time they end. And then it seems like I’m still waking up at 5 am (their time—7 am our time). So I loose a bit of sleep on these west coast trips.

The conference went very well—it was held at Clover Park Technical College and we were in the auto mechanics building. There were huge bays that were the teaching sites for brakes, transmission, upholstery, etc. And our classroom was this wonderful round room with huge windows—they told us later that it was the car showroom.

Bob and I celebrated our 34th anniversary while we were there—so I brought him along for supper on Saturday night. It was catered and really good BBQ pork and chicken.

We were on the red-eye, so after the conference ended Sunday at 1:00 pm—we had quite a few hours to kill before we caught our flight at midnight. So we drove up to Gig Harbor on a beautiful scenic roadway—there were lots of trees and great views of the sound. Then we caught the ferry for a two-hour ride to Seattle. It was cool, but so beautiful being out on the water.

Our timing wasn’t the best however—when we arrived at downtown Seattle—the Mariners baseball game was just getting out—so we ended up in tons of traffic. But after slowly going around a couple blocks, we went into a parking ramp. We walked over to the harbor and wandered among the shops and fountains that are there. Several people had suggested that we eat at the Crab Pot—a really fun restaurant where they put butcher paper on the table and then ‘dump’ your meal of crab legs, mussels, oysters, clams, shrimp, Italian sausage, and hunks of red potatoes and corn on the cob, right on the table. Each person gets a small piece of wood for a plate, a wooden mallet, a small fork, melted butter, lots of napkins, and a bib. Everything (except the shrimp) was delicious!! Neither of us cared for the shrimp much.

We left Seattle at 12:30 am PT, arrived in Mpls at 5:30 am CT, left at 8 am for Atlanta—arrived there at 10 am ET, and hung around the airport until 4 pm ET when we left for Jackson. We finally got to Jackson at 4:30 pm CT. It was nice that we had gotten upgraded to first class from Seattle to Mpls and Mpls to Atlanta, but it wasn’t nice that we didn’t sleep too well and then had that long wait in Atlanta. I would rather spend a day in the Mpls airport than three hours in Atlanta. It’s noisy, there’s no place to get out of the crush of people, and the waiting areas are not comfortable.

In Jackson, I was involved with meetings most of the time—so Bob was on his own, but he was getting ready for his class. It was very hot there—over 100 degrees most days and humid. What bothers me the most is that it doesn’t cool off at night at all—so when you walk out of the hotel at 6 am—it’s still in the 80’s. We did have a couple interesting meals—one night we went out with the Int’l Officers and Faye. We went to Julep Restaurant—which is really a lot of fun—one of their specialties is fried green tomatoes—and a fried chicken meal (everything down south is fried!) On Thursday night we went out with our friends Susan and Jeff and went to Chars—which is really good and we had a great time with Susan and Jeff—they are really neat people!!

We left early the next morning for home—and this was one time that I was very glad to get home!

Saturday, August 11, 2007


Missouri-Part II or Branson

Bob had meetings in Springfield until noon and then we drove down to Branson, which is only about 35 miles. We remember how crowded the main highway is through Branson, but learned about some of the alternate routes, so were able to get to our hotel and to the Jim Stafford show at 3 pm—it was really a lot of fun. He is so funny; I thought I was going to split because I was laughing so hard. He’s also a really good guitar player. Then his 10 yr old daughter and 14 year old son played the piano. He made the comment that he had 10 & 14 yr old children and he was 63. He said what he’ll need is a nursing home next to a good school!

That evening we went to Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede—she wasn’t there, but it is in a huge arena and included lots of horses and wagons. The audience sits along tiers that has narrow tables with everyone facing the arena. They give you a huge meal (cheese biscuit, soup, whole capon chicken, slab of pork tenderloin, corn on the cob, hunk of roasted potato, and apple turnover), but what they don’t give you is any silverware—so you eat it all with your hands. It was fun and messy! The show included singing and dancing as well as horse showmanship and contests. We have been to Medieval Times a couple of times—and it reminded me a lot like that (although this one had pig and chicken races, in addition to the horse riding).

On Friday, we had three shows. At 10 am we went to a Red Skelton revue. The actor was Tom Mullica and he really was a lot like Red Skelton and did several of his characters. Both Bob and I really liked Red Skelton and could remember Clem Kiddlehopper, Gertrude and Heathcliff (the birds), and Freddy the Freeloader. It was neat because toward the end of the performance, he put on Freddy’s make-up right on stage and did one of Freddy the Freeloader's skits. Then at the end, he took off all the make-up and removed the teeth and tape that he had on his ears and turned into himself. I’m always amazed at how theatre make-up can make such a difference in a person’s appearance.

The next show that we went to was Yakov Smirnoff—who is very funny. He had some Russian dancers and a few other people that helped with the skit, but a lot of it was him talking about how it was to come from Russia without knowing a single word of English. He (and a lot of the Branson shows) are extremely patriotic—to the point of au nausium—at least to me. But I still enjoyed his humor--one of his standard lines is "you probably never thought of that before--but you will from now on!" I was surprised to learn that he is also an accomplished artist and taught art at a University. In fact, he painted a picture that was made into a huge mural and displayed at ground zero after 9/11. He didn't sign the mural at that time, because he didn't want it linked to him as a humorist. There were lots of his paintings for sale in his gift shop and he is really great! Just recently he has completed a Master’s Degree in psychology because he really is studying the art of laughter.

We had just enough time to stop and eat a quick meal of barbeque ribs—where they had some live music going on—and then headed to our evening show, which was The Beach Boys! Of course their music is what Bob and I grew up on—so especially in the last part of the show, all the songs were familiar and we were dancing to 'Surf City', 'Barbara Ann', 'Fun, Fun, Fun till Her Daddy Takes the T-Bird Away', etc. I was really surprised because they didn’t take any intermission at all. The show was a little over two hours. We were in the RFD Theatre (which is beautiful) and our seats were about 7 rows back—so we had excellent seats. The only thing, we noticed is Mike Love (an original Beach Boy and cousin to the Wilson’s) and Bruce Johnston (who joined them in 1965) are sure old. I wonder how that happened?! Another thing that surprised me this that they didn't have many things for sale. Only some t-shirts--no CDs. They told everyone to go to their favorite music store to purchase the CDs.

The next day we went to Silver Dollar City—which is an amusement park, old time shops and demonstrations, and shows. However, we should have left earlier or looked for an alternate route, because we left the hotel around 9 am and drove the FIVE miles to the park and arrived there around 11 am! Most of the time, we were stopped and when we did move, we crawled forward a car length at a time.

We enjoyed many of the shows, but didn’t go on any of the rides—although it was very hot and one of the water rides would have felt pretty good. Then we realized that we didn’t have to take a water ride, because it came to us. We had gone to an ice show in a cool arena—so we were shivering a little and when we were going outside—it was pouring! We waited until it slowed down a bit and made a dash to another area where we got under a deck area—although it leaked, so we had big cold drips on us. The temperature must have dropped 40 degrees and along with the rain—it made it pretty cool. Since we didn’t want to get back into the slow moving traffic, we decided to wait for quite a while before we left. So we went to a great BBQ place and took our time eating, then moved to the car and enjoyed a bottle of green tea. We also found a back road—so it didn’t take much time to get back to the hotel.

We had a two-day ticket for Silver Dollar City and talked about going back Sunday morning, but thought we had taken in most of the shows that we were interested in, so decided to just relax and have a leisurely drive back to Springfield to catch our plane at 4 pm. We arrived home around midnight!

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