Beauty in Branson

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BRANSON MO NEWS: To be honest, Branson was not first on my list for vacation options.But when your almost-80-year-old mother says she wants to take you and your son on a trip there, you really can’t say no. After some research showed me that the area is flush with outdoor activities, my enthusiasm improved. Mom flew into Dallas, where we picked her up and began our journey.

The seven-hour drive from Dallas turned into eight due to poor navigation, but the scenery was beautiful all through Oklahoma and Arkansas. The evening was on us as we drove down the main Branson strip. Signs lit up for shows and hotels lined the road filled with bumper-to-bumper traffic. After turning to get to the Marriott’s Willow Ridge Lodge, we entered an oasis of calm and beautifully landscaped grounds. Our suite had a kitchen and two bedrooms, and we overlooked the pool.My son and I knew we wanted to go to Silver Dollar City theme park, and we were told we had to visit Dogwood Canyon Nature Park and eat at the College of the Ozarks. Basic plan made, we found Mel’s Hard Luck Diner for dinner. The waiters and waitresses there sing to the customers during shifts. A song here and there, not a whole set. You can buy their CDs in the gift shop if you like what you hear. The basic diner food on the menu was good. We did not have room for one of their yummy-looking ice cream desserts, so we decided to return later in the week.For our first full day, we decided to drive around to get the lay of the land. As we wound our way outside the touristy part of Branson, we found ourselves below Table Rock Dam. Below the …


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