It's been right at two years since our family has been on a vacation, and we all needed to get away for a little while. So in January, I started saving up and planning! And this last week was the big trip! Our plans: Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO.
The plan was to leave last Friday morning, but we just couldn't stand it any longer. We were all packed and ready to go, so we set out on Thursday night! Our first stop was at my parents house where we dropped off the baby!
She was so excited to see her grandma, that she didn't even seem to care that we all left! She smiled and waved bye to us as she played on the tire swing. So off we went.
We drove about half way that night. At one point, we stopped at a Wal-Mart to take a break and stretch our legs. Brient took the kids to the toy section, of course, and Little Sister found the exact thing she had been asking for but I couldn't find! So she got it!! And she was SO excited!
That toy was good for several hours of entertainment over the whole trip! Well worth buying!
We stopped in Little Rock, AR. After some sleep and breakfast at the hotel, we started out again. Little Sister, who is 4, had the hardest time. She just could not understand the time thing, and she was so ready to be there. (But thankfully, we had DVD players and a new toy!) Not too far down the road, though, was Pickles Gap Village, a small shopping place with all kinds of things to look at and shop for. AND, they had a kiddie area with a petting zoo where the kids could play!
Yes, I know I have more pictures of Little Sister than the other 2! They had gone into one of the shops with their daddy, and I took just her to play. She didn't care a thing about shopping! After having a fabulous lunch at the country store in the village, we were on the road again.
That evening, we finally drove into our hotel, The Grand Country Inn, and got our room. After we ate, we all got changed into our swimsuits and headed next door to their indoor water park! We all needed something fun to do after such a long drive. That water park was absolutely amazing! It was HUGE, and all 3 kids ran all over that place playing! There was a lazy river, 2 huge slides, a huge jungle gym like set-up complete with water traps to soak unsuspecting people walking beneath you, a great kiddie area for Little Sister (though she didn't want to stay there, because she wanted to go to the "big" stuff), and even 2 hot tubs. It was great, and a wonderful way to end a long trip!!
The next morning, after a great buffet breakfast at the hotel, we headed to Silver Dollar City. It was threatening rain, but we decided to give it a shot anyway. We had come too far not to at least try to go! It was well worth it! The rain held off, and we all had a blast!
We rode lots of rides. Little Man decided he wanted to ride all the BIG rides! So his daddy got to take him to do those while the girls and I had some fun on the smaller rides. But Little Man and Little Sister, along with their daddy, rode the swing 4 times! CRAZY!
Little Man had agreed to ride with Little Sister on some of her rides, and she had a BLAST!! But he was none too thrilled when I took a picture of him on the "baby ride"!
Here's my honey watching Little Sister and Little Man riding another "baby ride"!
Little Sister and Britches went with me (while daddy and Little Man were being scared out of their minds!) to see the water wheel and walk across the swinging bridge.
Since my honey is a cell phone technician, he wanted his picture by the "Wireless Telegraph" booth! That was cool!
When we stopped for lunch, which was a wonderful bowl of succotash, we sat and watched a magic show right outside the magic shop. The kids LOVED that! The guy was so good and FUNNY! After the show, we went in the magic shop, and Little Man bought a few things. He is so crazy! He bought some soap that, when you wash with it, it washes you DIRTY! And then he bought the classic "can of nuts" that, when you open it, has a big spring snake that pops out! He asked the guy to staple the bag shut, so I wouldn't see what he bought, because he wanted to trick me later. And he did! And he got the biggest laugh out of his new gags when he tricked me!
We saw several craftsmen in their shops actually doing their craft. This was a wood lathe shop, and the men were just getting started on a project. We also watched a man blowing glass, a blacksmith making a rose out of metal, and a potter throwing her pottery. At the pottery shop, I bought a special gift for my sweet mother to thank her for keeping my littlest one. I picked a beautiful bluish colored casserole dish with a lid. And then I got myself two bluish pie plates and a serving stand that holds both.
We also went to a leather shop, where Brient bought a handmade leather hat. The lady signed her name on the inside! COOL! We didn't get to see her making it, but it was still cool knowing it wasn't made in a factory somewhere. It looks so good on him, and he loves it!
In another section of the park, there was a HUGE jungle gym! Brient took them up to play for nearly an hour to play. There was a big cage of balls, and Little Sister was trying to get them but just couldn't quite reach. So Brient finally just picked her up and put her in. She loved it!!!
Apparently, my preacher, Ray Jones, has a toll bridge in Silver Dollar City. I think we still owe him .20 for crossing. Britches asked me, "Does Bro. Ray REALLY own that bridge?" "No." "But it has his last name on it!" HA!
At 9:30 that night, we finally headed out and made our way back to the hotel. We had been there since 10:00AM. When we got there, we all crashed!
But the next morning, we got up and got ready to do it all again! First stop, the hotel buffet breakfast!
Happy kids after a good breakfast!
We went back to Silver Dollar City Sunday morning to finish up a little shopping and to see anything we missed the day before. The plan was to stay for only a few hours, but we stayed from 10:00AM until 5:30PM! They closed that day at 6:00!
One of the things we did that second day was take a tour of the cave. The cave is the thing that first started Silver Dollar City! And it was HUGE! And long, and steep, and wet - and GORGEOUS! The kids LOVED looking at all the stalactites and stalagmites!
Deep in the cave was an amazing waterfall! It was HUGE! And there were lights that had been put behind it, so it changed colors and was just beautiful. Had their not been any lights, you couldn't have seen it completely and would have missed some of the beauty. I am very thankful for modern advancements that allow me to take a tour of a cave that is well lit and has stairs! Oh yeah, and a train that takes you out at the other end, so I didn't have to walk back out the long, steep way that I came in!
We went back to our hotel that night, and after supper in our room, decided to head over to the indoor pool - not the water park. We needed something fun, but a little more relaxing. The kids played for about 2 hours before heading back and getting cleaned up for bed.
Monday morning was our day to leave. So after check out, we headed over to the main building at the hotel. I had some homemade fudge to buy!!
My plan was just to buy some fudge, but when we got there, she was starting up a new batch of homemade fudge. So we all stood for awhile and watched her. When she makes fudge, she makes 20 pounds at a time! And it is SOOOO good! (Yes, I bought some to bring home!)
We still had free tickets to play mini-golf (it came with our hotel package), so before heading out, we went over to the mini-golf course. Brient and I haven't played mini-golf in years, and the kids had great fun!
Our fun in Branson was done, and now we were heading South. But just a few hours down the road, Brient took a detour! He pulled in to the road that leads to the Little Buffalo River! We all got out and waded out a little to enjoy the cool water on our tired feet. But after awhile, the kids started collecting stones. And then they started getting WET! And before you know it, they were all three soaked!
Britches and Little Man decided they were going to build a dam and slow down all the water in the Little Buffalo River. Hmmm... Go for it! They all three got to work, and pretty soon, daddy was even in on the building! When they finished, they had actually raised the water level behind the dam by a few inches! That was a cool project and observation! Very cool!!
I thought at first that they would get board, but after about 45 minutes, I realized they were nowhere near getting ready to leave! So I gave up and just sat down! The water was running so fast, it was like a massage for my feet! If the water hadn't been so cold, I probably would have just laid down and had my neck massaged, too!
Me and my sweet Little Sister! She is so FUN!
Here is their finished project!
The sun was going down, and it was nearly supper time, so we finally got out of the river, dried off and swapped clothes (yes, outside!), and started out again - south - to find something to eat and a hotel.
On the way home, we had planned to go by way of Hot Springs, AR. The kids wanted to go up the tower which is on top of a mountain. So we got a hotel nearby that evening, and crashed.
Early the next morning, we packed up (again) and headed about 30 minutes up the road to Hot Springs. When we got to the mountain, Brient asked the kids, "Who wants to hike up the mountain?" In truth, he was kidding and had no intention of hiking. He was driving! But all the kids yelled, "ME!" So I jumped out with them, and we started on our hike. It took a little longer than I thought (about 30 minutes) and it was a little further than I imagined (long, winding trail, instead of straight up), but WE DID IT! And Brient met us at the top with snacks and water! We went up the tower and looked out all around at the beauty of Arkansas! When we came back down, we drove a few blocks in to town to take a look around.
We took a free tour of an old bath house, which was completely cool! This is the really cool statue that they had on the men's side of the bath house. The women didn't have anything this nice on their side. Completely unfair, but normal for those times! It was an absolutely amazing tour, and completely worth the time to go through it!
Then we headed behind the bath house to see a real hot spring that is coming out of the mountain! And boy was it HOT! Way hotter than any bath water or sink water I have! And it was all natural. That was cool!
After all that hiking, we were starving! So we ate at Bubbalu's hamburger joint in Hot Springs. It was so delicious! When lunch was finished, we loaded up and headed for home. Little Sister was so tired from all the walking, she slept for about 3 hours! Very nice! And the 2 older ones read and played quietly and watched DVD's. We stopped off at a Pizza Hut for supper, and ate on the way.
We drove up in my parents driveway at about 7:30PM, grabbed the baby, and took off for home. When we got there at 8:00, we were all exhausted, and we were ALL glad to be home.
This was probably the busiest jam packed vacation we have ever attempted with three kids. But everyone had such fun! It was all so very worth it!