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April 7

Exploring

This day started out early again.  Ethan awoke first, in the wrong bed, as could be expected for the first night in a strange place, around 6:45.  He was ready to go, but Jenny and I convinced him to wait another 15 minutes so we could catch a few more winks.  I finally decided to get up first, having already gotten 9 hours of sleep, and Jenny followed shortly after.

After a couple of quick showers and brushing of our teeth, we headed out for our first day on "Vacation."  The first order of business was to get some breakfast.  Yesterday we were appraised of the best places to go to get groceries and the like by our host at the Eagle's Nest.  "West Branson at the Super WalMart."  So we headed West on Highway 76 in search of food and groceries.  The ride there had many sharp turns and steep hills.  So much so that Ethan said he was enjoying his "roller-coaster" ride.

Upon reaching West Branson, we pulled into the first restaurant we saw, Michel's Family Restaurant.  The food there was quite good, though I wasn't able to order the chicken fried steak.  "We don't turn the grill on until 10:30 because of the prices of propane," explained our waitress.  I was able to substitute that with the "Southern Omelette," an open faced omelette with bacon, hashbrowns, and cheese all topped with sausage gravy, served with a souther biscuit.  It was very good.  I had to take the picture, though, as my coworkers and I have eaten something eerily similar at Gyro's West in Waukesha called the Packer Omelette.

After breakfast, we headed over to the Super WalMart and stocked up on groceries for the week.  We dropped the groceries off at the condo then headed out in the car once again, this time headed for Branson proper.

Branson is much different than I expected.  I'm not really sure what I expected as a matter of fact, but it was different than that.  As we drove down "the strip," we all pointed out different things that we thought we should do during our vacation.  Mini-golf, go-karts, shows, and restaurants all came up at different times.  We decided to first stop at one of the many "Ticket Agents" to find out what a family can do in town.  Little did we know that these agents are really just fronts for property companies trying to get you to sit down for "only 90 minutes" in exchange for cheaper show tickets.  After blatantly using them for information, we walked out of the agent's office promising to pay full price rather than sit through that drivel on our vacation.

We continued down the strip, this time in hopes of locating a church to attend, tomorrow being Easter and all.  We didn't find the church, but we were able to locate Branson Landing and Historic Downtown Branson, two destinations we all (well, Jenny and I anyway) decided we would visit one day when it was warmer.  Today was again VERY cold, even here in Missouri.

After about 90 minutes of driving around, we decided it was time for lunch.  We stopped at a Branson original, Fuddruckers, and had a little lunch, then we headed out to catch our first attraction.

The Butterfly Palace opened in 2006.  For a mere $50, we were able to watch an abridged Discovery chanel video (in 3-d!) and hang out with about 1000 butterflies for about an hour.  After rubbing elbows with the butterflies, we walked downstairs to look at the "Bug Zoo," complete with scorpians, dart tree frogs, and millipedes.  All was very cool, but it was time to move on.

We had no other plans for the day, so we decided to check out some of the shops in town.  We hit a couple of outlet malls in town.  Jenny, as always, was right at home and was energized by the exercise.  Ethan and I, on the other hand, trudged through it.  We did manage to make it to a couple of kid's toy stores and a couple of adult toy stores (tools, Coleman stuff, etc) before the end of the day.  Inevitably, however, in the end we were still waiting for Jenny to be done shopping.  To pass the time, Ethan and I got some ice cream and sat outside in the 38 degree weather eating it.

After the shopping ordeal, it was finally time to to head back to the condo and relax for the day.  The night has been pretty uneventful so far (it is now 10:30 and we're watching a SNL repeat with Jeremy Piven).  We had some dinner, spaghetti and salad, watched Happy Feet, and are now bunking down.

One disturbing thing happened all day, not to me, but in the world.  From what I can gather, a cruise ship went down somewhere in the Mediterranean today.  Yes, the ship going down was quite disturbing in itself, but more disturbing is that we know absolutely nothing about it.  I'm sure the news channels are covering it sufficiently, but we haven't watched them.  Worse yet, we can't even get on the Internet to check it out.  That's right, I'm flying without access right now, composing this entire site offline.  We may be addicted, we may be spoiled, but one thing we are not is connected, and that's disturbing.

Well, off to bed in my connectionless cocoon.  Tomorrow is Easter and the Imax, so we better get some sleep...


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