Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Our (Very Wet) Weekend at SDC

When I was a child, our family went to Silver Dollar City pretty much every year, and often two or three times in a year. We have not been so fortunate (read: financially able) to do that with our own kids, so when my father presented us the offer of paying for everyone's season passes and for the motel if we could all (me, Tony and our kids, my brother Mike and his wife and kids, and my dad) go at the same time.

So we planned our trip for the weekend of May 14-16. We finished up our last schoolwork on Thursday, May 13, so the trip was kind of like a big end-of-the-school-year-party.

Tony took off half a day on Friday so we could get to Branson before dark. We were supposed to meet everyone at my dad's house at 1 pm but my dad/bro/sil/nephews showed up in our driveway at 12:45, and Tony wasn't even home yet! He had stopped by Sonic to pick up some lunch so we could eat before we left, but apparently Sonic wasn't so sonic-y and he had to wait forever.

No problem, we just ate in the car! We had walkie-talkies in each car so we could talk back and forth. Our car was in the lead most of the way so I would call back and tell them about funny signs or things along the road. I think I annoyed my brother, but hey, what's a family vacation without brothers and sisters getting on each other's nerves, right? LOL!

We hit each "marker" right on time. I had pulled out our big laminated map of the USA and showed the kids the route we would be taking about a month ago, and I had told them where we would be after each hour (at one hour, we'll see the big McDonald's, at two hours, we'll pass Joplin, at three hours, we'll drive through Springfield, and at four hours, we'll be in Branson!). Jake remembered each part and checked the time as we hit each one.

The last hour or so the kids were getting antsy and starting to annoy each other in the backseat so we made up a game to keep them busy. I assigned them each a certain kind of sign to look for and told them they would get a dollar for each one they spotted. Jake had to look for Silver Dollar City signs, Becca had to look for Yakov signs, and Katy had to look for Shepherd of the Hills signs (this only worked because I've been down there so many times and knew where the signs were!). All in all, they each got three extra dollars to spend.

We arrived in Branson around 5:30 and drove down the big main strip with all the cool looking buildings (there do seem to be a great number of gorilla statues there, does anyone know what that's about?). Then we ate at Rib Crib. Yep, Rib Crib. Tony said, "When you go on vacation, aren't you supposed to do things you wouldn't normally do?" Oh, well. It was good.

After dinner we drove out to our motel. On the way, we passed the entrance to Silver Dollar City and the kids got all excited!

Jake was SO happy to get "a double bed all to himself and in the same room with his parents!"

After we had lugged all our stuff inside and gotten everyone settled into their rooms, Tony took the kids down to the game room. My bro and SIL (Mike and Katy) took their kids down to the pool for awhile. I ended up just sitting out on the little patio and talking to my dad. Then everyone came back and settled down for the night.

The weather forecast for the day scared me a little when I checked it on Saturday morning. Scattered showers...hmmm. But a little rain never hurt anyone, right? So on we went! Just seeing the entrance to the park made me all giddy. I was so looking foward to finally sharing this with my own kids!

We had to stop off to check out the "calendar" (powered by waterwheel, of course!). According to this, we've stepped back in time 130 years to May 15, 1880!

As tradition dictates, we ate breakfast on Saturday at Molly's Mill Restaurant. They didn't have any tables big enough for a party of 10, so we got a 6 seater and a 4 seater. We put the "big" kids at the 4 seater.

As we ate, my SIL turns to me and comments on how short she feels at the table. I notice that the table does seem sort of high. Once we start paying attention, we realize that our table is actually rising! We got the trick table! By the time it finished, poor Conor (2 1/2 years old) couldn't even see over the top of it! So the waitress came and showed us how to make it go down (raise your arms in the air, wiggle your fingers, and say "Down, table!" LOL).
We wandered around the top part of the park for a bit until the official opening. Jake was just amazed watching the blacksmith. The blacksmith let Jake hold a sword he had made and showed him some of the stuff he was working on. As it turned out, Jake became a favorite of just about everyone he talked to that weekend!

We visited the old Oak Trail School and while inside, Jake sat down for some copywork on a real old-fashioned slate. He then became good friends with the teacher who made him a hat out of an old newspaper which he then wore all day long!

We hit the candle shop for another tradition: dipping candles! Each child chose the shapes they wanted and dipped them in colored wax. I can remember thinking that was the coolest thing when I was a kid, and our kids loved it, too!

When we got to the swinging bridge, Jake wasn't too sure about it. But once he saw that it was really more of a bouncing bridge than a swinging one, he charged ahead!

The kids were all excited for the train ride!

The train ride takes you back through the woods (gorgeous, I must say) and then you get "robbed" by a couple of dim-witted hillbillies. The kids laughed their heads off, and Jake said, "That guy really is the dumb one!"
My brother and his oldest (Jordan) rode every roller coaster down there, but my crew are NOT roller coaster people. Check out this one, and notice how HIGH up it is!

I did get Katy and Jake to ride with me on Fire in the Hole, which is an indoor roller coaster. I can handle this one because it's dark in there and you can't see how high you are! They both did great, I was kind of worried about how Jake might take it but he was just fine!
We also rode the Flooded Mine, and everyone loved that one!
Toward the end of the day (when the sun was actually out, did I mention it rained off and on all day long?), the grown-up men (my dad, Tony, and Mike) took the 4 bigger kids to ride on The Great American Plunge. Check out the grip Tony has on Jake in the pic!

We made our way over toward The Grand Exposition, a part of the park made to look like an old fairground, with lots of rides for the younger kids. Of course, on the way, who could resist stopping to look at this:

At The Grand Exposition, Tony took Becca and Jake on the little kid roller coaster.

After that, we all rode the teacup ride together, and made our teacup spin faster than anyone else's! At one point, it was actually going so fast that Jake started to rise up out of his seat and I had to push him back down!
The day was nearly over at this point, so we headed back to the motel to put on dry clothes (after water rides and rain, everyone was wet to some degree). Then we decided we'd head out to the KFC we'd seen in town for dinner. This is where things got interesting. We got separated from the truck that my dad, my bro and his crew were in, and we ended up taking 2 hours just to get food! We never did find the KFC (it was so NOT where we thought it was), and traffic in Branson is horrible that time of day because all the shows are starting.
Well, a long day, tired, hungry kids, humidity and too much stopping and starting resulted in much car-sickness. We finally pulled into a Wendy's to go through the drive-thru and Katy promptly threw up into a bag in the backseat. Lovely. We made it back to the motel, and Jake actually made it into the bathroom before he threw up.
Once everyone's stomachs settled down, we ate dinner. At eight-thirty. After that, we were all ready to just find something good on TV and lay back for awhile til time to sleep.
I woke up on Sunday morning and opened the curtains to see this view:

Fog, fog, and more fog. I checked the weather again. 60% chance of thunderstorms all day. Hmm....well, yesterday hadn't been too bad, maybe today wouldn't either, right? Right.....
We loaded our stuff back into the cars and got ready to leave. The rain had started to fall before we ever left the motel. By the time we got to Silver Dollar City (2-3 minutes later) it was a torrential downpour. We sat in our cars for a few minutes until we saw the shuttle bus coming, then we made a mad dash to get onboard.
Once we were let out at the entrance to the park, we had to run through the rain again. The rain itself wouldn't have been so bad, but there were huge puddles everywhere that you couldn't avoid. I actually picked Jake up and carried him most of the way because in places the water was halfway up his shins! By time time we got into the park and to the bakery where we planned to each breakfast, we were all soaked from head to toe. Not the greatest start to the day!
Well, inside the bakery was warm and dry (although we dripped all over the floor). By the time we came out the rain had slacked off a little. Tony went and bought us all ponchos (at five dollars each, might I add) and we pressed on.

The rain lessened as the day went on, and every once in a while we'd get a brief moment of sunshine for beautiful scenes like this:

We did some shopping and went to see the show at the Saloon, basically everything we could do that was indoors. Around noon the weather seemed to have cleared up, so we split into three groups to get as much done as possible: my dad, Mike, and Jordan went to ride the last roller coaster, Tony took Jake to ride the train again, and Katy (my SIL), Katy (my daughter), Becca, Conor, and I went to do a little more shopping! We all agreed to meet back on Main Street at 1 pm.
As we waited for the everyone else to show up, I saw this checkerboard and knew that as soon as Jake saw it, he would want to play. He's a really good checkers player! Sure enough, as soon as he saw it, he sat down to play!

By this point, not only had the rain cleared, but the sun was shining in full force and it was...dare I say...warm? So we all enjoyed just sitting around, listening to the music and watching people go by for awhile.

We even managed to get a family picture while the sun was out!

Well, the kids thought they'd take advantage of the sunshine and beg for just one more ride. We were just starting to dry out from all the rain and what did they want to do? Go ride The Lost River of the Ozarks! So, Mike and Tony took the four older kids to ride, while my dad, Katy, and I stayed with Conor and watched.

By this point it was around 2:30, so we decided to head out of the park and towards home. On the tram ride back out to the parking lot, the clouds rolled in and the sky darkened. We all hurried to find dry socks at least to put on. I snapped this pic of the sky just before the first raindrops began to fall:

We got in the cars and closed the doors not a moment too soon: another torrential downpour. I can tell you, it's kind of scary driving down a mountain in rain like that! By the time we made it back into Branson and found the KFC we'd been searching for the night before, the rain was just a sprinkle again. We ate our late lunch and headed back on the road. About an hour and a half later, we pulled into a rest stop and let the kids change into completely dry clothes. At this point the sun was shining again!
The trip home was loud and crazy as always. Our kids are NOT car-sleepers. Things we heard coming from the backseat included the can-can dance, giant chickens, and pirates. :o)

Our last stop before home was at the giant McDonald's. It is built up over the highway so you watch the cars drive under you as you eat. Mike and Katy didn't want to stop so Tony and I took our kids up alone. We had dinner and watched the cars, and then headed the last hour home.

Once home, we dragged all our stuff inside and breathed a sigh of relief to be home at last. Jake said, "Silver Dollar City is fun, but being home is nice, too. There's no place like home!"


  1. I have always wanted to dip candles...that looks like so much fun. My kids would have loved the McDonald's, I'm pretty sure that would have been their favorite part LOL.(they are car lovers)Also, it must be a boy thing, Shane had a paper hat on his head for three days that someone had made for him :) Glad you had fun!!!

  2. We got the privilege to stay in Branson for a week a few weeks ago and go to SDC 4 times. We had a great day and got rained on the last day. The only thing I did not see you write about was a visit to Lambert's just outside of Springfield. If you have never eaten there you should. Great food and they throw the rolls which the kids love. Glad you had a grand time and sorry it rained but it sounds like you made the best of it.

  3. I have been to Lambert's before but we didn't go on this trip. I'd really like to take a longer trip to Branson and do some of the things in town in addition to SDC.



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