This trip is the first time I've actually been to my dad's new house, even though he's lived here since last October. He's got a great place, with a open floor layout, nice big kitchen, big bedrooms, and 4 bathrooms. It fits him perfectly and its nice that he has a couple of guest rooms for when we all come to visit.
The Branson Airport is a tiny little airport on the top of a solid rock of a mountain. We arrived Wednesday after flying through Denver.
We met Dad's new neighbors, specifically the neighborhood grandma that is "taking care of him." Her name is Bev and she sits in the sun everyday to work on her tan and when she smiles her leathery wrinkles stretch to expose the light colored skin that the sun missed. She gave me a huge hug upon greeting and wouldn't let go of my hand as she smiled lovingly at me and asked me dozens of questions. She also announced to us that she was going to cook up an authentic hill billy Cajun crawfish bake for dinner. And she did.
And it was absolutely incredible.
To put it another way, my brother stuffed himself to the gills, fell asleep immediately after dinner, then woke up at 1 a.m. and at two large containers of leftovers that I thought I had hidden in the fridge for lunch the next day.
I told Bev what my brother had done and she laughed and promised to give me the recipes. So maybe I can whip up some authentic Cajun food for ya'll soon!
The next day we tried authentic B-B-QUE. I guess authentic is the theme of the week.
My dad claimed this is the best BBQ he has found and what makes it really special is that they actually slowly smoke the meat outside in a big smoker all day long instead of rubbing it with liquid smoke like most of the other places do to "cheat".
He claimed that what drew him in in the first place was that he drove by on smoking day and the smell was so intoxicating that he couldn't help but stop and see what it was about.
He's come every week since.
Inside it's basic hill billy decorations. No fine dining here. Paper towels and wet naps.
I begged him to wait to open it when he gets back home. He claims it will make one hell of a bloody mary!
My brother flew out later that day (we had two days together as a complete family and believe me, that was definitely enough time!) and then it was just Dad, Mark and me. We decided to beat some of the heat by checking out one of the local caves tours.
I snapped a few photos of the stalactites and stalagmites, curtains, and soda straws for you. It was pretty amazing in person, but I just can't do the beauty justice with my little i-Phone camera. Oh well. You get the idea. We had fun.
Queen of bad pics. Sorry.
All that learning left us quite thirsty and we couldn't resist but hit up my dad's local dive biker bar. It's tacked on to a dicey motel that had a few shiny Harley's parked out front. Inside was pretty awesome as far as dive bars go. Stale smoke, grafiti all over the walls, t-shirts, swear words, and bras tacked on to the walls, and a bar tender with a white curly mustache wearing leather pants and a flannel shirt greeted us with a smile and great conversation.
I learned you can't judge an old biker bartender. He served in the military, met his wife in Spain, got married in Italy, settled in New Orleans on sail boat giving cruise tours to tourists until Hurricane Katrina wiped out everything they had and the started over in MO with this bar. Nice guy. Never asked his name.
We finished up yesterday evening with some bass fishing on my dad's lake. All in all we caught three fish, but the third got away. Mark caught this little fighter, I caught a baby bass on a lure bigger than the fish, and then I got a giant hit on my line not three minutes later from the little guy, and my lure was gone. The big one bit through my line, never to be seen or photographed.
No big fish tales here!
This morning was my favorite so far. I convinced my dad to take us out to the local berry farm to pick blueberries. The sun was HOT by 10 a.m. when we arrived, and I think we could only manage to pick for 45 minutes before giving up and calling it a day. I do love me my blueberries though! And at $2.85 a POUND, you can't go wrong.
I peaked inside a window off to the side to discover a cute little old lady baking these beauties, and my heart literally melted to the floor. I had to have one.
Appropriately called a Thunder Muffin, probably for what it does to people's thighs or something, it was the very best blueberry muffin I've ever had in my life.
Back at the house we headed out on the boat for our daily touring of a new part of the lake. We boated for 45 minutes to a little marina where we docked the boat and had lunch outside.
I think Missouri has the best unhealthy food. There's certainly evidence of this being so. Fresh crawfish Cajun, BBQ, Thunder muffin, and the onion rings and burgers we ordered at the dock. I'm a firm believer in enjoying vacation responsibly, and so far I'm making sure to enjoy all the local eats I can.
Sunscreen was applied, but clearly 95 degrees got to him. Poor guy. Don't worry, I made him put his shirt on and sit under the canopy for the duration of the trip.
Aloe is forthcoming.
After quick stop at a funny little island in the middle of the lake, we headed home. It was funny to see all these boats pulled up to this pathetic thing of an island, especially since it was all rocks, but the locals seemed to enjoy it tremendously. I guess I am a yuppy who's used to sandy beaches.
I preferred to stay on the boat and save the bottoms of my feet.
We're having incredible fun so far. Tomorrow we're going to go on a little dinner cruise and do some more fishing, and maybe some tubing.
I have more pictures to share on my other camera, but alas, I left the cord back in WA, so you'll have to wait until next week to see those.
I hope you have a wonderful and safe Memorial Day weekend! I promise to keep these boys in check!