Monday, October 13, 2008

May 2008 Branson, Missouri

Settle Inn, Fasten Your Seat Belts
May 18,2008

We ate in Springfield at a fast food place called Steak & Shake that is a Midwestern legend; mama ate there in high school. They had a double sided nmilk shake. It is mixed in two cups and poured into serving vessel simultaneously.

In search of a bargain hotel we picked up a cheap travel book at a truck stop. A place in Branson with two ads and 2 different rates in this book called out to us. Would it be the allure of Angel Inn and pillow top beds with one heated indoor pool or the Settlin Inn Conference center with themed rooms and 2 indoor heated pools?

They were both on Garden View Drive so we decided to pick one when we got there. We passed up Angel Inn and drove to the end of the street. Settle Inn was wondrous, 3 multistory buildings with stone gates, knights in armor guarding teh entrance. They all had turrets and a few balconies. We got a room with 2 beds for $4 althought the regular rate was $68. Themed rooms are $20 extra.

There were family suites also. Rooms with balconies had whirlpool Jacuzis. 37 of the 300 rooms had 'themes and were decorated with murals on the wall, with coordinated furniture. Settle Inn is part of a chain which has hotels in boring places you wouldn't want to visit and seldom do, such as South Dakota. Themes came in groups so decor with exception of murals was identical in similar suites. For example the 19th hole and major league rooms were alike; as were Jewel of the Nile, Jungle Rooom, and Outback; Arabian Nights, Taj Mahal and Caesar's Palace; Camelot, Medieval Times, Royal Chamber, Sherwood Forest; Pirates of the Carribean, Captain's Quarters; Miss Kitty, OK Corral and Native American; Cabinet and Oval Office. There was also french Quarter and Gone with the Wind. The paintings on the wall of people were not as good as the landscape murals. Other than that they got an A+ for imaginative interior decoration. The buidings on this property were Excalibur, Guinevere and Lancelot. Our room was furnished tastefully with heavy furniture, more pieces than were necessary. It was very romantic. The television in our room was small in a much larger cabinet whose door would not stay closed but the remote control worked. Our building had a big heated swimming pool at the end of the hall with a large Jacuzzi hot tub. We really enjoyed that.

Settle Inn, Thousand Hills, 3050 Green Mountain Drive, Branson , Missouri 65616

May 19,2008
Sentimental Journey

We got an early start, enjoying a good breakfast in the big conference center. We purchased tickets from the depot for a 90 minute tround trip 40 mile scenic excursion in a refurbished train. It had two glass ceilinged sky cars, several ounge cars, play area in an alcove by the galley, a couple of Pullman cars with a quadraphonic sound system playing music from the 1930's and 1940's. There is an afternoon run plus a special occaision dinner service.

The couple sitting across from us in the sky car was a semi-retired oil field executive in his early 60's from Oklahoma and his much younger wife. She says now that he is retired he only has one phone going all the time, talking to his work crews, that last year it was two phones going constantly. He talked to employees on a job experiencing difficulty with equipment while we were chatting with them. She said their last vacation a year ago was to the Arctic Circle for two weeks during the fortnight of summer while the weather is balmy. Their Eskimo guide was uncomfortable with the 'heat' and periodically wandered off to sit in an icy creek to cool off.

After the train ride we browsed downtown shops such as Dick's 5 & Dime. The owner of a shoe store stitched my purse for $2 where the velcro had come undone.

Lunch was a pork tenderloin sandwich and raspberry iced tea at Farmhouse restaurant on Main Street. Robert brought us to McFarlain's for dessert to show us the two round tables at either corner of the room. When guests are seated at these particular tables the table slowly rises during the meal so after an hour it is at chin level. No one was seated at the tables until we were leaving but while we were there having strawberry rhubarb pie a trio of musicians from the dance hall next door storlled by for a couple of songs to let folks know they would be performing in 30 minutes over there.

McFarlain's is in a shopping mall. We browsed a shop selling quilts at steep discount on the way out. A display of 20 antique tractors from the turn of the century to 1950 was in the parking lot.

We drove Hwy 44 to Hope, Arkansas, left it for a short cut to Bossier City. It was a good thing we were traveling in the daylight. 3 miles north of Damascus, Arkansas we passed the place where a tornado touched down last week. On our right a feed mill was a mass of twisted metal. There was seeveral fires from buring trash, smoke to the sky. Across the road from the mill a town was in splinters, destroyed possessions too big to burn piled by the side of the road.

The reason I mention my preference for traveling in daylight at the first of this story was ilustrated by the scene a mile from here. That tornado had touched down again and part of the raod on the side of teh mountain had fallen away. All that marked the bad patch was two orange traffic cones to warn motorists. We would not have had time to take evasive measures if we had come upon this after dark.

We had supper in Bossier City. The waiter at the I-Hop kept dropping trays and mixing up orders. The manager kept reasigning him to progressively less and less challenging tasks as he goofed each thing up until he was washing dishes.

After dropping mama off around midnight we got home around 5:30 am. Before I could relax enough to go to sleep I wanted to unpack the bags and wash a batch of laundry. Later that morning we dropped Robert's car off for oil change, picked up Jake from the kennel, brought the cats for annual vaccinations. Tasmin had to be left there overnight to have her teeth cleaned.

Gas was $3.58, as much as $3.90 on our trip. In the future we may call these prices 'the good old days'

It seems like the best photo opportunities present themselves when we are out of batteries. Our camera won't function without batteries so for others with similar equipment I recommend carrying a spare disposable camera and a second rechargeable battery plus portable battery charger, one that plugs into the vehicle cigarete lighter. In conclusion I am reminded of an old joke, how to tell if one has a car made after 1990; it has 3 cigarette lighters and no ashtray.

No comments: