Monday, September 8, 2014

A Trip to the Ozarks

This past weekend we took a short, but sweet trip just a few hours northeast of us in the Ozark Mountains. I think this area, which covers northeast Oklahoma, northwest Arkansas, and southeast Missouri, is a beautiful place to vacation. The mountains are similar to the Smokies--soft and rolling, full to the brim of green trees, and topped with a cozy white mist. There are sparkling blue lakes and lots of outdoorsy things to do. We vacationed there last year with my dad and stepmom, and had such a good time that we went back for round two this year. On both trips, we stayed at a place called Big Cedar Lodge which is just south of Branson, Missouri. I'd highly recommend it!

Our original plan was to leave as soon as the kids got out of school last Thursday at 3:30, but Mike got caught up with a project at work that needed to be finished, so we didn't get on the road until 7:00. At the time we thought driving just under 5 hours late at night would be no big deal. I mean, when we were in our twenties we took all night road trips and never batted an eye! Well, these nearly 40 year old bodies of ours start to crave sleep at about 10:00, so the last few hours were brutal. The kids slept, but I would not recommend checking into your hotel at 12:30. Oh well....we did what we could do.

The view from our room as we woke up Friday morning. 
Needless to say, we were all a bit tired from our late night drive, but with only two full days of vacation, we had to get crackin'! Does anyone else say that? My mom used to say "time to get crackin'!" when I was sleeping in on Saturday mornings. It might be a southern thing.
Anyway, after a quick breakfast on the patio, we put on our bathing suits and headed for one of the many pools. 

My goofballs. 
Wouldn't trade 'em.
The first pool we went to was really two pools in one. The top pool "fell" into the bottom pool with a waterfall which ended in an infinity edge overlooking beautiful Tablerock Lake. My kids loved it and also loved the hot tub even though it was about 97 degrees outside.
Next, we headed to a different area with had a Lazy River, some slides, and yet another hot tub. My kids swam their little hearts out until they were starving for lunch at about 1:00.
After lunch, Mike took Lucas to play mini-golf and swim some more. My dad and I took Hannah and Leah to nearby Dogwood Canyon Park for an hour long horseback ride. Although it was so hot (I had sweat dripping down my butt crack the entire time it was so hot, sorry for the crude image, but it's true), we rode through beautiful country and enjoyed taking it all in.
When we came back to Big Cedar, we once again dove into the pool and swam until it was nearly dark. For dinner, we drove into a nearby town and upon a recommendation we ate at a little Mexican restaurant that turned out to be fantastic. Who can say no to tableside guacamole? Not this girl.
We awoke Saturday morning to drastically different weather. A cold front had moved in overnight bringing rain and much cooler temps. Try a high of 68 for the day! I know that's not super cold, but it felt like it after the near 100 degree day we had the day before. But, we were not dismayed. Nor would we turn back from our mission--to go to Silver Dollar City and ride as many rides as possible.
Sadly, it was very crowded, but we still managed to have a fun time. We rode roller coasters, spun in the teacups, braved the rapids and plunged into the waters of the log ride. We watched blacksmiths, glass blowers, and candy makers at their craft. We ate our fill of funnel cakes and kettle chips and saltwater taffy. We came. We saw. We conquered.
We ended the day with a trip to the old Cracker Barrel. Not my favorite place, but the kids always look forward to eating there on vacation. 
At the end of the day, we crashed into bed tired, but full of fun and good memories. And mashed potatoes with gravy.

Hannah and Me
Sunday dawned bright and sunny again, but still with cooler temps. It was lovely. 
But in the blink of an eye, we had to think about packing up and heading home. 
Before we left, we fit in one more round of family mini-golf. 

The girls play just for fun, while it turns out Lucas is all business and Mr. Competitive.
Oh boy.

Leah and Mike
We hit the road about 11:00 Sunday morning, and drove straight through to Tulsa, OK. Our plan was to stop and visit our niece River for a while and take her to dinner. River's dad is Mike's brother, Juan. Juan and his wife Tracy and their other three kiddos live up in New Jersey. But sweet River chose to attend college in Tulsa near us! Woo hoo! Tulsa is about an hour and a half away from OKC, so not too far. She is a freshman studying to become a nurse at Oral Roberts University. She's actually there on a full ride scholarship due to her grades and her outstanding leadership skills. The girl is going places, I tell you! We are so proud of her.

River and her cousins
River was so sweet and had created an awesome scavenger hunt for the kids to do as a way to tour the campus. The hunt sent them searching for things like a zebra and a ping pong table and a hall of mirrors. The kids loved it, and it gave Mike and I a great tour of her school. We took her out for an early dinner, and then had to say goodbye as we headed out on the last leg of our trip home. We will look forward to seeing her on her fall break in October!

We arrived home Sunday night at 7:30. The kids went straight to bed and Mike and I crashed on the couch ignoring the suitcases that needed to be unpacked. We talked about how much we love our little family of five. How we could have never imagined how great it would be when we were just starting out dating as young, naive 19 and 20 year old kids. 

I love where life has taken us!

1 comment:

Maria Rose said...

Sounds like a great time!