Spring 2002 Vacation
Branson, Missouri & Precious Moments Chapel
(As you browse this web page, click any small picture to be taken the Photo
Gallery of larger pictures or click on any highlighted attraction name to be
taken to their web site.)
In 2001, we went with
on a vacation to
Mackinac Island, the Great Lakes, and Niagara Falls.
We enjoyed leaving all the planning to the professionals and only being
responsible for having fun, so we decided to go with Christian Tours again on a
trip they call
Hooked on Branson.
When Dawn first suggested taking a vacation to Branson, Missouri, I (Ken) had
never heard of the place. She said it was a show town with lots of musical
shows. When we mentioned Branson to our daughter,
she called it "Hick Vegas"! We checked out a few of the shows on the internet
and finally I decided it might be interesting. Little did I know my wife's
true motivation for wanting to take this trip to Branson! (more about that
We live in Boca Raton, Florida but our tour to Branson started in Charlotte,
North Carolina. At first, that might sound like a problem, but our son and his
Scott & Tracie,
live in Charlotte. So we left a couple days early and spent some time with
them, their two cats (Shadow & Siren) and their collection of Penguins before
departing for Branson.
Tracie & Scott - - - - Shadow - - - - Sirine - - - - The Penguins
Monday, day 1
of our tour, was spent on the road traveling west across North
Carolina and into Tennessee with Harold Arnold, our guide, Neil Johnston, our
coach driver, and 45 other travelers. Most of the others had been to Branson
before, many had been there several times. By evening, we arrived in
The Coach - - - - - - Harold - - - - - - Neil
After checking into the motel, we got back on the coach again to go out for
dinner. Harold had not told us where we were going to eat. Soon Neil turned
the coach off the highway onto a country road. Then he made another turn down
a gravel driveway lined with huge beech trees. The trees were only inches from
each side of the coach. I was convinced that Neil was never going to be able
to get the back out of there again. Finally, we stopped in front of an old
Victorian bed and breakfast / restaurant called Beechlawn. We were greeted by
several people dressed in period costume. The meal was served family style and
was "to die for"! As we finished eating and headed back outside, we noticed
that somehow Neil had managed to turn the coach around and now had it facing
back out the narrow gravel driveway.
Tuesday, day 2,
we continued across the Mississippi River which had flooded the farm lands on
either side due to recent rains. We continued on into Missouri. For lunch, we
stopped at the famous
Lambert's Throwed Roll Restaurant.
You don't leave this place hungry! By evening, we reached
where we will be spending the next 4 nights.
Lambert's Throwed Roll Restaurant
This evening, we went to the
show. Jim is a fabulous comedian and also a singer. He sang 'Spiders and
Snakes' with black light - glow in the dark critters and then sang 'Cow Patti'.
Jim's son, Sheaffer, had a big part in the show. He can play just about any
musical instrument you hand him. His daughter, GG (Georgia Garland), was also
in the show.
Wednesday, day 3,
we hesitantly depart to ride the
We're not sure what we've gotten ourselves into, but we paid for it, so we're
gonna do it! We arrive at the Duck depot and someone hands us this silly
yellow duck-bill that "quacks" when you blow into it. Then we board our
"duck", a strange looking amphibious vehicle and are introduced to Bubba, our
even stranger guide. Bubba should have been a stand-up comedian. He kept us
laughing the whole time. First, we were instructed that whenever we saw
another "duck" approaching, we were to take out our "quackers" and blow!
Bubba took us on a short tour of Branson (it's not a very big place) and then
across Table Rock Dam before plunging the "duck" into Table Rock Lake. Bubba
invited us to take a turn at piloting the "duck", so Dawn and I each gave it a
try. When we got back to the Duck Depot, we each got our official "Duck
Ride the Ducks
Next, we got to take in a little shopping at a large craft mall in Branson.
Dawn found another Angel to add to her collection. I got a rainbow colored
glass paperweight. Then, I saw this really unique collection of flower pots
with personality. I just had to have the frog and the fish.
Shopping at the Craft Mall
After lunch, we went to the
show (eventhough it was only slightly after noon). The show is best described
as high energy, non-stop singing, dancing, and music! The highlight of this
show was an excellent fiddle duel of 'The Devil Went Down To Georgia'.
After dinner we saw the
Shoji Tabuchi Show.
Shoji has a spectacular theater. The laser and lighting effects were
excellent. It was very much of a family show including his wife Dorothy and
daughter Christina. But, undoubtedly the highlight of the theater is the
restrooms! You have to see it to believe it. The men's room even has a pool
table and fire place.
Shoji Tabuchi Show
Thursday, day 4,
I learn the real reason we are on this tour. We are going to the
Fountain of Angels
today. Dawn, my wife, has been collecting Precious Moments figurines for the
past 30 years or more and has always wanted to go to the Precious Moments
Chapel. When she saw this tour with a combination of music shows and a trip to
the Chapel, she thought it was the perfect opportunity to trick me into going
First, we saw the Fountain of Angels. The show started with the Precious
Moments Singers singing a few Gospel and patriotic songs. Then the huge
fountain decorated with dozens of life size brass Precious Moments figures
came to life. Surrounding the main fountain are over 500 jets of dancing
waters illuminated by colored lights. Sam Butcher worked 5 years to construct
the fountain. The fountain waters danced as music was played. The program
'Everlasting Promise' told the story from creation, through the birth, death,
and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Several times, an image was projected on the
mist of the fountain. The most profound was the image of Jesus on the cross.
Fountain of Angels
We continued on to the Precious Moments Chapel. The inside walls are covered
with beautiful paintings of figures done in the Precious Moments style. Some
paintings told Bible stories. Other paintings were to honor children who had
died. On the left and right sides of the main Chapel room were two halls lined
with stained glass windows, again done in Precious Moments style using
brilliantly colored glass.
Avenue of Angels
View of the Precious Moments Chapel
Major Stories of the Bible
Life of Christ from Birth to Resurrection
Finally, we got to the
Precious Moments Gift Shop.
I think Dawn's heart stopped for a moment. Never had we seen so many different
Precious Moments figurines
in one place. But Dawn did manage to control herself. She concentrated on the
figurines that are only available here and not in stores.
After dinner, we saw
The Welk Show
starring the Lennon Sisters. The music is a salute to Burt Bacharach. It
seems like everyone in the show is related to someone else in the show. When
one Lennon Sister retires, the next younger one or even a daughter just takes
The Welk Show
Friday, day 5,
we got to see two more shows. First, we saw
Lost In The 50's.
This was undoubtedly the best of all the shows we saw. It was the "our
music"! But not one of the singers or dancers was born till the songs of the
50's were already Oldies. The band, however, was made up of Old Rockers! The
show was full of energy and brought back a lot of fond memories.
Lost In The 50's
In the evening we saw
Andy Williams and Glen Campbell.
The older people who were with us seemed to enjoy this show, but we did not
care much for it. I had remembered the Andy Williams show as being a variety
show, but this show was entirely too much of Andy and a very old Andy at that.
Andy Williams and Glen Campbell
Saturday, day 6,
we begin our trip home, leaving Branson and the Ozark mountains behind, and
going back across the Mississippi River. As we were passing through Memphis,
we made a brief stop at Graceland, not long enough to take the tour. I walked
along the brick and stone wall in front of Graceland and was amazed at how
people had written "we love you Elvis" on every brick and every stone in the
We on to Jackson Tennessee for the night. Dinner was at the
Old Country Store
in Jackson. Adjacent to the restaurant was a railroad museum and a motel that
had converted an old caboose and an old diner car into motel rooms.
Old Country Store Restaurant & Casey Jones Village
Sunday, day 7,
we continue our trip home. Throughout our trip, mile after mile of the
expressway median and shoulders had been graced with beautiful wild flowers.
Finally, at one of our rest stop breaks, I was able to get close enough to a
field of wild poppies to get a few pictures.
Heading Home . . .
We arrived back in Charlotte, North Carolina, early Sunday evening. Our son
and his wife, Scott and Tracie, picked us up, took us out for dinner and then
back to their place to spend one more night before flying back home to Florida
Thanks for visiting us,
Ken & Dawn Ellis
Boca Raton, Florida
Mailto: Ken & Dawn Ellis
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