Ken & Dawn Ellis

Spring 2002 Vacation
Branson, Missouri & Precious Moments Chapel

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In 2001, we went with Christian Tours 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, Krista, 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 later)

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 wife, 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.
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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 Clarksville, Tennessee.
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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 Branson Missouri where we will be spending the next 4 nights.
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Lambert's Throwed Roll Restaurant

This evening, we went to the Jim Stafford 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.
Jim Stafford

Wednesday, day 3, we hesitantly depart to ride the Ducks. 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 License".
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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.
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Shopping at the Craft Mall

After lunch, we went to the Country Tonite 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'.
Country Tonite

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.
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Shoji Tabuchi Show

Thursday, day 4, I learn the real reason we are on this tour. We are going to the Precious Moments Chapel and 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 there!

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.
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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.
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Avenue of Angels

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View of the Precious Moments Chapel

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Major Stories of the Bible

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Life of Christ from Birth to Resurrection

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Twenty-Third Psalm

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The Beatitudes

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Hallelujah Square

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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 her place.
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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 wall.
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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.
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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.
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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 Monday morning.

Thanks for visiting us,
God Bless,
Ken & Dawn Ellis
Boca Raton, Florida
Mailto: Ken & Dawn Ellis

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