I recently returned from a week in Branson, Missouri, to attend the national alumni conference of the cultural exchange program I went to Germany on in 1980 called IFYE. Since I sit on the national board of directors and currently am the recording secretary, I had to head south early for two days of board meetings before the conference officially began.
It was my first solo travel adventure since the accident in July and while I have been feeling great, my stamina still isn’t back to what it was BA – Before the Accident. So I decided to break up the trip into two shorter days.
I headed east to Lincoln on a Monday and timed the trip so I could have lunch with Daughter Two and then proceeded to Kansas City where I spent the night with a dear college friend. We had not been able to be together for three years. She is a dietetic consultant for hospitals and retirement homes, so when COVID hit she and her staff had to be extra cautious to minimize potential exposure to the virus.
We had a fun afternoon and evening catching up and went to her favorite Chinese restaurant for supper. It was the first time either of us had had Chinese in a restaurant since last March.
The next day I headed south to Springfield, Missouri, where I was picking up another IFYE at the airport for the hour drive on to Branson. Arriving in town 45 minutes before Ruth’s plane was to land, I made a quick trip to pay homage to the headquarters of Bass Pro – the outdoorsman’s paradise.
Affectionately dubbed “The Base Camp,” the Bass Pro headquarter got its start in Springfield. The current complex sprawls over roughly four city blocks and includes not only the store, but a museum and theater where of course all things outdoors are spotlighted. My goal was to snag some Christmas gifts for those hard-to-buy-for sons-in-law.
Not wishing to waste any time hunting around I immediately went to the information desk. Pointed in the right direction to seek out Gift No. 1 the helpful salesclerk found what I wanted and in less than 10 minutes I was headed to seek out Gift No. 2. In another 10 minutes I had completed my purchasing and was on my way to the airport.
Ruth had been on the road since early morning from Seattle and was happy to visit in more roomy quarters in the car. Our hour drive flew by, and we were able to enjoy the first hints of fall color in the Ozarks. That night we enjoyed fish dinners at the White River Fish House and wandering along Branson Landing, a development that went in around 2005 right along the White River.
The next two days were filled with business meetings for me, but Ruth and friends who arrived early took time to visit several Branson area sites including Top of the Rock, the Veteran’s Memorial, College of the Ozarks and of course checking out some of the many local restaurants.
On the conference’s third day I was able to enjoy a tour to the IMAX theater for the showing of “Ozark Legends and Legacy,” which provided an area history lesson. After lunch at McFarlane’s, a local homestyle restaurant that caters to large groups, we headed to Shepherd of the Hills, an attraction based around the land owned by one of the region’s early settlers.
It was here in 1907 that Christian minister Harold Bell Wright wrote a historical fiction book based on summers spent with the Ross family just outside Springfield. It became a bestseller and today area residents continue a 61-year tradition of bringing the book to life through “The Shepherd of the Hills” outdoor drama.
While I didn’t get to enjoy any of the theater shows, some of the entertainers were able to perform at our conference giving me a taste of the music city Branson has become. And as we left Branson on a sunny Sunday, we were bid farewell with a “Happy fall y’all.”
Barb Bierman Batie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.