There is so much to do and so much excitement – at least this time we didn’t leave a trail of lost articles along the way. Normally when we vacation something gets left behind. We have learned to check and double check so we don’t leave a lost treasure behind.

This time our vacation began with an exciting celebration of our eighteen year old high school graduate – Chriselyn. She is an amazing young woman, bright, witty and so talented. Chriselyn graduated with honors from Columbus High School in Columbus, Georgia. Columbus High School is a college preparatory magnet school and ranks among the best high schools in the state and in the country. I am so proud of her and her accomplishments. Soon she heads of to college, well not far off, she will be attending Columbus State University. She is pretty much a home body and isn’t quite ready to leave the nest.

We spent our first four days in Columbus celebrating Chriselyn and her achievements. She and her friends continued to mark this accomplishment and we headed out on a vacation with her brother and sister. I have to remind myself, “she’s all grown up now” and plans with fellow graduates are so much more exciting than vacations with grandma. I can tell you I am so happy that we still have two that are eager and willing to vacation with us.

This year Kory had his heart set on visiting Branson, Missouri. Well not exactly Branson, but Silver Dollar City. He loves amusement parks and particularly the roller coasters. Our trip will require them to endure an over night stop before the adventures begin. We discussed it with Kory and Alyssia and we all decided to push it the first day out so we could arrive in Branson with time to explore.

Steve researched options for our first overnight stay. We will be somewhere on the back roads in Arkansas – there wasn’t much available. He opted for an AirBnB. A good price that was on the river and could possibly be a fun outing during our stop over.

Unfortunately, the location and home had a lot to be desired. We were traveling on Memorial Day and the only thing open for dinner was Burger King or McDonald’s, we went for Burger King. We took a trip down to the river, the river was swollen over the banks and the water was rushing past at a rapid pace. So wading in the river was not an option.

After we explored the house, I was reluctant to spend the night but the kids said they thought it was fine. They liked the bedrooms in the basement. Well that didn’t last long, somewhere about an hour into our stay they discovered spiders and came looking for help in killing them. Steve was at the ready and went to the rescue. The spiders were destroyed – well so we thought. Moments later, back with reports of even more spiders. This discovery resulted in two kids spending the night on the couch and recliner in the living room.

You have to realize we are in the back country of Arkansas and this AirBnB is most likely used by fishermen or hunters and would suit their purposes perfectly. I on the other hand will never let Steve find our lodging accommodations again – haha. Oh, I didn’t tell you the A/C stopped at some point in the night and that their were fly traps hanging in almost every room. Not exactly my kinda place.

I did learn an interesting perhaps old wives tale – there was a zip lock bag half filled with water and a penny tacked to the front door. I researched and supposedly this will help keep flies away. Apparently the light refraction going through the bag of water confuses the fly. Given the numerous flies attached to the fly traps hanging in the house I would have to say this is just a myth.

I think I’m a spoiled Bluegreen timeshare owner, we always have great places to stay while vacationing – really a home away from home. The next night we were in Branson and had three nights booked at The Falls Village a Bluegreen resort. Our room was a two bedroom, two bath luxury stay compared to our find in Arkansas. In Branson its not about the lodging however, its all about Silver Dollar City. We arrived early, had lunch in town, checked into Bluegreen, played a round of miniature golf and took the kids to the Top of the Rock.

Top of the Rock has a golf cart tour through Lost Canyon Cave and Nature Trail that is delightful. The kids loved it. You ride along trails that are lined with rock cliffs, water falls and caves. You actually drive through a cave and once inside you will discover the Bat Bar. The Bat Bar servers drinks to go – hard stuff for adults and fun drinks for kids of all ages. Of course we couldn’t pass by the Bat Bar without getting drinks. I highly recommend this golf cart trip through Top of the Rock Lost Canyon and Nature Trail.

Off to lunch and while at lunch we discussed and researched Silver Dollar City. We discovered that Silver Dollar has a great deal, if you arrive after 3 pm you get the next day free. We still had time to make Dollar City by three and the kids were more than ready to go. This was Tuesday and we had originally planned to go on Wednesday – such a deal.

Silver Dollar has seven roller coasters and we rode them all. There was hardly any visitors when we arrived so we got on every ride without a wait. The park closed at 7 pm which was great for Steve and I, only four hours in the park on our first day.

Day two on our one-day ticket started at 830 am. We arrived when the gates opened and headed to Miss Molly’s Mill Restaurant for the breakfast buffet. An all you can eat breakfast that was a feast. Everything from fresh fruit and yogurt to biscuits and sausage gravy and even chicken tenders. Heading in early for breakfast is perfect, you get close up parking and you are there when the rides open at 930 am.

We were surprised that the park had limited guests again this morning and once again we had no waiting lines. The kids knew the park this morning, they had studied the park map and had mapped out a plan of attack. This really made it easier on the older folks, there was far less back tracking and walking.

We had basically hit all the high points by noon and it was a good thing, the rain that was predicted for late afternoon had begun. Luckily we were located right by the saloon and the next showtime was noon when it started raining. We ducked into the saloon, ordered popcorn and drinks and settled in to watch the show and avoid the rain. Its really a cute show, of course a little corny, but the kids loved it.

When the show was over, the rain had let up but hadn’t stopped and there was lightening in the distance so all the rides were closed. We headed for a couple of park stores and let the kids gift shop in hopes of the storm passing. About 130 pm we checked with the front gate and they were providing raining passes for anyone at the park for the next day. What a deal, three days of fun and excitement for the price of one.

This actually worked out great, we were in the park each day long enough for the kids to enjoy their favorite rides and have a snack or lunch and then head back to the condo for pool time and dinner. It made the perfect day. Our third day was spent repeating the best rides. We didn’t hit as many since the lines were longer, approximately a 30-45 minute wait on most. Based on our experience I would recommend visiting Monday through Wednesday in hopes of reduced lines.

There were two roller coasters that had Kory’s particular interests – the Outlaw Run which is the fastest coaster in the park and The Time Traveler which is the newest coaster in the park. Steve and I rode the Time Traveler alone the first two days – it was a little more than either Kory or Alyssa wanted to experience. Our second day in the park Steve and I rode Outlaw Run. I can’t begin to explain how intense it was, you can be certain that I did not ride it again on our last day in the park – no way. We did however, ride The Time Traveler two more times.

Kory went with us on our last trip to the Time Traveler, he had worked up the nerve to experience this amazing coaster. We waited 45 minutes in line, loaded into our seats and got locked in and ready to take off. He was a little nervous and very anxious when the attendants notified us to raise our arms as they attempted to lock down the seats again. The first car on the train, the one Steve was in wouldn’t engage the locks.

We were off loaded and got back into line to await the repair. Some people left, but we had waited 45 minutes to ride and Kory was ready so we weren’t leaving. After about 15 minutes of waiting Kory decided it wasn’t for him. They had already switched out the train and were test running the cars. I tried to get him to stick it out, but his nerves were frayed by now and he elected to depart the loading zone.

Steve and I took the next run and it was as amazing as the first, maybe even a little more frightening since we now had the fear of repairs hanging over us. Whatever you do, don’t miss The Time Traveler it is the best roller coaster ride I have ever experienced. Yep, this 65 year-old grandma still rides roller coasters.

I highly recommend Branson, Missouri and specifically Silver Dollar City as a vacation go to for all families. Find out more here.

Our vacation isn’t over yet, find out where our adventure continues in my next blog post.

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