We left out on Thursday morning at 7:30am headed to Springfield. We were in my parents suburban - all 8 of us -and all of our luggage/toys. It was me, Rog, Sis, Ry, Aunt Chelle (my sister), Em (my neice) and Grannie and Poppi (my parents). We stopped for breakfast, then were on the road again. It was about a 5 hour drive -- very little stopping for breaks. One of our stops was at a restuarant called Lambert's Cafe. It is the origianl home of throwed rolls. They had a pretty good selection of food and then there were 'pass arounds' they came around tossing you rolls, dumping fired okra, fried potatoes and a couple of other things into your plates. When we arrived in Springfield, it had started raining. We went to the Ted E. Bear's Toy Factory (it is like a BuildABear) and the 3 kiddos all made a stuffed animal -- we left with 2 german shepards and a purple fuzzy unicorn. From there, we went to a place called Grizzly's, my dad build cabinets, so we spent quite a bit of time there. We found the Candy House, and went in there (they advertised 'watch candy being made' but I guess we were to late) anyway, we got us some goodies from there. Our next plans were for the Springfield Cardinals vs the Arkansas Travelers baseball game, but with the rain and the timing -- we opted for the finding the hotel and swimming in the indoor pool for the rest of the evening.
We were up and going early Friday morning and our first stop was Fantastic Caverns. It was a ride thru cave - the only one in America that you can ride thru, the rest you have to walk thru -- there are only a few others that are drive thru in the world. We rode into the cave with the guide - who was a bit odd - and he told us about some of the neat things in the cave...and at one point he turned off the lights that were on the tour and showed us how dark the cave was -WOW!!! It was dark!! - there were a couple of sink holes and a spring running thru it.
From there we went to the Dickerson Park Zoo .We go to Branson alot - and have always heard that this zoo was not all that great, but we decided to go anyways. Turns out - that is a pretty nice zoo!! All of the animals were active (some thought it was mating season ) and we all enjoyed the zoo. My sister is crazy about elephants - and they had a 10 day old baby Asian elephant -- he was SOOO CUTE!!!! We also got to feed a camel and a cow - both were pretty young. All in all it was a good zoo!!
We hit a couple of fleamarkets/antique malls then we were off to Wonders of Wildlife Museum. It is part of the Bass Pro Shop. It is full of all kinds of birds, fish, and other creatures...there are also lots of interactive areas for the kiddos. They got to virtual fish - Sis landed a tarpoon, and Ry let a Sailfish get away. There was a touch tank -- they got to touch a spiny urchin thingy; a starfish, a horseshoe crab and somekind of slimy lobster - that didn't have the big pincher claws like most lobsters do.
Next to the museum was Bass Pro Shops that had a yummy restaurant Hemmingway's; where we had dinner before we spent about 2 hours in there shopping!! Not really shopping only -- there were other things to do - an eletronic shooting range that we all tried our hand at; several aquariums and feeding times and of course - shopping!! Just can't pass up a $5 t shirt!!
Saturday morning -- we got to sleep in a bit -- Man, I want room darkening curtains at my house!!! The kiddos slept until 9:00 am!!! We got the car packed and ready for home,then off to breakfast -Shoney's breakfast bar for all!! Ok, I have to admit - Saturday was the most fun day by far -- we were all so tired and so ready to get home that all we did was laugh. Our last stop on the way out of Springfield was Exotic Animal Paradise. This was really neat - a drive through safari -only -sadly, their last day will be October 1 of this year, so -- I feel like they had gotten rid of several animals, and were kinda letting things go. Don't get me wrong - there were still plenty of animals and we still had lots of fun -- I just think that maybe a year ago it would have been better. We went thru with the 3 kiddos climbing all over the car. Rog 'upset' a waterbuck and he used his antlers to leave a mark on my daddy's car; dad didn't care for the cows that were coming in his window, so he was pushing them away from him -- at one time there were 3 different cows (I think they were longhorns) with their heads in Chelle's window!! We all laughed so hard!! There were many ostriches there as well -- and me and Chelle both kept our windows up with them -- they are some freaky birds!! In the final area were several friendly zebras -- we spent lots of time feeding them. There was also a petting zoo at the park, so we wentthru it to finish off our food bags -- My sis made friends with a camel - she was very friendly and gentle! (the camel - not my sis!!).
From there, we grabbed us a bite to eat and hit the road home -- only to be swayed off by flea markets! We stopped one last stop in Conway at the Chic-fil-a for dinner at 9:30 and were home at about 10:15 pm!! What a trip!!!