Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Branson, MO

We just got back from a weeklong trip to Branson, Missouri. What would take us to Branson, you ask? My parents' timeshare. And the prospect of getting away for a week. My parents were planning a trip to Branson and invited us along. We had never been. I didn't know much about it. But, we decided to go and have a little vacation. I don't like to head to a place not knowing anything about it, so I started to research just what Branson might have to offer. I soon learned that Branson is touted as being the Midwest version of Las Vegas. Well, Las Vegas it is not. I mean, there are things to do in Branson, and we had a good time. But, let's compare.


Las Vegas:

You see what I mean? When I first visited Vegas, I decided that it is not my cup of tea. So, I was worried about what I would think of Branson, it's much more wholesome and conservative little brother. Having quickly established that they are, in fact, not very similar at all and should not be considered related in any way, I was then able to take in Branson as its own entity without having it linked to Vegas.

So, just what did we do in the very unVegas-like Branson? Well, let me show you. Actually, I will have to tell you about some things because cameras were not allowed in many of the venues we attended. So, this will be a very literal show-and-tell.
Good news - I saw a hawk today. Hawks are much more plentiful in Branson than in Sunnyvale/Santa Clara, so Mr. Frisby took a picture.

We also went to the fish hatchery and saw the fishies in all different sizes. These are some of the little guys. And Mr. Frisby checking them out.

We also went for a ride on the Branson Scenic Railway. This is an hour and 45 minutes train ride through the Ozarks. An added benefit was that it took us into Arkansas a little bit. Why is that an added benefit? I don't know. But, it seems like it should be one. Here's the train. Then there's my parents and my sister as we get ready to head out. And finally a shot while chugging through the Ozarks.

Now for some tell. Then we'll do more show.

They have built a pretty awesome Titanic museum in Branson. Why they built it in Branson, I don't know. But, I'm glad they did because it was fascinating. We spent about 3 hours in there learning about the Titanic and it was pretty sweet. Especially the part when we got to meet the little Titanic dogs that are a tribute to all of the dogs aboard the ship. They were two very nice King Cavalier Spaniels and they were adorable. No pictures because cameras weren't allowed. But, we got to feel how cold the water was (very cold just for my little finger - I can't imagine trying to swim in that water) and we got to feel how steep the deck got as the ship sank and we got to practice sending an SOS message via Morse code. It was awesome.

Also we went to Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede. This I was excited about. It was dinner and a show. But, the show involved lots of horses and wagons. And a contest between the "North" and the "South" which was determined by which side of the arena you were sitting on. Dinner was yummy and we had to eat it all with our hands. No silverware. We got soup, a biscuit, an entire rotisserie chicken, some pork loin, baked potato, corn on the cob, and an apple turnover for dessert. Mmmmm. Good times at the Dixie Stampede, but no pictures.

We also saw a couple shows. We saw a group called Six which were six brothers that did singing/beatboxing, etc. They were pretty good and, in the end, we found out they were Mormon. We also saw Noah, the Musical. It was a musical about, can you guess? Noah and the Ark. It was pretty good. And they had some real animals in the show. The dogs - very cute. I also liked the pigs running across the stage. Good times.

And now, some more show:

We saw some cars. We went to the Branson Auto Museum which was, I think, the highlight for my dad. The best part for me was seeing the decepticon police car from the Transformers movie. We also couldn't pass up the opportunity to take a picture next to the General Lee and Rosco P. Coltrane's police cruiser which were parked in front of Cooter's. And you thought the midwest didn't have much to offer.

While in Branson, we learned that there are many caves nearby, so we decided to explore one. It was pretty cool, but very wet since it had rained the day before. Here I am by one of the many cave formations we saw inside.

And that was our week in Branson. We were also fortunate, since we flew into Kansas City and had to drive to Branson, to be able to stop at Liberty and Independence which are just outside KC. Here are Mr. Frisby and I at the temple lot in Independence.

Good times and a good vacation. And it was fun spending time with my parents. After such an exciting vacation, you would think we would be ready to settle back into real life, but no. We like to keep things exciting. So, next month we will be heading to Spain. But, more on that later.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

So I Married an Axe Murderer

This is probably Mr. Frisby's favorite movie. It's very funny. But, last night, I feared it was becoming my reality.

I was startled awake in the middle of the night last night by Mr. Frisby grabbing my face. I opened my eyes to discover him half sitting up in bed looking at me with his hand right in my face. In self-defense, I shoved his hand away and impatiently yelled, "What?!" Hello, I'm trying to sleep. He immediately pulled his hand back, frantically said "Sorry, sorry", and laid back down. I flipped over to go back to sleep, but my attention focused for a few minutes on the way he had said, "sorry." It was like he was a little ashamed. Like he had been caught doing something he wasn't supposed to. So, my mind wandered a little. What had he been doing? If he were trying to kill me, then his hands should have been around my neck, not in my face. What if he was just trying to punch me? I never assumed, of course, that he had been doing it intentionally. But, his dreams could have led him to do something crazy in his sleep. Like kill me. A scenario filled my mind as I drifted off to sleep again. Mr. Frisby was in a courtroom trying to convince a jury that he hadn't meant to kill me. He was dreaming and not aware of what he was doing...

Obviously, I woke up this morning alive and well. But, I was very curious as to why Mr. Frisby had tried to take out my face in the middle of the night. So, as we were driving along this morning, I said, "so, do you want to tell me what was going on last night?" He immediately started laughing and assured me that there was a logical explanation. I was eager to hear it.

Apparently Mr. Frisby had a crazy dream last night. He dreamed that he was sitting in bed eating a plate of ground beef (don't worry - it was cooked). While eating said ground beef, a large chunk of it rolled off the plate and onto my pillow. He gallantly tried to "protect" me from ground beef juice getting on my pillow by grabbing at the chunk of ground beef which, apparently, bears an uncanny resemblance to my head. He thought he was rescuing me from ground beef and I thought he was trying to take off my head. Perfectly logical.

So, I'm safe for the moment. But, who knows what his future dreams will hold. I hope there are no weapons nearby that he could get his hands on in the middle of the night for the sake of "protecting" me (thank goodness the baseball bat is on my side of the bed). But, I'm starting to wonder if I need to start working on my sleep self-defense. Forgive me if I feel a little vulnerable. I guess if I ever turn up dead in the morning, you will all know who's to blame.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

72 Hour Kit

I know I'm a bit late getting onto this bandwagon, but I've just started to put together my personal 72 hour kit. This has led Mr. Frisby to take stock of his kit which was assembled 4 years ago. With the process of filling mine and refilling his, we've purchased many "snacky" type foods that are good for emergency situations. We've also needed to pick up a few other items to complete our kit of essentials. We just need to get a few more things to make them "emergency ready".

And with everything we've been putting in our kits, I find myself secretly hoping for an opportunity to use it. Maybe I should just be content with the prospect of switching the food out in a year.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Into the Snow

This weekend, we got away. It was fabulous. We went somewhere east of Fresno, I think, with several of our friends. One of our friend's family has a cabin there. So, we packed up our snowshoes and headed out for some cabiny fun. We were undaunted by the winter storm warning issued for the area, warning of 1-3 feet of snow accumulating overnight. We figured we could get in before it got bad and then, if we ended up being snowed in, oh well. We took Maggie because she's always up for adventure and usually handles all situations like a champ. This weekend was no exception.

We met up with the storm somewhere outside of Gilroy and from there on out, it was a faithful travel companion. The pouring rain did not leave us - not for one second - until we reached our destination. Shortly after we got to the cabin on Friday night, the rain turned into snow. It snowed and snowed and snowed. All that night and all the next day. It was fantastic! After watching Remember the Titans on VHS (it's a cabin, after all) on Saturday morning, we donned our snow gear and headed out to see just how much snow had fallen and to see what fun we could have in it.

That's me standing next to Maggie. As you can see, the snow did, indeed, accumulate and tons had fallen overnight. It was very exciting as it was Maggie's first real snowstorm. After clearing off the satellite dish (we did have Olympics to watch later) and checking out all of the snow, we headed out for some adventures. We went sledding. It was great, but I didn't get any pictures because our camera battery died. Then, after lunch and the Olympics we went snowshoeing.

Strapping on the snowshoes

By the time we went out in the afternoon, the snow had stopped and everything looked very wintery all covered in snow. It was beautiful.

Snowshoeing often sparks deep conversation

Mr. Frisby and I and a beautiful snowscape

While out snowshoeing, we had to stop to make snowangels and a snowman.

We had a wonderful time at the cabin, but on Sunday morning it was time to get ready to go. Although the snow had stopped, there was some digging that had to be done to get the cars out. And, while the roads were mostly clear, there were some icy spots getting out. It was a bit tricky in some places but, as always, Maggie handled it like a champ and we didn't even need to put chains on her. After leaving the cabin, we headed to my friend's parents' house in Fresno to have lunch and watch the USA/Canada Gold Medal hockey game before heading back to the bay area. My friend's parents live on what I call a "mini-farm". It's not like a real farm that's huge and has lots of animals and crops. But their place is fairly large and they have some animals. So, it was off to the mini-farm. And, as we learned on the way, the mini-farm sheep had just had babies, so we were excited to meet the little lambs!

Some of the mini-farm animals: Chickens, a cow, and a sheep

In order for us to meet the little lambs, my friend's mom went out (still in her church clothes, mind you) to round them up. It wasn't easy, so she needed Sara's help in herding them.

Probably my favorite pic of the trip

Look how cute the little lambs are!

Remember the time Sara's mom went out in the muddy field in her church clothes and rounded up two little lambs so we could hold them? I do. It was awesome!

Yay for the cute little lambs! They were absolutely terrified of us, but still so cute.

After the sheep encounter, we ate lunch, watched the nail-biter hockey game, and then headed home. It was a wonderful weekend. Thanks friends!