An Ozark Odyssey

by Bob Sparrow

First, I would wholeheartedly encourage you to go to Amazon and order Pat Miles’ & Suzanne’s book, Before All is Said and Done.  I have read it and it is truly something that I think every couple should read and follow.

Sunset at Top of the Rock

For this blog, the alcohol is bootleg moonshine, and the music is from the Dillards, my favorite bluegrass band from Salem, Missouri.

We got a taste, literally, of the Ozarks, on our way from the Springfield airport to Branson when we stopped for dinner at Lambert’s Café, an institution in the Ozarks since 1942, where you get your hot dinner rolls from the server standing on the other side of the dining room and throwing them to you!  A good thing we could catch, or part of our dinner would have ended up on the floor, maybe that would have been better, the food was not that great!

The ’Great Eight’s’ (the Budds, Sagers, VanBoxmeers and Sparrows) first full day in Branson brought us to the historic Table Top Golf Course – a par three course that one can only walk, no carts, and it has only 13 holes!  They surely didn’t run out of real estate, so I’m guessing no one was counting the holes when they were building the course.  After the round we stopped at the ‘14th hole’ for cocktails.  It was a perfect weather day and for some reason our scores were much lower!

Heading out on Table Top Lake

The next day was spent on a rented outboard pontoon boat, cruising Table Rock Lake and having lunch on the lake on another picturesque day.  I suppose the weather gods were making it up to me for that lousy Alaskan weather!

Day Three was back to The Top of the Rock for another round of golf at Ozarks National, the score doesn’t matter, it was another perfect weather day.  After golf we spent the rest of the afternoon and evening experiencing the picturesque golf cart tour which included a cave, with a drive-up bar in it, amazing rock and waterfall features and spectacular views of the valley and lake below.  That was followed by a beautiful sunset ceremony at Big Cedar Lodge including the firing of a cannon and the playing of bag pipes and a splendid dinner.  Oh yeah, the Table Top/Top of the Rock complex is the creation of Johnny Morris, a billionaire businessman, from Springfield, who started Bass Pro Shops and then created the golf complex here.  Linda ran into him on our visit and I’ve not seen her since!  I wasn’t aware that she even liked bass fishing!

Johnny Morris & Linda

Two more rounds of golf, one at Buffalo Ridge (our favorite) where there were actually buffalo on the ridge, and our last round at Branson Hills, both very good golf courses on very nice days.

One evening we saw The Baldknobbers show, funny name, but great show of singing (country, rock and gospel) and comedy.  It is the longest running show in Branson, it’s been playing for 63 years!  The grandson of the original creator of the show is now the lead singer.

My overall impression of Branson is very different than what I had imagined; I imagined a fairly small town with a main street lined with lots of theaters, like Andy Williams, Tony Orlando, Dick Clark, etc.  Those theaters are there, and there is a downtown area where you can buy tee shirts and coffee mugs, but the theaters are spread out all over the countryside.  And there are lots of things for kids to do from miniature golf to Ferris wheels to zip lines and much more.  While the food was generally just OK, the people were the nicest I’ve seen in the US, and I’ve been to Minnesota!

Great trip, but if I had to do it over, I’d play less golf and see more shows.  Oh yeah, I do kind of wonder what ever happened to Linda.