Thanksgiving Roadtrip…Branson, Fayette, and Charleston!

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I don’t think in all my years, I have made a road trip for Thanksgiving. In the past, I’ve enjoyed going to my mom’s or dad’s just minutes away, or I’ve even flown out of the country; but this year, we took a road trip from Denver to Charleston with a few stops along the way. It was fun!

We started out Saturday morning under less than ideal conditions…for the first hour the roads were iced over and part of the time we followed snow plows! Soon the sun came out, however, and we were on our way to Branson, MO.

With nothing too exciting to report, our tired crew arrived in Branson by dinner time. Upon checking in at Branson Yellow Rose Inn & Suites, I asked the desk clerk if she knew of a good, local place to get a salad.

She responded, “I personally like chef salads, and I have yet to find a good one in Branson.”

I asked, “Well is there just a burger place that might have salads on the menu?”

After a little thought, she said, “Well Great American Steak and Chicken House has a good salad bar.”

Great American Steak and Chicken House

She continued on about how I couldn’t miss it, but I didn’t listen that well because I wasn’t looking for a steak house with a salad bar. When we got in our room, we searched for a place to eat, and the results produced many chains. Finally, I resigned myself to her suggestion and looked up the restaurant. After seeing the picture, we decided we had to go despite the fair reviews! I mean who can resist going to a restaurant with a giant rooster entrance? We got what we expected (a fair salad bar) and turned in for the night.

Sightseeing in Branson

Hollywood Wax Museum/Maze of Mirrors/Castle of Chaos

Sunday afforded us a day of tourism. We started out with an all access pass to the Hollywood Wax Museum which also provided access to the Maze of Mirrors and the Castle of Chaos. None of us had been to a wax museum, and we didn’t have high expectations, but we were pleasantly surprised. Many of the wax figures were quite true to form, and who knew some of the displays were interactive. The kids posed in a star trek scene, and I shared a bed with Hugh Hefner. We had quite a time before we entered the Maze of Mirrors from which we couldn’t seem to find the exit. Eventually we moved to the Castle of Chaos. We spun around in theater seats and shot at a 3D screen. Castle of Chaos was my least favorite, but overall we enjoyed an hour or so of fun before wandering around historic downtown and grabbing lunch. The girls didn’t know what a five and dime store was…I’m getting old. Jaz asked, “What do you buy…gum?” Not to mention, it was more like $5 and $10!

Silver Dollar City

We spent the afternoon at Silver Dollar City, a theme park that is one of the World’s top holiday destinations according to CNN. All the buildings and trees in the park were decorated in 5 million Christmas lights. While the tickets were pricey at $60/person, the park offered a variety of shows, restaurants, shops, and things to do. We saw two shows, “A Christmas Carol” and “It’s a Wonderful Life”. We got to “A Christmas Carol” 30 minutes before the show began and barely got a seat in the giant space. I was pleasantly surprised by the actors’ voices and performances. They were quite good. After the shows, we waited for the Christmas Tree lighting and the Christmas parade before we left. It was definitely an experience!

Fayette, Alabama

On Monday, we headed southeast to Fayette, Alabama where we visited David’s mom, Cece. Fayette, was once called Frog Level due to being in the swampland of croaking bullfrogs and has the distinction of having three burned court houses. Currently, Fayette is home to a population of around 5,000, a few main streets, a lovely court house and a nice civic center. We took a tour of the basement in the civic center which displayed local artists’ paintings, carvings, and sculptures. Jimmy Lee Suddeth is a famous artist from the area who finger painted with a mixture of mud and paint. His art was quite nice.

After our tour, Cece taught us how to make a divine chocolate souffle. We enjoyed an early dinner before we attended a concert at the civic center. The information we knew was that a top one hundred guitarist would be playing, and he had played with Jimmy Hendrix. We sort of assumed it would be classical or something given the concert was to take place in the civic center, though I don’t know what other venue could have host a concert. As such, I had the girls dress up slightly. Little did we know, we were going to Martin Barre who is best known for touring with Jethro Tull. His famous guitar work is “Aqualung”, “Cross-Eyed Mary”, and “Locomotive Breath”. His solo on “Aqualung” has been voted 25th best ever in the USA. So we basically went to a rock concert in Fayette! I wondered how he made it to the small town. Apparently a friend of his lived in the area. The girls absolutely loved it. And what a treat being on the front row to see his guitar work!

Charleston, South Carolina

After a lovely time in Fayette, we set out on the road again. This time on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. I wouldn’t recommend this! I’m not sure if it was better to drive or fly, though. We got stuck in a parking lot in Atlanta mid-afternoon before eventually arriving in Charleston by 8pm, while David’s flight was over an hour late and got in at close to 1am. At least David’s dad, Charles, had dinner waiting for us! We enjoyed great food and hung out until it was time to pick up David at the airport.

Thanksgiving was so fun! It may have been the first time I didn’t watch the Cowboy game, but as bad as they are this year, it was probably a good thing! We started the day walking around the neighborhood so we could have an extra piece of pie. Around 2pm, we headed over to David’s aunt and uncle’s house located in the heart of Charleston. The table was set for 38 people!! This was a small gathering for them. I met all the aunts/uncles/cousins and had a great time.

Battery Park and Prohibition

On Friday, David’s uncle Steve gave us a driving tour of Charleston and showed us where to walk. Thereafter, David and I strolled around Battery Park, through small alleys, and up and down King Street. We stopped for shrimp and grits at Prohibition before we eventually detoured off the busy shopping street and walked through the market. I think we walked around 6 miles. We needed to, because Allison, David’s step-sister, had us over for another nice dinner. We had to eat and run because David’s aunt Julie organized a night at the local theater. She is the costume and set designer. We saw “Grey Gardens”. The lead actress was a hoot! What a great few days!

If only we didn’t have to drive 24 hours back to Denver. Amazingly, aside from a few hours of rain we got home in decent time with acceptable weather and traffic. What a road trip! ETB

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Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned award winning travel blogger and photographer sharing the earth's beauty one word and image at a time.

2 thoughts on “Thanksgiving Roadtrip…Branson, Fayette, and Charleston!

  1. Oh, that sounds and looks like so much fun! David really has the look of his Mom. I hope you got her chocolate soufflé recipe.that table was extraordinary–so much fun.Thank You for the treat

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