*photo taken by Amy Fillinger Photography*
Today we are headed on our family vacation to Table Rock Lake in Branson, Missouri. I love this place. It is so much more than just a lake and a vacation to me - its the place that holds many (many) memories and this year - its going to feel a little different.
Ya'll I am already crying as I write this! If you have been following me for a while, you know that I say this all the time but I'm a huge nostalgia person so I get all the feels when something reminds me of my memories.
Let me back it up and tell you a little about Branson. Branson is a popular destination for midwesterners. Its situated in the beautiful Ozark Mountains and hosts a multitude of country entertainment theatres. There are putt putt courses and water parks galore - and the ultimate theme park - Silver Dollar City. Fun Fact - SDC was originally recreated as a frontier town and had actors that played out the Hatfield & McCoy fued. Isn't that a coincidence? Since now I live in West Virginia - home of the Hatfields & McCoys!
In addition to all the touristy things, Branson is also host to Table Rock Lake - an ultimate fishing and water sports lake in the Ozark Mountains
I wish I could tell you when I started coming to Branson - but it was some point when I was a toddler. Maybe even before that and I don't have a picture to document it. My grandparents would bring me (sometimes solo, sometimes with the rest of my family) along with them for a week at a time. We would go to ALL the country shows. Well - if I'm being honest, we would go to the ones that I wanted to go to. My opinion was all that mattered to my grandparents. If my lovely mom and sister are reading - don't you agree?
We would go to Silver Dollar City. We would get there before the gates opened and eat at one of the restaurants - then when we were done eating, we were first in the park. Although, there are some new amazing thrill rides, Fire in the Hole always has been and still is my favorite ride. It might have been the first roller coaster I ever rode. Someone fact check that.
There were times we would go to Branson just to live that hashtag lake life. (Like the trip we are doing this week!) These trips involved my family and our family friends. We would go boating and tube until we could not tube any longer. Our parents would play cards all night and I would be the first to bed. (That should not shock anyone!)
The lake trips have changed but our love for the water and sunshine have not. Its fun to see my nieces and nephews (this will be Sully's first time to the lake) enjoy every second of it - just like I did when I was their age.
The country shows - oh the country shows. We would go to Baldknobbers and sit front and center. Trust me, if we didn't get front row seats, we weren't going! That was my grandpa - he only wanted the best! I can remember thinking the performers would ask me to "join their show" because I would know every line to every song. Hidden talent that is no longer hidden - I will listen to a song 100x until I know every word.
After the show, we would go for ice cream. My grandpa always knew the back streets around Branson so we didn't have to sit in traffic, too. That was a perk of going to Branson 5x a year.
That brings me to my point of why this year feels different.
In October of 2018, our family suffered an insurmountable loss in my sweet gramps. Last year, I brought him a bag of saltwater taffy home (funny story - he put his hand in the bag and immediately knew what it was). He loved that Silver Dollar City taffy.
I guess I thought that although he is gone, those memories would just fade away. But they haven't. They have made me look forward to this trip even more. (Which I didn't think was possible!) I was a lucky to kid to have such an amazing family. To have made such amazing memories. And to be able to continue to make amazing memories. I am so lucky.
I love going to Branson.
That is what Table Rock Lake means to me. Its a tradition.