Friday, July 15, 2011

My Midwest Tour

I wanted to share a bit about my trip to the heartland. Every time I go and visit Kevin's family, it seems a bit unreal, like the setting is from a childhood storybook. I'm used to the crowded urban centers like Taipei and L.A., so all that sprawling land and a close-knit community seems so foreign to me.

Branson, MO
View of Branson from the Shepard of the Hills Tower
Before visiting the whole family, Kevin and I headed to Branson for a few days with just his Dad. I heard that Branson was the new country music capital so I was expecting it to be like Nashville, but it was actually more like an early version of a family friendly Las Vegas. There is a central strip of shops, restaurants and theaters nestled amidst the greenery of the Ozark mountains. I found the contrast a bit startling. They are most famous for the musical variety shows that can be found all day long, starting at 10 A.M. I recognized quite a few acts from former America's Got Talent contestants. We even went to watch one of them, the Three Redneck Tenors.

Three Redneck Tenors

Springfield, MO
A half an hour drive from Branson is the city of Springfield. The real reason I wanted to make a quick jaunt there was for a scrappy reason, I wanted to visit Allison Davis' family store, Scrapbook Generation. I met her Aunt Karin and her sister Stacey who work there and they were super friendly.

Scrapbook Generation
Karin and Stacey
I saw a lot of Allison Davis' layouts displayed around the store like an art museum.

Kevin and his Dad were very patient for this part of the trip. Afterwards we visited Fantastic Caverns also located in Springfield. It is just one of four caves in the world that has a driven tour as opposed to a walking tour. I learned that these caverns held concerts like with Buck Owens, that were sold out, spanning theaters to be built and therefore was the genesis of Branson's musical tradition.

Jeep tour through Fantastic Caverns

Wingo, KY
The main reason for our trip was to visit Kevin's Dad and all the relatives who live in the vicinity. Dad is showing Kevin the frame he built in his woodshed. 

Kevin is driving a go cart in the backyard. It was recently purchased for his two nieces and it can really take off and almost flip on turns. 

Backyard go-carting
On July 4th, Kevin and his brother-in-law launched numerous fireworks in a spectacular display, like the ones at Disneyland. This is an actual picture that I took.

July 4th backyard fireworks
St. Louis, MO
We actually flew out of the St. Louis airport since it is one of the closer airports to Wingo. We spent a few days there with Kevin's sister and nieces to take in the sights before we left. We toured Grant's Farm which is the estate of the Auheuser-Busch family and saw the Budweiser Clydesdale horses. 

There is The City Museum which is an interactive museum housing salvaged items. People can climb around numerous rooms and tunnels. 

Of course we had to visit the St. Louis arch. Kevin's grandfather was a steelworker along with many others, who helped to build it. The rickety yellow pod is what you ride up the 630 feet arch, which is the tallest manmade monument in the U.S. 

Lauren and I mimicking the arch
The pod to the top,
it holds 5 people and is a 4 minute ride

 Here is the view from a tiny window at the top of the arch. It shifts around on windy days.

View from the top of the arch
We also stopped by Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis which is one of the most gorgeous buildings I've ever seen. The inside contains 83,000 square feet of glass mosaics, some of which were made by Tiffany & Co. 

Cathedral Basilica exterior
Cathedral Basilica interior

Hope you enjoyed seeing my trip. In a few days I'm off for Asia and another set of adventures. I hope to blog from there, if not, take care until next time.



Reeceloui said...

I am desire to visit Allison Davis' family store, Scrapbook Generation.This is good place to saw about wonderful scrapbook collection.

Needle Arts

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