Monday, March 20, 2017

Spring Break 2017

My fourth and final Spring Break during dental school. Of the previous three Spring Breaks, 2 of them we went to Branson, the other one didn't work out to where my Spring Break lined up with the kids' Spring other words, we had only been to Branson.  So, for our final Spring Break we decided that it would be boring if we tried to do something different, so we decided to do Branson yet again!  This year, however, we actually had something else to do while we were in the area.

Do you remember my last post, the really long one that mentioned that I had been accepted to a pediatric dental residency in Springfield, MO?  Well, it turns out that Branson is only like 30-45 minutes from Springfield, so we decided to look at some homes while we were there and take advantage of the week off that we had.  Why not, right?

Our first stop for Spring Break '17 was to drop off the kids at our friends' house who live in Springfield so we could go and look at some homes, 10 of them actually!  What a long afternoon.  After the second or third, they all start to look the same.  We found a couple that we liked, but none of them seemed to be subliminally trying to get our crazy family to live in them.  So, we headed to Branson.

What a chill, laid-back week.  It was great!  Living on a student's "salary", there is not a lot that we can afford to do except go to the free fish hatchery (that has been our staple Branson stop every trip!).  We decided to "splurge" a little and we went to not only the fish hatchery, but to a couple of places that were absolutely breathtaking...Top of the Rock, and Dogwood Canyon.  Both of those places are owned, and were founded by, the guy who owns Bass Pro Shops, Johnny Morris (he also lives in Springfield).  Just check out the pictures:

Here we are getting our nerd on.  My family would always stop at the signs of the places we would go, so to continue on the tradition we have decided to make the Arkansas state sign our first such sign-photo.  Emily is not very supportive of this tradition, so it may be the final sign-photo we ever do.  Shortest family tradition ever.
Top of the Rock.  It's a museum, restaurant, winery, scenic view area, and most importantly a golf course, a very beautiful 9-hole, Par 3 golf course that I will one day golf.
Welcome to Top of the Rock, please enjoy this Woolly Mammoth
Squanto was there (at least as a statue, he is dead in real life).  He is making sure that no one trespasses on the golf course in the background.
This is the "sinkhole" (Cooper, Anderson, and Ethan)
This is also the "sinkhole" (Taya-has recently decided that it is more fun to not smile but make faces during pictures, and Bennett-he still smiles)
Some of the Animals from the Prehistoric Ozark Region:
The Terror Bird

The Hell Hog and the Bear Dog

The Giant Beaver

And the elusive American Bison

What kind of a dentist would I be if I didn't include a necklace made of teeth?  These are not human teeth, they are elk teeth
Me and the Kiddos at the End of the Trail Statue
This is my favorite, the weather really adds to the dramatic-ness of this statue. 
This is a view of the Top of the Rock buildings (winery, museum, restaurant and golf pro shop)

The Arnold Palmer designed driving range

We found a beautiful overlook, the place we stayed is right above Emily's hand.

Same overlook, just overlooking the Table Rock Dam
The Fish Hatchery, our staple destination:
Taya and Bennett feeding the fish
The boys found some big trout that had somehow made it into the filtration areas
Look at all the fish
Table Rock Dam, from the Fish Hatchery
Cooper liked the mallards

Dogwood Canyon Nature Preserve:

A miracle, a real-life miracle happened in this photo: every single person is not only looking at the camera, but is smiling!  This is a Spring Break miracle!
The kids hanging out with bears, cougars, and rattlesnakes
Feeding the fish (can you see them in the background?)
The waterfall
This is a tunnel that goes from one interactive area to another (future house idea)

Science Discovery Center
Treehouse that was featured on Animal Planet's Treehouse Masters
Not a bad view during our picnic
Daddy and Daughter in front of the treehouse
Such a beautiful setting!
Grinding corn into grits and cornmeal
Find your own fossils at this awesome interactive play area
The kids were fascinated with this bull snake, Cooper now wants a pet bull, yeah, no!
Cave we found at the entrance to Dogwood Canyon.  What is Taya looking at you ask?
A bat.  That is what.

Cooper's Selfies and photography:
In front of the Prehistoric Short Faced Bear
In front of the Prehistoric Stag Moose
In front of the American Bison and Elk
His photography skills with the mallards

That was basically our trip to Branson, no shows, no Silver Dollar City, no electric neon lights...simply nature at it's best (with a lot of swimming!)  We headed home on Saturday, but there were a few more homes that we needed to look at.  Well, Saturday we found it!  A home that was calling our name, and beckoning us to have our crazy crew live in it.  It is in Ozark, MO, about 20 minutes from Springfield and 30 minutes from Branson.  So, please come visit our crew and check out this awesome area of Missouri.  (P.S. this is the area that I fell in love with years ago when I called Emily and told her that one day we would live in Missouri).  For those wondering, this is our house that is "Under Contract" as of today.  The thing that we are most excited about is that Emily and I will finally, after 4 straight years and 6 of the last 9 years, have our own bathroom!!!