Sunday, May 31, 2009

Branson, Missouri Visit

On our two-day Ozark trip, we decided on short notice to go to Branson, Missouri and perhaps see a show. We'd never been before, and I still don't understand why this out of the way place caught on as an entertainment center. It might be that though it's remote, it's 150-200 from St. Louis, Kansas City, Little Rock, and Tulsa, among other larger cities.
We cut due east out of Tulsa to NW Arkansas, then cut up to SW Missouri and Branson. It was a very scenic drive off the freeway.

Shows start at 8:00 and we rolled in at about 6:50. We pulled into a "Welcome Center" that advertises discount tickets. We were rushed choosing something, and ended up going to the Hammer-Barber Theater. The show is Hamner - A Magician, and Jim Barber, a ventriloquist. They throw in a few dancer, add a little singing, and advertise it as a variety show.

Jim Barber is unique in that he has created a dummy that makes it appear that the dummy is holding him, and Jim is the ventriloquist dummy. I thought it was pretty clever. I saw him on Letterman a few years ago. He did a local commercial that is one minute long at this link:

If you'd like to see his Letterman appearance, heres' the link for that:

He was pretty funny.

We tried to find a local LDS church, but we didn't have Internet access and had a lousy out-of-scale tourist map of Branson, so we couldn't find the church. Since it was Sunday morning, and we wanted some kind of Sunday worship experience, we went to one of the 8-10 Sunday Morning Gospel programs offered for free at various Branson entertainment theaters. We ended up going to the Dick Clark Rock-N-Roll Theater which offered the "Grand Old Gospel Hour" as shown
on the billboard to the right. The woman holding her hands up was interpreting the music via American Sign Language.

They had three musicians, a drummer, bass player, and sax man, and five singers, one of which played the guitar, on played the keyboard, and the woman doing the signing. On each side of the stage was a video screen, on which they were showing the words, so I didn't really understand what the deal was with the ASL. Then, when one of the people would just speak, she didn't do anything. And she had a part in the program where they gave their pitch for donations, and she didn't sign that either. So I concluded that she wasn't actually an interpreter, but just like to memorize and perform the sign to the words of Gospel music. The pastor shown in the billboard is in real life a little heavier and his face is rounder, and he wore glasses. Reminded me of the Matt Foley character created by Chris Farley. He kind of looked like Chris Farley. He gave a good Christ-inspired message, and cited putting on the whole armor of god as explained in Ephesians Chapter 6. And not once did he have to admonish anyone to "close their yapper."

Branson is spread out, but has a two-lane main street which seems to be in a perpetual traffic jam. I tried to capture it in a picture. But envision the photo as being a video instead. Yup, that's how fast the traffic seemed to move. This was at 11:30. It was the same at 9:30 am, and at 7:00 when we drove through town. It's probably that way constantly, and twice as slow in the summer. Nothing says summer fun like 100 degrees, 98% humidity, and stationary traffic.
More posts about the Ozarks to follow.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Fun on the Road

We were in Northeast Oklahoma for Sonja's open house for her husband Jordan's side of the family. The day after the reception, we took a two day road trip through Northeast Oklahoma, Northwest Arkansas, and Southwest Missouri. We'd never been to this part of the country, and enjoy being off the freeway. I took a bunch of pictures of stuff that just looked fun or interesting.

Our first trip off the turnpike showed this sign leading to a Mennonite church. We decided to take a look. A later sign said that it was 1.5 miles. Two miles later we decided that we'd missed it, but on the way back we came across a few Mennonites complete with horse and buggy.

It's hard to tell from this picture taken in the car, but it was a one-horse buggy with a father and a couple of kids in it. (I heard that they don't like their photo taken, that's why I didn't try to take the picture out of the driver's window.) Being Mennonites, they probably hadn't seen the movie Field of Dreams. So I didn't have the opportunity to have this exchange: "Is this Eden?" "No, it's Oklahoma!"

I felt like I've been on this road before, but now I have proof that it exists!

Another interesting thing was learning about some of the wildlife...or in our case, "wild-death." On our two-lane road adventure we saw a lot of racoon and opossum roadkill, which was to be expected. What we didn't expect was to see armadillos! Lots of them. Here's a typical view of an Arkansas/Missouri backroad:

Wendy made the observation that armadillos looked reptilian with their scaly exterior, yet they are mammals, which by definition have hair/fur. As you can see, armadillos are hairy on their underbelly.

We were at a National Battleground and I asked the Ranger if he was a naturalist. He said he wasn't but would entertain my question anyway. I asked if armadillos have always been in these parts since I always pictured them to be in hot, dry, lands in Texas. He said that he was raised in Southern Missouri & was was taught by his dad that they didn't really live in Missouri, but periodically dead armadillos would be trucked in from Texas and scattered around the state on the roadsides.

I flipped our little roadkill over, and it's easy to see how a car could hit one in the darker part of the day - They're slow, low, and blend in with the color of the asphalt.

(Note - no armadillos were harmed in the creation of this blog post. - The harm had already taken place.)

I'll post more of our midwest adventure in future blogs.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

From Finish to Start

Here is the Robert & Wendy Tegeder family with their newest addition: a son-in-law by the name of Jordan Hintze of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. (From l to r, Troy, Molly, Jordan, Sonja, Andy, Wendy, Robert)

Jordan and Sonja had been aquainted with each other for about two years and started dating about a year ago. The courtship began, and here's what kick-started it to where we are today:

On December 28th, 2008, Sonja had flown to the Tulsa Oklahoma Airpost after spending Christmas with us and was going to meet the Hintze family. The Hintze family met Sonja at the airport inside the terminal. Nearby were these five people also greeting someone at the airport. After the initial hugging and greeting it was time to head to the baggage claim area to get Sonja’s bags and then go to the Hintze’s home.

As they started walking, the guy in the red cap approached her with his camera and asked if she would take their picture. They were holding signs that said : “We missed you!” and “Welcome to Oklahoma, Sam!” and “Later Gator – Go OU – Boomer Sooner.” It was obviously they were there to greet a friend at the airport and had made signs for the occasion as part of their greeting. They told Sonja to count to three, obviously to make sure they would all be smiling at the same time.

The guy in the red cap handed Sonja the camera and they held up their signs for the picture. As Sonja looked through the viewfinder to take the picture, she started the count to three. As she did…

They flipped the signs over to display the following:

Looking through the viewfinder, Sonja saw them flip the signs and I think her brain was trying to process what she was seeing as this apparent good-Samaritan act of taking a picture for someone had converted to a marriage proposal! As she was processing the information, she lowered the camera, and there was Jordan on one knee holding an engagement ring. She giddily said “Yes!” The rest is history.

Here’s a picture of the newly engaged Sonja with her suitcase and flashing her brand new ring!