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This post is dedicated to all those Traveling Mamas, from the past and present, that have traveled to settle North America. This post was originally published Thanksgiving 2008.
The United States has long been a haven for those fleeing political or religious persecution. It is a well-known fact that Native Americans lived in North America long before settlers from Spain, England, France, and all those from the East came to explore, conquer, and live. But today, our country (and this Continent) is a mixture of ethnic, religious, and political backgrounds. We are so fortunate to live in a place where we can be ourselves, where we can go where we want, where we can dream of the family trips we’ll someday experience.
I sometimes travel alone to places, without a family member or a friend. It can be scary to many people, being alone in an unfamiliar place.
When I traveled to Missouri a few weeks ago, my plane landed around midnight in Kansas City. People rushed off the plane, oblivious to those around them, anxious to get to baggage claim. I walked along, just like everyone else, until the automatic doors opened and a cold biting wind hit me. There was an older Black woman wrapped with a bed sheet around her head. She wore house slippers and held her hands out as if begging.
People walked past her as if she wasn’t there.
I stopped to see what she needed, but all she could do was make an unintelligible sound, tears in her tortured eyes as she looked at me. There was a lanyard hanging around her neck with a card she showed to me.
“Hi, my name is XXXX. I am a refugee from Somalia. My destination is Kansas City, Missouri. If there is a problem, please call this number XXXXXXXX.”
No wonder I couldn’t understand her. She was speaking in another language. I called the number listed and was told that someone should be there to pick her up. I motioned to her asking if she had luggage, but all she had was the plastic shopping bag in her hand. I settled her in the waiting area while I retrieved my own bag and thought of the bravery of this Traveling Mama, leaving her country with just the clothing on her back.
As I grabbed my bag and turned around, I watched two young boys run to the woman and embraced her. Apparently they were her sons that she had blindly sent ahead to a different country to escape the violence and poverty of where they lived, hoping that she would one day see them again. The tears streamed down their faces as they just sat there, embracing. It touched my heart.
The experience made me think of my life and how fortunate my family is. I am thankful to be born in a country where today my children can be raised without fear of where our next meal will come from and where violence is not part of a typical day. What are you thankful for? Be sure to check out TweetsGiving.org.
I somehow coaxed my daughter into riding her first extreme coaster during a family vacation to Branson, Missouri. The ride, Wildfire, is located at the family friendly theme park attraction Silver Dollar City. This park offers shows, rides for all ages, good food, and a place to make memories worth repeating. Silver Dollar City is celebrating it’s fiftieth anniversary of providing wholesome fun for the entire family.
My daughter and I definitely made a memory that will last, although judging by her expressions in the video, she may not want to repeat this one! Hopefully we’ll return for another family vacation and will ride Wildfire once again.
A few years ago our young family experienced an attraction at Stone Mountain, Georgia called Ride the Ducks. It was an okay family experience at the time, but when we had the chance to Ride the Ducks again while in Branson, Missouri, it made me think of just how much our kids have grown.
The Missouri Department of Tourism arranged for us to experience Ride the Ducks in Branson and after we all took the tour, we decided it was much different than our previous adventure in Georgia. Before I go through a boring description of just what this attraction entails, I thought I’d share a snippet from my daughter’s travel journal.
“I got the chance to experience the ride called Ride the Ducks. Now you’re thinking, do I really get to ride a duck? Well, no. It’s actually cooler. You get in an automobile that can go on land or in water. They used these vehicles in WWII and the Korean War. It was used to carry weapons or for night attacks but now it’s used for enjoyment for all ages.
The funnest parts are the quackers that you get and you can drive! Moms, watch the kids quack like there’s no tomorrow! So go check out Ride the Ducks in Branson, MO.”
As you can read, she really enjoyed Ride the Ducks and even learned a few US history facts. My husband and I were surprised at the tour of the Branson area and the war history tour (which included a breath-taking view of Table Rock Lake). This tour is accessible for those with mobility issues and even includes a short cruise on the lake. Kids get the chance to captain the vehicle in boat mode allowing mom and dad to take plenty of photos. My kids’ favorite part? Quacking along to songs as we drove back through Branson. They liked it so much they continued to quack – all day.
The price for a family of four runs around $50 plus tax. There are also other family friendly attractions in the Branson area available in combo tickets which may save you a few dollars. Ride the Ducks attractions are available in other cities and are owned by Herschend Family Entertainment. I love how their mission statement is to “Make Memories worth Repeating”. We repeated the Duck experience and it was so worth it!
This photo was taken in Branson, Missouri on a family attraction tour called Ride the Ducks while staying at a luxury resort in Branson. We thought this squirrel relaxing on a weasel was cute.
Our family took a road trip from south Louisiana to the Ozarks of Missouri for a family vacation. We drove all day, taking our time to see various roadside attractions, such as the Natural Bridge of Arkansas. As we neared our destination, we could see a massive structure towering over a mountain overlooking Table Rock Lake. My son commented that the building looked a bit like Hogwart’s Castle. It was close to being that legendary. We were staying at the Chateau on the Lake Resort and Spa, Branson’s only AAA Four-Diamond resort.
The Rooms: The property has 301 different rooms, including suites. We stayed in two rooms – A Lake View King and Lake View Double. They were connecting rooms and part of the Chateau’s Family Plan which offers 50% off the second room for families. Our king room included a sofa sleeper. The bathrooms in both rooms were spacious with standard tub/shower combo and a second sink in the bedroom area, convenient for “getting ready” time. All rooms have a 32” flat screen television and wi-fi (with additional charge).
The Property: Situated at the top of a mountain, the Chateau on the Lake is impressive. Both kids had wide eyes from the moment we pulled into the parking lot, as they gazed at the indoor multi-story waterfall, and after we checked into our rooms. We walked around as a family to check out all the offerings, including Crawdaddies Kid Club (ages 4-12), the Sassafras Movie Theater with daily shows, and the various restaurants and cafes. Of course, there is an outdoor pool which was closed until the weather gets warmer, but the heated indoor pool more than made up for the lack of warm weather. There are tennis courts and access to the nearby marina. My daughter and I checked out the Spa Chateau one afternoon while the boys played a round of golf at the Payne Stewart Golf Course.
My Mama Moment: The spa visit almost made my top Mama Moment, but I truly enjoyed a few stolen moments with my husband as we toasted each other for the life we’ve shared so far. It was a nice moment, as the kids have just turned old enough to leave in a hotel room alone for a bit and we were able to have a little parent time complete with his and her drinks.
Pros: The property itself is so relaxing that I hated getting into our vehicle to visit the nearby attractions. The views from all the upper level rooms are spectacular, even those overlooking the parking lot! The staff (team members) always remembers names and each one has a smile. The property shuttle offers airport and marina service. There is even a children’s playground and the onsite Sweet Shoppe serves the best milkshakes making this a very family-friendly resort.
Cons: The property is a little pricey, but that’s to be expected (it is a luxury resort, after all). I expected the marina to be closer, but once I saw that the resort is at the top of a mountain, I realized that the marina had to be a little walk away. No worries, the shuttle can drop you off and pick you up. The kids found the arcade a bit lacking (3 games total) but it didn’t stop my daughter from requesting more money for The Claw.
Who Should Go: This property works well for families and couples alike. The conference facilities make it a great choice for group travel and even groups of girlfriends will enjoy the spa and dining onsite. Our family has enjoyed our time together at this luxury resort in Branson, Missouri. We will definitely plan a return visit to the area.
Website: Chateau on the Lake Resort & Spa
Special thanks to the Missouri Department of Tourism for assisting us with our family travel itinerary and Chateau on the Lake Resort for providing lodging. To plan your own family vacation to Missouri check out VisitMo.com