Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Table Rock Lake

Several months ago, I was at Bass Pro Shop with my niece and nephew.  They had some kids fishing event we wanted to check out...

Right next to that fishing event, there was a booth.  And a guy selling a weekend at Big Cedar Lodge at Table Rock Lake.  You know where this is going.  I am the worlds easiest sell, I swear.  He hardly even had to do much talking, haha.  He handed me a $25 Bass Pro Shop gift card right there, and promised me another $75 in gift cards once I sat through a "no pressure" sales presentation on buying in to the time share.  Sold.

I had to pay $150 then (would have been $100 - which would have been free - if I would go during the week) for a Friday and Saturday night stay.  I was excited and called Matt - who is the logical one and was a little less excited, but still agreed to check it out with me.

My excitement was gone, too, once I talked to my brother.  He had just done that same trip last year.  And they didn't actually get to stay at Big Cedar Lodge - which looked pretty awesome.  They stuck them in a hotel in BRANSON, 20 minutes away from the resort and the lake.  No way.  Not happening. (Not that there is anything wrong with Branson - I just wanted to stay at the lake!)

Ugh.  I was so mad, so I called to cancel.  But once again, I'm too easy.  They upgraded me to stay at the resort for free. And I said fine.  So Matt and I took off work early last Friday and made the 3.5 hour drive up to Table Rock Lake.  We stopped for dinner at Houlihans in Springfield, and again at Wal-Mart in Branson to get some groceries for the weekend.

                                                       Clearly I was hungry... 

Matt was SO not happy I drug him to another Wal-Mart
   The drive really wasn't bad at all.  It didn't feel like we were just a few hours from KC.  Everything was green and there were actual big hills - not the flatness of Kansas.

We pulled up to Big Cedar Lodge just as the sun was setting.  I took us a few tries, but we eventually found the check-in spot ... and got a map to find our room a little easier.

We had pretty much a full kitchen in our room!  Even a blender!

Matt was sad about the deer head on the wall.

Cookies on our bed!

The view of the lake from our balcony.
 So far so good.  Every one and every thing was super nice!  I'm always pretty beat on Friday nights, so we just went to bed early... 

...which meant we woke up pretty early the next morning.  That was kind of planned, because I wanted to get a long run in at the Dogwood Canyon Nature Park.  Lucky for me ... it was raining.  I decided to have Matt drive me over to the nature park anyways, hoping the rain would just stop.  It was about 20 minutes away, and it rained the whole way.  Deciding that I wasn't going to melt, I took off running, with Matt's sock over my hand/wrist to cover up my Nike running watch (which stopped working at mile 10).   
You can't really tell...but it's raining
The trail was absolutely beautiful and I really wish I would have taken some pictures, but I didn't want to chance it with the rain.  It rained on me for about the first 7 or 8 miles...which really sucked.  I was soaked and my shoes were squishing with every step.  And to top it off, for some reason I decided to only fill up 2 of the 4 bottles on my running belt.  So I was out of liquid about the time it stopped raining.  Sweet.  The last 6 or 7 miles were pretty brutal, and included lots of walking.  I'm blaming it on the rain, nothing to drink, and the HILLS in Missouri/Arkansas (yes, the trail went in to Arkansas, too).  Oh well.  At least I got the miles in I guess...  I waited in the gift shop for a few minutes before Matt came back for me and talked the girls working there in to letting me have a bottle of water since I didn't have any money and was beyond thirsty.

 I was also beyond soaked when Matt showed up.  I can't believe he even let me in his car, haha.

The sun was starting to peak out by that point, which was nice.  But we had to go sit through our two hour presentation about why we should buy in to the Big Cedar Lodge property.  Blah blah blah.  We were the youngest ones in there by about 20 years, and the lady doing the presentation failed to mention inflation and the increase in salaries as she was talking about how much hotel prices have increased in the past 20 years.  It was just some funny math, and I'm pretty sure a lot of the older people in the room were falling for it. 
Driving back from Dogwood Canyon

We sat through that, went on our tour of the property with another guy, and then had to sit down with a third guy to try and talk us in to buying.  I kind of thought it might not be a bad idea since we like to travel so much, but there was no way we were doing anything that day.  And there also was no way we were shelling out almost $20,000 or paying 16.9% interest on that.  What a joke.  We said no as nicely as we could, and got on with our day...

And what a day it had turned out to be!  The sun was shining and it was nice and warm by the time that stuff was all over!  We went back to the room, changed in to our swimsuits, and walked down to the club house for the lazy river.  We didn't take anything with us since we were going to be in the water...which meant no pictures.  :(

We thought the lazy river was going to be some long thing, but it seriously took us about 5 minutes to float the whole thing...and the first half of that time was spent trying to get in the tube the proper way, haha.  We floated it a few times, and then walked down to the beach to check out the stand up paddle boards and the kayaks/canoes.  (Still no camera/pictures!)

The stand up paddle boards were all taken, so we walked around the dock a little bit, and ended up snagging a two-person kayak to take out on the lake.  We actually worked pretty well as a kayaking team and made it quite a ways down the lake...far enough that a guy on the boat docks yelled at us and told us we couldn't go out there any further!  It was pretty relaxing though - and really just a gorgeous evening to be out on the water!

We had dinner reservations at The Worman House that night, so we went back to the room to shower and clean up for that.  The guy that gave us our tour of the property told us it was this amazing 5 star place.  I dont' know about that.  It was good - I had salmon and Matt had local trout - but amazing and 5 star...eeehhh...I wouldn't go that far.   We did ask to sit out on the empty patio, so we had a private dining experience over-looking that sunset on the lake.  That was pretty sweet!

And the dessert.  Ooohh man.  We don't usually order dessert, but a couple of the ones on the menu sounded pretty good, and we were on vacation, so I ordered both of them!  The "Gooey Butter Cake" was about the best thing I've ever had.  I mean, it's up there with Momofuku Crack Pie we had in NYC two years ago!  I can't imagine why...I mean, with a name like "Gooey Butter Cake" I'm sure it's straight fat, but it was oh so good!  We also had some sort of white chocolate cake with blueberries...that they set on fire in front of us!  That's always exciting, and I got a great pic of it! :)

We were pretty much in food comas by the time we got through that, but we decided to check out the Buzzard Bar, which we heard had a good singer/comedian guy there that night.  The place was packed, so we stood in the door for a few minutes.  He had a nice voice - during the one song he sang - but the rest of the time he told awful jokes that all the hill-billies in the bar just died laughing at.  The people watching was more entertaining than the entertainer himself.  So we didn't last long there. 

Sunday morning we had talked about going to the gym for a workout, but went with sleeping in instead.  So when we finally got out of bed, we pretty much just packed up and hit the road.  We wanted to make the 10:30 Catholic mass in Branson.  It was cloudy and definitely looked like rain when we went in, but during mass, the storm really hit.  Some of the hardest rain (and loudest thunder) I had heard in awhile.  So when we got out...we had no choice but to make a run for it to the car.  Matt was NOT pumped about the idea, but I thoroughly enjoyed running through the parking lot and splashing through the puddles. :)

I wasn't joking when I said it was pouring.  We were soaked in a matter of seconds.

In fact, the storm was so bad and the rain was coming down so fast, we both got Flood Warning notifications on our phones!  Never seen that before!

Since we were already in Branson, and had already driven down the main strip to see the town, we decided to check out the outlet malls there.  Bad.  Idea.  Apparently everyone else in the county decided to do the same thing.  We drove around, in the pouring rain, trying to find a parking spot....along with all the other cars circling for spots.  I'm way too impatient for that, and the stores didn't even look that good.  We were out.

Problem is, the traffic getting out of Branson is a disaster.  One little road with stop-lights that every single tourist is trying to get down it.  Add the driving rain in to that, and it's a disaster.  So we pulled over in a parking lot and pulled out our phones to come up with our own alternate route back to the highway.  Worked like a charm, and we were back on it in no time.  I bet we would have sat there for an hour at least with all those other cars. Such a mess.

The rain continued but lightened up by the time we got to Springfield.  And since I had my other $75 in gift cards to Bass Pro Shop, we had to stop at "The Grandaddy of All Outdoor Stores" per the sign on the front. The place was GIANT!  And they actually had way cooler stuff than I thought they would.  I mean, it wasn't just all fishing and hunting stuff.  I found some cool Teva sandals that I really want for my trip to India next month...but they didn't have the color I wanted.  Matt found some cool stuff, too (see pic below). ;)

The rest of the drive home was pretty uneventful.  No more rain, and we pulled in to KC around 5pm!

Overall, I think the Bass Pro Shop thing was worth it.  We stayed at a really nice place for $25/night essentially!  Just beware of the sneaky sales pitch, and don't go with the intention of spending $20,000...and you should be good! :)

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