Branson Visit

by Travis Richardson


Today I am writing a quick and dirty post from Portland, Oregon, as I have been traveling over the past two weekends, and will do so for the next three. A weird convergence of a reunion, weddings and concerts has strung five events in a row.

Last week I was in Branson Missouri for a family reunion. For those that have not been, the location has become a vacation retreat for folks living in nearby Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas, and Missouri. It features good wholesome family entertainment ranging from go-cart rides and mini-golf, tons of dining and shopping venues, live music and entertainment, and theme parks. Branson celebrates their regional identity and American pride. Locals poke fun of their hillbilly origins and make jokes about cross state rivalries.

People were friendly and open, but became self-conscious whenever my wife or I mentioned we were from Los Angeles. We were asked more than once what we were doing there, as if we ended up there by some crazy mistake. The local pride that I had seen was replaced with an unnecessary humility. I swear I didn’t have a haughty, evil laugh after saying Los Angeles. Really. While it’s true that Branson is not Las Vegas and Silver Dollar City isn’t Disneyland, we weren’t looking for that. We wanted Branson to be… well Branson. If anything, I was sad that Branson seems to be losing some local flavor as many shows featuring retired music legends and local musicians have been replaced with shows like ABBA and Beatles impersonators.

The overall mood is welcoming as families are there looking for fun. For the most part, I didn’t encounter much political talk, which is good because the toxic, divisive nature of politics has ripped the country apart and keeps Americans separated from each other. Although somebody hung a sign at a busy intersection with the phrase: “God bless veterans and gun-toting Americans,” because you know, those without guns don’t deserve a blessing from God.

So if you’re in the Ozarks and want to have some fun with your family, I’d encourage y’all to stop there. They’ve got a little something for everyone, and it’s still a unique piece of Americana.

Any unique vacations that you’re taking this year?

Travis Richardson is fortunate enough to be nominated for both Anthony and Macavityawards for his short story “Incident on the 405” in MALFEASANCE OCCASIONAL: GIRL TROUBLE. His novella LOST IN CLOVER was listed in Spinetingler Magazine’s Best Crime Fiction of 2012. He has published stories in several online zines as well as the anthologies SCOUNDRELS: TALES OF GREED, MURDER AND FINANCIAL CRIMES  andALL DUE RESPECT ISSUE #1. He edits the Sisters-In-Crime Los Angeles newsletter, reviews Chekhov short stories daily at and sometimes shoots a short movie. His latest novella, KEEPING THE RECORD, concerns a disgraced baseball player who will do anything to keep his tainted home run record. Find out more at



10 thoughts on “Branson Visit

  1. Travis- You make it the place to be just to see! Theme parks have to be a winner for families. 🙂 I’ve only been to L.A. once and that was to go to theme parks with our daughters, though it was more than 20 years ago. Guess it has to have changed quite a bit just like Branson which I haven’t been to. I whisked through Portland, in a snowstorm, on the way to Vancouver on a road trip north from San Fransisco in 2010, but I did insist we visit the biggest bookstore in the world – Powells? – that’s somewhere sort of downtown? It was definitely worth our few hours browsing though we almost didn’t get to Vancouver. The highway was closed down just after we left Portland. Phew! We had a New Year date in Vancouver to get to.


  2. Thanks for the comments on Branson, I still hope to go there someday. We are going camping for a week in the Rocky Mountains in a couple weeks, and that will be a great vacation. Four-wheeling on mountain terrain, peacful nights and wildlife await us, plus great cook-outs and breakfast in fresh mountain air with the birds serenading. This fall I plan to visit the Norsk Hostfest in Minot, North Dakota, where thousands come from all over for big name entertainment, some of it free, and many scandinavian doings. My sister lives 80 miles from it, but otherwise, to stay in the town, reservations need to be made a year ahead of time usually. Some entertainers from Norway usually come each year. Glad you enjoyed your trip and the remainder of it is fun and safe.


  3. Enjoyed the post Travis. It’s funny – I lived in Hot Springs, AR for a few years, spent lots of time in the Ozarks, and Missouri and never made the trip to Branson. My bad. Hopefully, I’ll still get to go some day. My folks went many years ago and really had a good time.


  4. Travis,
    Never been there, but everyone who has only says good things about it. Guess I should take a vacation one of these years. (Sigh) Doris


  5. Never been to Branson. Now that I see that Linda mentioned Hot Springs, I can say that I visited Hot Springs and toured some of those 1900-era health spas. Back then I was an instructional developer doing consulting work at a paper mill in Crossett, Ark. Had to often stay the weekend, and going to Hot Springs gave us something to do.


  6. I was in Branson in July, as I see you were. Silver Dollar City was so hot, we kept going into the one air-conditioned building. The Saloon. LOL We saw the show a few times that day. We loved Branson, went there expecting a great time and had it. I’m going to a family spiritual retreat on the MD/WV border at the end of August and then we are spending 2 weeks at the beach for a family vacation in September, our youngest grandson will be home from Afghanistan. I’m really excited. Thanks Cher’ley


  7. I’ve never been to Branson, though I have friends/family who’ve visited there. Sounds like you had a fun trip–and a busy travel schedule! I don’t have so much on my agenda this summer, which is good I think, because the week’s are just flying by.


  8. Travis, I’ve also never been to Branson but my father and stepmother love it. This year for vacation we went to Hatteras Island and left just as the hurricane headed in. We then went up to Williamsburg which was nicer and more interesting than I expected. I think our favorite vacations were the classic Grand Canyon/Petrified Forest/Painted Dessert, etc. vacation. We also love to go to Mammoth Caves which I swear has the same restaurants, attractions, etc. it had when I was a kid. I’ve also been going more than staying and am relieved to know that the end is in sight on the travel score for a few months. Hope you enjoyed all of your adventures.


  9. I’ve heard interesting things about Branson but I’ve not been there either. I have been to that area of the country before (Mansfield, MO to the Laura Ingalls Wilder farm) and it is BEAUTIFUL country! My father and I are going to the Grand Canyon and other national parks in the Southwest in September, and I am VERY EXCITED about that upcoming trip! Enjoy your travels, Travis!


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