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 www.chekhovshorts.com 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 www.tsrichardson.com