Friday, July 25, 2008

Branson Landing ~ Branson, Missouri ~ July 23, 2008

We had a bike to pick up at Point Lookout/College of the Ozarks in Branson, Missouri, so we decided to make a day of it and visit Branson Landing while we were there.

Branson Landing is a recent addition to Branson, Missouri. A shopping and entertainment area right along the waterfront of Lake Taneycomo. It is very 'family friendly' and geared toward nice, clean fun - a strip of shops and chain stores with everything from very upscale shops to chain stores to souvenir type shops. Needless to say, there is something for everyone. There were also spas and beauty salons and a Bass Pro Shop. (for traveling RVer or people with trailers, if you follow 76/BR 65, you can make a right onto Branson Landing Boulevard, just before the Lake Taneycomo bridge - make a left at the light and go down toward the campground - make a left just before the campground into the large FREE parking area south of Bass Pro - plenty of parking for trailers and RVs....and a nice, scenic, lakefront walk up to the Landing).

There is also the Ride the Ducks boat/trolley. This takes you on an hour long tour of Branson Landing and into and out of the water of Lake Taneycomo. See picture below:

Ride the Ducks coming out of the water onto land
For land lubbers, there is a regular trolley for rides to and from the parking lot and all along the Landing to the various shops and entertainment. See picture below:
We had an excellent lunch at Texas Land and Cattle Steak House which is right along the waterfront of Branson Landing. Click here to see my post.

We also made sure to be at the Fire and Fountain when the music started at the top of the hour. This was quite a sight! The fountains are going all the time, but at the top of every hour, they start some music and the fountains, along with fire from the stacks, is timed with the music putting on a very spectacular show. See a few pics below:
We had a great time at Branson Landing. They also have concerts and other entertainment on the Landing by the Fire and Fountains. Although we weren't there for this, the top of the hour shows are worth making sure that you plan a stop along the waterfront in time to see this.

Texas Land and Cattle Steak House~ Branson, Missouri

We had a bike to pick up in Branson, Missouri and decided to spend some time at Branson Landing while we were there. To read more about our visit to Branson Landing click here.

Although there were many choices for lunch, we decided to eat at Texas Land and Cattle Steak House. This is a new addition to Branson Landing and we had previously seen these restaurants while out on the road, so we decided to try it out and see what they had to offer.

We were very impressed with the Texas Land and Cattle Steak House at Branson Landing! Our server was Andrew and he was very helpful and took great care of us. We both wanted a smoothie, which they don't serve, but he checked to see if they could accommodate us. Another server suggested a virgin strawberry daquari, made with fresh strawberries ~ they were excellent! Sometimes you get those daquari mixes, but this was made with fresh fruit and was some of the best we had ever had.

We also ordered steak nachos as an appetizers and they were incredible! We finished those off just in time for our food to arrive. Chris ordered the Carne Enchiladas ~ marinated, grilled steak, pico de gallo, and two cheese enchiladas with chili con carne on top ~ he said it was awesome (and only 8.99 on the lunch menu!). See pic below:

I had the BBQ Chicken Quesadilla with a side salad (I chose a ceasar salad and have to say, it was almost as big as a regular salad!). The BBQ Chicken Quesadilla was excellent. It was also severed with guacamole, sour cream and pico de gallo ~ and at lunch menu prices, it was only 6.99. There was more than enough to fill me up. We both had leftovers to take home and heat up the next day for lunch. See pic below for BBQ Chicken Quesadilla:
We were at Texas Land and Cattle Steak House mid-afternoon, which is sometimes kind of 'iffy' on service and the speed in which you get your food, but we had excellent service while we were there and will definitely return next time we're in Branson.
Andrew was an excellent server. I even asked about recent flooding I had seen of the Branson Landing area and asked him how high up the water got. He showed us a couple of pictures he had on his cell phone of the water cresting and pointed out where the pictures were in relation to where we were sitting. He was very friendly and helpful and made us feel right at home. Thanks, Andrew!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas ~ July 5-7, 2008

We left Missouri on Saturday morning and headed to Oklahoma. Our first stop was in Stillwater, OK ~ I have to say, it is beautiful country in northeast Oklahoma. I searched for a special restaurant to eat that evening and since our next stop would be in Choctaw, I found a German restaurant that looked promising ~ Old German Restaurant ~ and was really looking forward to a nice sit down dinner.

As luck would have it, the stop in Stillwater took longer than we thought. Okay, and I hadn't really eaten all day, so I was getting cranky and ugly. When I got a little short tempered with our pick up guy in Stillwater, because we had to wait on him, Chris just reached over and started up the truck and went around the corner to Sonic. Now, Sonic was not what I had in mind and I was disappointed, but so, ya know, I needed to eat. Even though it was just Sonic, I do have to say the food was good, service was great, and I got something substantial in my belly. (Chris was very thankful!)

We still had to go to Choctaw, and as luck would have it, we had to drive past the Old German Restaurant I had picked out. Their parking lot was packed! Out of curiosity, I did some research and found this blog post. Dang! We would have really enjoyed that!

We made it to Chris's mom's in Oklahoma City that evening and enjoyed a nice visit and catch up session. When we go to mom's we sleep on an air mattress in the living room. It's pretty comforatable for most of the night, but toward morning I decide I'm getting too old for things like air mattresses. LOL We got Sunday morning and had a good breakfast and visited a little more. We headed for Texas around noon and traffic was heavy even through southern Oklahoma. I guess all the holiday travelers from the 4th of July weekend were heading home.

We had several stops in Texas, the first was to drop off furniture in Frisco, TX. She was the nicest person! She helped us unload and then insisted we sit down and have a soda and some vegetable chips ~ I thought I had found something really healthy until I remembered that potato chips are 'vegetables', too. We then headed for Irving, TX to pick up a motorcycle. It's so nice when the people are there and waiting. After Irving, we headed to Cleburne, TX to drop off a motorcycle that we had picked up in Buffalo, NY. This was a young man who works in an oil field and has an F250 truck ~ he's going to ride the motorcycle back and forth to work to save fuel (that's getting to be a common thing these days, isn't it???). Then we headed to Alvarado, TX to pick up a truck cab, and then to Dallas to pick up a Vespa scooter. It was a pretty uneventful day in all.......which is kind of nice sometimes. haha

For some reason when you mapquest this, it doesn't seem like it should take long.....but it did. Traffic in and around Dallas is always heavy, but the Sunday night of a holiday weekend? Ugh.

We were starving by the time we stopped to eat that night. We found a great little place called El Paso Tex-Mex Cafe along Hwy. 75. Click here to read my blog post about that.

We kept driving late into the night. I ended up falling asleep for the last hour or so of the night's travels. I never sleep when Chris is driving, but my allergies were giving me fits and I had to take a Benadryl. I'm such a wuss when it comes to medicine! I really struggled to stay awake, but I had one of those times where, no matter how hard I tried, I just could NOT will my eyes to stay open.

We made it to Anadarko, OK and slept in the truck (did I say I was too old to sleep on an air mattress???) at a truck stop. Honestly, I can't tell you which one....whatever one is in Anadarko along Hwy. 69. LOL I must have been really, really exhausted; I'm usually very anal about this kind of thing.

When we woke up, we got started right away and drove to Rogers, Arkansas to deliver the motorcycle we picked up in Irving, TX. Turns out, it was a gift for a couple's teenage son (it was his birthday....they must love him!). He was upstairs playing Guitar Hero and never knew we were outside with his parents delivering his birthday gift.

Going to Arkansas we took I-40 into Ft. Smith, AR and then took Hwy. 540 up through the Ozark and Boston Mountains into Rogers. It is beautiful there! It's Missouri, only taller. LOL Arkansas and Missouri are really odd with their mountain areas. If you draw a line diagonally from the southwest corner to the northeast corner of both states, the top half of Missouri is flat and the bottom half is moutains and the top half of Arkansas is mountains and the bottom half is flat.

We left Arkansas along Hwy. 71 and went into Missouri. We had one stop in Battlefield, MO to drop off the truck cab and then on to home! We love to travel, but home is HOME (and where our bed is....the one with a pillow top mattress and box springs...), and we were so glad to be here.

El Paso Tex-Mex Cafe ~ Dallas, Texas

We stopped at the El Paso Tex-Mex Cafe in Dallas, TX on Sunday, July 6, 2008. It was late by the time we had a chance to stop and eat and we were starving! We were heading north on Hwy. 79 through Dallas and just kind of scanning the area for something still open (it was close to 10:00). Chris spotted the El Paso restaurant and it looked easy to get to and easy to get the truck and trailer in and out.

When we pulled up there were a few people sitting outside on the deck and we thought that sounded really nice. When we went inside Chris asked if they were still open and they told us the kitchen closed in 10 minutes - but, the cook said he would keep it open. How nice is that??? Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Chris ordered spinich enchiladas ~ something new on the menu. I ordered the chicken fajita quesadilla.....and we ordered the spinich quesadilla, just for leftovers later.

The food was excellent. Even though it was late and I'm sure they were wanting to close up shop and go home, they didn't rush us and the food and service were great.

Chris did say that they maybe had a tad bit too much spinich on the enchilada for his taste. We ate the rest of the chicken quesadilla the next day *cold* and it was still good!

Kudos to El Paso Tex-Mex Cafe in Dallas, Texas!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Cadillac Ranch ~ Amarillo, TX

Kootenai River ~ Montana

Best of....January - June 2008

I decided to do a 'Best of...' post covering the first 6 months of 2008. Not all of these places have been blogged about due to the trial and error phase of my blogging experience. But, we've been around a little and have experienced some great places that qualify for the 'Best of...' category.

Best Bakery (hands down) - Rockland Bakery, Nanuet, NY - I'm from the midwest, and I'm here to tell you that you haven't had bagels until you've had true New York bagels ~ and these are scrumptious!

Best Italian Restaurant -  Bianca's Ristorante Italiano in Ft. Myers, FL ~ never mind that we're friends with the owners, Bill & Stacy ~ this place is just incredible!

Best Cheesecake - Tahoe Joe's Famous Steakhouse in Vacaville, CA - try the cheesecake with the chocolate sauce to dip it in. Mmmmmmm......

Best Unique Place to Eat - The Place in Guilford, CT - it's all outdoors with industrical spools as tables and stumps as seats ~ they're slogan, 'Park your rump on a stump at The Place'. They only serve grilled, barbecued meat and a few skewers; the rest is on you. BYOB!

Best Roadhouse - No Name Pub in Big Pine Key, FL - just loved the atmosphere, service, and food here. 

Best 'House' salad - The Pasta House Company in Crestwood, MO - something about the artichoke hearts and the house dressing......even better as a leftover!

Best Buffalo Quesadilla (real buffalo/bison meat) - Big Texan Steakhouse in Amarillo, TX - home of the 72 oz. steak.

Best Italian Nachos - Johnny Carino's in Fairfield, CA - this may have been our first visit to a Johnny Carino's Country Italian restaurant. I know we were impressed with the italian nachos.

Best Mountain Pass that'll scare the pants off you - Monteagle Pass, I-24 at Monteagle, TN ~ you know it's bad when they have a stoplight for truckers, so not too many of them are going down at once.

Best Mountain Road that'll scrare the pants off you - Hwy. 501 between Buena Vista, VA and Lynchburg, Va ~ we pulled a 24' trailer over that road! (oh, and there is that 'back road' coming down from Big Bear, CA, on the desert side...that's just crazy....we pulled a trailer down that, too....hmmmm)

Best Truck Stops overall - Flying J - we'll plan our fuel stops around Flying Js.

I will edit and update as I go through my past posts!