As with most people, our travel has been completely subdued since March. Actually my best gal pal and I chose a different quarantine location for 3 weeks in late May, that’s another blog subject… but other than that there has been no traveling, and for us, summer is all about road trips and travel.
So in August when one of our sons invited us down to visit them in Oklahoma, we checked the health department reports and decided if we made good choices along the way, we would go.
During a normal road trip we find adventures and other fun avenues to explore. This time however we had to tamper our enthusiasm for new trails and stick to the plan. Here is how we traveled safe, stayed safe and still had a good time along the way.
Day one we traveled to my cousins home in Illinois. It had been several years since we had had the opportunity to stop and visit, so it was really good to catch up, even though it was just a short visit. No sight seeing or visiting around, just an amazing dinner at home with fresh Illinois sweet corn grown down the road, grilled steaks from their farm raised cattle, and all kinds of fresh vegetable sides, including home grown tomatoes and cucumbers. If you’ve never had a meal with some real down home Illinois food, you have no idea what you’re missing. Food is a love language for us Illinois farm gals.
We decided to make a stop for two nights, just the two of us, a little mom & dad getaway. We had never been to anywhere in Missouri and Branson was just south of the interstate we were traveling on to get to Oklahoma, so we decided to stop there. Let me tell you though, that trip from southern Illinois to Missouri was absolutely beautiful. One of the ways we decided to minimize our risk on this trip was to take our own food and picnic along the way. Most grocery stores have beautiful prepackaged salads, we also brought along meat, cheese, bread and bread, as well as prepackaged condiments. Chips, cut veggies and a little bite of chocolate rounded out these meals just nicely. We use a separate cooler for food than for drinks because I like to use ice to keep the drinks cold, but I like to use those big solid ice blocks that come with the boxed meals for the cooler with food because otherwise your food gets wet. If you don’t have any of those, half gallon milk jugs or water bottles frozen with water inside work well also.
The hotel we chose in Branson was spectacular. No other word for it. We usually stay at Marriott brands, and as I didn’t know anything about the area, I relied strictly on reviews from Tripadvisor and the Marriott website and it didn’t fail me. The Marriott’s Willow Ridge Lodge had beautiful grounds, a very nice one bedroom apartment style room and was well set up for no physical contact and complete social distancing. Even this sign on the elevator was an example of this.
One of the things we have consistently done since his shutdown is walk, we have walked for miles and miles and felt good out being outside and getting exercise. Branson, MO is an AMAZING place to walk. There are sidewalks and walking paths that go all around and all through the town. There are hills, hills and more hills. Hills that make you huff and puff. We avoided all the people but walked everywhere, for miles and miles. We saw everything at street and eye level. Branson has SO much for families. From zip lines to Ferris wheels, from go carts to live shows, Branson has it all for families. There is a Titanic exhibit with many, many actual pieces from the Titanic. There is a Ripley’s believe it or not museum and a wax museum. There are two wineries right in town and of course amazing signs that say BRANSON.
So if traveling, here are my suggestions: bring your own food, wear gloves and a mask when you gas up, wear your mask when you enter the gas station, choose where you stay wisely (in other words, this is not the time to skimp), stop only when you have to, wash your hands every time, use purely wipes and hand sanitizer as well and you should be just fine.