Pete & April's Ozarks Trip

From Silver Dollar City to the Rolling Stones

December 1-5, 2005

This past weekend, my friend Pete and I went to Silver Dollar City and to see the Rolling Stones in Memphis, TN, with a final stop at Beech Bend to check out the Kentucky Rumbler.

Pete arrived here in Dayton on Wednesday evening, and then he came to my apartment on Thursday morning and we were off.

It took us most of the day to get to Branson, MO, home of Silver Dollar City, my favorite park in the whole world (at least of all the parks I have been to.) It is about a 9-hour drive from my place to Branson, and 13 hours from Pittsburgh to Branson (Pete lives in Pittsburgh.)

We stopped at this indoor arcade/amusement park called Miner Mike's. Here is the website

This was in Osage Beach, MO, on the way to Branson, but a bit out of the way. Pete had checked the website before we left for the trip and the website said it was open daily until 9pm. Well, we arrived there right around 6 or 7 and it was closed, not a person in sight! (which is why we had trouble finding it, because no lights were on!) The sign on the door said only open Saturdays and Sundays. This will teach us to call the place and not just rely on the website. This place supposedly, has a kiddie coaster inside. We peeped in through the windows and saw this miniature train type of ride. it did not have any hills on the track from what we could see, but then again it was dark inside and we could not see the whole ride. Greatly disappointed, we decided to go to Panera Bread to eat, which was down the road.

I have never been to Panera Bread. Pete and my other friend Mark said they had the best broccoli cheese soup. I found it to be okay, nothing spectacular. As you will find out later in this TR, this trip also turned out to be sort of a chill-rating excursion.

After we ate, we headed to Branson. There was a bit of traffic on the strip. We ended up staying at this really nice Best Western for a decent rate. It had a nice indoor pool and hot tub. Pete and I always base where we stay on whether they have a hot tub. (-: It was nice to relax in the hot tub and then get a good night's sleep before getting up for Silver Dollar City in the morning.

Friday - we got up, no breakfast, and got to Silver Dollar City just as they opened. And where, might you ask, was the first place we went? You guessed it, Powder Keg!

Now, I did not know what to expect from this ride. It launches you up this rather steep hill, and then you drop down the other side Into a really steep ravine-type hill. It then takes you through some more fully air-loaded hills, twists and turns, before you then make you way up a lift hill, descend into another steep hill, make a couple more air-loaded turns, and then you are done. Let me just say this...

POWDER KEG is my number two in my top 10 steel coaster list!

Yes indeed, folks, it is right under Phantom's Revenge. The launch and first hill are a thousand times better than Hypersonic. The fact that it is right on a ravine, built within the mountainous terrain, makes it even better. And, there was essentially no more than a two-train wait! There is more air in the front than the back.

This was Pete's 681st coaster!

Now, we were told that Powder Keg will close if the temperature reaches below 40 degrees. Well, It was certainly getting there. So, with only a detour to get some grub, (the much-anticipated succotash), we decided to continuously ride it because we knew it would close soon. And, indeed, after our fifth ride, at around 4: 15 central time, the temperature went down to 39 and it closed, not to be opened for the rest of the night. It would have been nice to get a night ride on it, but at least we got to ride it.

What was funny was, there were lines In the park for almost all of the shows. In fact, the lines were quite long for the shows. However, all the coasters were walk-on. It was great!

In no particular order, we hit Thunderation, the mine ride (my favorite mine ride next to PKI's Adventure Express). You could stay on this thing, that is how short the line was. We were told it closes when it gets to 32 degrees, so it did not close for the duration of the night. We also hit Wildfire, which we were told closes at 38 degrees. We rode it twice after Powder Keg closed, thinking it would be closing soon as well. Well, surprisingly, it did not close. We got some really really really nice night rides on it. OMG, unbelievable. Walk-on, too. The air in the very back seat of that ride is insane. It seems like your ass is 12 inches off the seat for at least 5 seconds. I would put Wildfire in my top 5 steel list.

Fire In the Hole never closes for temperature. We rode it once for lack of time. It was much better than Blazing Fury, Dollywood's version of Fire in the Hole.

As for the rest of the day, it went fast. We got about 5 rides on the mine train (making sure we got a couple in the dark, which was insane, since part of it goes through the woods.) I bought a long-sleeved red Powder Keg shirt and Pete bought a short-sleeved one and a magnet. (You should see his magnet collection, WOW!) We pigged out. Succotash, soup. Now THIS is funny -- This was the start of our chili tasting...

We wanted to do the cave tour, since Pete had never been. The last tour was at 8. It was 7:55 and we headed up front. BUT, we did not get the chance to have any soup! There was this cheeseburger soup that Pete really wanted to try but there was just no time. So, on the way to the cave, we saw this soup stand that sold chili and broccoli cheese soup. No cheeseburger soup, but we would have to make do. I was determined to try their soup. So, I ordered the cheese-broccoli and Pete ordered the chili and they bagged it up for us and we took it on the cave tour with us. Walking up and down a total of a few hundred stairs, ducking to fit between walls, sweating our asses off, and I was carrying a bag with two big bowls of soup in it for a whole hour. LOL! Pete said he gave me credit for that. It was tough.

After the cave tour we went back to our room and were finally were able to try the soup. Pete LOVED the chili. There were actually CHUNKS of meat in it rather than ground meat. The pieces of meat were HUGE! Pete really enjoyed it. The broccoli-cheese soup was only okay. I would say Panera Bread's was better.

We got into the hot tub and relaxed yet again. Saturday morning we were to get up and drive 5 hours to Memphis to see the Rolling Stones.

The drive from Branson to Memphis wasn't too bad. Before we went to the concert, we drove to Graceland, which was very close to downtown. No tours were going on. I think they ended at 4 and we were there at 7. There was this little stretch of sidewalk right in front of the mansion where you could park and take pictures.

Now, I mean no disrespect to the King, but why oh why did he choose to live in Memphis? It was sooo run down. Elvis Presley Blvd. was nothing to get excited about. Pete and I were very surprised at this. Also, Pete encountered some really mean homeless people in downtown Memphis. Note to self: don't move to Memphis.

We were hungry before the concert so we stopped at this diner-type restaurant in downtown Memphis and got some burgers and guess what else...chili! It was actually pretty good. I liked It better than Wendy's and Silver Dollar City, but Pete said that Silver Dollar City's was still the best.

Off to the concert. We had nosebleed seats. Which I did not mind at first. But then when Mick Jagger got up there and talked between the songs I could not make out a damned word he said. And these tickets were 65 bucks! The next best seats were 160, and the next best after that were 350! About 6 songs into the show, when Keith Richards sang two songs, Pete and I decided to see if we could sneak down and get better seats. Indeed, we found two 350-dollar seats that we sat in for the rest of the concert. What an amazing difference! It was definitely a great experience! I had a lot of fun!

After the concert we got a room outside of Memphis. We were both so exhausted, and knew we had a long drive ahead of us the next morning.

We left about 10 am the next morning and stopped off at Beech Bend in Bowling Green, Kentucky to check out the construction progress of the Kentucky Rumbler. That is going to be one good ride!

I had a really good time on the trip, and I cannot wait to ride all the new woodies next year, especially Voyage and Rumbler.

Keep the small parks alive in 2005!

Thanks for reading!


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