Showboat Branson Belle

The other night I mentioned that we went to Branson, MO this weekend to take my mother-in-law on the Showboat Branson Belle.  A year ago I bought tickets to go through a United Way fundraiser at work and we absolutely LOVED it so this spring my parents went with us and then this last weekend my mother-in-law finally got to experience it.

I can’t even begin to tell you about the awesome weather.  We couldn’t have asked for a better weather experience!  Other than it was a bit overcast and extremely windy, the weather was perfect!  You had to wonder if it really was December 1st when the high topped out on Saturday at 72 degrees.

Now the Showboat Branson Belle is located on Table Rock lake.  Table Rock Lake has 800 miles of shoreline so it’s a good sized lake for a good sized paddle wheel ship that  that took 60 cases of bananas 9 seconds to slide the ship off the shoreline into the lake :).

From Branson you cross over the Dam and then you’re at the Port of Showboat Branson Belle.

When you first walk up there are fun little shops with souvenirs that you can purchase as well as guest relations where you pick up your tickets.

And I love how the geese are going to “pull Santa’s sleigh” :).

And there she is.  The lovely paddle wheel boat.  When they decided to make her, they based it off of the 1800’s paddle wheel boats that were used up and down the rivers.  This particular paddle wheel boat at full speed will hit 10 knots which is 12 mph, although they said that they generally just go at a nice cruising speed of 6mph.  There are 200 crew members on land and lake.

And here’s the trio getting ready to board the boat.  I so need Go Go Gadget arms for photos like these!  Especially when I’m stuck on the far side of the picture taking button :).

Then as you board the ship they take your photo and offer them to you later in the evening as a souvenir.

The Showboat participates in a program to help keep musics in schools and because of that they usually have high schools come and do a “pre-show” show to entertain.  These gals were the Honeybees from Bryant, AR.  Excellent all girls choir might I add.

On your table they have these little flier things.  These are additional in price to your ticket.  My parents bought us one in April when we went and I’ll tell you, the Strawberry Fruit Smoothie is awesome.

About 15 minutes to departing time they start serving the meal, anyway that’s what the waitress told us this time.  Or should I call her a server?  I don’t care, I was one at one time and being called a waitress never offended me!

Corn Biscuit – excellent I may add!

Iceberg & Romaine Salad featuring a Sweet Vidalia Onion Dressing topped with homemade Croutons
– They do a feature at the beginning while you’re eating that takes you around the boat and lets you see behind the scenes footage.  The chef said they start cooking every morning at 7am and everything is made right there on the ship except the desserts (I think is what they said anyway.)  The ship is owned by the same people who own Silver Dollar City and the pastries come from there.

Slow-simmered Beef Roast and
Honey-Dijon Glazed Chicken
Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Sugar
Snap Snow Peas with Julienne Carrots
– You’ll be happy to know I was eating Snap snow peas – which is very odd for me.  I guess I found something new I like 🙂  I can’t even begin to tell you how good the Beef Roast is and I’m not a huge fan of roast but this, very excellent!  I’ll actually eat it!  The chicken is the best though… IMO :).  And those potatoes!  Oh My Gosh!

While you’re eating, of course they show you the footage of the boat but they also have the house band come and play music for you.  These are all very talented musicians!

And then, there was dessert!

Golden Brittle Lemon-Berry Torte drizzled with Caramel – I’m not a huge dessert/sweets person but I swear I could almost just come for this and this alone.  It’s excellent!

And a year ago, because of this ship right here and a cup like this, I became a coffee drinker 🙂

Then there’s like 30-45 minutes after your meal/dessert is served until the big show begins so you can walk out and enjoy the scenery that is Table Rock Lake.  Now my aunt used to and my grandparents still own a lake cabin on Table Rock Lake so I got to grow up with this scenery some in the summers when I was younger.  Although I still can’t water ski to save my life!

Because the day was so windy, the Captain decided for the safety of the passengers and crew we were going to stay docked at the shore.  It didn’t matter because that meant we got to go have your photo taken with the captain, go into his quarters and even see the huge wheel, that in the movie they said the wheel alone weighed 650lbs.

And here’s one of the smoke stacks 🙂

And for good measure, my hubby’s cute butt.  And if you don’t think so, well that’s just mighty fine too 🙂

Now they never stated this, but I wonder if you’re unruly if they make you “Walk the plank” :).

They do curtain calls at 15 minutes and 5 minutes to show starting so you’ll have plenty of time to get back to your seats.  Being the Christmas show they started it with snow!  This will probably be the only snow we’ll see here in Missouri this Christmas season with unseasonably warm temps in the 70’s that go through like next week.  Not normal Missouri weather, that’s for sure.

Now, not only do you get dinner but you also get a show.

The host & MC for the night is Christopher James who is both a talented Comedian and Magician.  I tell you, he’ll have you laugh your a** butt off!

Then you have the ShowMen made up by some extremely talented musicians!  Holy Cow!  And they brought them in from all over the country!  I swear sometimes I wonder how people wind up in Missouri although Branson does have a lot to offer I guess 🙂

I make that comment and then they brought Janice Martin from New York City.  I love when she says there are a “few differences” between Branson and NYC :).

I swear, one minute I could say the reason to come is the food, but then I think, no Christopher James has a little something for everyone, but the ShowMen, they’re excellent singers, but the band makes the show but then you have Janice Martin who can sing and play the violin & piano and does acrobatics with silks and oy…. I’m not sure, I think you almost get the complete package here!

I do think my Mother-in-Law had a fabulous time on the showboat.  Anyway I sure hope so!

Until next time Mr. Polar Bears!

Ok two things with this very long winded, photo heavy post:

  1. Don’t forget about the Review that starts on Friday!  Remember lots of goodies and Prizes!

AQ Chicken House and 34 Years

So today just so happens to be my parents 34th wedding anniversary.  Happy Anniversary mom and dad!!

Yesterday my parents, hubby and I went to Rogers, AR to go shopping at the Pinnacle Hills Promenade.  When we made our plans the day before, I asked if while we were down in the area if we could go eat at A&Q Chicken.  My mom said, “Well, I’m sure we might be able to arrange that.”

The cool thing about going to eat at A&Q Chicken House this particular time was the fact that my parent’s ate their first meal as a married couple on the eve of their wedding day as they were headed out on their honeymoon.  And it just so happened to be this A&Q Chicken House in Springdale, AR.

What’s even better about that story, the lights went out and they ate in the dark.  That didn’t happen this time though.

So anyway, A&Q Chicken House has been around since 1947.  I believe that shows the test of time.  Shows they truly have awesome food.

They start you off with yummy rolls that you can add butter and honey to.  Of course I did that!  I know how to roll :).

I went with the Chicken Parmigiana.

Chicken Parmigiana
A fried Chicken breast smothered with homemade spaghetti, topped with Mozzarella and Parmesan Cheese.

This was a very good Chicken Parmigiana!  The noodles were good and I’m not a huge fan of spaghetti plain, but I ate quite a bit (not all because it was a huge portion!).  The chicken was nicely fried and was juicy and tender.  The sauce on top topped with the cheeses were a perfect blend.  I walked away STUFFED!

Mom & dad both got the Original Pan Fried Chicken

Original AQ Pan Fried Chicken
Three pieces of moist and tender pan fried chicken with the taste and texture from grandmother’s cast iron skillet.  Served with choice of two side items.

Mom went with Green Beans and Mashed potatoes.  Dad went with Smoked BBQ Beans and Cole Slaw.

One time hubby and I ate at the one in Fayetteville and he wound up getting a combo platter with 3 types of chicken.  His favorite (and I agree) was the Over the Coals Chicken, so that’s what he ordered this time.

Chicken over the Coals
Three pieces of pan fried chicken with that “grilled in the backyard” charcoal flavor.  Seasoned with our famous lemon pepper seasoning.  Served with choice of two side items.

Hubby went with the Smoked BBQ Beans & Batter Dipped fries.  Now I tried the beans because I’m always telling Tbug to try new things.  I don’t like beans, I’m sorry, but they did have a good bbq flavor to them, still not a fan of beans though.  The chicken was moist, the charcoal flavor on top of the lemon pepper was perfection!  The fries were very interesting.  A nice batter on top of the fries.  I only tried one though and mine was really hot when I tried it, although definitely not bad.

I loved the fact that they had a map with visitors from all over the US, and the world even.  The papers listed countries that weren’t listed on the map and parts of Canada not seen on this particular map.  They also had a guest registry book that was multiple pages thick.

All the posters on the wall caught my attention showing different things about A&Q through the years.

And if you think about it, it is Arkansas so… Former President Bill Clinton has even visited there and they even documented it.  There were multiple photos of him eating there, co-mingling with the other patrons.

And how cool is this truck.  If anyone knows what it is, please by all means share!

They have two locations, one here in Springdale and one in Fayetteville.  I have eaten at both and I say, heck if you’re in the area, you like good fried chicken, you should so check them out :).

Happy Anniversary to my Momma & Daddy!  Here’s to 34 more brilliant years (I’ve been watching too many British movies I think).  And I guess maybe we should have taken them here today instead of yesterday… oh well maybe next year.

A Week Long Birthday Celebration + TGI Fridays (Springfield, MO)

I swear, my husband must be one of the luckiest chaps on earth, right?  He got a week long birthday celebration, start with his surprise birthday party two Saturday’s ago, his actual birthday last Thursday where he got to open my presents and his momma cooked him (us) dinner, and then this last Saturday (as in 2 days ago) Tbug, my parents and I took him to dinner.  Lucky duck!

Hey, if you’re going to bring in 30, why not do it in style… Am I right?

So since I shared the surprise party with you already, let’s jump forward to his birthday.

Now truthfully I should have waited until Tbug could be with us to give him his presents, and I almost held one back to give to him with her around, but since it was his 30th birthday I wanted him to have presents to open so I let him open both presents.  I guess I kind of suck that way…

He had been wanting a new pair of house shoes so look, what do you know I listen, sometimes.  Just don’t let the word spread.  I don’t want to get a reputation or something ;).

Then, pretty much since we got together he’d tell me he wanted to get a flag display case for his grandfather’s flag that was draped over his casket when he was buried, so I finally found him one, not that it is difficult, just I finally did it.

His mom came over and made him a birthday dinner, complete with sign greeting the birthday boy and everything at the entrance of our driveway (sadly I didn’t get a photo.)

She made Cheeseburger Meatloaf, Mashed Potates, Copper Pennies, Corn and crustless cheesecake.  All of his favorites.

We waited until Saturday to celebrate his birthday with my parents since one of his favorite restaurants is TGIFriday’s.  The closest one is an hour away and sometimes on work nights that is a bit of a drive.

Tbug gets to spend her daddy’s birthday with him, however since we were celebrating on Saturday she didn’t have to worry about missing cheer on Thursday and we got her on Saturday evening so she could go out to dinner with us.

On our way to Springfield to pick up Tbug and head to dinner.

 It was handy that Tbug’s mom was already in Springfield so we met up with her at Bass Pro and then headed for TGIFriday’s.

Now if you recall back, Hubby and I have given up pop, however every once in a while we’ll either have one or something that resembles one.  Saturday night happened to be one of those times.  I had a Cherry Limeade Crush (left: Muddled Cherries, Fresh Lime Juice, Pomegranate & Sprite) and hubby had a Strawberry Lemonade Slush (right).

Our waiter teased that the kid got Coke and the parents got the sweet stuff.  LOL :).

After the waiter took our orders, mom gave hubby his card & present.  He’s been wanting a new wallet so what do you know, someone was looking out for him :).

Now, Tbug looks extremely bored here, however I can assure you she was so excited about going to dinner with us, when she called hubby on Thursday night to wish him a happy birthday it’s all she could talk about.

Holy cow I LOVE their food.  I should try something new but sometimes when you find something sooooo yummy, it’s hard to vary away from it!

I got Chicken and cheese. (Sauteed Garlic-Marinated Chicken served over melted cheese with onions and peppers served with creamy mashed potatoes.)  Holy YUM! 

Hubby loves TGIFriday’s because of their Jack Daniels menu.  He went with the Jack Daniel’s Sirloin and Shrimp (10-oz black Angus Sirloin fire grilled and basted in Jack Daniels sauce, paired with Crispy Cajun Spiced Shrimp.  Served with your choice of two sides.  He went with double loaded Mashed Potatoes).  May I add Double YUM!

 Tbug went with Pasta with Marinara and a side salad with ranch.  But don’t be fooled, she ate oneo f my Chicken breasts too :).

My dad went with the Jack Daniels Salmon (Norwegian salmon fillet fire-grilled and glazed with Jack Daniel’s sauce.  Served with Jalapeno Corn bread and your choice of two sides.  He went with a salad with Ranch (which he didn’t wind up getting) and Potato wedges.)  He said it was fabulous.

Mom got a 10oz Black Angus Sirloin with a Tomato & Mozzarella salad & Vegetable Medley.  I’m sure she was the healthiest of us all! :).

Now dad is a member of their Stripes club and since his birthday was the 9th of October, he actually had a coupon for a free Birthday dessert.  The waiter recommended the Whiskey Cake (a sharable portion of Warm Toffee Cake, topped with glazed pecans and vanilla ice cream and served with Butterscotch Jack Daniels Whiskey Cream Sauce). Seriously this dessert made you think you’d died and gone to heaven.  It was fantabulous!  Tbug wound up finishing it off after Dad, hubby and I had some.  Oddly enough I think she wanted more… LOL.

And they found out it was “hubby’s birthday” and he got a Birthday Sunday!  Sweet!

All I can say is I sure hope that this was an unforgettable birthday for hubby and a great way to ring in a new decade.  Happy Birthday baby!

How we spent our 1st Anniversary Part 3

Get caught up here:
Post 1 – Friday night
Post 2 – Saturday
Post 3 – Saturday

Post 4 – Sunday
Post 5 – Sunday

For our Anniversary we ate at Top of Waikiki.  The restaurant makes 1 full revolution (yes it spins) every hour so you can see the city.  Here’s one of the photos I got, and of course, spinning restaurant with low lights=blurry!


Happy 1 Year Anniversary baby!