Seven years ago my best friend Lil up and left Minnesota and moved to Branson. Oh, how I hated to see her go so far away. Well, it isn't really that far. She and her husband can make the trip in about nine and a half hours. But for me, well, I don't care to drive that much and have never driven down to see them by myself. Rather, I travel with my fun relatives, which I really enjoy! Consequently, I don't get to see her as often as I would like.
Thursday my Aunt Liz and I left my home at 7 am and drove to Owatonna where we met my sister (thanks for driving her over, Jerry), and the three of us headed south in my Aunt's new van. Wow! This new vehicle has all the bells and whistles, some of which we have yet to figure out how to operate!! We drove to a Des Moines suburb where we picked up my Cousin Linda who had driven over from Chicago. Linda has never traveled with us before and was very anxious to join us.
At half past noon, we set out for Branson. Things were fine until we came to Kansas City. I hope I don't offend you, Lil, when I say that Missouri (especially Kansas City) has the most confusing and misleading highway signage of any place I have ever traveled. We mistook a sign for the Interstate and got off on a 4 lane state highway that had stop lights about every mile - this was at four o'clock in the afternoon. Picture lots of cars and lots of red lights and you'll understand why it took us over an hour to meet up to the highway we needed.
Our mission - other than arriving at Lil and Jim's home, was to stop at our secret bittersweet find (If you think I'm going to mention the exact location here, you are mistaken.) to clip some small branches of the beautiful fall decoration. We were happy to get there before the sun set. We clipped a few bags full, and also managed to pick up some Osage fruit (hedge apples) that had dropped to the ground. These big, textured green balls are being marketed as cures for keeping spiders out of garages and basements. I'm not sure they work, but our Cousin Pat asked us to bring some back for her.
After our mission was accomplished and the sun was setting, we were on our way and stopped to eat at a very good restaurant - Smith's Blackberry Restaurant, a great small-town, family run restaurant with excellent "down home cooking." They feature home-made rolls, pies, cobbler, real mashed potatoes, huge servings of fried chicken, hot roast beef sandwiches, etc. We've eaten there twice before and probably will stop there again for breakfast on Sunday morning.
We pulled into Lil's driveway at 9:50 pm, almost 15 hours after leaving home. It doesn't matter if we make good time - just so we get there.