Anniversary Weekend in Lake Ozark

Anniversary Weekend in Lake Ozark

When we were looking for options for our anniversary weekend, we had lots of thoughts. We could go somewhere we’ve been and know we like.  Or we could go somewhere new! But with endless options within like 5 hours of us, we didn’t know where to start.

I was checking Groupon Getaways (some great deals, but mostly inspiration for locations) and saw something on Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri. It was like 4.5 hours away from us and intriguing.

To be honest, I was sort of skeptical.  I did some googling but I couldn’t tell what the area was really like.  It looked nice with some neat resorts, but I know that sometimes things look better online than they are in person. But we decided to take a chance and try this area.

We ended up booking an AirBNB there and the entire area was BEYOND our expectations!

Lake of the Ozarks is a HUGE lake (really a damed up river).  It has more coastline than California (or so a few signs said!). I can tell during the summer this place is HOPPING.  But in March, it was great for a quieter weekend. There were endless condos and restaurants- most of which were very very very nice.

Our AirBNB was waterfront and perfect. It was a bit smaller, but very nice and comfortable.

We went for a 3-day weekend, and without it being warm pool weather, it was perfect.

We started Saturday by visiting Spa Shiki. Y’all.  The massage and reflexology were great, but the spa itself was AMAZING. You could literally spend all day there- wet and dry saunas, this gorgeous soaking pool, hot tub, hot and cold towels with essential oils, a lounging area, juice bar….I was sort of sad to leave and get Tyler.

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We went to Half Sauced for BBQ which didn’t disappoint. These BBQ nachos were YUMMY (once we added some BBQ sauce) and we enjoyed our sampler plate of all their meats.

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The area has several towns that are connected.  We didn’t mind driving 20-30 minutes either way to do stuff. So we headed to a town over to Bridal Cave. It’s on the water, so another pretty view.

The cave was very interesting. One of the neatest caves I’ve ever been in! Pretty easy walking inside, but unreal inside. You can see where some of the early explorers had to crawl through (thank goodness it’s been opened up for visitors!).

There was a small tour group, and we hung in the back so we could really take our time looking at everything.

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After the cave, we headed to Ha Ha Tonka state park. It’s “known” for “castle ruins” which are really the remnants of a big home from a fire in the 30s or something. Not that impressive.  But thankfully, we found a great trail and did some hiking.

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The woods felt very different from home- not as thick.  You could see for hundreds of yards (where at home, there’s thicker evergreen underbrush, so it’s more of just seeing the trail). We enjoyed the 60-degree weather!

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Then we rounded out the day with the outlet mall!  We stopped for a treat at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory (where I had the BEST caramel apple!) and then we shopped and grabbed dinner at Dog Days (which was SO yummy).

On Sunday, we slept in and then decided to drive to the lookout over Bagnall Dam. Lovely views of the lake and we learned about the dam.

We were originally headed to brunch at a winery, but saw a line outside this place.  When the sign looks like this and there’s a line, you trust that. It was a DELICIOUS breakfast.

I had a cinnamon roll the size of my head!

And Tyler ate this crazy pile of biscuits, sausage, eggs and gravy. We were STUFFED (with enough to go for the next morning!)

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After breakfast, we did some more driving and exploring. We saw a couple interesting stores to stop at (which ended up being more of a dud than a hidden gem), but then we stumbled onto this winery. 7Springs was BEAUTIFUL. The grapes weren’t growing, but you could see the vineyards and the mountains.  We did a full wine sampling of like 15 wines for like $15 or something. We liked several of them and took a couple bottles home.

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It was a little chillier, but still a sunny day.

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We came back and took a nap (glorious!) and then we got ready for dinner.  I always wear my wedding shoes on our anniversary dinner, so these pink puppies came out!

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We dined at JB Hooks- on the middle of the lake. GORGEOUS sunset views and a wonderful dinner. We stuffed ourselves with steak and seafood and cocktails and creme brulee.  So so so good.

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On Monday, we mostly just took our time driving back- stopping at Bass Pro for Tyler to shop (of course!) and taking a more scenic route home through Missouri.

It was a fantastic time away together. I’m so thankful to celebrate 9 years in such a fun way.

When we got married, our pastor told us to always celebrate your anniversaries as best as you could afford with money and time. He said your marriage is something to celebrate- and we totally agree!


Branson Black Friday

Branson Black Friday

We decided to be crazy and go to Branson for Black Friday. We didn’t plan on doing much shopping, but wanted to just spend some time together and do some fun Christmas stuff!

Remi was recovering from a little bug, so she slept on the way. She woke up about an hour in and was pretty upset and fussy. We debated going home, but decided to press on, and I’m so glad we did. Once she slept a little more, she was GREAT and her sickness was over.

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When we got to Branson, we started with Dolly Parton’s Stampede! Remi was still in a nap fog (and had decided she didn’t like her first shirt, so we had to change)

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But once the show started, she was INTO IT. She loved the music, the horses, and the whole thing. She also WENT TO TOWN on the food.

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The show was from 3-5, so we went back to the hotel after to chill. We let Remi girl play, and she wanted to take a bath in the big tub! We let her get water up to her neck (unlike at home) and she loved it. She (thankfully) slept pretty great in the hotel and was a happy girl when she woke up!

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Saturday morning we donned our matching pajamas and headed to the Showboat for a Pancakes with Santa cruise!

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A little better group photo this time. 🙂

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Remi was INTO all the characters on the boat.  Hugging the gingerbread man, getting candy from the Sugar Plum Fairies…

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We waited in line (which she was much more patient for than I thought she would be) and she got a snowflake face painting.

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It was a gorgeous day (like 65 degrees) so we walked around the outside deck looking at the water wheel.

We ate pancakes and then the show started. She LOVED it. There were dancing hippos (I want a hippopotamus for Christmas!) and even a dancing dinosaur! And bless it, when Santa came out, she said “I hug him!” and tried to climb down to go get him!

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She did get to hug Santa after the show! He was waiting on the dock to meet all the kids. She (again) waited patiently and hugged Santa and sat on his lap.

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After breakfast, we all changed clothes to head out and go shopping.  Remi liked walking back to the car- she played with those polar bears you see behind her, played in the rocks and found herself a stick.

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While we shopped, she rode the rides at the outlet mall. She LOVES them and remembered them from this summer. As soon as we walked up to the mall, she said “I ride horses!”

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After a little shopping, we got lunch and drove home.  A great trip all together!


Vacation? Booked!

Vacation? Booked!

Maybe we’re crazy, but we just booked a family cruise for February!

We are headed to Cozumel and Progresso, where we’ve been several times before, but we wanted to try cruising with Remi.  We hope to go on an Alaskan cruise in 2020, so we wanted to try a (cheaper) shorter cruise before committing to all that an Alaskan cruise involves (more $$, more time, flights, etc.)

Our moms are going with us, so we will be able to have a little more relaxation time than if it were just the three of us (plus, we like them and enjoy traveling with them). We do also plan on taking advantage of some of the on-board kid’s activities- I’ve heard GREAT things about the quality of childcare and kid fun with Carnival.

We have a few things to work on before then, but it’s 6 months away, so we have time.

 

Any tips for cruising with toddlers?  I’ll take all the advice I can get. 🙂


Weekend Getaway to the Mountains

Weekend Getaway to the Mountains

Tyler and I recently took a weekend trip to one of our favorite spots- a cabin a little over an hour away.

He suggested we take this trip a couple of months ago- and I was so glad he did. It’s easy to get bogged down in the daily stuff- who is picking up the baby? Did you take the trash out? What time will you be off work today? – So making time for some fun and connection is important.

I actually took the Friday off work so we could have a three-day weekend. We slept in (as much as Remi would allow), I took her to school and worked out and then we hit the road.

We went to lunch at Cafe Rue Orleans in Fayetteville and we were SO SURPRISED at this giant plate of fried crawfish- it was the appetizer portion. WOW! So good.

After lunch, we did some shopping. I went to a boutique and he went to a pawn shop. Typical us.

We hit Whole Foods to grab some groceries for the cabin and then headed down the mountain to check in.

We relaxed a bit and then went back to NWA for the Naturals baseball game!  It was a hot July, but the weather was not too bad- barely hitting 90 and a good breeze.  We enjoyed dinner and the game, and then the fireworks!

Saturday morning, I woke up and watched some of the sunrise over the mountain. Then we enjoyed a wonderful breakfast cooked by our host.

After breakfast, we headed to Devil’s Den to hike. On our drive in, we saw this little deer. So sweet!

Tyler did a little fishing (no bites, but some fun trying!)

 

Then we hit the trails for like a three mile hike.  It started getting pretty warm back in the woods, so we finished before lunch and then had a picnic before heading back to the cabin.

Before we left, Tyler got a float from the snack shop at the park. We joked it was a “float weekend” because I had one the night before at the baseball game.

We took a nap and then went to our favorite swimming hole to cool off. The water was warm but nice, and even though it was busy there, we enjoyed swimming and floating.

Tyler wanted to do some fishing in the river, but since the swimming area was busy, he wanted to walk a ways to find a good spot.  We walked like 100 yards past the dam and found this GORGEOUS spot.

We had some cool experiences down there. Tyler fished and got a few bites. I sat on a rock and watched the birds and fish. And then a deer ran down the bank and across the water to the other side. It was neat to watch.

We had a great dinner at a Mexican restaurant near the swimming hole and then came back to the cabin to watch movies.

Sunday morning, we had another great breakfast. Janice outdoes herself! Those cinnamon rolls and french toast were delicious. She definitely fueled us for another fun morning.

We went to Lake Fort Smith and rented a tandem kayak, spending like three hours on the water.  We boated around and Tyler fished while we explored. It was great and gorgeous.

On our way home, we got sushi and then met up with mom and got our girl.

It was a fantastic weekend away. I’m so thankful for my husband and our time together.