10 Clever Facts We Learned at WonderWorks in Branson, Missouri

We passed up going to WonderWorks in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee and I instantly regretted it after we left.

Driving away toward the Great Smokies National Park, I suddenly remembered a Facebook post from a friend, Janie Buys, a few years ago mentioning the attraction. It seems she had doubts about visiting it with husband Phil and son Phil Jr., but after she went in, it didn’t take her long to enjoy it.

A couple of weeks later into our month long roadtrip, Dodie and I were pleasantly surprised to see a WonderWorks in Branson, Missouri.

Dodie navigating through a kaleidoscope tunnel.

Dodie, a retired nurse, has always enjoyed science and the attraction bills itself as “a science focused indoor amusement park, combines education and entertainment. With over 100 hands-on exhibits – there is something unique and challenging for all ages.”

The building is enticing enough to spur anyone’s interest. It looks like a giant four story venue turned upside down. As soon as we walked in, the floor was the ceiling and the ceiling was the floor.

The WonderWorks entrance.

It was fun to experience the power of 84mph hurricane–force winds in the Hurricane Shack. Some chose to make huge, life–sized bubbles in the Bubble Lab.

I enjoyed the NASA Space area but we elected not to get strapped into the Astronaut Training Gyro to “experience zero gravity.” We also passed lying on the death–defying Bed of Nails.

Astronaut Jack.

Here’s the Top 10 Things I Learned at WonderWorks:

1. You can’t see your ears without a mirror.

2. You can’t count your hair.

3. You can’t breath through your nose with your tounge out.

4. You just tried No. 3.

6. When you tried No. 3 you realized that it is possible, but you looked like a dog.

7. You are smiling right now, because you were fooled.

8. You skipped No. 5.

9. You just checked to see if there is a No. 5.

10. Share this with your friends so they can have fun too.

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

This Anti-COVID Regimen We’ve Used Two Years Has Kept Us Safe

By Dodie Dennis

Being a registered nurse for 40 years, as soon as we heard about COVID-19 pandemic, I did extensive research to find the right supplements and foods for Jack and me to fight it. (Shown at the bottom of this article).

Both of us agreed we would not be taking any so-called experimental vaccines that were rushed into development and not adequately proven.

We elected to modify our vitamins, minerals and food intake instead.

Hard to get.

Hydroxychloroquine, which has been around since 1946, has been used to treat autoimmune diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis, in addition to malaria and others.

The more research I did, talking with and learning from physicans, nurses and researchers, I decided on a regimen for us.

Let me just say, we have taken road trips through Texas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Washington D.C., West Virginia, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, California, and Colorado since June 2020.

Some of the crowds we’ve been in included Graceland, Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, D.C., Ark Encounter, Branson, Royal Gorge, Sea World, concerts, various zoos, museums and theaters.

We are not fond of wearing masks, but out of respect for others, we do so only in medical offices, hospitals, businesses or restaurants that require it (usually we go someplace else).

We have relatives that had COVID, some two or three times, even after taking the jab. We know more people who have died from it who were recently jabbed. We also know many nurses and even doctors who will not get jabbed. We are respectful to any individual for whatever their choice is, but we will not be jabbed.

Our Anti-COVID Regimen

🔹Today we eat a low sodium (under 2,000 mgs a day) diet. We emphasize more vegetables and fruit, and smaller entrees of meat, chicken, seafood, etc. We do prefer chicken (not fried) over meat.

🔹The #1 thing we take every evening is zinc with tonic water. It’s the closest thing to hydroxychloroquine that we know of. It’s inexpensive and doesn’t require a prescription.

🔹Tonic water contains quinine, which has been used for centuries to treat malaria.  Chloroquine is a relative of quinine — both are extracted from the bark of the cinchona tree. Quinine has been around for centuries, discovered by Peruvian natives in the 1820s.

There are a few reasons why quinine and chloroquine work as an anti-viral. First they can change the pH in the cells, making them more alkaline (thus impairing virus’s ability to replicate).
 
Second, quinine and chloroquine help bring otherwise bio-unavailable zinc into your cells, and the zinc inhibits the virus’s ability to replicate inside your cells.

🔹Sunlight (vitamin D) also minimizes the effects of viruses.  A 2020 study found that people with lower levels of vitamin D were more likely to die from coronavirus. 

🔹Vitamin C is used to help our God given immune systems fight off any viruses we come in contact with. We take Emergen-C containing 1000 mg of Vitamin C as well as B Vitamins and other antioxidants.

🔹We also take a proprietary blend of CoQ10, Citicoline, and refined fish oil.

🔹In addition, we consume Green Pasture Products such as fermented Cod Liver Oil along with their Concentrated Butter Oil.

🔹Concentrated Butter Oil is made from milk produced by rapidly growing greengrass fed cows. It is extracted and concentrated through centrifugation. The speed of grass growth, timing of grazing, species of grass, climate, and extraction method are all-important factors in making real Concentrated Butter Oil.

Their blend contains naturally occurring Vitamins A and D. It’s a natural source of Omega Fatty Acids.

🔹This cod oil is so good for your heart, brain and joints. I’ve tried many brands over the years (former national champion volleyball player) and Green Pasture helped me in just a matter of days like no other.

🔹But my go to, especially for joint health, is without a doubt the Green Pasture Skate Liver Oil.

🔹Last, but not least, we take probiotics that supports gut health–the basis for immune system health.

Highly recommended!

This article is for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. Health information articles provide general health information and are not a substitute for diagnosis or treatment by a physician or other health professionals. We advise you to contact a health care professional with any questions or concerns about specific health care needs.

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Ideas to Do With Your Special Someone

Who knew 2020 would be so limiting and stressful? From toilet paper shortages to wearing masks, our world definitely changed.

However, we decided to make the best of it–as much as we could. Defying the newscasts, Dodie and I even went on a 15-state (plus Washington D.C.) road tour for 32 days in June and July.

Don’t let all this negative news get you down! Love your family and friends. Do something fun.

For today  or this weekend, pick just one!

Bike Ride       

Bowling          

Go to the Zoo    

Cook Together          

Split a Milkshake       

Plan a Road Trip

Pick out Each Other’s Outfits    

Son Brady joined us at SeaWorld.2020.

Go to the Gym            

Aquarium       

Go Tanning    

Match Socks Together          

Take a Nap    

Have a Movie Marathon. (themes: comedy, select movie star, love, drama, horror, classics, sci-fi, etc.) We watch very little TV, but when we do we make it fun with popcorn, etc.

Recently we watched episodes of The Chosen series, Lonesome Dove and even the second season of the 1969s television series Lost In Space.

There’s a big difference in watching the space ones as a man in my 60s vs. the boy I was in the 1960s.

Kiss in the Rain         

Plant a Garden           

Kiss Underwater    

See a Play at a Local Theater           

Paint a Room in Your House       

Shopping        

Buy Matching Bracelets          

Pigeon Forge in July 2020

Ride on a Ferris wheel          

Watch Fireworks    

July 4th Washington D.C.

Scrabble         

Make Breakfast         

Road Trip          

Ride Rails

Write Each Other Letters    

Go to a Vineyard       

Classy Date   

Get Concert Tickets

Eat Ice Cream    

Walk               

Mini Golfing               

Beach             

Kiss at Midnight        

Go Running    

Play the Wii    

Laser Tag

Paint War    

Play Tennis                

Make a Couple’s Video         

Count Stars

Couple’s Scrapbook. Here’s an idea. We have pictures of us how we were in the 1960s.

Take a Picture Kissing    

Put Together a Puzzle           

Sing a Song Really Loud       

Read a Book Together          

Order Chinese Food              

Slow Dance    

Watch a Sunset          

Build a Blanket Fort              

Share Popcorn at the Movies    

YOGA              

San Antonio College Planetarium

Visit Planetarium

Get a Pedicure    

Make Chalupas Together

Silently Stare at Each Other for One Minute Without Cracking a Smile

One of You Draw a Picture. The Other Color It.

Visit a Museum.

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COVID Beliefs Blown Away For RVers-Campers on Iconic U.S. Travel Roads

We have just returned from a 32-day, 4500 mile roadtrip (June 19-July 21) from the Texas Hill Country through much of the South, Washington D.C. for July 4th, to part of the Midwest and back.

Our preconceived ideas from news and the continually changing regulations around COVID-19 were blown away with the reality we experienced. It actually restored our faith in the goodness of America.

People of all ages, creeds, races and sexes were friendly, polite and eager to be traveling. By far, they agreed that what news outlets portray and what is actually happening are not in sync. We met scores of campers and travelers who indicated they had no problems with getting reservations and lodging.

We found our routes and destinations were open to travelers, including campers with self-contained RVs.

Pigeon Forge grist mill in Dollywood.

Most restaurants and stores were open with COVID-19 restrictions varying by state, city and location.

Our plans were modified only twice because of not feeling welcomed due to tourist closures.

1. We bypassed Nashville because the Grand Old Opry, Country Music Hall of Fame and Johnny Cash Museum were closed. Nearby Murfreesboro was welcoming for an overnight stay.

2. We left St. Louis immediately after driving to the Gateway Arch and seeing seedy characters in garbage, urine and feces infested tent encampments throughout the area. Wildwood, about 20 miles southwest on Historic Route 66, was awesome.

Here are some of the most notable routes we enjoyed and recommend.

Blue Ridge Parkway

A road trip gem, left Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg areas towards the Blue Ridge Parkway. This scenic byway traverses the Great Smoky Mountains and Blue Ridge Mountains across Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. We especially enjoyed Appalachian towns like North Carolina’s Asheville and Mt. Airy (Andy Griffith Museum).

RVers should be aware some roads have tunnel height restrictions. Check the tunnel restrictions for your planned route. The most restricting tunnels have a maximum height of 18 feet. Cell phone reception could be an issue depending on your carrier (we had no problems with Cricket). There were very few gas stations and other amenities limited. We remained anticipatory and planned ahead just in case.

Blues Highway

Highway 61, known as the “blues highway,” is rich with the history of musicians in the Mississippi Delta area. It’s the birthplace of the blues and the roots of much of American music. 

The original route went from New Orleans to Minnesota, but most of the history of the blues is embedded in Mississippi.

We started in Vicksburg, Mississippi,  a great spot to understand some of the roots of the blues. In 1863 Vicksburg was under siege from the Union Army. General John Pemberton (Confederate) surrendered Vicksburg to General Grant (Union) after sustaining huge losses and facing a catastrophic defeat by an army that greatly outnumbered his abled soldiers.

The Blues developed from slaves toiling on the cotton plantations in Mississippi. The war was over and slavery was officially abolished. Opportunities slowly merged forward toward Memphis, St. Louis and Chicago. The music permeated across the Mississippi Delta.

Some say Clarksdale, Mississippi is the birthplace of the blues. While most of the old Juke Joints have perished, we stopped by  Ground Zero Blues Club (co-owned by Morgan Freeman). It’s a great place to see talented musicians perform and enjoy local food favorites including fried green tomatoes, Mississippi tamales and catfish.

At the Highway 61/49 intersection is a famous location known as The Crossroads. It’s where Robert Johnson was fabled to have sold his soul to the Devil to be the King of Delta Blues. Robert Johnson was born in 1911 and died just 27 years later. 

Highway 61 leads to Memphis, the land of Elvis Presley, SUN Studio, Beale Street and Graceland. The Graceland RV Park is conveniently located next to the Elvis Memphis complex and museums.

Natchez Trace Parkway

The Natchez Trace Parkway is an excellent route to see the southern United States by RV. We loved it because no commercial trucking or 18-wheelers are allowed.

Although it’s over 440 miles from Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, we started in Tupelo, Mississippi after visiting Elvis Presley’s Birthplace. We stopped often to see waterfalls, prehistoric mounds, and other historical landmarks.

Like the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway, there are maximum RV restrictions. The maximum length is 55 feet (including a tow vehicle) and a 14 feet height restriction. 

Route 66

Long before our current national interstate highway system, federal highways, like U.S. Route 66, were main thoroughfares. On historic Route 66, you can explore America’s Heartland and other enchanting pockets of the United States from Chicago to Los Angeles. 

We began the route in St. Louis and took it most of the way toward Branson. Be sure to visit Uranus, Missouri for a fun, quick pit stop.

We did join Route 66 again later in Oklahoma City. Continuing West, we could have carved out time to visit Grand Canyon National Park, but elected to return back to Texas after four weeks on the road.

New Travel Resources

U.S. State Department’s Traveler Checklist. Read more

The TripIt app has a relative new feature that shows safety scores from 1 to 100 for neighborhoods around the world, representing low to high risk. These scores cover a variety of categories, such as women’s safety, access to health and medical services, and political freedoms. Travelers will find safety scores for their lodging, restaurant and activity locations there.

True Things We Didn’t Know About States Until We Visited Them

We left the Texas Hill Country on June 19th on a roadtrip through the South. On our 28th day (We’re in Oklahoma City), we sharing some interesting facts about each state we’ve learned along the way.

Louisiana

Louisiana has the longest coastline (15,000 miles) of any other state in the U.S.

Louisiana makes up approximately 41% of the wetlands in the U.S.

The Lake Pontchartrain Causeway at 23.83 miles in Metairie is the longest continuous bridge over water in the world.

Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were ambushed and killed (Bonnie struck 53 times and Clyde struck 51 times) by Louisiana and Texas state police near Bienville Parish, Louisiana. Bonnie was married to another man and never divorced him. The Bonnie and Clyde Ambush Museum in Gibsland, Louisiana, is located a few miles away from their death site.

In 1977, Luisa Harris, the only woman in U.S. history to officially be drafted into the National Basketball Association (NBA), was drafted by the New Orleans Jazz basketball team.

In 2010, the world’s record for the largest pot of gumbo was set by award-winning chef, John David Folse. The pot served 10,000 people. It contained 50 pounds of white crab meat, 85 pounds of oysters, 100 pounds of crab claws, 200 pounds of alligator meat, 450 pounds of catfish, and 750 pounds of shrimp.

Mississippi

In 1963 the University of Mississippi Medical Center accomplished the world’s first human lung transplant and, on January 23, 1964, Dr. James D. Hardy performed the world’s first heart transplant surgery.

In 1902 while on a hunting expedition in Sharkey County, President Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt refused to shoot a captured bear. This act resulted in the creation of the world-famous teddy bear.

In 1884 the concept of selling shoes in boxes in pairs (right foot and left foot) occurred in Vicksburg at Phil Gilbert’s Shoe Parlor on Washington Street.

Guy Bush of Tupelo was one of the most valuable players with the Chicago Cubs. He was on the 1929 World Series team and Babe Ruth hit his last home run off a ball pitched by Bush.

Root beer was invented in Biloxi in 1898 by Edward Adolf Barq, Sr.

Tennessee

There are more horses per capita in Shelby County than any other county in the United States.

Davy Crockett was not born on a mountaintop in Tennessee, as the song says. He was born on the banks of Limestone Creek near Greeneville, where a replica of the Crockett’s log cabin stands today.

David Crockett

The capitol building was designed by noted architect William Strickland, who died during its construction and is buried within its walls.

Tennessee ranks number one among other states in the total number of soldiers who fought in the War Between the States.

The name “Tennessee” originated from the old Yuchi Indian word, “Tana-see,” meaning “The Meeting Place.”

Coca-Cola was first bottle in 1899 at a plant on Patten Parkway in downtown Chattanooga after two local attorneys purchased the bottling rights to the drink for $l.00.

Cumberland University, located in Lebanon, lost a football game to Georgia Tech on October 7, 1916 by a score of 222 to 0. The Georgia Tech coach was George Heisman for whom the Heisman Trophy is named.

Alabama

In 2004, Chad Fell of Haleyville was certified by the Guinness World Records for blowing the World’s Largest Bubblegum Bubble, Unassisted (without use of his hands) at Double Springs High School in Winston County. He used three pieces of Dubble Bubble gum.

In October of 1989, residents of Fort Payne built a cake to celebrate the city’s centennial. The 12-layer cake was 32 feet wide and 80 feet long and weighed 128,238 pounds. It was certified by Guinness World Records as the World’s Largest Cake.

The country’s first 911 call was made on February 16, 1968, in Haleyville. Alabama Speaker of the House Rankin Fite went to City Hall and called U.S. Representative Tom Bevill, who was at the local police station. The red phone used is on display in City Hall.

The actors who portrayed Goober and Gomer, fictional cousins on the Andy Griffith Show, were both born in Alabama. Jim Nabors, “Gomer,” was born in 1930 in Sylacauga. He died Nov. 30, 2017. George Lindsey, “Goober,” was born in 1928 in Fairfield. He died in 2012.

Virginia

About 1/2 of all the people in the United States live within a 500 mile radius of the Capital of Virginia.

Over 1/2 the battles fought in the civil war were fought in Virginia. Over 2,200 of the 4,000 battles.

The first Thanksgiving in North America was held in Virginia in 1619.

Yorktown is the site of the final victory of the American Revolution.

The first English colony in America was located on Roanoke Island. Walter Raleigh founded it. The colony mysteriously vanished with no trace except for the word “Croatoan” scrawled on a nearby tree.

Mount Mitchell in the Blue Ridge Mountains is the highest peak east of the Mississippi. It towers 6,684 feet above sea level.

Washington D.C.

Herbert Hoover and John Quincy Adams had pet alligators in the White House.

To date, nobody has beat Jimmy Carter’s record of watching 480 movies in the White House movie theater.

Washington DC is missing “J” Street. It uses letters for streets traveling east to west. But numbers are also used for streets. I was told it’s because “J” and “I” look too similar on street signs.

There’s a crypt under the Capitol building that was made for George Washington. Although he was not buried there, the crypt still exists; they also had a viewing chamber built so people could go by and see him.

John Adams was actually the first president to live in the White House. George Washington never lived there; it was built after he died.

There are 35 bathrooms in the White House. There are also 132 rooms and 6 levels in the residence. Even more staggering are the 412 doors, 147 windows, 28 fireplaces, 8 staircases and 3 elevators.

There’s only one U.S. president buried in Washington D.C. Woodrow Wilson is entombed at Washington National Cathedral.

Missouri

The first successful parachute jump to be made from a moving airplane was made by Captain Berry at St. Louis, in 1912.

The most destructive tornado on record occurred in Annapolis. In 3 hours, it tore through the town on March 18, 1925 leaving a 980-foot wide trail of demolished buildings, uprooted trees, and overturned cars. It left 823 people dead and almost 3,000 injured.

At the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904, Richard Blechyden, served tea with ice and invented iced tea.

Also, at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904, the ice cream cone was invented. An ice cream vendor ran out of cups and asked a waffle vendor to help by rolling up waffles to hold ice cream.

The Arch has foundations sunken 60 feet into the ground, and is built to withstand earthquakes and high winds. It sways up to one inch in a 20 mph wind, and is built to sway up to 18 inches.

The most powerful earthquake to strike the United States occurred in 1811, centered in New Madrid, Missouri. The quake shook more than one million square miles, and was felt as far as 1,000 miles away.

During Abraham Lincoln’s campaign for the presidency, a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat named Valentine Tapley from Pike County, Missouri, swore that he would never shave again if Abe were elected. Tapley kept his word and his chin whiskers went unshorn from November 1860 until he died in 1910, attaining a length of twelve feet six inches.

Situated within a day’s drive of 50% of the U.S. population, Branson and the Tri-Lakes area serves up to 65,000 visitors daily. Branson has been a “rubber tire” destination with the vast majority of tourists arriving by vehicles, RVs and tour buses. Branson has also become one of America’s top motor coach vacation destinations with an estimated 4,000 buses arriving each year.

Indiana

The first professional baseball game was played in Fort Wayne on May 4, 1871.

Santa Claus, Indiana receives over one half million letters and requests at Christmas time.

Deep below the earth in Southern Indiana is a sea of limestone that is one of the richest deposits of top-quality limestone found anywhere on earth. New York City’s Empire State Building and Rockefeller Center as well as the Pentagon, the U.S. Treasury, a dozen other government buildings in Washington D.C. as well as 14 state capitols around the nation are built from this sturdy, beautiful Indiana limestone.

In 1934 Chicago Gangster John Dillinger escaped the Lake Country Jail in Crown Point by using a “pistol” he had carved from a wooden block.

Comedian Red Skelton, who created such characters as Clem Kadiddlehopper, and Freddie the Freeloader, was born in Vincennes.

Arkansas

Alma claims to be the Spinach Capital of the World, but Texas knows Crystal City really is.

A person from Arkansas is called an Arkansan.

The state contains six national park sites, two-and-a half million acres of national forests, seven national scenic byways, three state scenic byways, and 50 state parks.

North Carolina

The Venus Fly-Trap is native to Hampstead.

The first miniature golf course was built in Fayetteville.

Babe Ruth hit his first home run in Fayetteville on March 7, 1914.

North Carolina has the largest state-maintained highway system in the United States. The state’s highway system currently has 77,400 miles of roads.

West Virginia

On January 26, 1960 Danny Heater, a student from Burnsville, scored 135 points in a high school basketball game earning him a place in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Nearly 75% of West Virginia is covered by forests.

Outdoor advertising had its origin in Wheeling about 1908 when the Block Brothers Tobacco Company painted bridges and barns with the wording: “Treat Yourself to the Best, Chew Mail Pouch.”

Bailey Brown, the first Union solider killed in the Civil War, died on May 22, 1861, at Fetterman, Taylor County.

The first brick street in the world was laid in Charleston, West Virginia, on October 23, 1870, on Summers Street, between Kanawha and Virginia Streets.

Oklahoma

Boise City, Oklahoma was the only city in the United States to be bombed during World War II. On Monday night, July 5, 1943, at approximately 12:30 a.m., a B-17 Bomber based at Dalhart Army Air Base (50 miles to the south of Boise City) dropped six practice bombs on the sleeping town.

Sooners is the name given to settlers who entered the Unassigned Lands in what is now the state of Oklahoma before the official start of the Land Rush of 1889.

The world’s first installed parking meter was in Oklahoma City, on July 16, 1935. Carl C. Magee, of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, is generally credited with originating the parking meter. He filed for a patent for a “coin controlled parking meter” on May 13, 1935.

During a tornado in Ponca City, a man and his wife were carried aloft in their house by a tornado. The walls and roof were blown away. But the floor remained intact and eventually glided downward, setting the couple safely back on the ground.

Bob Dunn a musician from Beggs invented the first electric guitar in 1935.

Oklahoma has more man-made lakes than any other state, with over one million surface acres of water.

Kentucky

Cheeseburgers were first served in 1934 at Kaolin’s restaurant in Louisville.

Chevrolet Corvettes are manufactured in Bowling Green.

Mammoth Cave is the world’s longest cave and was first promoted in 1816, making it the second oldest tourist attraction in the United States. Niagara Falls, New York is first.

The song “Happy Birthday to You” was the creation of two Louisville sisters in 1893.

Daniel Boone and his wife Rebecca are buried in the Frankfort Cemetery. Their son Isaac is buried at Blue Licks Battlefield near Carlisle, where he was killed in the last battle of the Revolutionary War fought in Kentucky.

Boone Gravesite

The public saw an electric light for the first time in Louisville. Thomas Edison introduced his incandescent light bulb to crowds at the Southern Exposition in 1883.

The radio was invented by a Kentuckian named Nathan B. Stubblefield of Murray in 1892. It was three years before Marconi made his claim to the invention.

Joe Bowen holds the world record for stilt walking endurance. He walked 3,008 miles on stilts between Bowen, Kentucky to Los Angeles, California.

Miscellaneous

The most fun Dodie and I have experienced so far was riding the mile long Branson Sawmill Coaster. We were able to control the speed of our individual coaster pods.

Noah Musical Gives Renewed Sense of Hope

Travel Log: July 2020. Our 22nd day.

Thanks to our parents, my favorite Biblical stories are likely the same as many others. I loved when my father would read about Noah’s Ark, David and Goliath, and Daniel in the Lions Den.

Before I was old enough to read, I recall drawing and coloring a picture of animals on Noah’s Ark in Vacation Bible School.

With cousins Patti, Carolyn, Gayle and Dennis Sanders, along with friends Sue and Johnny Standridge, we were proud to have our art work displayed in the South San Antonio church in the summer of 1961.

Cousins Jackie Dennis & Patti Sanders, 1961

I never really questioned the validity of the stories. Even when a 1974 socialogy professor at Southwest Texas State University tried his best to make fun of Christian students for believing, did I have doubts. I just walked out of the class and never returned. Dropped it (So did several others).

Many things about college broadened my ideologies and “expanded my horizons.” I even naively voted for Jimmy Carter, but only the first time. Even after interviewing the President at the Alamo a few days before the 1980 election, I didn’t vote to reelect him.

Photo of President Jimmy Carter taken by Jack Dennis after interview at Alamo.

Thankfully, I didn’t naively fall for most of the indoctrination attempts, even back in 70s. Even those I did were quickly dissolved when I became a parent and more productive taxpayer.

With a natural skepticism for politicians, lobbyists, liberal education agendas and society experimenters, I didn’t succumb…or doubt the story of Noah’s Ark. 

Sure, I had the common questions on how it was practically possible. Could the ark really fit that many animals? Could it float with that much weight? I’ve read many of the debates, theories and accounts on the subject.

Our recent visit to the Ark Encounter in Kentucky put many questions to rest, but opened up new ones: dinosaurs? animal waste? insects?

It was another serendipitous moment driving into Branson, Missouri two days later and seeing a “NOAH-The Musical” billboard sign of it playing at the Sight and Sound Theater there. We signed up for tickets.

Never in my dreams could I have imagined how this could be turned into a great play.

I’ve seen Broadway productions in New York of Phantom of the Opera, Jersey Boys, Wicked, and Mama Mia.

Living above the Majestic Theater in San Antonio, I saw (and wrote about many) practically every performance played there for five years. 

Let me tell you, dear friends, “NOAH-The Musical” is spectacular. It’s very informative and the “WOW” factor of the production is the best I’ve experienced anywhere.

The sets are incredible, and worth the price of seeing alone. The engineering, artistry, and time that went into creating them is truly astounding.

The fortunate aspect of the play is that the singing and acting talent is a must see complement to the total production. We were fortunate to have second row seats on the center aisle (front row empty for social distancing). The up-close perspective of the actors, emotion on their faces and the quirky little things that the animals do are fantastic. Many of the animals passed by us to enter the stage from a mechanical ramp at center stage. It’s like having our own personal experience, way beyond any theater. At one point, after intermission, the stage opens up on both sides to further captivate the audience. 

Dodie loved watching the live pigs, goats, sheep, donkey, horses, camels and dogs go by. There were also doves that flew overhead on several occasions.

From the moment you drive into the parking lot, Sight and Sound is impressive. The building is large with several shining domes and beautiful landscaping that includes a large statue of a lion and lamb.

The lobby is equally lovely with decor that brings you back to Biblical times. Besides the box office, there are concession stands that offer a small, but tasty assortment of reasonably priced foods.

Ushers are helpful and anticipatory. They offered booster seats for children, pushed wheelchairs, and checked for special needs.

It’s a state-of-the-art 2000-seat, 339,000 square foot theater and has become a favored destination of Branson audiences. The shows produced by Sight & Sound feature a professional cast of more than 50, elaborate sets towering up to 40 feet high, hundreds of costumes, and trained animals. Wonderful special effects permeate the shows and include set pieces that rise up through the stage floor, 3D video imaging, pyrotechnics and artistic lighting effects including lasers.

It feels like a cast of hundreds, and looks like it as well when the stage is full. There’s everything from singing to dancing to rhythmic gymnastics, live animals, animatronic elephants, penguins, giraffes and Galapagos turtles. It’s masterfully produced at four levels high, complete with animals, baskets, food storage, and everything so many other conceivable needs for the Ark’s voyage.

Noah, is on stage for almost the entire show, and is in most musical numbers, as well as racing throughout the Ark, up and down ladders, and makes the feat look simple. 

“NOAH’ is more than the story of an ark filled with animals. This is the epic tale of how one man faced a monumental decision that led to a seemingly impossible task and a world changed forever,” said Sight & Sound Chief Creative Officer Josh Enck. “It’s been nine years since audiences enjoyed ‘NOAH’ in Branson and 25 years since its debut performance. Now, a new generation of families can enjoy this story as they’ve never experienced it before.”

Noah is such an extraordinary story. It is truly one of hope and the faithfulness of God’s promises. We left the theater with a renewed sense of inspiration and hope.