Vacation Roundup 2008

While Mr. Horn will WOW you with his photo and video footage of our vacation, I’ll give you the not-so-condensed version of our vacation. So grab your favorite beverage, a cozy chair and prepare for a lot of info about our last week at Table Rock Lake.

Table Rock Lake Getaway
July 12-19, 2008

Day one: Saturday, July 12th

Well our trip began by driving to Edgerton, Kansas to pick up Steven from camp. He had left on Thursday morning with 40 other kids from NHCC for a couple days at YouthFront camp. It was pouring buckets of rain when we arrived at the camp and so Price (being the gentleman that he is) went in to get Steven while Maya and I stayed in the car.

While helping Steven pack up his things, it became apparent to Price that Steven was missing several clothing items. This was a slight problem as I had only packed two extra outfits for Steven assuming he’d have clothes from camp that just needed to be washed.

So stop one was in Gardner, Kansas at the Wal-Mart Supercenter. I ran in to grab Steven a few cheap t-shirts while Price and the kids went to Phillips 66 to gas up the van. By 10:45 am, the Horns were on the road leaving Kansas City.

Lunchtime was a trip through the McDonalds drive-thru in Clinton, Missouri. By the time they reached Springfield, MO it was time for a pit stop, once again at a McDonalds. No time to waste, back in the car and we arrived at the Shady Cove Hideaway at 1101 Everest at around 3:15 pm.

Awaiting our arrival was Papa and Nana Horn who had driven up from Benton to spend the day with Steven to celebrate his birthday. When we arrived, Nana was cutting up the chicken for Steven’s birthday dinner (his special request of homemade Southern Fried Chicken, Mashed Potatoes & gravy, corn on the cob and Hawaiian bread). We got everything unloaded from the car. I started feathering the nest (putting everything in its place for our vacation) while Price and the gang (kids and Nana and Papa) took a walk down to the lake.

Then we puttered around the house eating snacks (Chex Mix with M&Ms; Pistachios; Whoppers; Raisins) and catching up on what had been going on. The kids decided to try out the hot tub and of course loved it.

Then it was time for Nana to work her magic in the kitchen. YUMMY. It was a great birthday feast, complete with a cherry pie (Steven’s request) for Steven and strawberry angel food cake for the rest of us. We sang to Steven and let him open his gifts. He got three Bionicles he had been wanting and a $50 savings bond (save them for that car!).

Then we had Nana and Papa open their gifts from Mother’s and Father’s Day. They got an America t-shirt with scripture on them as well as they each got a portable digital picture frame. Price got to work on setting up and uploading pictures to them while I worked on finishing up cleaning up the kitchen. We had to beat Nelda off with a stick. She doesn’t know what to do with herself when she isn’t cooking or cleaning!

We ended the evening listening to a loud storm come across the lake while Maya, Nana and I played Diggin’ Dinos, Steven played with Bionicles and Price and Roger looked at photos. Finally it was time to sleep.

Our sleep wasn’t so great due to the air conditioning in our room shutting off in the night; we think maybe there was a breaker issue, maybe due to the weather.

Day Two: Happy 11th Birthday Steven! Sunday, July 13th

We began day two with a tasty Southern style breakfast. Nana whipped up scrabbled eggs, sausage, bacon and biscuits and gravy (with some help from Price on the tasty breakfast meats). After breakfast, Price and I forced Nelda out of the kitchen to go enjoy the view of the lake on the porch swing and spend time with her grandkiddies.
After we got everything cleaned up, we decided that we would spend the remaining time with Roger and Nelda going to the Shepherd of the Hills Trout Fish Hatchery at the bottom of the Table Rock Dam as well as seeing the dam itself and enjoying some lunch together.

The kids loved the fish hatchery seeing all the giant fish and baby fish (which Maya called small fries or sometimes French fries). The only downside was the smell. After seeing all there was to see at the hatchery we headed on up to the topside of the dam where we took lots of photos of the dam and lake below.

After making a quick pit stop at the State Park (so Price could grab info on boat rentals) we let Steven choose where he’d like to go to lunch. He decided Outback Steak and Oyster Bar (not to be confused with the chain Outback Steakhouse) where he could eat some tasty Alligator tail. We enjoyed Alligator tail, fried chicken, steaks and more. The kids got ice cream sundaes and the adults shared some monstrosity called a Mudball (coffee ice cream covered in cornflakes and fried with chocolate syrup on top) and Strawberry Cheesecake. Thanks Papa and Nana for buying!

As we were leaving the restaurant, I stopped dead in my tracks when I realized I recognized a couple coming in the door. It was Fred and Juanita Horstmann who I had not seen in well over 15 years. My dad, Papa Jack, used to work for Fred and our families used to go on outings together. It was crazy that at 4 pm in the afternoon on a Sunday in Branson we’d run into them.

We said our goodbyes to Papa and Nana and headed back to the lake house for nap time. We all rested and after nap (when we woke up around 6:45 pm…WOW). We ate a quick dinner of pizza rolls and frozen pizza. We needed a quick dinner so we could get on our adventure…The Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum. This is what Steven had requested to do for his birthday.

So we headed off to Branson and arrived at Ripley’s at approximately 8:15 pm. We paid our way and began to head through the Museum. Maya was freaked out by several of the exhibits and we had to keep chasing her back to where we were. Here’s our favorite exhibits:

  • Maya loved the Disappearing “Naked Lady” (a mannequin). There she is and now she’s gone. Where did she go? Trick Mirrors. Maya also loved the barrel at the end that was spinning and was an optical illusion. She loved to run through it yelling.
  • Steven loved the room that was on an angle with the special ball rolling uphill optical illusion. He loved it all. It was all great and he was super pleased with his trip to the Museum and felt it was well worth it.
  • I liked looking at the artistic type exhibits including items made from matchsticks and cards but my favorite was the paintings on leaves, butterflies, potato chips and grains of rice. I was boggled by how someone could paint a portrait of the Beatles on a rice grain!
  • Price liked the room of optical illusions and the limo with the heart-shaped hot tub.

One of the funniest moments was when the dude running the photoshop booth convinced us to try out our faces on a magazine cover. The kids were transformed into Obi-Wan and Padme. Price and I were transformed into two buff, tan, long-haired muscle models. It was sooooo funny that we almost spent the $30 to get a copy but wiser heads prevailed (insert here…Price prevailed).

We finished up our trip through the Museum in the gift shop (which we arrived in around 9:30 pm). Steven chose a Ripley’s daily calendar which has all kinds of tidbits about Ripley’s exhibits and Maya chose a dice magic trick.

We then decided to go out for a tasty treat just down the street at Andy’s Frozen Custard (YUM! Note that I wanted an Andy’s treat on Saturday as we drove through Springfield-home of Andy’s). Steven and I drove the van while Maya and Price walked the block and a half. Maya enjoyed a cup of vanilla custard with maraschino cherries (lots of them). Steven had a chocolate chip cookie dough made with chocolate custard. Price had a strawberry and pineapple concrete and I enjoyed a blackberry concrete (which in my humble opinion needed more blackberries).

Also, Steven was so kind to remind me during our treat eating that I was in a “biggest loser” competition to lose weight and that eating all these tasty treats would certainly not help. Need I remind you my dear son, never mention a lady’s weight and especially not when she is eating ice cream. So much to learn my young one.

Finally we headed home for bed wired on sugar but tired from a long day of fun!

Day three: Monday, July 14th

We got up and had cinnamon rolls for breakfast, one of the kids favorites! After breakfast we decided we would check out our swimming options. After a few phone calls, Price determined that ALL swim beaches were closed due to the lake level being up eight feet from the rains. Bummed that we would not be swimming for free either at the lakehouse or a public beach, we decided to go with Plan B.
We called and made reservations for the 2pm swim cruise on the Spirit of America. We started gathering our things together for the trip and ate some lunch.

We left the house at 12:30ish (it’s about a 45-minute drive and we had to be there by 1:45 pm) and headed to the State Park Marina. When we arrived at the Marina we realized just how high the lake was. As we approached the dock we saw that a good portion of the parking lot was underwater. In fact, we saw a pay phone, signage and a fountain all under water.

We went into the Marina store and got checked in for our cruise. While we waited to board, Maya and Steven spent time freaking me out by getting a little too close to the water to look at fishies and boats. Maya was fascinated by the small fries (little fish) and feeding the giant carp.

Finally, it was time to board the Spirit of America. The Spirit of America is a 48-foot-long catamaran which had room for approximately 49 passengers. It had plenty of seating including two netted areas out the front of the boat that each held four people. This is where the young thangs in their bikinis spent time soaking up the rays.

On this particular day, there were about 20 of us. Pretty much three distinct parties, us, a group of four gals who worked in the Marina store and three family units with teenage daughters. We rode out for about 30 minutes when we dropped anchor for swimming. The boat was beautiful. Captain Jack and firstmate Pat were very hospitable and helpful. It was great to let the wind whip around us listening to classics such as Brown-Eyed Girl and Margaritaville. The kids and Price helped lift the sails while I took video footage. Once at the swimming spot, we all jumped out to swim and play around on a giant water trampoline, inflatable water slide, the “iceberg” climbing toy, the blue water mat, the “blob” and kayaks.

  • Maya’s favorite was riding in the kayak with her daddy and Steven.
  • Steven’s favorite was definitely navigating the waters alone in the kayak.
  • My favorite was just swimming around and watching everyone play.
  • Price’s favorite was conquering the iceberg (only he and two others were able to conquer it) as well as jumping on the trampoline and swimming in the water.

The hour flew by and soon Captain Jack was blowing the horn to climb back in the boat. On the boat ride back to the Marina, Maya rested (now getting crabby as it was way past naptime); Steven danced the Macarena, the limbo and hullahooped with four teenage girls. Price videotaped Steven and I just relaxed and tried not to think about my 11-year-old son dancing with bikini-clad teenage girls!

And so our two-hour cruise was a super wonderful time and we were sad to head back home.

We drove back to the house and decided not to worry about a nap since it was so late. We stopped by the gas station for some beer to boil our brats in. We went home and Price worked on dinner. Beer brats, hot dogs, little seasoned potatoes, and beans. For dessert, we decided to try smores. They didn’t work so great but they were ok. We got all cleaned up and watched a movie. Then it was time for bed, hooray!

Day Four: Tuesday, July 15th

We slept in until almost 9 am. That may be a Horn household record. We got up and quickly got dressed to make the 45 minute drive into Branson where we ate at the Grand Country Buffet for breakfast. The drive there was complete with lots of moaning from two very, very hungry kids. Once we arrived they gobbled down meats, fruit, danishes and the like. That buffet is quite large and so there was plenty to choose from.
We finished up around 11 am and decided to walk over to the shop where the largest banjo is displayed (fake of course). The kids had a blast trying on all the crazy hats at the store and they wore me down with constant badgering to buy one. Steven selected an overstuffed King’s Crown and Maya a sequined fushia pink cowgirl hat.

After that, we headed over to the Track. We purchased a ride card and began the fun with two double go-karts on the Wild Woody (wooden track). Steven and I were in one car and Maya and Price in the other. Maya and Price won the race. Then Steven decided to try the regular track on his own and did quite well. Then Maya was begging to ride the bumper boats and so convinced (with help from mommy) daddy to ride with her and Steven rode on his own. They had a lot of fun spraying each other with the water guns on board while I looked on taking lots of photos and video. They still got me wet by shooting their water guns at me.

Finally, Maya had the chance to drive her size go-karts and a choo choo train. We spent way too much but had a lot of fun!

I finally wore down convinced Price to go check out the U-shaped (inside joke ask Shannon) outlet mall. The kids and Price went to get drinks while I checked out OshKosh for the kids school clothes. I found some jeans for the fall ON SALE and had the kids try them on while Price made reservations for a pontoon boat for Wednesday morning. After purchasing them, they ran over to check out the Disney store. Lots of fun stuff but nothing we needed to buy.

The last stop was just me (while Price and the kids waited in the car) checking out the Skechers store where I found a new pair of flip flops (HOORAY…after 3 years mine had given out) ON SALE dirt cheap…hooray! Then the Bath and Body store to buy soap for home (yes I could wait until I got back in KC but why when the store was right next to Skechers).

We headed home and filled up our gas tank just as we headed down Y highway.

[Side note: On the way home, Shannon called her friend Bev to get the update on Rick Dallas. Rick had passed away on Monday night and Shannon had called Bev for the arrangements. The visitation would be on Thursday night and the funeral on Friday morning, so Shannon and Price would not make either. We’ll miss Rick Dallas (or McDallas as the kids called him). Though we were just getting to know him, he was a great guy and super talented in the home repair arena. So long McDallas, we’re glad we knew you. We’ll miss you.]

When we got home we decided it was too late for naps considering we would need to get up early on Wednesday morning for our trip out on the lake. Price worked on dinner, delicious chicken kabobs complete with onion, bell pepper and pineapple with a side of Uncle Ben’s rice pilaf and rolls. We ate “leftovers” for dessert (assorted pies, cake and ice cream).

Following dinner, it was time for some hot tub time and a movie night. We watched Meet the Robinsons. Great family flick. Then bedtime to get plenty of rest for our big day!

Day Five: Wednesday, July 16th

We set our alarms for 7:15 am but I was up by 6:30 working on getting stuff ready for the day. We all got up and had some breakfast, little breakfast sandwiches and leftovers from Nana’s breakfast. Maya woke up crabby but after a little food was feeling much better and ready for the adventure.
We headed to the marina and arrived in time to get checked in before our 9:30 am departure. We loaded up our cooler, bags of stuff, raft and boat (small inflatable) and headed to the dock to learn about the pontoon we had rented. After a quick tour around the boat and a crash course in driving it, Price pulled us away from the marina and we were off on our adventure.

We drove for a little bit when Price found a most excellent cove for us to swim in. We swam and jumped off the boat and played in the inflatables for quite a while before getting back in the boat. The swimming was a little harder on Price and I, who were in the water without life jackets. Treading water sure does take it out of you especially when trying to pull along a little girl who wants to swim on her own.

Back in the boat, we let the kids drive a bit as we headed out to find another cove to eat our lunch in. We found another cove which didn’t prove to be as good as the first since the current kept pulling us towards a grove of trees. We enjoyed eating our picnic lunch of sandwiches, chips and fruit. We then headed back towards the marina in search of another place to swim.

We found another cove and Maya jumped out (in a life vest of course) and while Price was helping Steven get in the water (in the inflatable boat) we realized that Maya was rather quickly floating further and further from the boat. Price jumped in after her (remember he was not wearing a life vest) and got to her. I waited until Steven was clear of the boat to bring the pontoon closer to them all. Maya and Price were able to get back on the boat and I dove in after Steven to pull him closer in as well. Price and I decided the current was too strong here and to move elsewhere. So we got in and started driving some more. We found a tucked away cove where a few other boats were parked and we parked there. The kids and Price swam some more as I took videos and photos. And then it was time. The four hours had flown by and it was time to head back to the marina. It had been a pretty good time except for a few moments of fear and crankiness.

Back at the marina, we were harried trying to get everything off the boat and keep track of the kids. Finally, we got everyone into the van and began the trip back home. Stopping along the way to take a couple of quick snapshots (of a hot dog statue and a billboard for Talking Rocks Cavern which had two of Price’s friends from college on it).

Back at home, it was time for resting. Price and Maya took a nap while Steven and I just relaxed. Steven read and played with his Bionicles. I enjoyed sitting in the sunroom reading a book I had just started called Cold Tangerines. A very good book with lots of nuggets of wisdom on enjoying the very life God has given us. In these quiet moments in the sunroom, God really worked on me revealing places in my life that needed work and healing.

After nap, Price worked on dinner. On the menu, grilled t-bone steaks, baked potatoes, and rolls. Unfortunately the steaks were super fatty and so the grill caught on fire charring one side of the steaks. It was a scary few minutes but dinner turned out great. After dessert and clean up, we went out in the front yard where we sat in lawn chairs watching Maya ride her bike and Steven ride his scooter. They played for a long time and eventually the neighborhood dogs (two black labs) came around to visit. The kids, Maya especially, had fun playing with them.
We then took a quick walk and then back to the house to play fetch with the dogs. We had to coerce Maya back inside she so desperately wanted to play with her new friends. Once back inside, the kids wanted to get in the hot tub but Price & I were sunburned on our backs and chests from earlier in the day. So we just put our feet in while the kids relaxed in the tub.

Then it was time for bath and bed.

Day Six: Thursday, July 17th

Day six started out on a down note at 6:30 am when Maya realized she had wet the bed. Unfortunately the night before we had not forced her to go to the bathroom because she was so tired and so she didn’t wake up in time to go.

So at 6:30, Price was pulling the sheets from the mattress and I was helping Maya get cleaned up. Thankfully though everyone went back to sleep until 8:30 ish (except me who woke up at 8 am to enjoy some more quiet reading in the sunroom with a great cup of coffee).

After waking up, Price made a huge breakfast including pancakes, blueberry pancakes, bacon, sausage, and eggs. Yum! We all stuffed ourselves and while Price was cleaning up the kitchen, I took the kids outside to ride bikes and scooters once again. After a while they grew weary of this and Steven went back inside while Maya insisted on waiting for her new friends (the black dogs) to come back. After about 30 minutes, she finally went inside to get in the hot tub with Steven.

I took off to the Walmart to buy aloe and butter. The sunburns were hurting bad enough to call for a special trip to town to buy the blessed aloe gel, sweet relief. While gone, Price and the kids enjoyed the hot tub, playing and just hanging out.

Then time for lunch, leftover pizza and pizza rolls, and resting. Sweet rest!

Steven and I stayed up to read and such. Price and Maya took naps. Price’s nap was shorter and so when he woke up, Steven begged to start watching the movie Transformers. We got about 50 minutes in when Maya woke up.

With that, we decided to get cleaned up and head into Branson for dinner at our favorite diner…Mel’s Hard Luck Diner where the servers sing during your supper. Price and I have been visiting the diner since our dating days 15 years ago. Maya ordered up a plate of spaghetti and a Dr. Pepper. Steven ordered up chicken fingers and fries with a real Cherry Coke (they actually put cherry syrup in the coke…yum!). I had the usual High Rollin’ Beef (roast beef, mashed potatoes & gravy and green beans) with Iced Tea. Price decided on the Patty Melt and fries and water. We had ice cream sundaes and a vanilla shake for dessert. And of course, there was lots of singing especially by the female singers to Steven.

After dinner, we headed across the street to get our Old Timey photos taken. At first, Maya was adamant that she wanted to be dressed as a cowgirl and NOT a saloon girl but by the time it was our turn, Maya saw a beautiful purple and pink dress and decided she wanted to be a saloon girl instead. So Maya and I put on the dresses, fishnets and headbands with feathers. Steven and Price dressed up as cowboys. We gathered around the saloon and took several cheesy photos. The first couple of shots I kept laughing when I was supposed to be serious but inevitably if you tell me not to laugh or smile I laugh all the more.

Finally, we got a great shot (with the girls smiling) and changed back to our normal selves. We walked out with an 8×10 for us and 5×7s for the Nana and Papas.

Then it was time to run back across Highway 76, always scary, and head on down to the Lost Treasure Mini-Golf course. We got checked in and had a blast playing 18 holes around the crazy expedition themed course. Maya’s golfing looked more like lacrosse. Steven did pretty well considering he’s left-handed and was golfing right-handed. Price did well but I smoked them all. Go mommy Go mommy!

We finished up golf at 10:40 pm and headed home for a quick clean up and bedtime!

Day Seven: Friday, July 18th

We woke up this morning to the sadness of this being our last real day of vacation. It’s always so hard to see vacation come to an end. We so enjoy having this time together. Time away from work, and chores, and obligations, and cell phones and e-mail. Time to relax and read, sleep late, take naps, and make memories.

We started our day with yummy breakfast. The kids with pancakes and bacon and Price and I with breakfast burritos. Price asked the kids at breakfast what they’d like to do today and they both agreed go-karts again. We hadn’t planned to go in to Branson originally but it all worked out.

We headed in to Branson with the computer in tow. I needed to check my email real quick like to see if there were any messages from Shauna Niequist (remember the book I’m reading…it’s by Shauna). Shauna and husband Aaron are our guest artists this coming weekend at NHCC and I’m their personal host so I needed to double check if they needed anything before I would arrive at NHCC. We stopped at Panera for free wi-fi. I checked email in the car and then ran in to get an iced tea while Price downloaded one of his favorite podcasts. It’s scary when you haven’t checked e-mail in a week and you have 300 messages. I’m like a junkie needing an e-mail fix!

Next we were off once again to the Track. Once there we agreed on how much to put on our little card. First, Maya & I went up against Price & Steven on the Wild Woody. The girls won (with a little help from dad…wink, wink). Then Steven rode the original track on his own. Maya finished off the card with a trip on the kiddie go-karts and kiddie ferris-wheel. Then we started the drive back to the lake house.

We made a quick pit stop at the Ozarkland junk, uhh Souvenir store so the kids could buy a little treasure for their best buds–David and Mackenzie. Steven picked out a matching set of wooden rubber band guns for he and David. Maya picked out a set of little tiny purses with mini stuffed animals. Maya got a bunny and she got Mackenzie a tiny puppy.

After Ozarkland, we continued to drive home stopping off periodically to get pictures of the lake. We got home for nap and once Maya fell asleep, we continued our Transformers movie (Note: There were a few awkward moments where we realized some of the subject matter we weren’t quite ready for Steven to hear-who knew. We thought it was just a movie about giant robots that turned into vehicles).

Price and Steven took off to a local neighborhood, Pioneer Point, which we had seen signs for all week at our turn off. Price drove over there to see if he could get some good shots of the lake. What he found was a neighborhood nestled away with big and beautiful homes with awesome lake views. Price came home wishing he would win the lottery to buy a home in there. While Steven and Price were gone, I made some brownies and read some more.

The boys got back and Price worked on our dinner: spaghetti, garlic bread and salad. As we finished up dinner, the sun was starting to set and so we ran down to the lake to get some great and amazing shots (well Price caught them) of the sunset and our kids by the lake. Really really awesome!

Then back up to the house for brownie sundaes. While Price was cleaning up from dinner I continued working on packing up all our stuff (booo hoooo). After we were all cleaned up, we went for one last trip in the hot tub. As we sat in the tub, we asked the question: “What were your three favorite moments from vacation?”

Here they are:


  1. The sailboat (Spirit of America)
  2. Eating lunch on the pontoon
  3. Swimming in the lake


  1. Ripley’s Museum
  2. The Wild Woody Go-Kart track
  3. The Spirit of America [specifically boating by himself in the kayak]


  1. The Spirit of America
  2. Driving around the lake in the pontoon
  3. Moments of rest at the lake house just reading or taking naps and such


  1. The Spirit of America (just being on the lake)
  2. The pontoon (specifically swimming in the first cove)
  3. Just relaxing at the house reading books and watching the kids play

After our hot tub time, it was time to clean up the kids and get them ready for bed. Once they were tucked in Price and I retired to the front room to look at some of our photos and just enjoy one last bit of quiet in our awesome lakehouse.

Day Eight: Saturday, July 19th

I woke up around 6:30 to enjoy one last time in the sunroom with my cup of coffee. I finished up my book. I then went out onto the screened in porch and sat on the porch swing looking out over the lake just being quiet and asking God what He would like me to remember from the moments of quiet this past week. I journaled them and said goodbye to my quiet places at the lakehouse.

Back to reality, time to eat breakfast and finish packing up. We departed the lakehouse at 9:30 am and began the long journey back home.

We stopped at the gas station we had frequented all week to get some ice for our cooler. Then we stopped not an hour later at the QT in Ozark, Missouri where gas was just $3.69 a gallon. That is dirt cheap friends! It was worth the 30 minute detour to wait in traffic and get gas that cheap. Also, Steven and I stopped in to get drinks for everyone.

Next stop, 20 minutes later at the Price Cutter in Springfield, Missouri to get dry ice (for our freezer cooler) and duct tape to seal it. Finally we were on our way back to Kansas City.

We stopped in Clinton, MO yet again for McDonalds. My children would eat there everyday for every meal if we let them but I think we are done for a while with eating out.

And so we arrived back home at 2:15 pm and it was time for me to get ready and head on to work.

Back to life in Kansas City. Miss Elly, the Pug, was quite happy to see us. I think she thought we had run away.

And so concludes the Horn vacation 2008, thank you Mr. Taxman for the refund last February that allowed us to enjoy this year’s vacation.

* Insert through out vacation, washing dishes (no electric dishwasher) and doing lots o’ laundry. Yeah for free laundry! As Maya changed clothes at least 3 times a day and we went through towels like crazy from swimming, hot tubbing, showers, and more.

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