Vacation All I Ever Wanted: Part 2

If you’re anything like my military family, vacations seem to be few and far between. Maybe even nonexistent.

And if you’re anything like my military family, your “vacations” usually consist of going to visit family members whenever you have a chance, rather than going anywhere else. You can read more about my experience here.

That being said, let’s travel back to August 2017.

One day I got a phone call. I had entered to win a car at the county fair while I was home visiting about a month before. (Go figure! Haha.) The person on the other end said he was from a company that was offering me a vacation in Branson, Missouri. Now before you say, “Whoa. That sounds fishy,” believe me, I know!

They did ask for some money, and said the rest would be on them. Luckily, my husband came home just as I thought about hanging up. I explained the situation to him, and he spoke with the man on the phone as well. We eventually agreed to the idea, and since we did have some extra money, decided to go for it.

Outside of Ripley’s Believe It or Not!

About a week later we received information in the mail about shows or museums we could go to, and some of the other things we might experience in Branson.

Over the next year, many things happened, the biggest being getting pregnant. And I was receiving phone calls consistently through this time, asking about when we would like to set a date to travel to Branson. We only had a year to use the vacation, or lose out on the money we had spent. We were concerned about going during winter time, and also about having a newborn.

Fast-forward to August of this year. I knew that our time was almost up to use the vacation that we paid for. They were still calling and I was still unsure about whether we would go. My husband decided to ask for a pass, and we finally booked our trip to Branson!

We left on a Thursday and were there until Sunday. That being said, we did have to cancel our Labor Day trip back to visit our family just because it became expensive (and we had already tortured our kids with a long car ride).

Branson was a lot of fun. We did have to go to a timeshare presentation. It was dependent upon our vacation being taken care of. Honestly, spending two hours of my time learning about it didn’t really upset me much, considering how many great gifts we were given to listen. We saved a lot of money during our visit just because of that.

Branson was never a place I thought I wanted to go, but I did often hear my grandfather talk about the many trips he took there. I honestly thought that a vacation there would still be better than absolutely nothing!

A woman rode her horse through a fiery ring at Dolly Parton’s Stampede. We also had a great dinner.

Once I did some more research about our options for entertainment, I really started to look forward to our time there though. We visited the Dinosaur Museum (our oldest son loves dinosaurs), Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, Fritz’s Adventure, and Dolly Parton’s Stampede. We also ate at a couple of local restaurants which was cool because they have live music most of the time.

I think the best part of the trip was the Stampede. There was a pre-show with some bluegrass musicians, and while bluegrass isn’t my favorite music, they were really great. My son was very excited about it.

We had a lot of fun, and one of our gifts was a second vacation for three days and two nights. We are honestly thinking about just going back to Branson so we can do some of the things we didn’t have a chance to.


It’s definitely a bit challenging to be out all day long with two little ones. I hope those of you in the same rut get a chance to do something unexpected, because you may just love it!

How are you getting out of your non-vacation funk? What are some unexpected places you’ve gone on vacation? Sound off in the comments below!


About Mary Spangler

Mary was born and raised in South Bend, Indiana. She currently lives on Scott Air Force Base with her husband, SSG Spangler, their two sons and cat. Previous duty stations include Joint Base Lewis McChord, Washington, Rivanna Station, Virginia, and Fort Shafter, Hawaii. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Indiana University in 2009. During her college years she also spent some time volunteering for the Student Veteran’s Association, and participated briefly in the Army ROTC program. She loves writing, music, gardening, watching documentaries and movies, cooking, hosting get-togethers, spending time with family and friends, and traveling.

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