Category: North America

It’s funny how Branson reminded me of two of North America’s raciest cities – Las Vegas and New Orleans – because Branson is far from racy. It’s rather the opposite and unquestionably driven by pure-hearted religious forces. You’d be pretty hard pressed to find the seedy side of life in this small, wholesome Missouri city. There are massive churches everywhere – primarily Baptist and Methodist. No casinos. No chicken ranches (brothels.)

Yet, Branson is filled with neon lights and endless stage show entertainment reminding the visitor of nights ‘on the strip’ in Las Vegas. (Perhaps it was more so because we visited during the holidays and Branson is very big on Christmas and Christmas lights.)

a salute from the Santa at Branson Landing

But the fact that you can find performances going at any hour of the day, and free spontaneous entertainment at any eating venue in the city … really reminded me of New Orleans and made me pinch myself several times throughout our week-long visit.  Just where were we, and how did we find ourselves in Branson?

It was my husband’s choice. We take turns choosing vacation destinations and Branson was his choice. He’d heard there was good live entertainment at reasonable prices. And he was right! I’m told there are 100 choices for live entertainment daily in this tiny city of just 10,000 permanent residents. It’s no surprise that Branson hosts approximately 8 million toe-tapping visitors each year. There is lots to do, and much of it won’t cost you a bundle.

Country music is prevalent, with a heavy dose of gospel thrown in. With music greats like Elvis Presley and Ray Charles having gotten their start in gospel, it’s no surprise that Elvis and Ray Charles impersonators are big draws in Branson. We took in the “Legends In Concert” show at the Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater. It was fabulous! As a huge fan of Alan Jackson, I especially enjoyed the performance of Doug Brewin, who didn’t miss a beat in his well-executed tribute to Alan Jackson!

Performers from the Legend of Kung Fu Show

We also enjoyed the Legend of Kung Fu production, which featured a troop of 65 dancers and acrobats from China who had performed during the Bejing Olympics and were definitely worldclass. (Click on the link to see online video clips of the production.) Reg and his friend Neil really liked the intimacy in the smaller “Little Opry Theater” used for the Tribute to Marty Robbins (which they thoroughly enjoyed) while I ate chocolate at a local chocolate shop. Yes, I found some terrific chocolate in Missouri! Stay tuned to a future post for that.

Wyndham Branson at the Meadows Resort

We had the pleasure of staying at the Wyndham Branson at the Meadows resort as I am a Wyndham timeshare owner. It was a terrific facility, and thanks to reviews on Trip Advisor, I had requested a top floor suite which gave us great views of the Ozark Foothills and lessened any noise from neighbouring suites. The atmosphere at the resort was very laid-back, just like the rest of Branson. No high pressure sales tactics like we’d found on our previous Wyndham stay in Orlando.

Please join me back here the week of December 19th for more on Branson and our taste tantalizing exploration of Missouri.

I love to travel, and frequently travel through the terminal at Winnipeg’s James Armstrong Richardson International Airport. What a joy it was, when on October 30th, a new state-of-the-art terminal was finally opened to the public after  more than four years in the making.

an evening shot of the new airport terminal courtesy of Winnipeg Airports Authority

A joint effort of US-based Master architect, Pelli Clarke Pelli, who have also been responsible for various world class designs including the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur and the World Financial Center in New York, and our own local architectural firm of Stantec, Winnipeg’s new terminal is proudly the newest and greenest of all airports in Canada.

nice shot of the awesome lights in the terminal courtesy of Winnipeg Airports Authority

A nice high for Winnipeg to enjoy. Combined with the recent return of the Winnipeg Jets pro hockey team, and the fact that the Winnipeg Blue Bombers won the Eastern final in the Canadian Football League game today — getting them into the Grey Cup championship game next weekend — the Manitoba capital is really enjoying a much-needed resurgence.

Many of you reading this may have never been to Winnipeg and are likely wondering, why visit this frozen wasteland? It’s true. We have winter for five months of the year (generally from early November through March) during which we time we have snow and below freezing temperatures.

But I must tell you, Winnipeg is a warm place to come at any time of the year. People are caring and friendly. They welcome you into their lives and their homes. I have friends who have lived in larger cities for many years and have yet to make any close friends. That just doesn’t happen in Manitoba. If you’re here and you’re friendly … you’re family, and are welcome into our homes and to share our hopes and dreams.

Can those of you living in larger centres say that? I was born and raised in Winnipeg, and have lived all of my life within an hour’s drive of the city.  We have our problems with respect to crime and that’s part of the reason I have chosen to live in smaller communities in rural Manitoba the past (near) 30 years. But overall, it is a clean, inviting urban landscape that offers unsurpassed cultural options, a thriving creative community, affordable cost of living and stable economy that makes all of us who know it, love it.

Please come and see us. If you come before April 1st, bring your parka and boots. Be rest assured, the warmth we extend your way will nurture your spirit and make you wonder why it took you so long to finally make the journey. But our long stretch of winter weather does make me wonder why they didn’t enclose the walkway from the parkade to the terminal. No matter how warm you are inside, the blowing winds outside can quickly chill your enthusiasm.

Please join us back here the week of December 5th, when I’ll share a bit of Missouri magic with you. Until then, please share your favourite Manitoba moments with us.

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