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When I was 18 months old, my parents decided to take a little vacation down to Branson, MO.  What should have been an easy, non-eventful trip turned into a traumatic experience for my parents.  Our car (or was it the other family we went with?) overheated, my brother got car sick and threw up all over the other family’s brand new van, and I had a parasite that caused [and I quote] “poop to shoot out the sides” of my diaper.  My dad has yet to return to Branson to this day, 20-something years later.  (Matt + I took my mom back for the first time a few years ago – it was a much better experience for her.)

Matt’s family is the complete opposite.  Matt’s first trip to Branson happened when he was just a year old.  He has made a trip down to Branson at least once a year since.  It’s his home away from home, the place where I’m sure we will retire one day.  And not only is he in love with Branson, he got me hooked on it too.  And he is determined to get our 5 month old daughter to love it just as much as he does at a very young age.

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Saturday morning, we decided to make the 4 hour journey down to southwest Missouri with one place in mind:  Silver Dollar City.  Matt isn’t in love with Branson per se.  He is OBSESSED with Silver Dollar City, the reason for the multiple trips down to Branson each year.  No trip is complete without several hours spent wandering the family-friendly theme park.  We were both beyond excited to bring MacKenna there this weekend and spent the majority of our weekend walking and exploring SDC.

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It’s much different with a baby in tow.  From the tram ride in (Matt ended up pulling some muscles in his back getting off the tram while carrying the carseat) to avoiding every single set of stairs because of the stroller to bonding with the fellow mom’s while feeding MacKenna in the nursing station.  And while we know MacKenna isn’t going to remember a single thing about this trip (just like I don’t remember our trip from hell 20-something years ago), it was still fun to experience our favorite place with her.

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Of course, no trip to Branson is complete (for me, at least) without a trip to Andy’s Frozen Custard.  I went with the Thin Mint Concrete, while Matt had the Cookie Casanova (vanilla custard topped with  chocolate chip cookies, caramel, and almonds).

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I loved that my concrete was just Andy’s delicious vanilla custard with crushed Thin Mint cookies mixed in – no extra mint or chocolate flavor added to it.  And there were some very large chunks of Thin Mints mixed in.  I loved it, as usual!  Matt’s was also delicious – the chocolate chip cookies were warm, soft, and gooey and paired perfectly with the vanilla custard.

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We can’t wait for future trips to our “happy place” with MacKenna!  We just know she is going to love it as much as we do!

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What is your “happy place”?  Is there someplace you visit almost every single year?