I don’t see myself as an expert in anything. Heck, I Youtube how to do half my life. But when you write a book, people naturally see you as an expert in that field. (I am thankful every day I don’t write romance…)
While I’m no expert, I have lived in the Ozarks for 25 years, and in Missouri my entire life. I am a travel nut, so I’ve been to every possible historical, cultural, adventurous, museum-ish place I could reach. And as a teacher and homeschool parent, the urge to collect experiences is twice as strong.
(Photo courtesy of Branson Convention & Visitors Bureau)
Completely by accident, I have become a vault of useless knowledge about vacationing in Branson. It started with a few years at the Convention and Visitors Bureau, organizing tours for big groups and assisting travel agents (remember those?). Then I worked for tour businesses and bus companies, booking shows and restaurants for legions of Shriners and church ladies and retirees who, thank God, had decided to let someone else do the driving. As a step-on guide (that’s someone who “steps on” the bus and is your tour guide for the city) I dressed up like Ellie Clampett from the Beverly Hillbillies and spun stories that passed the time in traffic – a skill which has served me well in front of a classroom in my present life.
In the years I traded full-time work for a family, I was busy catering to children, then teenagers, and back to adults again. I’ve seen Branson boom and watched the lakes rise and fall, entertainers come and go, hotels change names, and decided for myself what was the best of the best. I don’t know a tenth of what the old-timers do about this area, but that’s what makes it fun to keep learning. I consider my new book – 100 Things To Do In Branson Before You Die – to be like dipping a toe in Table Rock Lake. You’ll get the feel of the water without plunging all the way in.
It’s funny to be pointed at as an “expert” at book signings and events, but that is part of the deal until the next thing comes along. At least you can always ask me for directions and where to get the best ice cream! (Andy’s Frozen Custard…you’ll love it!)