STODA (IN BRANSON) UPDATE
By Kevin Stoda, on holiday
Well, for the first time since I was married in 2008, my wife and I are taking a holiday in America. (Maria Victoria and I were married in Kuwait.)
As many readers know, I am teaching in Taiwan--while the USA economy and job market remains poor-to-very-poor for educators, especially this time of year. So, finally, I have been enjoying a 11-day stay in Branson with Victoria and Kenzenia as part of the various Chinese New Years celebration and winter breaks in East Asia (i.e., where I do have employment and do enjoy teaching elementary & junior high kids this 2010-2011.)
Believe-it-Or-not! My wife and I were fortunate to meet with friendly timeshare sales and membership personnel here over the past 7 days and received 200 dollars for our 2 hours (total) of trouble. The Silverleaf and Wyndham resorts personnel respected the fact that we were stretched financially and gave us 75 and 125 dollars respectively for meeting with them. (This is something not-everyone-I-know-of has experienced on their timeshare visits over the decades.)
We took the money and bought Kenzenia, Victoria, and myself nice new clothes (on Winter Sales) at a local mall. I will certainly need those warm pieces of clothing when I return to the Matsu islands at the end of this week. It is very cold and windy there.
One anecdote, I'd like to share from our "Wyndham Resort informational meeting" was the fact that our salesman was one "Butch" Phillips, a famous Oklahoma-born-& bread tornado chaser (i.e. the kind you see movies about) . In all, Butch Phillips chased tornadoes for well over 4 years.
Phillips has been featured in numerous TV stories and movies related to tornado photos he began taking when he was 16 years old. He has been chasing tornadoes and working with the federal government on-and-off for decades.
By the way, my sisters and I graduated from towns in Oklahoma, too, back in the 1980s. Butch seemed to know all the towns well. (I'm not sure if Butch Phillips is a native American or not, but several other websearches I have done today indicated that the Penobscot tribe has one Butch Phillips as an Elder, too.)
When Vik and I were in the Branson Mall with our baby yesterday spending our 125-dollar AMEX gift card from Wyndham Resorts, we were also able to enjoy listening to Jackson Cash doing his great TRIBUTE TO JOHNNY CASH.
Jackson Cash is the best imitator of Johnny Cash I have heard to-date.
You must catch his shows sometime. Kenzenia, Victoria and I enjoyed his singing amongst a sparse crowd in a free concert.
We had heard Jackson' voice all-the-way into the neighboring Walmart. (It was a great blessing to spend an hour shopping in Walmart with Johnny Cash's music bouncing around the Men's, Women's and Baby's clothing sections yesterday.)
SNOWS AND COLD OF MISSOURI: FEBRUARY 2011
Despite those handful of congressional nut cases (like Inhofe from Oklahoma) who deny that the planet is undergoing "Climate Changes" at a faster-pace-than-usual due to man's negative environmental impact caused over the past 3 to 4 centuries, this winter of 2011 is shaking up the USA citizenry greatly.
My wife and I decided to drive to Branson on Monday, January 31, after a day-long discussion. By proceeding to Branson a day earlier-than-planned, we avoided the 15 inches of snow that fell on Carl Junction where my mom lives and the 17 inches that hit my Aunt Glenda's place in the same county. (Due to the actions of the JasperCounty road-cleaners, all my family members faced three- or more feet of snow at the end of their driveway by Wednesday of last week.)
In general, the rest of the country has witnessed more snow and winter storms than have been EXPERIENCED here in Branson, though. (Many of the storms in different parts of the USA were called THE STORM OF THE CENTURY.) Only last Friday night was I forced to be out on the ice and snow for any length of time. So, all-in-all, this STODA FAMILY has felt relatively safe here in Branson USA.
Although Victoria, Kenzenia have not seen any of Branson's famous shows, we have enjoyed our first family time together in North America. ( I finally beat Vik in a game of chess last night. Yippee. She usually destroys me.) After having to live too-often-apart in the past year, it has been a blessing to stay in our own time shares (or RCI trade-in) and reacquaint ourselves this February 2011
Tomorrow, more snow and cold is coming our way, though. However, by Thursday Vik, baby, and I will be heading back to Carl Junction--mom has gotten the snow cleared. PTL. (By Saturday, I will have to fly on back to Taiwan.)