34-36: Ten Cent Skee Ball

I’ve fallen a little behind in my 365 blogging, so in order to catch myself up, I’m combining some entries together.  I guess this could be considered “cheating,” but since this 365 days of blogging thing was my idea in the first place, I figure I get to make my own rules.  While there’s nothing that says I HAVE to blog every day, I do think I should at least ATTEMPT to get myself back on track.


Last Friday (June 17, as it were), my childhood best friend, Meredith, came over for a day of fun and frivolity.  The original plan had been to go to that theme park of apparent number bias, Six Flags in St. Louis (Why only six, oh theme park gods?  Why not Eight or Five?  Or one of THESE numbers…).  Unfortunately, the weather was not cooperative, and in the best interest of our hair and clothing, we decided against braving a rainstorm for roller-coasters run-ins with too chipper costumed versions of Bugs Bunny and the 1990s’ favorite t-shirt decoration, Tweety Bird (*shudder.  Don’t act like YOU didn’t own one too.)

Instead, we checked the weather and decided to head south where the rain was on its way out.  Meredith and I, in a fit of boredom, decided on a rollicking day of trashy mini-golf, outlet mall shopping, and outdoor arcade games at the Lake of the Ozarks.  The Lake is like Branson-lite (if there is even such a thing): it has a few awful country music shows, a “strip,” outlet malls, mini-golf, tourist trap stores, and a wealth of tanned-to-the-point-of-looking-leathery women whose outfits reflect their desperate cry to recapture their youth and their rich, corny husbands who espouse such sentiments as “God Bless America” or “Proud to be an American” every five seconds.

The Lake has its merits too though.  First and foremost, the lake itself is large and beautiful, and there ARE a lot of rich people who live on or around it in huge homes with even bigger boats.  There are some decent restaurants (selling “fresh seafood” as it were, despite the fact this is a FRESHWATER lake in a LANDLOCKED state, but whatever), and there are some great golf courses around (so I’ve been told.  I don’t play golf or even pretend to understand it.).  But all this does is make me upset that I don’t live closer to a REAL beach on one of the coasts where fresh seafood is actually fresh and there’s a chance I’ll spot some cute, rich boys who aren’t backwoods white trash.

But back to our roadtrip, Meredith and I got down to the Lake and headed straight for the Black Rock  Pirate Cove mini-golf.  It features two different courses (the Captain’s Course or Blackbeard’s Course) with historical facts about different famous pirates at each hole.  There’s also a giant, blue waterfall.  When I say blue, I mean BLUE.  Apparently, the groundskeepers (I imagine a Hagrid-like furry man who only comes out at night) at Pirate Cove want to give the waterfall a Caribbean, tropical feel by way of INTENSE aqua dye probably last used by the costumer for the Lawrence Welk Show in the 1970s.  Anyway, Meredith and I chose to play the Captain’s Course on recommendation of the nice, old man at the ticket window.  We golfed our way around the course, hoping to not lose our balls (Yes, you can snicker), giggling at each subsequent historical fact, and not giving Tiger Woods or Jack Nicklaus any reason to worry about upholding their golfing titles.

Me with the gorgeous, BLUE waterfall at Pirate Cove mini-golf

After our golfing excursion, we noticed two things:

1) Despite our best attempts at saving our hair from rain troubles, we had NOT saved it from humidity troubles.  Damn.

2) We were hungry.

We hit up Vista Grande, my favorite place to eat at the Lake based on its awesome salsa, margaritas, and chicken chimichangas.  It was reliably tasty and a welcome escape from the swashbuckling “fun” of Pirates of the Caribbean Pirate Cove.  It also provided us with a chance to bemoan our humidified hair.  Following our Mexican fiesta, we headed right across the street to the Factory Outlet Mall for some bargain shopping although it turned out to be a lot of looking around at clothes not snapped up by the tanned, leathery ladies of the lake (ha.  Ladies of the Lake?  Get it?  Lady of the Lake?).  I wound up buying some awesome jams but that’s not the good part of the story.

So last but not least on our grand tour of the Lake, we went to the old “strip,” which is like if a 1955 carnival came to town, overstayed its welcome, and slowly but surely became a forgotten, backwoods, junky version of its former self.  We found the Holy Grail of outdoor arcade games: 10¢ SKEE BALL.  As we walked up to the building, I instantly thought of the awesome movie Adventureland starring the awkwardly cool Oscar nominee Jesse Eisenberg (and the girl who defines acting as biting her lip and running her hands through her hair whilst she kisses a vampire or werewolf, Kristen Stewart): I got the feeling that if you worked there, you’d feel like you were dying a slow, painful death from heat, white trash, junky prizes, and the annoying sounds of the skee ball machines.  Meredith and I played $2 worth of skee ball and with our collected tickets, we won two cheap finger traps and a couple Tootsie Roll Pops.  Awesome, right?

Ten cent Skee Ball place on the old "strip"

Right across the street was the “Haunted Hotel,” which basically looked like it had been decorated by the leftover Halloween decorations from Wal-Mart.  There was a sign in the door window indicating that if we wanted a tour, we’d find the owners across the street at the Old Time Photography Studio.  Clearly business was booming.  There was also a dead cat skeleton in the window, which they claimed was from a cat that disappeared in the building in 1977 and was found in 2004.  CLASSY.

The cat skeleton from the "Haunted Hotel"

So it may not have been roller coasters and log flumes, but I’d say Meredith and I had a successful if not memorable sojourn.  At least we know we fared better than the cat in the window of the Haunted Hotel.

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