February 22nd, 2012
Many years ago, Jon and I rewarded our children for their work in helping us paint
the exterior of our house by taking them to Chateau on the Lake in Branson.
One of the evenings while we there, we visited the renowned Big Cedar Lodge to see what it was like. I was smitten with the narrow quaint meandering drive through lodges and picturesque grouping of buildings on the lake, stringers of fish for signs, and the stuffed animals in the lodge. Thereafter, I dreamed of taking the children back to enjoy the rustic setting. So when I saw Big Cedar Lodge’s advertisement in our Black River Electric’s magazine, I folded it over and placed it in my pile of papers to ask Jon if we might take Jedidiah there for his 22nd birthday, in conjunction with a canoe and a trip downstream. Jon didn’t even let me get past the idea of a canoe which he did not think was a good idea, so the lodge was tabled until I could think of something else that would qualify for a related themed gift. In the meantime, Jon found the ad and suggested that we spend Valentines Day there. Consequently, as soon as the snow began falling Monday morning, we quickly packed and headed on down to the lodge.
Arriving in the snow at night with warm light welcoming us from every window and doorway, recreated that delightful feeling we felt when we first glimpsed this charming resort through snowfall nearly eleven years earlier, making it the perfect backdrop for a time of complete repose.
With three restaurants, complimentary paddleboats, tennis, and the lodge of our choosing for playing games in front of a fire, made this a perfect destination for our weary souls.
Our tummies were ready for dinner so we headed over to the Devil’s Pool Restaurant.
Our accommodations in the Spring View Lodge included a two room suite with a king size bed, a queen size sleeper sofa, and a queen size bed in a private room. Crowned with feather beds and down duvets, the beds provided sweet slumber for just $115 a night.
In the morning, we walked around to enjoy the scenery on this fine beautiful day.
We enjoyed breakfast on Truman’s Café patio,
After breakfast, we headed for the paddleboats-a complimentary amenity. It was a lovely walk to get there.
The children and I paddled to a quaint cove on the lake where we saw ducks and turtles.
The boys got out and climbed up a ravine.
When we returned, Jon surprised us with a ride, in one of the Lodge’s speedboats, on Table Rock Lake which encompasses 52,300 acres of water surrounded by 800 miles of beautiful shoreline. Home to Bass, Crappie, Catfish, Walleye, and Spoonbill, make this lake a fisherman’s dream, but for us it was just a fun ride, especially since only one other boat ventured out that day.
When we returned from our boat ride we headed for Big Cedar’s newest lodge, and their most magnificent in our minds, to rock on the veranda as we watched the sun go down over Table Rock Lake. We also roamed around each floor to see the wonderful stuffed animals and other special touches.
While we were there, I approached a pleasant looking couple and asked if we might accompany them to their room to see what they were like. The room was so attractive, that if we ever go back to Big Cedar Lodge, we will be staying in the Falls Lodge, room #340, where we thoroughly enjoyed a lovely conversation with the couple from Arkansas. That room would only cost us $120 a night during the winter season, Sunday through Thursday. We heard from this couple that Falls Lodge’s rooms are booked every weekend and go for hundreds of dollars during their busy season, so that price is quite a deal. Prices change March 15th.
Afterwards we prepared for our Valentine’s dinner at the Worman House. Normally this restaurant is only open Thursday through Sundays during the winter, but because of the holiday, they opened for dinner, live music, and dancing. It was exquisite!
Following dinner, we walked over to the registration lodge where Jon, Sonia, and Josiah worked on a puzzle while Jedidiah and I sat on one of the sofas for an intimate chat. From there we went to our room to watch some of our traditional Christmas movies, which Josiah brought along.
The next morning, following breakfast, we headed for Falls Lodge again to play Dutch Blitz, Pinochle, Sequence, Rummikub, and King’s Cribbage in front of one of their fireplaces. After several hours of play, the boys went down to the tennis courts and played several games while Sonia, Jon, and I continued our round of board games beside the warm cozy fire.
Situated on the shore of Table Rock Lake, this idyllic premier wilderness resort reflects the character of the man whose name is synonymous with the nationwide stores he owns- Bass Pro Shops.
Wherever we go, we cast a vision for business pointing out design, service, and attention to details. So it was with great pleasure that we were able to share Johnny Morris’ vision and success with our children.
From small beginnings as a bait, lures, and worm shop in the back of Morris’ father’s liquor store in 1972, Bass Pro quickly grew to become the largest retailer of hunting, fishing, and other outdoor sporting equipment. From its first mailing in 1974 offering just 1,500 items, Bass Pro Shop’s catalog also quickly grew to the “world’s largest mail order sporting goods store” which now mails out 36 million catalogs featuring 30,000 items. In 1975, Morris established American Rod and Gun, a wholesale company serving other independent sporting goods stores. Just two years later, Morris showcased a complete boat, motor, and trailer package with Bass Tracker.
Construction on the magnificent Outdoor World Catalog Showroom in Springfield was debuted in the early 80’s. In 1988, Big Cedar Lodge opened. In 1995, Morris opened his first out of state store, which today has grown to 55 stores in all. The Wonders of Wildlife museum opened in 2001.
Home to magnificent rustic décor, life size taxidermy mounts, a four story waterfall, meandering streams and tanks of fish indigenous to the area, makes this Missouri’s number one tourist attraction drawing nearly 4 million people a year. Presently under construction and adjacent to this world-class superstore is the world-class American National Fish and Wildlife Living Museum and Aquarium.
The estimated annual revenue for all this is $2.65 billion-not bad for a company that started in the back of a father’s store. Yet it began with the help of family, as his father not only made a place for him in his own store, but co-signed a loan for his first inventory, and has continued with the help of family as grandmother, sisters, and aunts held mailing catalog parties; one sister set up the company’s computerized system; another assists with marketing and public relations; his wife helped with design and his father-in-law’s company put in the first large aquarium. And yet with all he has accomplished, his daughter says the most important lesson her father taught her was humility. For all these attributes his employees love him, many remaining loyal to the company for years with the longest serving employee at 35 years. To his credit, Johnny even honored his Uncle Buck with a bronze statue, which stands at the entrance of his store because it was this beloved uncle who introduced him to fishing. Wisely, his retail stores and resort are still privately held.
When it comes to landscaping for others, I may have Jedidiah, Josiah, or one of our workers move a bush multiple times just inches or fractions of an inch until I think it looks right. With that seemingly picky characteristic, you can understand why I was so pleased to share with my boys, Johnny Morris’ attention to every detail, down to moving a wall in one of his stores six times before he was satisfied, ending up just six inches from its first placement. He is my kind of guy!
Johnny Morris has thought of everything to make his customer's shopping experience delightful. Here, within the shop, is Hemingway's restaurant so that you can shop, eat, and shop some more.
Consequently, those who have eyes to see will notice the results of his attention to details in every building, sign, and path at the resort and in his Springfield store. It is this characteristic that has made his stores world renown. For even when bankers would not consider loans for the things such as waterfalls and aquariums, Morris used his own money to create the kind of atmosphere tourists love. It is "his" icing on his cake, so to speak, which draws customers to spend their money. Morris invested in bringing happiness to people, and people in turn love him for it. For more information on this wonderful get away, go to www.bigcedar.com. www.basspro.com
Please note: The Big Cedar Lodge was untouched by the recent tornado that hit downtown Branson.