Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Dosh to Summer Fun and Vacation Deals

Last month, I talked about a new app I’m helping to promote called, Dosh. I was impressed with all the cash back offered when shopping with just a few easy clicks.

I’m back to tell you more about how you can use Dosh to have more fun this summer, whether it’s a staycation or a vacation.

Looking to travel to NY? Great rates at dozens of hotels PLUS up get $50, $100, $150 or more back in cash in your dosh account. You can also get tickets for the Circle Line, the Empire State Building, and a Hop-on, Hop-off bus tour.

These deals are available in most major cities, including Chicago, Los Angeles, and Miami. If you want to explore on your own, car rental deals with cash back are also on the Dosh App.

Whether you are traveling out of town or enjoying your hometown, Dosh also has cash back offerings at chain restaurants such as Jack in the Box and Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, as well as local restaurants throughout the country.

For the summer, Chuck E. Cheese is giving 5% back to Dosh subscribers on all purchases over $30. Whether you are escaping the heat or the rain, or just looking for something fun to do with the family, stay comfortable while the kids enjoy games and pizza.

The thing I like the most about Dosh is that I don’t even have to remember to use it at all these places. I enter my credit cards securely* in the app (and receive $1 cash for each one I put in). The system takes MasterCard, Visa, and American Express. You can enter as many cards as you’d like.

Every time I use one of those cards at a Dosh participating store, restaurant, hotel, or activity, the cashback is automatically put into my Dosh account. No rebate forms, coupons, or having to remember to click somewhere.  

I can take money out of my Dosh account anytime I reach $15. I can transfer it into PayPal or write into my bank account. I also have the option to use the money to make a donation to over two million charities.

Dosh is available for smartphones and tablet devices at the App Store and at Google Play. Just sign up here. New cash back opportunities are being added daily.

Dosh security information is here.

This is a #sponsored post

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Kayaking, Music and Lots of Food in Branson

We got up early at the Radisson Hotel for our first full day in Branson and had a quick breakfast.

Marsha, Brittany, Amanda and I got in the car and headed to Table Rock Lake, where we were going kayaking at Flat Creek Resort in Cape Fear.

It was a scenic drive on winding roads, something we didn’t see in Central Illinois.

Flat Creek Resort is Just outside the city of Branson and we had been invited to check it out, specifically the kayaking.

It was something new they started this season and everyone was excited to be out on the brand-new boats, especially Brittany, who was trying stand up fishing from a kayak for the first time.

The staff helped us get started.

After Brittany did the fishing kayak for a while, she joined Amanda, while Marsha and I in the other tandem kayak.

They were much sturdier than kayaks I had previously been in.

It was the perfect partly cloudy and warm day to be out on the water. It was the most relaxing hour I’d had in a very long time.

Flat Creek Resort itself isn’t very big, but the lake availability is huge, as is the very popular restaurant and bar.

After kayaking we went to the restaurant and found out why so many people, especially locals, come out here.

The drink menu was so inviting, Marsha, Amanda, and I (it was still two days until Brittany’s 21st birthday) had to give some of their signature cocktails a try and they were delicious:

The Relaxer-Blue Chair Bay Coconut Rum, Peach Schnapps, Skyy Vodka, pineapple juice, and cranberry juice.

Bahama Mama-Captain Morgan White Rum, Blue Chair Bay Coconut Rum, banana liqueur, pineapple juice, orange juice, and grenadine.

Grateful Dead Margarita-Skyy Vodka, Tanqueray Gin, Captain Morgan White Rum, Cazadoras BlancoTequila, Chambord, and house made sweet and sour.

Everything on the menu looked fantastic and we were really hungry so we got a little carried away.

We started with the Pulled Pork Nachos Supreme and the Loaded Potato Skins while we made our decisions for main dishes. We chose the right ones.

Amanda and I had the Hawg and Slaw, a pulled pork sandwich topped with cole slaw, and the mashed potatoes.

Marsha had the brisket salad.

Brittany had an assortment, ordering the Flat Creek Trio: Ribs, Brisket, and Catfish with two sides (she had green beans and baked beans).

As full as we were (our “doggie bags” were quite big), we could not resist the desserts our waiter was offering.

We succumbed to Red Velvet Cheesecake, Chocolate Tuxedo Cheesecake, a Cherry Fried Pie, and (fried bread pudding)

After we left Flat Creek, we went back to the Radisson Hotel to chill for a while before our 4:00 pm Showboat Belle Branson dinner cruise.

We made the short drive to White River Landing for the boat. We were disappointed that it was starting to drizzle, but I noticed that the boat was very large and mostly indoors.

I had been on a lot of dinner cruises, but the food and entertainment on the Showboat Branson Belle was top notch.

We had a choice of steak, fish, or pork chop with vegetables and potatoes.

Soft drinks and dessert, turtle cheesecake or chocolate cake. Didn’t eat much.

The boat is beautiful, clean, organized and very well kept. Our table (premium section) was in the perfect position to see the show. Performers were fantastic.

I loved the Billy Joel medley as I had been about overcome with country music prior.

The clouds were quite ominous, though it didn’t rain hard. We took a walk outside. No sunsets on this night.

We had talked about doing something after the show, but we were all wiped out so we just enjoyed the pool and jacuzzi when we got back to the Radisson Branson before bed.

We had another full day ahead in Branson, Missouri to come.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

My First Trip to Branson, Missouri

Branson, Missouri has been on my list of places to visit in the Midwest for years. Since it was a bit of a drive (about seven hours) and there is a ton to see and do there, I wanted to make sure there was enough time.

I planned the time and the crew for a perfect five days girls’ getaway, that would end with an extra-special birthday.

Brittany has traveled with me many times, but this was my friend Marsha’s first adventure with us. Marsha and I had actually met on social media when I saw we had mutual friends and a very similar name.

She’s Marsha Lynne and I’m Marcia Lynn. As we became closer, our friends started referring to us as ML1 and ML2. So, this was the first of many trips for ML^.

We picked up Amanda in Alton, Illinois, and decided our lunch stop was going to be our favorite barbecue place in Missouri, SuperSmokers in Eureka.

Their BBQ Nachos, corn chips topped with brisket, chicken, pulled pork, tomatoes, cheese, and baked beans, are not to be matched anywhere.

We over-ordered as usual and took the leftovers to go as we hit the road to Branson.

The trip went smoothly and we checked into our hotel for the next four nights, the Radisson Hotel Branson. It’s a very large hotel and has a lobby welcoming families and groups with seating areas and plenty of information available on everything to do in the area.

We had two adjoining rooms with two beds each (the Radisson is very accommodating to families). We also had refrigerators in the rooms which were perfect for drinks and leftovers.

The hotel is in the center of this resort town, filled with restaurants, hotels, and attractions. It was just a few minutes from our first activity, the Legends in Concert show.

I had only been to one other Legends in Concert show before (on a cruise ship) and this was much better than I expected.

Marsha and I had some fun posing with the Blues Brothers statues inside before grabbing some popcorn and settling into the very large Dick Clark Theater.

Dancers welcomed us first, followed by the impersonators. Each had a chance to do multiple songs.

The Brooks and Dunn singers started were first, looking like the originals and finishing with a wonderful tribute to Vets, with the American Flag in the background.

The Blues Brothers performers were not only right on, but they encouraged audience participation, making for a very funny performance.

Elvis didn’t look much like the Mr. Presley, but he certainly sounded and danced like him.

The Michael Jackson impersonator was a perfect choice in every way, including when it was time to moon walk.

I was disappointed when the Celine Dion came out because she didn’t look anything like her, but when she started belting out the tunes, it didn’t matter.

Every month there is a different additional performer and we were lucky enough to see the Bruno Mars impersonator, who was great at and off the piano.

The show ended with all the performers singing and dancing.

They had one of the Blues Brothers cars, as well as the Car from Cars. Inside the museum they show all 7 cars from Fast & Furious, as well as vehicles from Transformers, and Back to the Future.

Before we left the parking lot, we Looked around at the outside cars from the adjacent Celebrity Car Museum & Attraction.

Since we had a big, late lunch, we never did have dinner. We discovered the one thing Branson doesn’t have is restaurants open late.

It was a good excuse for some Dairy Queen comfort food, before we headed back to the Radisson for a good night’s sleep. It would be a full next day in Branson.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Spring in Indianapolis

My friend Angela and I were on a short getaway to Indianapolis.

We were staying downtown at the Courtyard Marriott, directly across the street from White River State Park.

Our first scheduled stop of the day was a Segway tour at the park, but it was a bit windy so we decided to put it off for a few hours and head to brunch first.

I usually don’t repeat places when I travel because I like to try something new.

Café Patachou is the exception. Owner Martha Hoover (a fellow former New Yorker) opened one healthy brunch spot 25 years ago and it has turned into a chain of tasty cafes.

Hoover also gives back to local children in need of food through the Patachou Foundation.

The place was packed and we decided to take our food to go and sit outside instead of waiting for a table inside.

Although I usually spend some time skimming the menu filled with delectable dishes, I almost always get the same: the California Omelet (filled with lots of avocado) and a side of their delicious cinnamon toast. Angela couldn’t resist the latter with her oatmeal.

We took an Uber from there to White River State Park. The Segway Tour area is adjacent to the Visitor’s Center.

It had been a few years since I had been on a Segway and I was disappointed to find out I would have to put pressure on my recently operated on ankle.

That was out so I bid Angela farewell as she toured the park on the Segway.

I spent the time walking and taking in the many sites of the park. 

The gondolas were just coming into the park, as were the paddleboats, and kayaks – all on my list for a future trip.

Also within White River State Park is the Indianapolis Zoo, the NCAA Museum, the Eiteljorg Museum, Victory Field, and the Indiana State Museum, which we had visited the previous day.

Angela loved the Segway tour. We headed back across the street to get the car from the Courtyard Marriott and then drove to Conner Prairie Interactive History Park.

Conner Prairie is about a half hour from downtown, in Fishers. It’s a great family attraction which is suitable for kids of all ages.

The park explores the history and agriculture of Indiana, through interactive play and displays. For 2017, there is a new balloon ride at the park.

It was too windy for us to get up in the balloon, so we opted to take the train ride to see more of the park. 

It was a fun way to end another great trip to Indianapolis.