Rock Bridge Memorial State Park

Since there wasn’t any hiking at Finger Lakes State Park and we didn’t have an ATV to keep us entertained, we drove into Columbia one day to hike at Rock Bridge Memorial State Park.  It was unusual in that it is a more urban park but still nicely wooded and large enough that you don’t realize you are in town.

They used to have a wooden trail that went under the rock bridge but now it is gone.

The coolest thing about this park was the cave.  They let you climb right into it.  We couldn’t go very far because we didn’t have suitable lighting but you got a good feel for the caving experience!

This is the view looking up out of the cave . . . I made Alan balance on a rock over the stream to get the picture!

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Steamboat Arabia

While in Kansas City we took a tour of the Steamboat Arabia Museum.  The steamboat sank on the Missouri River in 1856 with a huge load of cargo.  A couple of local “explorers” got the treasure bug and dug it out of a cornfield and put everything on display. It was really an interesting museum with thousands of artifacts from the 1800’s on display.

They aren’t really selling anything they found except buttons that came off of the dresses that are long since disintegrated after being buried in mud and silt for 150 years.  The buttons are made like china with stenciled designed that matched the fabric.  Since I couldn’t figure out what I would do with a handful of expensive antique china buttons, I bought this souvenir bracelet.  It may be a bit kitschy but I am loving it!

We are leaving Kansas City today for our last stop in Missouri – Knob Noster State Park.  We’ll be there a few days and then head home.  I have a couple of posts scheduled for the next few days . . . but I still have a big backlog!

Don’t believe everything they tell you about caves . . .

On our way to St. Louis we stopped to check out the Bonne Terre lead mine.  It was closed in the 1960’s and then opened for scuba diving in the 80’s.  They have to pump out the ground water to keep the place from completely flooding.  Now they have a big underground lake.

Even though the mine was only closed about 50 years ago, there are already cave formations growing!  You always hear stories about how long it takes to make the formations – thousands or even millions of years!  Well, we are beginning to question some of that . . .

These tools were placed here when the mine opened for tours in the 80’s.

Realistically though, this mine/cave gets a lot of water flowing through it.  That is really the determining factor on how long it takes for a stalagmite to grow!

It’s been all about the weather!

I can’t believe it has been pretty much two weeks since I last posted here on WordPress.  I have tried to check-in on Facebook occasionally so I wouldn’t be getting any calls wondering where we were.

Of course, I did get several calls/emails/texts wanting to make sure that we weren’t anywhere near Joplin when that awful tornado hit the town with such devastating results.  My thoughts and prayers have been with that community.

We are now in Kansas City, MO playing tourist again.  Since my last post at Mark Twain State Park, we’ve been hopping around to various State Parks  all in Northern Missouri:

  • Finger Lakes State Park
  • Thousand Hills State Park
  • Pershing State Park

Finger Lakes near Columbia was interesting in that it is really just a place for people who like ATV’s to camp.  We were there during the week and the track was closed in preparation for a big race so it was quiet (lucky for us).  You can ride your ATV right up to the campsite from the dirt trails.  It looked interesting if you liked that kind of thing. There were no hiking or mountain bike trails in the Park at all so we walked the road one day and then took a drive to Rock Bridge Memorial State Park closer to Columbia.  There is a cool cave there and I got a few interesting pictures so I’ll put up a separate post.

We only stayed at Thousand Hills for a relatively quick weekend stop.  We hiked around the Lake one day and checked out the petroglyphs that they have preserved in a building.  Even though the Park wasn’t very crowded, we had close neighbors.  It rained a lot of the time we were there but we got one really nice night for a fire but there were nasty thunder storms over night.

Our last stop before Kansas City was at Pershing State Park near Brookfield, MO.  We were very isolated there – no TV and only minimal cell service.  We went into town a couple of times for supplies and I got to visit a lovely small quilt shop – Hueffmeier’s Fine Pines Quilt Shop.  I will try to write up a separate post because it was worth the visit.  There wasn’t a lot of hiking but we took every opportunity when the weather was clear to get out on the trails.  There was an interesting boardwalk trail that we walked twice.   This Park was pretty buggy – when it wasn’t threatening to storm we sat out in our screened room – another great CostCo purchase!

I’m still recovering from the drive to Kansas City from Pershing.  Remember we didn’t have any TV there and barely any cell service.  We headed out for a drive on back roads that we thought would be two hours or so.  It turned out that there were two detours along the way – this may just have saved our trailer from serious hail damage!  We were driving right into a tornado warning.  We were in the nasty weather before we realized it. We drove through the worst of it with pea size hail but the campground had gotten hit a lot worse.  I’m not sure what we should have done differently (other than not come to Missouri in the middle of tornado season!)

Mark Twain State Park

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We left St. Louis after a very busy few days. We pretty much played tourist for a week. The KOA where we stayed was okay – nothing great but we weren’t worried that things were going to get stolen and it was convenient to the city. I will post more pictures from our adventures there later.

We are now at the first of four State Parks that we booked in Northern Missouri – Mark Twain State Park near Florida, Missouri where Mark Twain was born.

We may get rained on the whole time we are here but up looking forward to relaxing and/or sewing even if it is cooped up in the trailer.

Highest Point in Missouri

We had a couple of really nice days while we were staying at the Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park (which is really an awkward name – I agree Sherrill! I’m still not sure if the i in ins should be capitalized.) One day we drove around to Taum Sauk Mountain State Park that has not only the highest point in Missouri (1,772 feet) but also it’s tallest (132 feet) waterfall. I say around because if you wanted to hike it from the Johnson’s Park it is a straight 10 mile hike but you have a lot further to go to get by car.

There wasn’t much to get to the highest point – walk on a concrete path to see this:

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(I got a little carried away playing with the special effects in my Camera+ Ap on my phone while driving yesterday.)

There was a five mile loop to the Mina Sauk Falls. We didn’t know any better and took the hard way down. It was very rocky, narrow and wet. We would have been better off taking the loop in the reverse direction so we climbed that portion of the trail. We will know better next time.

The falls were really lovely. I’m not sure how they measure the cascade but they seemed a lot taller than 132 feet.

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There was another natural feature called Devil’s Toll Gate about a mile further down the trail. Well, I will admit it was my idea to go for it … It was really treacherous the first quarter mike until you got completely below the falls. After that it was a really nice hike in the woods but Devil’s Toll Gate was a little disappointing considering the hike. Here is Alan with his “is this it?” look:

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The only disappointing thing about this day was that after we got back to the car, we couldn’t find a picnic area anywhere and had to eat our lunch on a bench near the overlook.

Johnson’s Shut-Ins

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We’ve spent the last five nights at this very lovely State Park. The campground was wiped out five years ago when a reservoir failed and sent water gushing through the Park. So, the whole place is brand new and very well designed.

The Park is named for the interesting formation along the East Fork of the Black River where rocks have resisted the river and create little pools of water in the narrow gorge. The area was flowing pretty fast because of the recent rains but in the summer people come to swim.

We hiked all the trails in the park. The one that goes out past the Shut-Ins is a really nice boardwalk until you get past the overlook then it turns into a rocky climb. It was kind of unexpected but we really enjoyed it.

We also hiked the area that was scoured by the reservoir breach. It exposed a lot of diverse geologically-significant rocks which I wish I could distinguish – where is a geologist when you need one?

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You can see the reservoir sitting up high in the distance. We haven’t had any connectivity here unless we walk to the closed Camp Store and sit outside to get their wifi so I havent had the chance to research this yet but I think it is a pumped storage facility where the electric utility pumps water up at night when they have extra (or cheap) electricity and use the water to generate electricity during the day when they need it.

I’m posting this as we leave Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park heading to St. Louis. I’ll post more pictures from our hike to the highest point and biggest waterfall in Missouri in the next day or so.

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Quilt Shops in Branson, MO

On Saturday when Alan was hanging out with his Old Woodworking Machines buddies, I took the truck and checked out two local quilt shops (sometimes known as a LQS or lqs.)

The first had a nice-sized ad in the travel guide I use to supplement the Internet when looking for lqs’s on the road. Almost all shops have a website but sometimes it is just easier to use the book. Besides, you can’t always tell wether a “fabric” store actually carries quilter’s cotton just from a google listing.

Well, to the point … I went to the big lqs in Branson first – Quilts and Quilts Country Store and it definitely was big! It has a huge selection of everything that you might want – patterns, samples, fabric, books but it was one of the least welcoming shops I’ve visited. The staff did offer to help but I was completely overwhelmed by the number of warning signs all over the place! I would have taken some photos of them but many said don’t even think about taking any photos of anything.

One or two signs asking that you don’t take pictures of the samples is fine, but we are talking a warning sign about every foot … Don’t unravel the jelly rolls, don’t take pictures, don’t take the fabric off the shelf by pulling at the top (still not sure what this was about.) The signs were everywhere!

While the selection was good and they had small shopping carts which was convenient, the shop was on the upside of average prices. Every bolt was close to $10 a yard and I never checked the batiks. There was a “clearance” room but it was really secondary brands (a little cheaper) but not reduced priced top quality fabric as you might think they were selling.

They also sold quilts but most weren’t even made in the US and were of poor quality. You couldn’t really check them out anyway since there were dozens of signs telling you not to touch them.

I did get an extra-wide back for a
Good price but the fabric was only marginal quality. I was disappointed that what was on the bolt was cut already (this totally defeats the benefit of an extra-wide back!) so it is going to be a tight squeeze for the quilt I have in mind.

The second shop – Fabric & Decor Shoppe – was not much further down the road. I think it was first a Decorator Fabric shop but they have a nice, but small, collection of quilt fabric. It was bright and friendly without a warning sign anywhere! The woman working there was very pleasant and spent a long time patiently helping another customer pick out fabric.

I bought a kit for an easy quilt-as-you-go throw-sized quilt with a fleece back. I haven’t made one of these before but it seemed perfect for a “trailer project”. I may be working on it the next day it rains.

As you are reading this, we are long gone from Branson. We are now further East at the Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park. There is no signal here at all but they do have wifi at the camp store. We don’t even have any television. Luckily, we heard the news about Osama before we left civilization. I got choked up when I heard about the brave military personnel that took on such a noble and difficult job. Thank you for your service to America.

Lambert’s Cafe

When I was asking my Missouri-native friends what we should check out when traveling around the state, Patty mentioned this place where they throw rolls at you – sounded interesting to us!

It turns out Lambert’s Cafe has three locations including one in Ozark, near Brandon. Alan thought the food sounded pretty good and it turned out to be even better than expected.

Yes, they do throw hot rolls which were very tasty – slightly sweet, delicate yet dense; just heavy enough so they travel well when thrown. Lambert’s also has staff walking around offering all you want of the “pass-arounds”. We tasted the fried okra, macaroni with tomatoes, and fried potatoes. Alan said the potatoes were “just like his grandmothers”. I thought they were great, too!

I had chicken-fried steak. It was very tender and the gravy wasn’t real heavy. The green beans weren’t great but they were okay. I enjoyed the cucumbers with onions – they weren’t as sweet as I remember my grandmother making, though.

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Alan had the Country Ham. The waitress warned him that it was salty and she wasn’t exaggerating. He seemed to enjoy it anyway and finished the whole thing along with a big portion of my steak.

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Overall, this place was way better than you would expect from a tourist trap!