Exploring Missouri’s Hidden Gems

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Round Springs is about 1.5 hours from our home. A bit long, but scenic.

Some friends invited us to join them on the Current River for a river clean up last Saturday. “The Stream Team” is a group of conservationists, volunteers and State Park employees that gather several times a year to keep the rivers clean.

It’s unfortunate that individual river riders don’t keep their beer cans, coke cans. drugs, folding camp chairs and the usual hats and socks (plastic diapers – eww!) out of the river after a visit. Thus it is and there are some people “THE STREAM TEAM” who care so much they clean up after those lazy, selfish ‘litter bugs.’

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After our drive up to Round Springs, we got out of the truck to explore and stretch our legs. I took the lens cap off my camera and it was so humid – it took several minutes for the camera lens to stop fogging up.

For those who are scared of being in the wilderness without toilets (!) or Rangers near by, rest assured, you are not completely alone out here.
For those who are scared of being in the wilderness without toilets (!) or Rangers near by, rest assured, you are not completely alone out here.

The Spring is found by following a trail into the forest. It was SO HOT and the water bubbling up from the fresh water spring was SO COLD, there was an eeire or mystical, depends on your imagination, mist that enveloped the area.

"Swamp Thing, you make my heart sing....you make every thing...Groovy."
“Swamp Thing, you make my heart sing….you make every thing…Groovy.”

I was overly excited about this area I took way too many photos.

I snapped a photo of our friends across the spring, you can't see Juliet very well...she is wearing green, but you can see Jason.
I snapped a photo of our friends across the spring, you can’t see Juliet very well…she is wearing green, but you can see Jason.

The summer rains have caused the spring to be full of more plant life than usual, it is typically a clear blue pool. I put my feet in the water to cool off a bit, I was turning into a sweaty mess.

The path that ends at the bottom of the photo is where I dipped my feet into the cool water. And I am taking the photo from where I snapped the photo of Jason and Juliet.
The path that ends at the bottom of the photo is where I dipped my feet into the cool water. And I am taking the photo from where Jason and Juliet were standing.

There are several stops along the trail where you can catch some perfect landscape art. I am a fan of art museums, but mother nature beats art museums – hands down.

A close up photo taken from the other side of the pool.
A close up photo taken from the other side of the pool.

We came to help with the river clean up, but we did a whole lot of “site-seeing”

Aside from the annoyed feelings aimed at lazy river goers, helping with a river clean up is what some professionals do on their weekends off, because of the beautiful and relaxing reward of communing with the outdoors.

This little guy wouldn't hold still for my close-up, it kept fluttering around. This is the best one I could get.
This little guy wouldn’t hold still for my close-up, it kept fluttering around. This is the best one I could get.

The back roads of Missouri are full of bends and hills, which can make some people, including myself, a bit car sick. The reward for surviving the drive is the hike you take when you get out of the car.

Danny's Kryptonite is green, just like Superman's Kryptonite is green....coincidence? I think not.
Danny’s Kryptonite is green, just like Superman’s Kryptonite is green….coincidence? I think not. (photo of poison ivy, Dan’s only enemy in nature).

Danny and I, with our children, are excited about joining the conservation of Missouri’s State Parks with the other Missouri dwellers.

Just be kind to the outdoors, keep them beautiful by keeping the trash out….just like you would treat your own body – keep the trash out.

What Happened At The River And Other Shiny Things

Spencer either had more courage than the others...or he is unlucky at Rock, Paper, Scissors.
Spencer either had more courage than the others…or he is unlucky at Rock, Paper, Scissors, but he was the first to get into the chilly water.
The stood around talking about who would go next, finally they decided to all go at the count of three...meanwhile, Spencer waited out in the water shivering.
The other boys stood around talking about who would go next, finally they decided to all go at the count of three…meanwhile, Spencer waited out in the water shivering.
Soon all four boys were shivering.
Soon all four boys were shivering.
Konnor, my youngest brother, communing with nature? Soaking up the sun probably.
Konnor, my youngest brother, communing with nature? Soaking up the sun probably.
I discovered a secret I have long suspected, my nineteen year old brother Kaleb is a vampire...look at him sparkle!
I discovered a secret I have long suspected, my nineteen year old brother Kaleb is a vampire…look at him sparkle!
They eventually made it across the cold cold river and celebrated a benchmark in the journey to manhood. That's what I said, anyway.
They eventually made it across the cold cold river and celebrated a benchmark in the journey to manhood. That’s what I said, anyway.
The entire time they were debating the swim across and while they swam, all I could think about was those word problems from Physics. "You are standing on the shore of the river and the river is moving at the rate of..." "where will the swimmer end up on the other side.."
The entire time they were debating the swim across and while they swam, all I could think about were those word problems from Physics. “You are standing on the shore of the river and the river is moving at the rate of…” “where will the swimmer end up on the other side..”

Mom, Dan, baby and I stood on the shore shouting directions and encouragement. We don’t need to prove anything, we are old/er. My son however, had to prove he could be a real mountain man like his dad, by chewing on more rocks. Maybe he isn’t getting enough minerals in his diet? hmmm.

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It’s Wednesday and I’m packed for a trip home to Oklahoma. Best of Wishes on this middle of the week day.

Coyotes, Hammocks, Tiny Bats, Oh My!

Several times during the night, a pack of Coyotes howled/screamed at us from directly across the Current River to our site. That was unnerving. I had a lot on my mind, the baby cried throughout the night and come sun up, I hadn’t slept much at all.

Mr Outdoors makes his own breakfast.
Mr Outdoors makes his own breakfast. He condescended to use my Flash Boil instead of his Optimus  mini stove, mainly because it was on the breakfast table. Although I love my Flash Boil, I will admit the Optimus stove boils water much faster.

Thankfully I could leave my sleeping baby with my husband and found Spencer had already built a morning fire, I was free to feed myself without juggling an infant. I pre-cut most of the food that wasn’t boxed, like the oatmeal, before we left the house. Apples and peanut butter make a great campout morning snack, along with raisons and sun flower seeds.

While I sat eating my breakfast, I looked at my mother dressed in full Himalayan winter gear sitting next to the fire and she reminded me that she was raised in the south where it rarely gets cold…and when it does, you stay in side with the heater on. Not everyone is cut out for the Polar Bear Club.

DSC_1181As the morning wore on, the temperature rose. We all started pealing our coats off.

After breakfast, we lounged around in hammocks for a while – one of the luxuries of camping – no where to be? No problem.

Most of our group owns Grand Trunk hammocks, but Spencer brought his ENO hammock; which, Spencer being my go-to baby helper, the baby spent quite a bit of time in that ENO.

Baby and Daddy, just hang'n out.
Baby and Daddy, just hang’n out.
Even Mom braved the sunshine by removing her parka.
Here she is folks, in all her glory! My Mother.

Later in the morning, whiled I watched the baby and ate more food, the men folk went exploring.

They came back an hour later, having found some caves. Mom and I werent too interested in going inside of them – we are both claustrophobic – we were interested in a hike.

The temperature continued to rise and we were starting to sweat. How about that? from 30° (F) to the upper 70’s (F) in a matter of hours. Nice. Good thing I packed shorts and sunblock, in addition to heavy fleece.

Dan manned up and strapped the Baby Kat'an on his chest. It got so hot, we stripped the baby to a diaper. The more naked the better according to baby.
Dan Manned Up and strapped the Baby Ka’tan on his chest. It got so hot, we stripped the baby to a diaper. The baby loves being naked, but who doesn’t?

The first cave our group encountered together had a sign posted warning that bats lived in there and explorers had to have “four flashlights per person” just in case something happened in the cave and other proper equipment… yada yada and my mother was saying, “that is probably dangerous..you could get hurt in there.” To which my nineteen year old brother said, “that’s why we’re doing it.”

Mom says, "you could fall and break your neck and it would be very difficult to get you to the hospital from here...and with no rope, this could be bad."
Mom says, “you could fall and break your neck and it would be very difficult to get you to the hospital from here…and with no rope, this could end bad.”

According to Dan, there were twenty or so tiny bats in there and some cave dwelling creatures living in there…troglodytes. Mom and I were ready to move on.

They all went in
They all went in

After the first cave, we went to a second cave they had found earlier. The second one was bigger and colder and more wet.

DSC_1207My mom kept saying things like, “I hope none of you are claustrophobic, because if you get too far in there, in a tight spot, you might start to panic..” “the sign says four flashlights per person, you only have one per person..” “What if it caves in and you get suffocated?” Nineteen year old replied again, “we have one flash light each, we’ll share the four between us.”

The boys were humored about listening to “The Worst Case Scenario” as imagined by mother.

It's all good.
It’s all good.

She was serious.

Let's keep walking. Let's walk along the river.
Let’s keep walking. Let’s walk along the river.

Oh, the river…that was our next adventure.

Day One Of Camping With An Infant Is The Easiest

Setting up camp, baby and I change clothes as the weather was warmer than I expected.
Setting up camp, baby and I change clothes as the weather was warmer than I expected.

The first day of our family camp out, I was well rested and showered. We found a campsite along side the Current River in southern Missouri. There were no other campers near by, just our small band of family and friends.

Oh what mom?
Oh, what mom?
This rock? well, I ah...
This rock? well, I ah…
I was just going to put it in my mouth to taste it.
I was just going to put it in my mouth to taste it.

It was the first camp out I’ve had in a few years, the first with my husband and the first with a baby. I wasn’t sure how things would go, but I had my husband Mr Outdoors and new gear from Christmas to keep me well cared for.

As the temperature dropped, I put more layers of clothing on myself and the baby.
As the temperature dropped, I put more layers of clothing on myself and the baby.
My mother, 58 years old, is such a trooper, made the trip and so did Spencer (a family friend) who is my new favorite baby sitter.
My mother, 58 years old, is such a trooper, made the trip and so did Spencer (a family friend) who is my new favorite baby sitter.

I changed my clothes twice after we arrived at the site, first I was warm while we set up camp and I put on shorts, while later the temperature dropped, eventually into the lower thirties (Fahrenheit), which lead me to another change for warmth. For sleeping in lower 30 degree weather, I had a silk sleeping bag liner, an outer shell covering my 20° Cosmic Down Kelty sleeping bag and my husband suggested a Nalgene with boiling hot water in the bottom of my bag to keep me toasty all night long…I heartily accepted; while Dan had the baby snuggled with him in his 15° Big Agnes sleeping bag.

The boys each made dinners, while Dan and I made super de-lish steak and potato foil dinners.
The boys each made dinners, my brother’s friend brought his Salad Master frying pan and opted out of foil dinners…while Dan and I made super de-lish steak and potato foil dinners. Foil every now and again doesn’t bother me one bit.

Everything was peachy until bed time came and went with our infant son refusing to go to bed, instead preferring to stay up all night. Eventually, my husband took the baby’s outer clothes meant to keep him warm – to our surprise – the baby slept better in his onesie than in his sweatpants. Who knew? Not us.

Day One closes with marshmallows burning on a cold night.
Day One closes with marshmallows burning on a cold night.

I need to recoup from Family Bonding Time during Spring Break. Hello Monday.