Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Parks and Recreation

We set out early Thursday morning for our Missouri adventure. After a stop at Cracker Barrel to fill up on breakfast, we were well on the other side of St. Louis on I-70 when we saw a sign for Stone Hill Winery. We don't have too much of a rigid schedule on our outings. It's just an outline with highlights along the way, mainly attractions I found on the Internet, but if we come across something else we like, we do it. So we took the exit and headed south to Hermann, MO. We found Stone Hill and were very impressed by its quaint setting. We took the tour, tasted some wine, bought two bottles and went on our way.

Making our way towards one of our destinations, we passed through Jefferson City, MO and noticed a ton of law enforcement and even the bomb squad. We found out later we had just passed a plant where VP Joe Biden was about to visit. Good thing we didn't get caught in that mess. Our next stop was Lake of the Ozarks State Park in Osage Beach, MO, which was literally on fire. I guess they were doing a controlled burn. We soon discovered it wasn't much of a park to tour. More for fishing and camping type folks. The lake was pretty though. We hit the Eddie Bauer outlet nearby then decided to find a place to stay for the night since we were only minutes away from the next stop but wanted plenty of time to explore it.

In the morning, we set out for Ha Ha Tonka State Park near Camdenton, MO. This was the place I was looking forward to the most. We saw castle ruins, a natural bridge, a bunch of turtles, a spring, etc. The views were good and the sights were interesting. I would definitely recommend it if you're in the area and you like nature activities. After Ha Ha, we stopped by the St. James Winery in St. James, MO. It wasn't quite like Stone Hill but we still did some tasting and took a few bottles with us. Then it was onto Maramec Spring Park. Another pretty cool place with a beautiful spring and ruins of an old iron works industry. And trout. My god, the trout. There were pools after pools after pools of different sized trout. You couldn't fish there but you could fish downstream where I guess the adult trout were kept.

After staying in Sullivan, MO for the night, we went to Meramec Caverns, the famed Jesse James hideout. It was cool. It had formations and the "total darkness" effect, but I think we're about caved out. I mean, they're all pretty much the same. In fact, you'd think I could be a tour guide by now with how many we've visited. But we were on a tour with a family of 10 kids so that was interesting. After we got out of the darkness, we headed south for Elephant Rocks State Park near Graniteville, MO. It was something I had been interested in visiting but it was a bit out of the way and not really near a main road to get back home. But we decided to try it out anyway.

I'm very glad we did. It was probably my second favorite next to Ha Ha. It's just a bunch of granite rocks that have been unearthed and eroded. There's a trail around and through them and once you get up to the top and see the actual Elephant Rocks, you're just amazed. Dumbo, the biggest rock, is 680 tons, 27 feet tall, and 32 feet wide. Not sure why I remember those stats, but I do. It was also misting rain on us by this point, but it didn't bother us because we had our trusty hoodies. It was a nice leisurely walk and end to our trip. I could stay in those kinds of places forever. I love looking out onto landscapes or following trails that lead to who knows what. Although I usually like to know I'm going to see something awesome. I don't usually take a trail for nothing!

We ended up coming home Saturday evening because the rain came pouring down and there wasn't much else we could do. So Sunday we went to get the dogs from Mom's and settled back in at home Sunday night. We hated to see it end but it's always good to be home. Our next trip is just around the corner and it's a pretty special one. Can't wait!


1 comment:

super jane said...

ooh, i'm glad you stopped at stone hill. they have another winery by my parents' house and my sister and brother-in-law LOVE their wine. we usually make a special trip out there to restock when we visit.