Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Missouri Color Trail - Johnson's Shut Ins

Backroads and small towns are on the way to Johnson's Shut Ins State Park, a 8,781 acre park on the East Fork of the Black River in southeast Missouri..

So, does everyone but me know what a "shut in" is?   There were three informative movies which explain it so I recommend  the visitors center first.

Here is a very general overview of what we learned.  Millions of years ago, there were volcanoes in this area of Missouri.  The process of heat and cool created different kinds of rock.  Some of the rock easily changed with running water whereas other rock remained solid.  As the water flowed, the softer rock wore away creating unique areas called shut ins.  The shut ins in this state park created what could be called a natural water park.  Water flowed, backed up into pools and then moved to other pools often creating small waterfalls.  This is not a totally unique situation in Missouri, but this is one of the largest gathering of these rocks.

We also learned of the breach in the dam of a reservoir at the top of Taun Sauk mountain (the highest mountain in Missouri) on December 14, 2005.  A wall of water followed the Black River through Johnson's Shut Ins park causing a great deal of devastation.  Thankfully, the shut ins were not harmed, but camp grounds, walk ways and the visitor's center were a total loss.   The park did not fully reopen until 2009.  There were no lives lost but the park ranger, his wife and three children were injured when their home was destroyed.

Thursday, November 08, 2018

Missouri Color Trail - Wine and Meramec River

It is Octoberfest and we are near Hermann so wine it is.  Stone Hill Winery is close by so we make sandwiches,  buy a bottle of wine and enjoy looking out over the city of Hermann while we enjoy the lunch and view.

Most of the wineries in the area have entertainment but we just head on east to New Haven and Robller's.  It is a beautiful location and Robert and Lois Mueller, the owners, always plan a fun afternoon.

Before we drive up the long driveway to the winery, we stop in town to look for a geocache.  This is the second time we've tried to find this elusive treasure.  We know it is there because someone found it two days previous.  As I think about it as I write this, I wonder if it is under that bridge instead of on top...

This Saturday afternoon Mark Moebeck, a singer/songwriter from the St. Louis area is already playing when we arrive at the winery.    We laugh, sing  and even dance along with Mr. Mark all afternoon.  He never did take a break.  He even threw in plenty of Irish limericks that only got funnier as the afternoon and his bottle of wine waned. 

Since the afternoon was so much fun, we didn't get away until after 5:30 pm.  As we headed south, the sun set through leaves every bit as colorful as any trip through the Blue Ridge Mountains.  We arrive at Meramec State Park after dark.  The lady in the booth asked if we wanted to be a part of the Halloween party.  I said I didn't have any treats so she put us in the back corner of the park.   What a fun weekend for young families though.  Campers and tents were decorated and little ones were all over in their costumes. 

The morning sun brought a pleasant surprise.  The trees were beautiful.  We unloaded the bikes and spent several hours riding around, picking up big black walnuts for our neighbor back home, and taking a freezing cold shower. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Missouri Color Trail - Rocheport

There was talk around the house of a fall roadtrip.   We check the calendar, watch the forecast and finally decide Friday, October 26 is the day to get on the road.  The next few posts will be of that trip.    We inadvertently chose a perfect time and it took me a bit to get over my disappointment in forgetting my good camera to capture the colors.  Still we are never without a camera so all pictures are from my iphone 6.

I should get a picture of our cat when the PW parks in front of the house for loading. In fact, if I would have thought of taking one, I probably would have remembered the camera.  She knows something is up and spends the entire loading time pacing around.  Eventually, our house on wheels is loaded and Laura the cat is sulking away to the barn around 3:00 pm.  Which, puts us in the middle of Friday traffic in KC.  

By the time we made the east side of KC and stopped for a Hardee's burger (a little greasy but delicious) we decide the Rocheport Katy Trail parking lot would make a perfect overnight stop.  Surprise!  The lot is full of cars.  There is a new trail side restaurant and it is doing a great Friday night business.  We find a place off to the side and darken down the windows for a stealth night hoping the new place serves breakfast.

After a quiet night's sleep, we peek out the window to see the Meriwether Cafe and Bike Shop open and busy.  Follow the link to read how Brandon and Whitney Vair moved to Rocheport to begin their family in a small community and follow their dream owning a small business.   If a busy parking lot means a good restaurant, the Meriwether Cafe is an excellent example.  The owners are friendly, the service is great and they even have an electric bike among their rentals.  Of course, we have ours with us.  We definitely need to ride the miles afterward to work off our shared meal of delicious scone, muffin, pancake, bacon and eggs.  

I have shared pictures from the Katy Trail many times, but cannot visit this area without a few again.  We get our first taste of the beautiful colors ahead.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

The Kids are Back

I know this is a Twisted Sister song.  Well, I knew it was the name of a song, but not who sang it until I looked it up. 

As most know, the kids I am talking about are our North Carolina grandkids and we once again are getting to attend music concerts.  We have missed seeing them perform. 

Adam plays a cello in the Symphonic Orchestra.  We were proud he was chosen for this select group after having been gone for three and a half years.  Their first selection was Fantasia in F  followed by English Folk Song Suite in three parts and finally Overture to Semiramide.   All sounded beautiful.  Adam is on the right. 


Evan’s 6th grade singing concert entitled “Dreamers” was last week.  He is lucky to have a young, energetic music teacher named Travis Mott who accompanied most of the songs on a guitar.  And, get this list of songs:  Lost Boy by Ruth B, Best Day of my Life by American Authors, Blackbird by the Beatles, Johnny B. Goode by Chuck Berry, Rather Be by Clean Bandit, and A Million Dreams from “The Greatest Showman.”   It takes a teacher with lots of skills to get a group of 5th and 6th graders to learn all of these songs—lots of lyrics—and well done.  Evan is in the light blue shirt—wonder where he gets his smile, his eyes and his personality!






Thursday, October 04, 2018

O’Haver Lake near Poncha Springs CO

O’Haver Lake is 9,200 elevation,  15 acres, stocked with trout and  simply stunning in the fall.   So our September reservations had to be made well ahead of time.  Thank you Drue for getting in on time to sign us up for one of the most beautiful sites on the lake.  To our front, is the lake and all the activity there and to our back is 13, 971 foot Mount Ouray.  It was a perfect weekend with mild weather during the day and campfire weather at night.  Had we kept all the trout we caught, we would have enjoyed a nice fish dinner. 

Below is a link to pictures taken during the weekend.  Click here or on the picture (remember the little sideways arrow above the larger picture for a slideshow).   The cattle in the picture managed to get out and seemed happy to look around the campsite.  You will see Gunner and Eve enjoying the water but really loving  kayaks.  It was a wonderful weekend.


Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Las Animas & Canon City along Hwy 50

Hwy 50 has been called the Lonest Road in America.  We consider the Hwy 56 Kansas Highway which turns into Hwy 50 in Colorado a classic or maybe vintage route with historical and scenic possibilities.  It was around Dodge City that the Santa Fe Trail route dips south along the “dry route” or west through Colorado which was considered the mountain route.   Today we are headed for the mountains.

Hwy 50 in Colorado goes through Las Animas which is in the historical trading area of Bent County, near the junction of the Arkansas and Purgatoire Rivers.   The courthouse for Bent County is the oldest functioning courthouse in Colorado.  The information regarding this structure describes it as having “a Victorian Institutional style with Romanesque arches”.  A striking building in rural eastern Colorado.


The jail housed the sheriff as well as the county prisoners.  Sheriff Dan Gates was elected in 1927.  You might know his son as Ken Curtis who played Festus on Gunsmoke.

IMG_1272Next, Canon City is better known for the Royal Gorge.  Today we opted to travel the Skyline Drive, a one-way, 2.6 mile drive that is accessed west of the city.  It was built in 1905 by prisoners.  They received ten days off their sentence by working one month.  When first opened, it was unlawful for automobiles to be on the drive—only horse drawn carriages.  We drove this road with our little RV and it was white knuckle.  Perhaps they trusted horses more than automobiles in the early 1900s. Dan remembers his Mom being scared to death on the road in the 1950s when they visited the area.  Here is a YouTube video, not made by me, but gives a good idea of how the road is while moving. Dangerousroads.org includes it on their list.


Hwy 50 follows the scenic Arkansas River.  It was especially pretty this day because all along there were fly fishermen casting their wide arch while standing in the river.  Just before reaching Salida, we were able to veer only a short distance off the road to find Hayden Creek Campground.  The sites were free after Labor Day and it was nearly deserted.  Hayden Creek provided us with a beautiful falling water sound for the night.  The fire and jacket felt good in the mountain air.


Friday, September 21, 2018

Horse Thief Reservoir

Best name ever for the newest body of water in Kansas.   Located nine miles west of Jetmore,  the reservoir opened in 2010 and when we visited there last week, was at capacity.  There was a sign as we came into the campground that announced the area as the sunset capital of Kansas.  And, we did experience a breathtaking sunset that night.


There are bluffs on the east side of the lake but overall there is a western Kansas feel about the terrain.   There were other RVs parked in the campground but we did not see anyone out and about which was rather odd.  We drove around the entire campground trying to decide the best open site.  It was a windy evening and there were no sites that provided any shelter with trees.  Although there were many planted and that will change in the future.  Many of the sites were fully covered in concrete with small wooden shelters over the picnic tables.  We haven’t been to every reservoir in Kansas, but Horse Thief has to have some of the nicest campsites.  There were two huge yurts and there was also a sign that said these provided Kansas’ best glamping experience.

IMG_1242  IMG_1264

After a little research, I found there is a Horse Thief Canyon nearby.  It has historical significance in that there was a huge Cottonwood tree there where three horse thieves were hung in the 19th century. The tree was once thought to be the biggest cottonwood tree in Kansas.  It was hit by lightening in the late 1930s and is no longer standing.   The canyon sits on private land now but has a long history of being a meeting place for locals.  I would think that the canyon had some significance in the naming of the lake.

Although I had our Kansas fishing licenses, the wind kept us from fishing.  Too bad because, as you can see, we were right on the water. 

We enjoyed our visit but were up with coffee, bacon and eggs and on the road to Colorado for our annual September visit.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Wilson Kansas is Haunted!

At least that is what Dan’s fellow Chapman High School C’62 graduate and his wife told us.  I am inclined to believe what I am told by people who live right there in the city.  And, they have experienced the “cold air” feeling as have others.  So, there you go.  Believe it or not!

If you are traveling to Wilson, there are several non haunted stops---well, I’m not sure about the water tower….

First, we enjoyed our lunch at Made From Scratch Cafe on main street.  Wilson has a population of only 757 and my opinion was this little restaurant does a great job of serving good, rural type food.  As a side note,  reviewers from big towns like Raleigh NC and Pensacola Florida should know that when a restaurant specializes in homemade pies they will be made from scratch and food on the small buffet was like Mom’s.  There is not a gourmet cook in the back—hey, big city people, ask the friendly waitress what the small town restaurant is known for when ordering.

Next, our hosts drove us around town to see the sights.  First is the World’s Largest Czech Egg.  It towers 20 feet in the air,  was painted by local artists and commemorates the local Czech heritage.

IMG_0748-001 Next is the old water tower.  It was built in 1907 for the purpose of “fire and sprinkling”.  Later the top water hold structure was removed and the structure was used as a jail.  Visitors to the old jail have left two historical pieces from other famous jails—Alcatraz and Yuma.  When the new jail was built in 1963, the structure sat vacant, although it was rented for $1 a year to a local man for a while.



Next is the United Methodist Church where our host served as its pastor in his past.  I believe this church is  on the National Register of Historical Places. 


Thanks to our hosts, we enjoyed our visit to Wilson, Kansas, although I am disappointed I did not experience the presence of a ghost.  Now off to the newest reservoir in Kansas.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Dan's Hummingbirds

Yes, these have to be considered Dan's Hummingbirds.  His daily chore all summer has been to refill at least one of our two feeders. (Yes, they empty a feeder a day)  All of us who sit at our dinningroom table watching the antics of these interesting little birds appreciate his diligence.

We started with four hummers this spring.  As close as we can tell, we are up to ten or eleven.  It's hard to count them with all the darting in and out.  Most of the day, they go from the clothesline to the feeder and back.  Sometimes they fly around the front of the house where there are flowers.  The Cannas are blooming and I see them flying over to those bright red flowers as well.

The other night, one of the feeders was empty.  I stood up near the window and one of the hummers flew up to the feeder and sat on top of it and looking in at me.  I've seen them "tell us" the feeders are empty before.

We never buy the commercial juice. It is expensive and the red color is not good for the birds.  Dan heats one quart water and 1 cup sugar until the sugar dissolves, lets it cool and fills the feeders and stores the rest in the frig.

We are looking for them to take off any time.  They are almost always gone by the middle of September.  Last year we had a warm fall so they stayed around a little longer.  We will miss them.

One last hummingbird story.  Kim and family are moved into their temporary home.  It is in a fairly large subdivision.  Although there is no sigh of bird feeders visible from their back windows, there are probably some around.  We were sitting in their dinningroom and Dan was nearest to the window.  Suddenly, up flew a hummingbird, hovered there and looked in the window at Dan.  Finally it flew off.  They have not seen it since.  You can tell me those little ones don't talk to one another.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Thoughts while gathering for a garage sale:

It amazes me how I can overlook items on a shelf that I seldom use. I have found myself standing in closets the past few days and making a real effort to think whether I really need what is in front of me.

I find it very hard to get rid of music and movies. I have vinyl, tapes, and CDs. Even though most music is streamed now days, I am still clinging on to this outdated way to listen to music. I am making better headway with the VHS tapes. Still, I was checking to see if a television we are selling works and popped in Grumpier Old Men. We laughed until we cried at this 23 year old movie. (Worth watching just for Grandpa Gustafson played by Burgess Meredith.) Still, I am sure that movie is still available without keeping a copy here at home.

I have a set of Pfaltzgraff dishes I don't use anymore. They were given to me by a friend of my Mom's when they had to downsize because of health. Their fate is still not decided[--I waiver back and forth. They do take up a lot of room but they are classic. Might have to wait until the next sale to make a decision.

Then there are purses. Everyone knows how much I like handbags. I seldom pay full price, but am a sucker for sales and used clothing stores. Amazingly, I have quite a pile I am selling.

While Kim was here, she and I experimented with an Instant Pot (more on that another time) Because of the convenience of this new appliance, I am selling my small pressure cooker. Some appliances just fall out of favor or are reinvented. Definitely need to free up space in my cabinets by getting rid of my electric skillet which hasn't seen the light of day in years. It has been replaced by cast iron--some trends in cooking are circular.

Then there are toys. Last week, I went down the basement and boxed most of the remainder of our kids/grandkids toys thinking it is time they make another young person happy. Today, I took some back out and put them in a box. I decided a home should never be without a few toys for little ones. A few barn yard animals and a little barn, Mattel Rescue Heroes and a couple puzzles will occupy kids just fine. Legos are bagged and on their way out. I am not sad to see them go. They can't be played with without dumping them all over the place.

Very few clothes are going into the garage sale. There is a place in Topeka called God's Storehouse that does a good job of repurposing clothes. And, the Salvation Army is starting their coat drive soon. My clothes are not that special.

Dan is having a hard time gathering things. There is a plan to have a specialized garage sale with only tools in the future. He has a lot of them from his years of working in construction.  A project for winter.

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Family Time

Once again son-in-law Marc’s company has undergone a merger and with that comes another change—this one is very exciting!  Kim, Aaron, Adam and Evan, along with Marc, will be moving from the Raleigh/Cary area of North Carolina back to Kansas! 

We have known this for a while, but until they are here on Kansas soil could I really believe it was all going to happen.  They have a house but will be unable to move in until the first of the year.  They have secured a rental that will accommodate all of them and their two dogs  until then.  But, their moving company won’t be able to pack their NC home for another week.  And, school starts before then.

So, we are excited to have house guests for a while.   Kim is staying here with Adam and Evan while Marc and Aaron flew home to close things up there.  She is keeping busy with school preparations and the unbelievable amount of changes that have to be made when moving.    We are trying to do some fun things here before the kids have to go back to classes. 

We’ve gone on several pontoon rides.  Pontoon?  I better go back and tell about our little purchase in Nashville Tennessee on the way home from Aaron’s graduation. 


We wanted a pontoon for a long time.  After a lot of research, we decided on a Bass Buddy 16 foot fishing pontoon. We wanted something that would be easy to take in and out of the water and transport.   Then it is up to Craig’s List.  Wouldn’t you know, one showed up that we could look at on our way to Aaron’s graduation.  We made a deal and home it came on our way back. 

So, back to the kids.  I hope they have enjoyed being out on the water as much as we have since they arrived.  We prefer evenings in order to catch the sunset.  Lots of fun to have young people and laughter out there too.

Aaron had a friend so there is one extra in this picture.



We still haven’t been able to figure out the perfect combination to catch fish in the middle of the summer, but we are working on it. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Crushing Realization

I am not sure why I have a fascination with the steel recycle place aka the crusher.  Maybe it’s because there are so many things to contemplate.  Unbelievable variety of cast off, mostly metal objects.

Here’s the routine.  We drive up to the scale and go in this old, tumble down mobile home.  The really nice young lady tells me to go ahead and drive up on the scale and she will flash the light when she has the weight.  We pull forward with the last of my old mail cars—a 1987 Oldsmobile that would probably still run only it has a fuel pump problem.  That car got me out of more snow and ice situations with its front wheel drive and studded snow tires. 

Anyway, after weighing we drive around back and roll off the Rickster (bought it from Rick).  Here is the sad part.  The guy with the big front lift, just sticks a huge rod right through the two front windows and moves it over in line for the crusher.  I couldn’t watch. 

Here is what I did look at though.


My Dad used to say that old age is an equalization.  Extremely successful businessmen (Cadillac limo)  and a hard working blue collar worker (work van) all end up playing cards at the same table in the old folks home (Dad’s words).  I’ll just guess that the Cadillac is on top of the work van only because the van got there first.

Then there is this


Never too old to quit advertising. 

There are so many other things going on in these pictures besides the cars.  It would be interesting to write down all the objects just thrown together.  Maybe they would make a good jigsaw puzzle, especially the top picture.

We drive back across the scale.  Full disclosure and in case anyone has an old car sitting around, we received $170.00 for the poor Rickster.  Certainly worth the effort.  Price is up on scrap metal.  I might get to go back!

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Summer Morning When All Flowers are Equal

I walked out in the garden around 7:30 this morning to check for ripe tomatoes.  There were a few.  What really caught my eye, though, were the flowers.  Obnoxious and invasive flowers but this morning, they were beautiful.  So pretty, I had to get my camera and capture them and the activity there were creating.

First, just as I walked out the door, there was that nettle that I want to pull but never have my gloves with me when I think of it.  Still, so pretty in the morning.


Next, out in the garden, there was the bindweed we’ve been fighting all summer.  Still, there is a honey bee enjoying it’s nectar. 



And, there around the tomatoes and grapes is that darn Morning Glory vine that will take over the plants if we don’t get on it.  But, there is a bee clear in that little flower.  And, isn’t that a beautiful shade of blue?



Finally, coming back into the house, I see a legitimate flower on my poor bug riddled Hosta by the back door.  This beautiful morning though, all the flowers were lovely.  I walked away from them—I’ll deal with the vines tomorrow.