Saturday, September 24, 2016

I Came. We saw. We Conquered.

There are only a few reasons and/or people that I would purposely wake at 6:30am on a Saturday for...D being one of those reasons. 

Friday after work I drove the 100 miles to hang with my baby girl. We walked from her college apartment to the riverfront. We went to a favorite local eatery for burgers and BBQ. Then walked our overstuffed stomachs to the end of riverfront walk, turned around and headed back to D's apartment. 

Later that night we went to the movies to see "Sully." We both really liked the movie. D told me how she use to have time to enjoy Tuesday $5 movie nights, but her senior year has got her by the tail. I'm glad I took her to the movies!  

When my alarm went off on Saturday at the obnoxious hour of 6:30am I reminded myself it was all for a cause. A good cause. I was running a 5K that D's sorority was hosting for their chosen philanthropy: domestic violence awareness. Okay let's be honest here, it was more run a little, walk a lot--1/4 running to be exact. I was nearing the front of the pack rather than the back. The back of the pack consisted of frat boys still sweating Friday night's case of Natty Light or shots of Fireball whiskey. 
I had a crowd of AXO girls cheering my finish. My darling niece snapped this picture. I left the brother-in-law in the dust. He and his drawstring backpack that held his cigarette pack and cell phone.

When it was all done it called for a mother/daughter picture. 

Next on the list was Inspiration Point. We drove across the bridge into the Land of Lincoln for this...

to stand upon this bluff point. Which actually scared the sh!t out of me. It also made me sad to see graffiti sprayed painted upon nature's beauty. Why?! 

And, so, I came, we saw, we conquered--a 5K and the bluff point. 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Weekend Always Comes Back Round Again

Mother Nature totally foiled our Friday plans. We had intended to spread a blanket out on the lawn in Forest Park, gather delicious options from the foods trucks, pop bottles of bubbly and beer from our cooler and wait for the balloon glow. Rain. Non-stop Friday rain canceled the Great Balloon Race Ballon Glow. BOO! 

On to Plan B. 

What is Plan B? 

There wasn't a Plan B.

I decided King Ralph and I should take Princess A out to dinner at the establishment where we had our first date. Rigazzi's on The Hill. 
King Ralph sipped their famous fish bowl beer, while Princess A and I shared a bottle of Pinot Nior. Princess A's Prince Charming was off entertaining work clients. It was nice to spend time with our first born. 

After dinner we kicked it back in her house. She and I talked about how a woman should have total control of decorating the house. Then we rearranged the kitchen. 

On Saturday D came home from college. Our original plans were to visit her and hike Inspiration Point. Mother Nature messed those plans too. It would have been a muddy hike. So we kicked it back at home and went out for a treat at night. 
It's the kind of STL iconic treat that admits you've bid summer, accepted bidding summer farewell. 

So here we are at nearly Friday all over again! I'll be headed to visit D at college. On Saturday morning she and I will participate in a 5K race, supporting domestic violence awareness. Then we will hike Inspiration Point. 

I love the weekend! Love, love, love the weekend!! 

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Kick Back

This weekend we are kinda kicking it back, relaxing a bit. Friday we had a couple of beers and went out for pub burgers. It wasn't our original plan, but when you're kicking back you can be spontaneous. 

Saturday M and I woke up, decided on donuts from a favorite shop and Starbucks coffee. Then we ran a few errands and lingered through a home goods store. Later M napped and I basked in the sun, while sipping seltzer water. We BBQ'ed for dinner and watched a Redbox movie. Kicking it back. 

Kicking it back comes in different forms. Last weekend we celebrated the three-day holiday weekend by taking "The Wanderlust" out to Missouri's new state park.
It's a beautiful park. There was a peacefulness to the park, even with every camp site occupied. The sites, whether RV or tent, are dreamy. The RV sites are yards of beautiful concrete pad and patio. The tent sites tucked into the woods have wooden tent decks jutting out into the canopy trees. 

For this trip D played the role of only child. Like M said during our summer roadtrip, she "missed the sisters." Despite the lack of sisterhood King Ralph and I showed D a good kick-it-back weekend. 

We walked and biked around the park
Trolled Sinking Creek and rocked on the porch deck of the lodge

We drove through the Mark Twain National Forest to get to Alley Spring Mill...hiked to the lookout point, gazed out over the Ozark Mountains--God's touch on our state. 
We watched the spring meet the creek before meeting up with the Jack Fork River. 
It's fun to find places on a trail to let the inner child come out. D did just that.

Next we headed over to Round Spring to awe at more cold pools of turquoise water. 

Took a cave tour through Round Spring Cave. Not a huge cave, but with the lack of commercial influence...the cave's natural beauty is magical. The drape formations are like none I've, we've ever seen. And all seen by lantern. It was so fun! 

After a leisurely day of exploration we returned to The Wanderlust for Happy Hour. Kentucky Derby Bourbon Slushies were the speciality drink for Saturday. Just another reason to love the RV's refrigerator--boozey frozen drinks! 

D and I had fun playing Jenga. 

On Sunday the three of us discovered our new favorite way to travel the river--kayak style.
It was our first time on the Current River...we fell in love fast! It's so different from the Meramec River. The Current is crystal clear and in spots that magnificent turquoise spring water shows. The canoes and kayaks out number the rafts. No one was ridiculously drunk (like on the Meramec). Everyone was just floating along, bidding summer farewell...kicking back. 

We woke early Monday morning to hit the trail in the park before bidding the weekend goodbye. The trail is nothing spectacular, but would be nice for taking in Fall colors. Oh, and the trail is set up for mountain biking...has ramps and such. 

So, like I said kicking back comes in all different forms! 

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Where Ya Been, Lady?

Myself: Jodi, you started to blog about your fantastic summer road trip and then...

Jodi: I know, I know, I kinda gave up. <sigh>

Myself: Quitter! 

Jodi: Not really. I started to blog, then had surgery. Started again, then spent nine days cleaning M's classrooms. Six of those days were spent after I put in my own eight hours at my job. You see I was completely exhausted! Totally stressed! Sharing my memories seemed like a task to great for my tired hands to tackle. Being a supportive mom is always my priority!! 

Myself: How about you tease folks with a picture and short story? 

This is Iceberg Lake. A somewhat strenuous 10 mile round trip hike. The elevation gain is only 1275 feet, but the climate changes are apparent--hot and humid to cold. One can hardly complain about chilly air when the sun is shining and the view is beyond spectacular. We trekked across the snow boarded lake to get that great view and photograph.
 The view no matter where we stood was fantastic. 

I must be honest when I say no amount of photographs can truly show off the beauty of Glacier NP. It is a place that must be captured in your mind and stored in your heart. 

Can a picture really grab the beauty of the bear grass? Nope. Everywhere you hike in the park this beautiful wild flower greets you. 

If you take your time hiking the trail and soak in the surroundings your soul with absolutely be lifted. Peace fills you! 

Sunday, August 07, 2016

To The Top of the USA We Go!

It was time to say farewell to North Dakota and trail blaze to new territory. Montana here we come! 

I don't know about most people, but I actually have a bucket list. There's totally attainable things on my list (that are about making and finding the time), and some are awful big wishful dreams. Glacier National Park was totally one of those attainable bucket list items. Which finally we made the time for! 

We booked our St. Mary's campsite before we upgraded to the "wanderlust." The site fit our pop-up with room to spare. Glacier sites book early and fast, so getting a larger site was not going to happen. We sweat all the way to Montana, with fingers crossed that we could squeeze the "wanderlust" into the site . And we did! Sighs of relief and joy were breathed by the three of us! 

Here is the first travel log from our daily hikes. GNP is heaven on earth! Each hike marveled and WOWWED! When we thought one hike couldn't be topped, the park proved us wrong!! 

Our first hike: Cracker Lake, a relatively easy 12.5 round trip, that's view is the perfect prize. It was easy to forget the cold wind blowing when gazing out at the turquoise pool of water, surrounded glacier laced mountains. 

Cracker Lake is also a trail shared with horses, so we got pretty good at leaping and skipping around piles of dung. 

Walking across log bridges is always fun on a hike. Cracker Lake served a few up. 

 It was also our first Grizzly Bear sighting. As all good hiker's do we teamed up. Our team of three became a team of nine. All armed with bear spray.  We were told by a ranger no bear has ever attacked a group of three or larger. We did make sure to constantly talk as we hiked. We played "guess this movie." 

We enjoyed our backpack lunch on the west side of the lake, upon a cliff with a magnificent view of the turquoise water. We sat up there for 40 minutes. It was hard to decide to move on. 

On our way back we stopped at a road display to remember our first Grizzly sighting. 

To be continued....

Monday, August 01, 2016

North Vs South

Here are the journal notes I made about our 4-days at Theodore Roosevelt National Park. TRNP is toted as one of the best and least visited national parks in the system. Perhaps folks think North Dakota is just too far away? However far you think it's beauty and natural grandeur are worth the visit! 

The park rangers ask you to sign all trail logs before heading out on a hike. This helps the park with government funding...informs who's using their trails. Teddy Roosevelt was right in professing the therapeutic beauty of this place. Every trail proved it! 

Talk about rangers...TRNP has got to have the BEST rangers I've ever encountered. John, is the North Unit's sole back country ranger. He greets every park goer coming off or going on to the trails. Not just a hello and handshake, but in-depth conversations about the hike, what trails to hike, and what to look for on the trails. We bumped into John a third time, in the Visitors Center (M was getting her Jr. Ranger she has at every park since age 4) as we were leaving.
I believe we knew more about the history and geology of the park by the time we left. John talked to us about our lives and shared his life as well. He also absolutely loved that we raised our girls to love the national park system and hiking. Oh and John talks fast...spin your head fast! Loved it! 

North Unit - Central Time Zone, sunset 10:50pm, sunrise 5:30am
Camping: Juniper Campground, running water, flush toilets, electric in bathrooms, dump station, Little Missouri River runs through the campground, first come first serve (even on the 4th of July weekend there were a few sites available), no camp fire rings...must make your fire in the provided BBQ pit 

ND Badlands are beautiful! The 14-mile scenic drive is not a loop. 

Hiking: Caprock Coulee (loop) Trail, a must do, spectacular  views of the canyon and prairies from atop buetts, moderate 5 mile hike. If you can only hike one trail in the park, then this is the trail! 

Sperati Trail, easy 2.3 in and out trail, hike through tall grass fields peppered with wild flowers, view at the end of the trail is majestic 

Prairie Dog Town, easy 4.2 miles in and out, nice up close views of the badlands formations, fields of sage bush, nice easy grades to hike *never made it to see the prairie dogs because two buffalo grazing in the trail, unwilling to graze elsewhere, caused us no choice but to turn around. 

Little Mo River Trail: easy 2 mile in and out, dip in the river and cool off. River was low. This region of ND gets only 15.1 inches of rain a year (learned that tid but from Ranger John). We happened to be present for one inch of rain...ground so dry it was hardly evident that it had rained. 

Wild life: much more plentiful...buffalo roam freely through the park and campground, wild turkey (in the campground), Big Horn (spotted two on a ridge near the Mah De Hae Trail), deer, Boreal Chorus frogs (to small to see, but their unique sing song was unmistakable).

Let me take a moment to talk about the morning I walked out of the park bathroom and came face to face with a buffalo. It was cold outside, his warm breath expelling from his nostrils leaving puffs of white smoke; made him appear more angry than friendly. I froze in my step. He stared me down. I retreated back to the bathroom. He stayed put for a while. Then joined his herd in the field behind our camp site. 
The buffalo roamed freely and often through the campground. They are an awesome beast. 

Painted Canyon Visitor Center - offers an awesome view of the Painted Canyon.
It was also our opportunity to grab a picture with the TRNP sign. 

South Unit - Mountain Time Zone 
60 miles from the North Unit

Teddy Roosevelt's Maltese Cross cabin was moved to the South Unit, directly behind the visitors center. I loved standing in the cabin, knowing TR lived in there. A place steeped in history.

Camping: Cottonwood Campground same amenities as Juniper except you can make reservations and there is no dump station 

The campground is in the touristy Medora area. Outside the park there's plenty of restaurants, gift shops, outdoor musical theater, one gas station, private full hook-up campground in the downtown area 

Badlands scenic drive is a 36-mile loop

Hiking: Buck Hill, 0.2 mile uphill walk more than a hike, spectacular view

Original east park entrance sign, flat easy hike through a prairie dog field 

Petrified Forest - after a short distance into the hike you choose whether you want to visit the north or south side of the petrified forest. We chose the south side. Bring plenty of water. The area is open and hot on a July summer day. The 35 million year tree stumps are scattered about for a miles. 

After hiking we decided to visit Boots Bar & Grill for burgers and local brew. Seat yourself. No drink menu, but a detailed board as you enter lists the plentiful regional beer selections and the alcohol percent. We chose a 7.6% wheat beer.  Service was incredibly slow (employees are mostly foreign seasonal concessionaires, who speak little English). It's important to be patient. Food was good and hot. I recommend a visit! 

I so wish I could drive a mile down the road at home to be in TRNP. I am in love with the park! 

Oh ya, the North (wilderness) Unit wins my heart!!