Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Taking In A Few More State Parks

Saturday, we took the advice of "ranger-in-training" Liz and headed over to Taum Sauk Mountain State Park to hike the Mina Sauk Falls Trail. The falls is Missouri's longest water fall, and only flows after a good, hard rain. With the rain we had all week we knew we were in for a fantastic water show. 

What Liz neglected to share, is that Mina Sauk Falls Trail has got to be Missouri's best hike! The sign said "rugged and difficult"...I agree with the rugged part, but I've been on more difficult trails.  We scaled boulders, skipped across wet and muddy terrain...to reach the beautiful and roaring water fall.
What is it about a water fall that captivates? We found the perfect boulders to plant ourselves on to eat our backpack lunch, while listening to the  sound of the fall's gushing water. It's the sweet sound of tranquility and peace. 

When we completed the hike we strolled down the paved walkway to highest peak in Missouri. We really envisioned having to scale another portion of the Taum Sauk Mountain. Nope, we just walked up to the plaque positioned on the ground and recorded our time there--photo style.  

After we finished our time at Taum Sauk, we stopped at the Pilot Knob battlefield site. We love incorporating history into our trips, when we can. It was a Civil War lesson for all of us. 
We dug the interactive map in the center of the museum that taught us everything we didn't know about about the Battle of Pilot Knob. Like how the Union army of 1000 men defeated the Confederate army of 12,000 men. Pretty big deal for the split state of Missouri. 

Before heading back to our camp site we stopped to check on the status of the shut-Ins. Still closed. M said, "this is like being on a diet and staring at a big ole' hamburger you can't eat!" Honestly the water was much too swift, too dangerous to even dip a toe in.  

Then it was back to site 321 for a little R&R, appetizers and cocktails before dinner. 

After dinner the girls, who were serious about earning their Missouri State Parks Explorer patch this weekend, headed over to the amphitheater. The evening's program was "Music of The Night." And, the girls were specific in letting "the parents" know they were not invited. It was a sista date! Armed with a headlamp and flashlight they were off for a night hike, to learn about the choir of animal sounds heard when the sun sets.

While the girls were gone King Ralph and I built a fire. We gazed at the heavily star filled sky...and enjoyed the "Music of The Night." 

Monday, May 30, 2016

Exploring Another Missouri State Park

The last time we camped at Johnson's Shut-Ins, D was 4 years old. She's now 21 years old. It was long before the Taum Sauk Reservoir breached and flooded the park. 

We drove down a few years ago to enjoy an early fall day in the park. Checking out the new campground was a priority. It relocated up the road 2.5 miles from the park...and is it nice! It was nice before and even nicer after the flood renovation. 

Every time we wanted to reserve a camp site at the Shut-Ins every site was  booked. This year we jumped on it in mid-January. Even at that, we failed to get one of the full hook-up sites. We got an electric site. There are no complaints from us! The entire site is a concrete pour. With the rainy week we've had this was a blessing!! 

You know what else is a blessing [in disguise]? The fact that we had no cell service, no TV reception. The four of us are nearly on a break from life. When I say nearly, that's because there is wifi available at the camp store. We walk there once a day to check messages. Other than that life is full on peace with nature. 

Okay, now we love getting our state (and national) park geek on. Camping excitement for us is a great ranger and a night program at the amphitheater. It had been raining on and off all day on Friday, so the program was moved to the picnic shelter. Ha, the four of us were the only brave souls to show. The college-student-ranger-in-training, Liz (aka Spider Lady), asked if we wanted the kid friendly or adult version presentation on spiders. Dah, the adult version! She was fabulous!! The four of us learned tons about spiders. And, had a GREAT time learning. Liz even wrote her own spider song, "Woven," to the tune of Taylor Swift's "Blank Space." She later gifted the girls with their own copy. I just know we will be singing the song around future camp fires. 

The rain started up again when we returned to the camper. That meant no campfire, but games! We played Tenzi for an hour, before calling it a night. 

Campground Report Card 
Site: grade A
generous all concrete pad, level, nicely shaded, picnic table, fire ring 

Restrooms: grade A
each stall is private, separate toilet and shower, also family units (combo toilet/shower) are available, electric sockets, soap dispenser, hand dryer

Camp store: grade A
mostly souvenirs, coffee, fountain soda machine, simple camping necessities, hand dipped ice cream, ice, fire wood, bike rentals, wifi spot  

Ranger Programs: geared toward children, but very educational for adults ...offers the MO State Parks and Historic Sites Explorer patch program, a mostly young enthusiastic staff

Recreation: grade A 
full of Missouri's best hiking trails (rocky terrain, hiking shoes highly recommended), swimming in the shut-ins and Black River, biking...other nearby state parks and historical sites 

Adventure to be continued....

Friday, May 27, 2016


One of my favorite things about driving along the highway to a rural camping location, in Missouri is, the tree packed hillsides and the bluffs. Right now the trees are so lush,  green and tightly packed...it leaves me wondering were the tree line ends. God's untouched earthly gift. Nature. 

I love when the hillsides look layered and multi-colored up ahead. Just like the mountains of the West look. There is a peacefulness and calm to the beauty. 

I love how the car ride gives us time to unwind after a full day of work. D is reading (about Poland...her countdown clock is ticking). M is singing Luke Bryant's "Do I." I'm (or was) doing arm exercises with a three pound weight. King Ralph is doing what only he does best--captaining our vessel. 

Hello three-day weekend! I'm so glad we can enjoy each other's company!! 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Gummy Bears Just Became 100% Fat Free For Me

Ya, ya, ya...so that one single gummy bear I popped in my mouth after work didn't fare too well! 

There goes my crown 



That's the beauty of living one block from the dentist office. Boom! All fixed up in hardly no time!! 

Monday, May 23, 2016

Weekday Recovery

The last few weeks of the school year are proving to be like they always seem to be--laced with nonsense behaviors. I realize every year at this point why I'm given the summers off; to forget the last three weeks of the school year. If I didn't get a break to forget, there's a good chance I'd never return. (Insert my crazed laughter.) Until this Friday, when the final bell rings at 11:05am, my mind will continue to feel like it's on sensory overload. 

In an attempt to refuel my spirt, I'm filling my weekends with as much fun as I can. 

Friday I took to the deck after work for some fresh air and red wine. King Ralph and I then went on a date to a local favorite watering hole for pizza, wings, the Cardinals game...and more red wine. 

Saturday was begging for a mother/daughter date. I summoned the daughters in town to the strawberry fields for some picking. 

King Ralph was working all day...what better excuse for a daughter date?!

When the girls were little we visited the orchards every Fall for apple picking. As the girls grew, their Fall music obligations gave way to dismissing that tradition. While the Spring always offered strawberry picking...not sure why, but we 
never per took. Well, that ended on Saturday! And, my-oh-my, how the orchard has grown into something spectacular! There's a restaurant, a market--filled with a bakery, butcher shop, wine shop (with tastings), vegetables, garden and gift shops, kids play village....  Absolutely delightful. 

Princess A, M and I took the short ride over the river into Illinois and picked and picked. The redder the better the berries, while I sang 

Let me take you down
Cause I'm going to Strawberry Fields
Nothing is real
And nothing to get hung about
Strawberry Fields forever
We starting filling our baskets  
Thirteen dollars and some change later, we were berry rich. 
M and I were serving up strawberry shortcake sundaes for dessert, with store bought pound cake. Princess A whipped up a homemade pound cake, over at her place. I can almost imagine it was better. She just has a way with baking. 
Sunday was a lazy day. Perfectly delightful lazy day! Which means, I'm ready to take on the work week. 

I shall now commence with the final week of nonsense. I mean school. 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Move, Move, Moving

College life for parents means not only lots of money going out, but also lots of moving. This past weekend was a lot of moving down the highways.  After cruising Highway 44 for M's graduation, it was time to cruise Highway 55 to get D settled into her new college apartment. 

D is not coming home this summer. She's working for the university until she departs to teach over seas. While the opportunities that are awaiting her are super exciting, there was real work that needed to be done. 

I started out with this...
...and turned it into this 
I got D's bedroom all in order 
I even put some touches on the hallway

Then we trapsed through Walmart...or "shit-mart", as Princess A affectionately referred to it as when she attended the University. I had to point out that there's a cattle farm next to Walmart, giving it that sweet aroma. After a cool $275 drop of green, D was stocked with enough toilet paper, paper towels, garage bags and food to last her till her adventure is set to begin. I'd had enough interaction with mutants to get me through for a good while! 

Me. Well I'm exhausted! 

While D is settled, M has employment...Princess A has flown the nest. Except for one thing. She still has a heap of stuff that needs to leave our castle. 

Like I said move, move, moving. When will it end?! 

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Peace Out

I'll admit it. I got choked up just as the processional began, but I held the tears back. The happy-prideful-mom tears. I'm menopausal so to let eye water drip would really mean flood gates opening. 

There she was, my middle baby girl all decked out in maroon and cords. She was ready to take her prize...with honors I might add! All those endless hours of studying in the library paid off. All those hours of late nights in her student teaching classroom paid off. All those green backs leaving mine and King Ralph's bank account paid off. We are proud beyond words. 

Not only are King Ralph and I proud, but the sisters are proud too! 

After graduation M and I hit the pavement across campus. We were racing against the sky's impending storm, to recapture the very first photo she took on the campus she called home for many years 
A successful capture! 

M graduated the day after signing her contract for a teaching job. There were some disappointments along the road to finding a job. Where one door closes another opens. All is well. 

And the sun shines! 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Weekends Make The Week Tolerable

The weekends have been busy. Not the arduous tasks kind of busy, but the fun busy. That's the kind of busy that takes me through the work week. 

Last weekend we took the new RV out for a trip. We went to our favorite state park 45 minutes down Highway 55. Because it is rare that the five of us (six if we count the dog...she loves camping) are all together for a getaway it made Mother's  Day weekend super sweet. The girls came and went over the weekend...when we reached five total the good times rolled! 

On Friday we celebrated the end of M's student teaching. We had some pub snacks and vodka tonics while lounging in camp chairs. 
Next was dinner. We made semi homemade pizza and salad 

Since we'd all worked hard all week, we closed down the campfire at 10pm to crawl into bed 
M and D broke in the sofa bed for the first time. There was a fimiliar childhood giggle fest that went on. It was a sound that was regular when they shared a bedroom, many moons ago. 

Saturday Princess A joined us. We started the day with a short sandy trail hike and bank fishing...
then it was off to visit a newer winery and craft brewery--St. Francois Winery and Ale House. It took us an instant to fall in love with the place. 
With it being race day the owner's served up mint juleps. And yes, by the time we parted ways--two bottles of wine (one white, one rose), beer flight and a mint julep...mom was tipsy! Hell, it was my weekend.

Back at the camp site Princess A and M did a little yoga...
D and I played games...
we grilled steaks, drank the third bottle of wine we bought and made another camp fire. 

Sunday I woke to a mug of hot tea...
and a big breakfast that I didn't cook, for a change. It was all served al fresco. The way all camp beverages and meals, in glorious weather, should be served. 

After breakfast it was hugs and kisses for D as she headed back to campus for finals week. Then the four of us went on a hike.

My heart was full! 

You know what? My heart will be full again this weekend. We will all be together again for an evening of big celebration. 

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Colour Me Happy!

had the best weekend! I had planned to have the best weekend being home alone. King Ralph is gone fishing, Princess A is always gone with her Prince Charming. M was off to the country with a college friend, and D is away at school. Just me and the dog making our own schedule. 

I had plans of laundry, Redbox movies and cereal for dinner. Then my work pal and I decided that Friday was a perfect night to celebrate May Day. Never mind it was April 29...close enough, and May Day was on a Sunday. No one wants to whoop it up on a Sunday! We kicked off the month that draws the school year to a close with new low calorie cocktails and healthy snacks on the deck. We had her hubby grill us meat skewers. 

Saturday my BFF decided to drive to STL so we could hangout. Then Princess A decided to join us. The three of us dined at "Stacked," a favorite burger spot in the Carondelet neighborhood. We bellied up to the bar drinking craft beers and Malbec, while we waited for a table. We entertained Princess A with our need of reading glasses to see the menu
and hilarious antics from our 20's. We intended on a movie, but we ran late with dinner. Instead we headed to Bailey's Chocolate Bar for decadent cocktails (Sexual, Raspberry Dark Chocolate and Flower Power) and great laughs. 

It was while we were sipping cocktails that we decided to "break in" to my BFF's parents house (who are still snowbirds in Arizona). Well, it's not really breaking in if you know the garage code. The purpose of our break and enter was to unearth her wedding dress for Princess A to try on. Never mind Princess A is not close to getting married. It's just of all our daughters (we each have three) Princess A was the only likely candidate to fit in the dress. My BFF's dress had better potential of being worn again than my dress ever will. 

So there we were, three thieves in the night, tip toeing around the house in the dark. Trying not to stir the neighbors attention and rummaging around in the basement. BINGO! The dress was found. The tulle was shriveled and a stain was present on the sleeve. And we laughed. No one fit in the dress. I guess she really was super skinny when she got married. I can't fit in my dress either. 
(Princess A loved the veil. Not!) 
(BFF proclaimed the veil still fits) 

We woke Sunday morning, decided on breakfast at a local nostalgic diner none of us have ever visited--Spencer's Grill in downtown Kirkwood. 
We agreed that we shall return! There's something about a small town diner in the burbs. It feels as if you've slipped back in time. 

Then we ditched Princess A, headed to Cliffcave Park for a bit of exercise. Then we headed over to Bee Tree Park to take in the views of the Mississippi River. 

After grabbing some afternoon sun on the deck, my BFF and I hugged goodbye. 

M got home. We headed to Starbucks for a Happy Hour drink...
...and finally that Redbox movie! 

My heart is as full as my belly. :-) 

Colour me happy!!