Sunday, July 27, 2008

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Today we spent exploring the countryside and sites within a day’s drive of the cabin. We began at the Johnson’s Shut-Ins. Rose Bud thought a shut-in might be a woman. Pepper thought it was a small shack. I thought they were big rocks. What they were, was really cool!

A shut-in is when a river is narrowed, or shut in, by non-eroding rock. It does erode, but very slowly and the river carves channels and chutes in the rock. We climbed down to the shut-ins and clambered all over the rocks. I just love a good rock-climb, especially if it involves water. I wish we had brought swim suits. The pool at the base of the shut-ins was so clear and deep and beautiful. I could have stripped down and jumped in if it weren’t for the ranger clearing the boardwalk up top with a leaf blower.

We saw 4 lizards.

It was a beautiful day—warm and mostly sunny but with a nice breeze. When we got back to the visitor center, we looked at the pictures of the damage from the flood in 2005. A reservoir up the mountain breached and 1.3 billion (BILLION!) gallons of water raced down the river. The shut-ins were fine (being granite and all) but the flood washed away much of the man-made infrastructure of the park (like parking lots and boardwalks—and the ranger’s house!) The park JUST reopened last month, 2 ½ years later! Good timing on our part. I’m glad we went here!

Next stop was Taum Sauk Mountain, the highest point in Missouri at 1772 feet. Fortunately, we got to drive all the way up. Really. The walk from the parking lot to the actual high point (verified in 1991!) was nearly flat on a concrete sidewalk. The kids were hungry and less than impressed. A highlight of this state park was climbing the tower to nowhere. It was the scariest, most dangerous tower I’ve ever been on and when we got to the top, ready to look out, the trapdoor to the top tier was locked. Errrr.

We ate lunch at the picnic area (they are very picnicky about where you can picnic in Missouri) and had the best peaches ever—local Missouri peaches we picked up at the grocery store yesterday.

Third stop was Fort Davidson Civil War battlesite. It was an earthworks fort, original, as far as we could tell, which seems remarkable after 150 years. The fort was Union and was attacked—one of the last attacks—by the Confederates in 1864. The Confederates lost more men and really failed in their goals, which were to gain battle experience (this they did), capture the Union weapons and ammunitions for themselves (Union soldiers abandoned the fort in the night and blew up the magazine and all weapons under cover of darkness), and to draw the Union army east of the Mississippi into this area to divert them (didn’t happen). However, the Union army lost this fort and all the equipment in it and 48 men.

There was an impressive collection of Civil War guns in the museum inside. An interesting thing about the western front of the war, was that the armies received many fewer of the standard army-issue weapons and instead were sent some of the odd lots of guns. So there was quite a collection of unusual and rare muskets there.

Last and final stop was Elephant Rocks State Park. More giant granite boulders here, only without the river flowing through them. Very fun to climb!

Rose Bud was lobbying for a swim at Council Bluff Lake, but Sunshine had not had any nap thus far and it was nearly 2 pm. It was also beginning to cloud up. She settled (happily) for a swim at the creek back at the cabin. Sunshine did fall asleep while the rest of us listened to Little House in the Big Woods on CD, which we had purchased at Mansfield. He woke up a teeny bit when we got to the cabin, but I carried him in and lay down with him. We both slept another 2 hours! Mr. GT and the big kids went swimming.

Tonight we ate leftovers for supper and everyone watched The Princess Bride. I had to cover Banana Boy’s eyes at the ROUS. I didn’t want that image in his head when he closed his eyes for bed! Sunshine crashed long before the movie was over.

Quote of the day: Pepper, walking along the boardwalk at the Shut-ins trots up to tell us, “There was a worm edging off the sidewalk, so I picked it up and threw it aside!”

And Rose Bud found an army ammunitions box in the toy closet. Upon opening it, she found it filled with… men! (What ELSE would be in an army box? Mr. GT wondered) She set them up all over her bedroom. “Don’t shake the floor mom, they fall over.” Looking around, I commented that they were everywhere. (including one battalion lying on their bellies under the bed!) I tried to pick on up to play with it. “Mom! Put him back! There is an attack coming!”

My favorite time of day:

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