End Of The Year Walk- Meramec State Park Dec 31 '16

Our friend Cory has had a goal this year to walk to run 500 miles. I have been able to accompany him on several of these walks. He was able to culminate the accomplishment on the last day of the year and was kind enough to invite me and Joe, along with his entire family to participate and celebrate his accomplishment. I actually have never walked the Wilderness Trail in Meramec State Park so I was looking forward to doing the 8.4 mile loop.

 Black Bears are becoming more prevalent in Missouri now and while they should all be asleep by now, I think it will be sooner than later before I get to see one on the trails in Missouri

The weather was also great for the final walk of the year. It got to be in the 50's and sunny by the end.
(left to right) Jenn, Riley, Taylor and Cory ready to get the last 8 miles to reach 500 

Missouri trails are pretty brown in the winter as most go from creek bed (hollow) to rolling hill top and back as they weave across the landscape 

The park does have some distinct zones. Moving from Hardwoods to Pine (above) to cleared Savannah due to fire 

 The wilderness trail is a nice trail with a couple of connector trails to make it shorter or better yet longer by taking the connectors in various directions. It also has several campsites around the loop and we saw at least 8 tents today from people camping last night

break time

a variety of things still green along the trail 

The park is known for its Bat Caves and we saw several around the loop that were closed off to protect the bats inside from getting any disease from people during their hibernation. The park also has many springs from this small one (below)

The water is crystal clear but with a bit of a mineral taste from all the chert and other sedimentary rock in the ground 

The much larger Meramec Spring was blooming with life and color. Right in front of another Bat Cave. I am sure the bats appreciate all the insect life the spring draws

 A view of the Meramec River from one of the bluffs on the trail

 Fire clearing some of the forest (above) and a clearing view (Below)

 3 hours on the trail for the 8.4 miles and at the end a great Coffee Stout from one of our local craft beer makers (Schlafy)

Thanks to Cory and family for letting me come along on your great accomplishment for 2016. While I can't say I am not happy to see the backside of 2016, it is always great to be on the trail at anytime.
See you in 2017.

Christmas Time Branson Getaway Dec 26-28 '16

Well I am not sure what to say about 2016 other than it has been hectic to say the least and it didn't get any better around Christmas. With everyone's schedule and new families units to consider we were very spread out with presents unwrapped on many different days. We found that on actual Christmas Day we didn't have any anything to do. Of course they was always the annual "Beast Feast" at our friend John's. He lives in one of the magnificent mansions in downtown St.Louis.
So Christmas Day evening found us once again at John's but then we decided to just get away!

This year we were actually late to go see the Christmas lights in Branson Missouri, specifically Silver Dollar City. So I took a vacation day to extend the long weekend and off to the land of rednecks and white trash! LOL

 There is always a big crowd at SDC but we got in relatively quickly and just started to wonder around

Silver Dollar City is an Amusement Park set up as an Appalachian Village of sorts with lots of working demonstrations- blacksmith shops
 Glass blowing

As an Amusement Park it has rides- roller coaster and of course the Train ride around the park
 For Christmas it is decorated all through  the woods with Holiday theme lights. This first day we arrived early and rode the train around 4 pm, so it was not quite dark enough yet.

here comes the train (video)

 Half way through the train ride it stops so you can hear "Grandpa" tell the nativity story.

 we left the park around 5 pm and went to wonder around the town including the new Ferris Wheel which is new as it has been moved from Navy Pier in Chicago to Branson.

The next day Vicky wanted to do some fun stuff around town. The town of Branson is also like a giant Amusement park and tourist trap with many country artists and performers of all kinds with their own theaters and of course lots of go-cart tracks.

 Vicky loves the go-carts
After some rides and breakfast we went to the State Park around Table Rock Lake for a 3 mile walk

Then back to Silver Dollar City later in the afternoon. This second day we are staying for the Rudolf Holiday Parade. 

Vicky rode some roller coasters (while I waited!) and we watched more presentations

 The weather was fantastic both days- blue skies and in the 50's when the sun was up. We found a nice spot and waited for the sun to go down and the parade to start.

Parade is always lead by the "Abominable Snowman" 

The last of the Parade (video)

As we were leaving we went by to see all the large Christmas Trees and enjoy the lights

Support Our National Parks - Preserve - Protect - Enjoy