Mooner’s Hollow Trail & A Surprise From My Daughter

There are so many great places in Missouri to hike, Russ and I often have a hard time deciding where to go next. The same goes for my daughter Kelsey and son in law Eric. Russ and I had narrowed down our picks to a couple different parks a couple hours South of home. We’d decide on the fly Sunday morning. Kelsey called Saturday asking for suggestions and I told her about a few of our possible trails and a couple in Illinois. We’re almost to our destination, Mooners Hollow Trail in Bonne Terre Missouri, when Kelsey calls to ask where we are going and to tell me they are going to Mooners Hollow! Like mother, like daughter! The trail is a 3 mile loop and we agree that Russ and I will start at the trailhead and Kelsey, Eric and their friends Moriah and Ethan will start at the end and we’ll meet in the middle. This is the first time Kelsey and I will knowingly be hiking the same trail at the same time, even though we’re not hiking together! IMG_20171008_110701651IMG_20171008_112451380IMG_20171008_113701283IMG_20171008_122116092IMG_20171008_123631469

We finally met up with them almost 2 miles in! Kelsey tells me she left me a gift further on down the trail, I just have to find it! It’s off trail, on the right, under a big rock that looks like a turtle head, across from an area of white stones in the stream! Oh, and I won’t be able to see the turtle face coming from my direction! My head is on a swivel trying to look back up the trail for a rock turtle and white stones! That girl!! I find a big turtle rock…on the left. Finally, white stones! To my right is a huge long cliff like area, but darn if I see a turtle anywhere! And it’s a climb getting up to it. But I found my gift and it melted my heart!! I wanted to take it with me but it was not possible. One of these days we’ll get our timing right and hike a whole trail together!

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A Little 1982 Colorado Memory

In 1982, one of my really close friends, Corinne, was getting married in New Mexico and I was her maid of honor. My friend Cindy was going to drive with me to New Mexico for the wedding then we were going to head up to Colorado for a week before heading home. A great road trip for a couple of young girls, no doubt! Plans were made, hotel reservations made. Then at the last minute, the dates for some of Cindy’s college finals changed and she couldn’t go. I was going nuts! My parents wouldn’t let me make the drive from St. Louis to Roswell New Mexico by myself, even though the bride’s 14 yr old brother might be going along too. None of my other girlfriends could go. My mom…my MOM…suggested Scott, the guy I was dating…for like 2 months! Really?! Wasn’t sure how he’d take to Colorado or my Mustang…this was Scott of the permed hair & spritzer bottle of water/conditioner mix and hair pick that he kept handy under the drivers seat of his Trans Am! IMG_20171010_011220621

We take my little ’79 turbocharged Mustang without AC and hit the road. Smooth sailing the first day. We spend the night at my uncle’s house in Moore Oklahoma. At some point the second day, I want a break from driving and ask Scott to drive. He has waited until then to tell me he doesn’t know how to drive a stick shift! You’ve got to be kidding me! I tried to teach him in a parking lot…LMBO! I’m screaming in my head…don’t screw up my car doufus! I drove the rest of the trip. The wedding was beautiful and we headed to Colorado the next day. This guy had no business being in that state! The mountain highways scared him. I tried to take him up to this beautiful lake but the road was closed halfway up by snow and I had to back down for a bit…I think he cried a little! I stopped by a beautiful fast moving stream. Wanted to get out and explore and climb on rocks. Not a chance in hell was he going to get near that stream, much less rock hop or climb out on the log like I did! At least he took pictures! IMG_20171010_011541IMG_20171010_011611IMG_20171010_011704

Our hotel had a heated indoor pool and a hot tub out on the deck. He wouldn’t get in the pool because he forgot his ear and nose plugs. He wouldn’t get in the hot tub because the water was too hot and the air outside was too cold! I didn’t think anything could ever make me want to leave my favorite place on earth…but he did! We left after 3 days. I never saw him again after that trip! My mom was devastated! I think she had been hearing wedding bells! Yikes!

I found the above pictures when I was going through my hundreds and hundreds of pictures looking for pictures of my son to post on Facebook for his 28th birthday. I don’t think I’ve shared any pictures of him…so, meet my son Ross! And his girlfriend Tiffany and my grandson Sean as a little guy. You’ll be meeting my daughter Kelsey in my next post…we finally met up on the same trail!

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Ross at the county fair truck and tractor pulls with the pulling truck he built. 

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Hike #2 With My BFF – Matthiessen State Park

Dells Canyon and Bluff Trail. We changed the name to Stairmaster From Hell Trail! This is the park Crystal and I went to on Friday afternoon, took a look at all of the stairs at the trailhead and said “No thank you!”. I hate stairs! I fell down icy stairs a few years ago and broke my ankle and heel and split a tendon. Eventually had surgery to remove a piece of bone and repair the tendon which resulted in major nerve damage and the tendon repair failed. A second surgery to attempt to repair the damage resulted in a severed nerve and I’m pretty sure the tendon repair has failed as well. Half of my foot and my heel are numb and I walk with a weird gate and take stairs one at a time, leading with my left foot. Over time, this has effected my knees…they don’t like stairs either! It all hurts like heck, but I finally decided I needed to get up and start moving, I have the rest of me to take care of. My feet are going to hurt no matter what I do, sitting at my desk, watching TV or getting outside and enjoying nature and my friends and getting much needed exercise! So, I decided to conquer those stairs! With my BFF at my side, I could do anything! I wish I would have counted all of the stairs we went up and down that day. We did count one section going up from the lower dell to the middle trail…142 stairs! We went down 75 of them from the bridge into the lower dell. That was just a small portion of the stairs we went up and down!

We were at the trailhead by about 8:45 am. The parking lot was almost full! I have mad parking skills and always get good parking places, which I did. We took our time going down the stairs. We had no idea what we’d find once we got down there. Tons of people and a bridge over a stream and waterfall/lake! And of course, more stairs if you want to go down into the dells and get to the stream!

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First chunk of stairs at the trailhead
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Second chunk of stairs down from the trailhead
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Looking back up a chunk of stairs we had just descended
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View looking over the bridge into the lower dell
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Stairs descending into the upper dell

Crystal and I headed for the upper dell stairs. Just going down the stairs it was beautiful!  The stairs end right in the water but there are round concrete stepping pillars to use. I didn’t take many pictures in the upper dell because there were so many people. I feel funny taking pictures of random strangers unless they’re far away or really cute guys, haha!

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After exploring the upper dell and dodging people, we went back up the stairs and followed the road-like trail to a sign that said Lower Dell and yep, more stairs! A lot more stairs! A family…grandma (younger grandma), dad, pregnant mom and 3 little ones had gone down the stairs before us…pregnant mom carrying a toddler 😲…I was impressed! Down we went. I’m guessing 150+ stairs until we got to another bridge. Crossed the bridged then another 75 stairs (I did count these) down to the stream. It was even more beautiful than the upper dell! And more people. The weather was beautiful, people were taking advantage it and I don’t blame them. This time, the sun was just right for most of my pictures. I think they turned out pretty good for a phone camera. Once we got to the end of the canyon where the waterfall was, there were several caves I would loved to have explored but I didn’t have a flashlight and there were a lot of people going in and out of them in the dark…just didn’t want to go there! There’s a big stone face carving in front of one of the caves that’s really cool. I have no idea how old it is. While searching for information about the carving, I found a website with a really good article about Matthiessen State Park and the dells.                       https://hubpages.com/travel/Matthiessen-State-Park-Oglesby-IL        

I’d love to go back and do this trail & yes, the stairs, again in the fall when the trees are changing but I can only imagine the crowds! So maybe I’ll try to get back there in the winter when the trees are bare and maybe not so many people. Ottawa is about 70 miles from Chicago, 250 miles from St Louis…it’s a beautiful area to visit, a fun weekend getaway.  https://pickusottawail.com

 

 

The Nature Institute, part 1

IMG_20170618_114529596                                                                                                                                                                                                          Back in June, before the blast furnace hit the Midwest and called a halt to hiking for me, Russ and I decided to head for Illinois and see what we could find. To find hiking trails we use an app called Alltrails. It’s a nifty little thing. You can search for trails near you, or you can search by city, state, park, difficulty, distance, activity…there are all types of filters. Most of the trails will have photos that others have downloaded to give you an idea of what the trail is like. Once you find the trail you want, the app has GPS directions (Google Maps) to get you there. You can record your route (distance, elevation, time, speed) on a map of the trail. This comes in handy if you’re on a trail that isn’t marked well and you happen to get off the trail or turned around…yep, I know first hand! So, I found The Nature Institute in Godfrey Illinois. 3 miles, moderate, features a waterfall, lightly trafficked. 40 miles from home…SOLD!

The Nature Institute (TNI) is a non-profit land conservation and environmental education organization based in Godfrey, IL. https://www.thenatureinstitute.org/

Our hike started out on an old crumbling blacktop service road and I’m thinking…crap, this isn’t what I thought the trail would be like! I hate walking on blacktop!

The blacktop didn’t last long! We eventually came upon an open area with a fantastic view of the Mississippi River, the Olin Nature Preserve Skeet Range. I’ve been reading through TNI’s website as I’ve been writing…it’s a pretty amazing place and I wish I would have checked out the website before we hiked!                                                                                        IMG_20170618_120546090                   IMG_20170618_120609337

On we went down into a hollow. It was beautiful! My pictures do not do it justice. There were several old growth trees that were massive and again, my pictures don’t capture just how big they really were. We came upon a little monument/plaque with a couple of log benches. Hop Hollow. The plaque tells how from 1790 to 1863 the picturesque Hop Hollow was an entry point on the Underground Railroad. Sympathetic landowners helped hundreds of slaves try to reach freedom.  Gave me chills. I’ve read dozens of books about the Underground Railroad, the Civil War, and slavery but I have never knowingly stood in a place that was part of the Underground Railroad. I want to take my grandson there so he can see it and maybe when he’s older, have a better understanding of what the Underground Railroad was, how difficult it was to travel…  There are a couple of big old dead trees at the site. I wonder, could they be from way back then? Probably not, but I like to think that they were part of that history too!

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I didn’t think the hike was going to get any better than that…boy was I wrong again!!  Part 2…coming up ASAP!

 

 

A Little Local History Surprise

The Lewis and Clark Expedition’s final embarkation was at noon on May 14, 1804 from St. Charles Missouri, the first permanent European settlement on the Missouri River and the first one in Missouri. St. Charles was a predominantly French settlement dating from around 1769. There are 88 buildings dating from 1790 – 1804 on South Main St. that have been restored and are still in use today! I love to go to Main Street and wander through the shops…just imagining what they might have looked like when they were built, who might have walked the floors, who made the bricks, who forged the iron, who chopped trees and shaped the logs?? So much history happened in my little neck of the woods, history that had a huge impact on our country, history that I find fascinating and often miss when it’s right in front of me! Heck, the name of my school is Lewis and Clark Elementary!

It’s been too hot to hike…mid 90’s…forget it! So Russ and I headed to Main Street last Sunday to his favorite sweet shop to get some fudge and decided to walk around a bit. We headed to my favorite store, Native Traditions Gallery, to see if the sculpture I’d love to have (in my dreams) is still there. It is 😊 As we were leaving, Russ spotted a CD by one of my favorite bands…Indigenous featuring Mato Nanji…yep, he bought it for me! As you might guess, the band members are Native American…Mato is Yankton Souix, but the music is straight up Blues. If you like Blues music, check them out!

Ok, back to the topic at hand…music always sidetracks me! So, as we were walking back toward the car, I saw what I thought was an old barn behind a building with a walkway going to it. I had to check it out! I’ve been up and down that street hundreds of times since I was in my teens, but I’d never noticed the barn before. It wasn’t a barn at all! It was a building that had been reconstructed between 2004-2008! And an amazing building it is! It’s a church! The Historic 1791 Borromeo Log Church. It was rebuilt on the original building site, which is pretty cool. But the way it was built…Amazing! It’s a French style vertical log building, the first one built in this area, perhaps in North America, in 200 years. The work was done completely by hand with period tools and in the manner of the 18th century. The building is 15 feet by 25 feet. The Cedar vertical logs are 13 feet in length. They sit 3 feet in the ground and are hand hewn on the front and back surfaces from ground level up, leaving the log round underground. All of the iron hinges and locks are hand forged. A group of volunteers built the church. It was a product of JQH Historic Preservation for Education,  a non-profit Missouri corporation.

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I can’t believe they were building that church for 4 years and I didn’t know about it! I can’t believe it’s been there, open to the public for 9 more years and I didn’t know that! Pay Attention Kim!!

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According to what I’ve read about the Lewis and Clark expedition, while they were in St Charles, the men attended a mass by a local priest. It’s quite possible that original little 1791 vertical log church may be where they went. Now, that’s some history!

For more information about the reconstruction of the church click the link below.  http://preservationjournal.org/properties/South/401-B/401B-South.html

For more information on Lewis and Clark in St Charles click the link below.  https://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/lewisandclark/stc.htm

For more information about St Charles Borromeo Catholic Church history, click the link below                                                           http://www.borromeoparish.com/parishHistory.php

 

My Partner in Adventure…Russ

If you’ve read my Raisin’ Cane page, then you know I was introduced to Russ by my BFF Crystal. I belonged to a dating website (that could be a hilarious blog all by itself!!) and they were having a mixer night at a local bar. Not wanting to go by myself, I asked Crystal to go with me. She had my back, no matter what, so off we went, with an “Oh, by the way I invited my single friend Russ too. I hope that’s OK?” Poor guy, we hardly talked to him all night. Crystal and I had a blast and didn’t meet a single…single guy! But Russ did ask Crystal for my phone number. We talked on the phone several times and ended up going out a couple of weeks later and well, that was 8 years ago and we’re like an old married couple now! We have nothing in common! We don’t like the same music. We don’t like the same foods. We don’t like the same types of movies or books. We don’t even like the same type of animals! We don’t like the same sports although I did manage to turn him into a Blues Hockey fan!! Opposites attract! The one thing we both love is the mountains and Colorado. And going through caves and antique stores. I guess that’s more than one! And we discovered we both love hiking. Russ had back surgery a little over a year ago and he has a lot of numbness in his right thigh still and has a bad right hip, the result of a horrible auto accident many years ago. So he also has some difficulty and is a little slow hiking…we make a great pair!

And just this past Friday, after a trip to urgent care to see what the pain and swelling in his hand were all about, Russ found out he has a Ganglion Cyst in his palm going into to his middle finger. Now he has to find a hand specialist to see where he goes from here. Our last hike he had a hard time using the trekking pole with his left hand. He just started using trekking poles recently and decided they’re pretty handy things to have when the terrain is steep or rough, even if your hand is hurting.

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Our first hike…Russ at Powder Valley
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Kim and Russ at Powder Valley
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Kim and Russ at Nature Institute in Godfrey IL
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Russ at Beaver Falls, Nature Institute

Winter hikes on The Lewis and Clark Trail

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Winter hike above the Missouri River
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Winter hike above the Missouri River
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High winds from a recent storm were really too much for this old guy
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Doggie kisses! My friends Scott and his fur baby Cooper. Cooper is a Shiba Inu. If you’re familiar with the guy who wrote the amazing book “Lost on the Appalachian Trail, or have read the book, then you should recognize Cooper. He’s the same breed as the dog in that book…Katana
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Signature rock tree. Hikers stop here, find a rock, sign it and put in the big pile around the tree. Cooper has his own rock! Mine says Kim H 3/18/17 Let’s Go Blues! Blues hockey is my other passion!