Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Backyard Trails and Waterfalls 🌲

Parkville Nature Sanctuary has been on  my to-do list for over a year now and we finally made our way there one Saturday morning to see what the trail had to offer.  It's only 10 miles from where I live and located basically in the middle of Parkville, Mo.  This wildlife sanctuary is 117 acres which includes 5 different trails that when combined make up about 3 miles of hiking. The Whitetail trail being the longest trail is 1.5 miles and has some great views; it connects with Old Kate trail which is almost a mile long.  On this trail you will find a Root Cellar, Springs, an Overlook, and of course the Waterfall.  Even though we hiked the trail before the "rainy" season, the Waterfall was still running nicely and offered a gorgeous place to stop and enjoy the sounds of nature. As you can see, signs of Spring were just starting as I captured the pops of Green! The only downfall, no pets allowed...but we may have missed seeing that sign and Lola had a great time leading the way!

If you have never been to Parkville, I highly recommend visiting.  It has a great little downtown area where you can stop and enjoy the local shopping or grab a beer and a bite to eat.  Platte Landing Park and English Landing Park are a few other trails nearby that run along the Missouri River that look inviting. [dogs allowed]

 I love to travel and adventure to different places around the globe, but I need to remember to also explore local!

Never Stop Exploring 🌎
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Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Indian Rockhouse ↟ Buffalo Point

The name itself should make you want to explore this area.  Day two of hiking meant we were going to take it up a notch.  The Indian Rockhouse Trail is a 3.5 mile loop that I would call a moderate-strenuous hike.  There is about 400 feet of elevation changes between the trailhead and the Rockhouse, which means a steady incline and decline.   With several steep sections, you will want to be prepared, and bring plenty of water!  When researching the average time it takes to make the loop, it suggested 3 hours.  We were able to do the trail in about 2 1/2, which included a 30 minute lunch break at the Rockhouse and stopping at sites along the way for photos. So we averaged about 26-minute mile, in other words, we were going at a pretty good pace.

The geology along this trail offers so much beauty, so be sure to stop and take in the view.  Besides that, you will find a sinkhole, waterfall, mining prospects, tons of rock creeks, sculpted bedrock, and even a quarry.  Not to mention the end goal, the Indian Rockhouse.  I also did some rock-climbing, no gear, about 3 feet up, it was rough!

A little history: The Indian Rockhouse once sheltered prehistoric bluff-dwelling Native Americans, as far back as 7,000 BC. Excavations were carried out in the 1930's and many items were found including tools, basketry, and food remains.  The site is protected from further excavation and became part of the Buffalo National River in 1972. I can't explain how it felt to step into this cave.  The temperature was much cooler than "outside" and the cave had a running stream which held crystal clear water.  It was like you could imagine what was happening when they once lived there.  I tried to picture where they may have had a fire, their gathering spaces, or where their food was kept. It took me back in time and I couldn't help but think what their day-to-day life included. 

We sat there on a rock, taking in the site, eating lunch, listening to the water running, and enjoying the cool temperature.  It didn't take long for me to become cold, so we headed back out to finish the hike.  A definite incline back and I was warm again. We stopped a few times to re-hydrate passing the Rock Quarry and the Natural Bathtub before making it to the end and realizing this was a trail worth taking.

Happy Hiking! 
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↟ Shona

Monday, March 26, 2018

America's First National River 🌲

Day two of camping meant heading out to do some trail hiking and adventuring.  We packed the Marmot with a few hiking essentials and took out.  Since we were going to be there around lunchtime, we couldn't go without the Jet-Boil, food, and of course, plenty of water.  We had heard there were some serious views of the Buffalo River on the Overlook Trail so that's where we started.

It's a shorter trail, only about a 1.5 mile loop but well worth the hike.  I would rate the trail as easy, there were some gradual inclines, but nothing too difficult or that would require hiking experience. I hike in Danner Boots and they are bomb!

We made it to the top of Overlook Point in about 20 minutes and stopped to take in the view.  It was as good as we were told.  You could see for miles.  This is when I wish I was a bird.  There was another couple that got to the point right after we arrived and they were nice enough to snap a few photos of us and the pooch. Add it to your bucket list.

We continued on, stopping on the way back to take a quick water break while taking in the view and sounds of the forest.  The trees and grass were just starting to turn green; the first sign of spring!  At the end of the trail, we parked it on a picnic table and enjoyed lunch. The weather was perfect, sunny and about 65 degrees. 

After lunch we decided to check out the Historical Rush District.  In the 1880's farmers discovered zinc ore and soon the mining began.  By the 1890's, miners, investors, and service industries arrived.  Morning Star Mine was known for it's quarry of ore.  Home and businesses developed and endured along Rush Creek until 1960's. Take the driving route to see many of the historical sites that still stand today. There are hiking trails but dogs aren't allowed so we explored the best we could off the trail. Because of several hazards found after inspection in 1984, caps were placed on 3 of the mines; while this keeps people out, bats are allowed unrestricted access to breed and roost.

Always keep exploring and you will always keep learning. I loved this hike and learning about the history of Rush. You could close your eyes and almost imagine what it was like when the town was booming. 

Day three meant a more serious hike, I'll share more on the blog soon!
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Friday, March 23, 2018

Buffalo National River + Tent Camping

Friday morning after strolling around the streets of Eureka Springs, we grabbed a fountain coke and made our way down the winding roads of Arkansas to our next destination, Buffalo Point River Campground.  This was a new area for us, so we made a quick stop at the Ranger Station to figure out where our campsite was.  They were very helpful and offered a lot of park information.  The good news, we could switch sites to a first-come-first-serve site if we found one we felt was better.  Besides now wanting to add Ranger attire to my closet, they sold the "Passport To Your National Parks" book, two please!

We headed to our camping site and quickly realized we would be able to change and we did too. To one that was a bit more hidden, included a straight path down to the Buffalo River, and offered views of the bluffs one must see in person.  We put up our reservation sign to which I added a crow feather for a more personal touch, and we started to unpack and make camp.

We are getting pretty quick at setting up camp; tent up, firewood stacked, water jug filled, and table set with the necessities in about 30 minutes.  Time to head to the river and let Lola take a swim, enjoy the sunshine, and take in the views of nature Arkansas has to offer.  After the much needed walk along the river, we sat at the table both writing in our journals, discussing important matters like what we wanted for dinner and then headed to Wild Bill's Outfitters to grab a bag of ice and a few cans of beer. This local joint became a daily stop for us; whether it's snacks or a tank of gas, firewood or beverages, the people here are super friendly and quickly became familiar with us.

We spent the next few days exploring the area; I'll share our two hikes in a future blog post.  We open-fire cook, play cards or dominoes, relax in front of the fire and discuss the day's adventures, plan the next one, hike, or just listen to nature.  We could hear the river running day and night which made this location all the better.

Did I mention the restrooms were being renovated so that meant no running water...only potable water which we could use for cooking.  The Jet-Boil came in handy for quick-boiling water for coffee and if you are creative like me, I also used it to have warm water to wash my face before hitting the sleeping bag at night.  Camping means getting creative and that's exactly what we do. I'd say we could survive out there!  I hope you enjoy the food photos...I can't share the recipe's because we are tossing around the idea of writing a cookbook, but I am sure they will make you drool...thinking about it makes me want to hurry back just for the food!  We take fresh food to prepare but also pack freeze-dried food, just add water, which are good if you are taking a day hike and need a high protein meal. Backpackers Pantry makes a delicious Fettuccini Alfredo with Chicken. They are definitely enough for two; plus Lola enjoys that we share with her!

Happy Camping and Exploring!
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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Another Roadtrip, Another Night in Eureka Springs

"How would you feel about driving down and spending a night in Eureka Springs on Thursday?"..."Perfect, I was just thinking about that and I'd thought you'd never ask!"...that was all it took for me to be on board with leaving a day early to spend a few hours in this quaint mountain town before heading on to our next destination.

We arrived at the Basin Park Hotel around 12:30 am, just in time to check-in, drop off our bags and head out to spend the rest of the evening at Chesea's Cafe, the best little bar in town.  Just a few short blocks from the Basin, we made our way down the uneven streets enjoying the fresh mountain air. It was perfect patio weather too; the beers and tequila shots ran smooth.  We felt it was our duty to help the locals close the bar down.

The next morning meant breakfast.  The BF introduced me to a little place called The Mud Street Cafe.  It has recently just opened for the season, so I highly recommend it if you are traveling to Eureka Springs.  Traditional breakfast for me; eggs, bacon, potatoes and toast.  Did I mention it's bottomless cups of coffee too?  A great little place to dine. And FYI, their pastries had me drooling!

You can't go to Eureka Springs without venturing out and about the town.  Downtown has a ton of shops, coffee houses, and local places to grab a bite to eat.  Walk the neighborhoods around there too, with the cool architecture, art, and other points of interest, you will not be disappointed.  Plus, the people are super friendly and dogs are welcome almost everywhere!

Eureka Springs was the perfect start to the long weekend!
It's a must stop if you are in Arkansas 🌲