Lincoln University Farmer’s Market; Downtown Jefferson City, MO

DSC_1470

Years ago, before we were involved in this whole parenthood thing, Robby and I lived in Nashville for a short time. Longing for our family and friends brought us back to Central Missouri but we sure did enjoy a lot that the Country Music City had to offer.

With my wacky nurse schedule, I often found myself exploring the city alone and one of my best Nashville finds was the Farmer’s Market near downtown.

Their outdoor (yet shaded under a large pavilion) market showcased local farmers’ goods daily and additional goods (like fresh meats) on Saturday. Want not, the market had everything to offer from fresh vegetables and fruits to plants and the like.

I’m always disappointed by the local Missouri farmer’s markets. I have been aiming to try and get to Columbia’s but have yet to make it there.

Luckily for me, I heard about a farmer’s market hosted by Lincoln University located on Madison Street in Downtown Jeff City this past weekend. The hubbs was working the day away on our new house so I got brave enough to load up the two kiddos and head downtown.

DSC_1469

I thought maybe this would be a monthly gig the college hosts but I was happy to see that it’s a weekly gathering. As the summer months fly by, I’m sure there will be more and more vendors attending with their fresh crops on hand.

Longfellow's Garden Center

Longfellow’s Garden Center

 

I had the best company for my morning outing!

I had the best company for my morning outing!

 

I was expecting more vendors than were there but I’m hopeful that it’s simply because it’s still early in the season.

 

DSC_1471

DSC_1474

Duncan Family Farm from Centertown had their trailer loaded down with home grown pork. With almost every cut available and packages (including a whole or half hog), this was so pleasing to purchase meat locally, straight from the farm, instead of straight from the grocer’s freezer. According to their pamphlet, “our pigs are raised in the outdoor environment in the fresh air. They are fed high quality feed most of which is raised on our farm.” In addition to their pork farming, they also grow berries and vegetables and have free range chickens. Love, Love, Love! How can you go wrong there? The more I hear about the deception in the American food industry, the more rebellious against it I become. I bought two packages of ground pork for $8, with plans to make some delicious pork burgers for Robby to throw on the grill one weekend.

Pork wasn’t the only meat for the taking, either. Invermos Valley Farms out of Tebbetts also had fresh, pasture-fed, hormone-free, antibiotic-free beef in stock as well. Their advertising highlights the fact that “our beef is grass fed/pasture raised for optimum health and weight and given a light grain ration at the end for handling and loading purposes”. One pound of ground beef from them will set you back a mere $5.75/lb which isn’t hardly a drop in the bucket more than what you pay for beef at your grocer’s.

DSC_1473

DSC_1476

A gal I happen to work with was selling her homemade jellies and jams. I bought a jar of Strawberry Jam and decided to go out of my comfort zone and also picked up a jar of the Dandelion Jelly. I’ve tried them both. The strawberry is fabulous. I’ve decided the dandelion just isn’t for me. $4 per jar is all you need to bring one home.

DSC_1487

DSC_1472

This vendor was selling coffee beans. We are in Missouri so they are obviously not local but he does roast the beans locally. He was offering samples of iced coffee. I didn’t buy anything here because he didn’t have any medium roasted flavors available.

DSC_1479

I hope word gets out about this market. I think it’s great to support local farmers and the value of knowing where your food came from is invaluable.

Cooper’s Landing; Columbia, MO

1) Having anymore than a couple minutes through the day to be able to think quietly.

2) Being able to turn up the music and let the windows down while driving in the car.

3) Getting to use the bathroom without someone barging in.

4) Having a chance to go out with friends and do some Gravel-Roadin’!

What do all these things have in common? They’re all things as a parent that rarely happen. There’s so many other rarities I could add to this list but the rarest of all is having a chance for both Robby and I to get out with friends. And it has been YEARS since we’ve actually went gravel-roadin’. (Side note: we took a poll in the vehicle on the gravel-roadin’ versus road-trippin’ verbage which is mine and Robby’s constant debate and gravel-roadin’ won out with a final vote of 4-2. Ha!) Thankfully, I have a mother-in-law who is so good to watch the kids for us anytime we need and Saturday we got to get out of the house and let loose.

We had plans to check out Cooper’s Landing and then have a late dinner at the Hartsburg Grand restaurant in Hartsburg since it was their opening night of the season. Neither Robby or I had been to Cooper’s Landing but I’ve heard about it for most of my adult life. I knew it was a campground that sits alongside the Missouri River and the Katy Trail. That’s about all I knew. But Robby found out they were having live music and insisted we hit it up.

We had friends meet at our house and we all piled into Robby’s truck. Once we got to Hartsburg off of Highway 63, between Jeff City and Columbia, we purposefully strayed from the highway to catch the gravel roads to get to Cooper’s Landing. By far, the drive was the best part of the trip. The road to the Landing winds just alongside the Missouri River most of the way and as we were heading there in the evening, the drive provided us some spectacular views of the river in just the right light.

Once we arrived, I was blown away by how many cars were already there. Here I thought we were heading someplace off the beaten path but this place was packed.

We had to park a short distance away.

We had to park a short distance away.

 

Not knowing how rustic of a locale this place was, our friends wore high heels. Thankfully, I had on my cowgirl boots which turned out to be much more appropriate for the venue. It sits alongside the gravel road so take it from me when I tell you, leave the heels at home.

 

IMG_3046

From the looks of it, this place only provides rustic camping. I saw lots of tents already set up to the far side of the building.

First thing, Robby came across his hippie health professor from college and spent a short time chatting with him while the rest of us refilled our drinking hand and stood in awe of the view. The beers were all domestic in nature (mostly) and available at a reasonable price, self-serve style from coolers inside the store.

IMG_3058IMG_3057

IMG_3060The entertainment was already set up and singing when we got there. Just a single man act, this guy sang old school, relaxing tunes, popular circa ’76ish.

'Cause who doesn't feel like some Thai food when you're camping?

‘Cause who doesn’t feel like some Thai food when you’re camping?

The most bizarre finding here wasn’t even the eclectic group of people. In a small trailer just to the side of the main building stands a tiny Asian lady serving Thai food. I. am. so. confused. Of all the places in the world to serve un-American cuisine, a little campground way off the beaten path is not where I would have expected to find this.

The music wasn’t the only entertainment provided.

IMG_3062

The hula hooping man stood in front of the crowd for most of the evening smoking a cigarette and hooping his heart out. This is apparently a popular thing at the campground since I saw two more hanging for anyone to use.

Just in front of the stage, sits a fire pit that they had just started lighting a short time after we got there. We moved away to avoid smelling like a wiener roast (since he had dinner plans afterwards) but this would have been a cozy place to snuggle with a buddy on a crisp evening such as this.

 

IMG_3070

IMG_3068We were so excited to document our eve in pictures that our first 20 minutes were spent trying to capture the moment.

We arrived here much later than we originally planned but it turned out to be perfect timing to enjoy the most breathtaking sunset on the horizon.

IMG_3049

  • How to get there: The scenic route: From Highway 63, in between Jeff City and Columbia, take Rt A towards Hartsburg. Once you enter the town, continue straight passing over the Katy Trail and turn left at the end of the road. This will start you on S River Rd. At the Veterans Park, turn right to continue on S River Rd. Continue driving straight on this road through the tiny town of Wilton until you arrive at Cooper’s Landing. You will not regret the drive. It’s stunning. Especially when the sun is setting. The quickest route: From Highway 63, take the 163 exit (Pierpont) just north of Deer Park. Turn onto S Route N. Just at the end of this road (where it meets the river), take a right on to S River Rd and you will shortly arrive.
  • Who’s it for?: I saw folks of all ages. There were even a couple families with small kiddos in tow. The place seemed appropriate enough but know that there are people drinking and looking to have a good time.
  • Best time to go: Sunset. Definitely at sunset.
  • Food and drink are available. Fresh Thai food and mostly domestic canned beers.

Graham Cave State Park

Several weeks ago, I jokingly referred to Sundays as “State Park Sundays” after the hubs and I had spent the past few exploring two of Missouri’s finest. Since then, it’s actually become somewhat of a household (well, our household anyway) term and something that we’ve come to look forward to.

With almost an entire month of having our weekends riddled with chores (we just started building a house), we had been robbed of our Sunday fun days until this past weekend.

Not wanting to haul the kids for too long of a drive, I chose a state park within an hour of home. It’s a place I had been to as a child when we took my oldest niece and nephew, and a place I remembered fondly without actually having much memory of it at all.

Graham Cave State Park is located just off I-70, at the Montgomery City exit. The website boasts features such as hiking, the cave, camp sites, and boating. Robby and I are both water-lovers and so the river attraction attracted me.

Which way to go?

Which way to go?

Of course our excitement all week for this short day drive was muffled down by the overcast skies and certain forecast of rain. We went anyway hoping we could at least get a few hours in.

Mommy (I mean Olivia) came prepared for the impending storm.

Mommy (I mean Olivia) came prepared for the impending storm.

 

Since we were sure we were going to be pressed for time, we started the day with the cave trail. I use the term “trail” loosely as the cave is a mere 0.2-0.3 miles up the path.

DSC_1818

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you've ever taken a pic with a two year old, you know it's rare to get them actually looking toward the camera.

If you’ve ever taken a pic with a two year old, you know it’s rare to get them actually

looking toward the camera.

 

Father and daughter.

Father and daughter.

DSC_1857

After our short cave-viewing party, we moseyed on through a small path in the woods.

 

Which way to grow?

Which way to grow?

 

Just barely into the woods, we came upon this crooked tree. I think he’s confused.

 

DSC_1874

DSC_1873Um, hello cacti. What on earth are you doing here in Missouri? No, seriously. What are these cacti doing in Missouri?

DSC_1876

DSC_1880

I’m not really sure what the Missouri State Park authorities are up to, but there was mass chaos in the woods. Fallen trees and purposeful cutting of trees (possibly the result of Big Foot, who knows….) littered the landscape rendering the view ugly. Sorry to say this but it truly was unpleasant to look at.

DSC_1882

Not only were there fallen trees at every glance, they crossed the walking paths as well. No big deal except when you have an infant strapped to your chest. Thankfully, Robby was there to lend a hand.

DSC_1865

We hadn’t been in the woods long when Robby quickly spotted some much-sought-after morel mushrooms. Our sister-in-law gave us plenty the night before but there’s a certain gratification one gets from finding them yourself (or so I gathered from Robby’s reaction). The best part was getting Olivia in on the action.

DSC_1888

DSC_1889

DSC_1894

Thankfully my mommy instincts told me to haul the giant umbrella on our trip because the rain did come while we were still in the woods.

DSC_1898

At this point, we figured we had exhausted all the “good” (and again, I use that term loosely) weather for the day and better head back to the truck. The storm that was heading in did cut our day short, but I can’t say I was really saddened by such. The little I had seen of the park really hadn’t drawn me in by this point (and we never even got to see the river) so we loaded the little ones up and started back home.

We’ve got many more of Missouri’s beautiful state parks to visit, but I’m crossing this one off the list, probably never to return.

As always, to learn more about Missouri’s State Parks, visit their website at mostateparks.com.

 

 

 

Rock Bridge State Park; Columbia, MO

After visiting Ha Ha Tonka State Park last Sunday and then exploring Rock Bridge State Park this Sunday, I just may have to dub Sunday’s to be “State Park Sunday”. Thankfully, it was another semi-gorgeous weekend. I could have tolerated a little bit warmer temps but after the 18-year-long winter we just had (no, I’m not exaggerating) , I’m not going to complain. At least the sun was sparkling and the wind was down to a bare breeze.

If you’re not familiar with Rock Bridge State Park, it’s located just at the southern edge of Columbia, MO. It sounds to be fairly popular among the locals and I can now understand why. Countless hiking trails, commanding rock formations, soothing sounds of the gentle creek, and a playground are just a few of the awesome features of this park.

DSC_1677

 

The actual rock bridge is the main feature of the park and of course, it’s namesake.

DSC_1685

DSC_1682

The shallow creek flows under the bridge and winds through the park. If you’re equipped to get wet (or even if you’re not), you might as well hop on in. Even with the cool temperatures on Sunday, there were several people sloshing through the creek, daring enough to be under this mega rock bridge.

The second main feature of the park is what’s known as Devil’s Icebox. Many, many feet down (I don’t know how many because I didn’t pay attention), lie the waters of the Devil’s Icebox.

DSC_1703

According to the history given, people actually go “caving” through here. There are pictures showcasing people crouched down in canoes just to maneuver through this area. The cave systems appear to be very lengthy, as the picture shows the cave to cover the entire length of the information board.

DSC_1706

I know it’s hard to tell from a picture but come on! This is how long the cave runs. And people take canoes through it! Insane. Insane. Insane.

DSC_1707If this wouldn’t give you a severe case of claustrophobia, I sure don’t know what would. Interesting as it sounds, no thank you. I’ll just be pleased to enjoy others pictures of this adventure.

There were several things about this park that I noted to be different in comparison to other state parks that I’ve been. Firstly, several of the hiking trails are actually that. Hiking trails. Not paved walkways. Now, there are still some of those but how fantastic to actually get to hike through the woods on the very ground God placed there.

DSC_1679

DSC_1687

DSC_1699

DSC_1709

Secondly, people take advantage of literally, everything this park has to offer. To heck with staying on the trails, I’m just going to climb up this steep hillside.

DSC_1726

Or down it…

DSC_1737

Which I regard as being super awesome. Here’s to truly enjoying all the beauties of nature.

If you read my post from Ha Ha Tonka, you know there’s a trail in which you have to trudge up 316 stairs. So, imagine my surprise when we came upon this…

DSC_1690

Ugh, more stairs. Actually, it was good for me. I’ve got to get this post-partum body back into shape stat!

And the most joyful part of my day was seeing the hard evidence of impending life.

DSC_1748DSC_1752DSC_1739DSC_1763

Wait, wait. I take that back. Seeing the green buds on the trees was the second most joyful part of the day. This was the first.

DSC_1761DSC_1696DSC_1695DSC_1691

And who doesn’t love a daddy that takes his little girl hand in hand to help her explore the world?

DSC_1702DSC_1710

Happy Trails! Pan, The Gravel-Roadin’ Guru

For more information on Rock Bridge State Park, visit their website here.

 

 

Ha Ha Tonka State Park; Lake of the Ozarks, MO

Oh gorgeous day! Yesterday, of course, not today. No, today is a bleak and dreary (yet warmer than it has been) Missouri day. Yesterday. Now, yesterday is where it’s at. The sun was shining and the birds were chirping (Literally. Olivia pointed it out to me first thing in the morning). It was the kind of spring day that nobody spends indoors because we have all been waiting MONTHS for this.

Even though Robby and I have two children now, (Which still seems weird to me-I’m a mom of two. How’d that happen?) we are the people who are bound and determined to have some fun and make the utmost of a beautiful day at all costs.

After my first idea of hitting up Warm Springs Ranch in Booneville got smashed (they were already booked up with their tours the day before), Robby suggested heading to a state park. Ha Ha Tonka is one we’ve been to before and know and love quite well. We even took Olivia there when she was about 6 months old. So, we decided to make the trek up to the lake area and do some exploring at one of Missouri’s finest state parks (in my opinion of course). DSC_1593

Ha Ha Tonka (meaning “laughing waters”) was named such because this area was populated by Native Americans (the Osage Indians). As many know, this beautiful locale sits right on the Lake of the Ozarks. In addition to the stunning lake views, there are castle ruins, an old water tower, remains of the carriage house and post office still in existence on the property. Around 1900, a man named Robert Snyder purchased 5000 acres at this site. Can you imagine? 5000 acres? That’s massive on today’s scale. I can’t believe how much 5000 acres was at that time. (Of course I realize, 5000 acres then is still 5000 acres today but you know what I mean. Right?)

DSC_1575Poor Mr. Snyder didn’t even get to enjoy his monstrosity of a castle. Only one year after the beginning of building, he was killed in a car accident. After many years went by, his children saw fit to continue building the castle only to have it ruined by a devastating fire.

DSC_1561DSC_1562DSC_1564Even Olivia, who knows nothing about castles or the significance of this monument, was so excited to take in the views and hiking here at the park. Her excitement was so contagious that strangers passing us on the trails were even hit with her enthusiasm. Witnessing her pure wonderment at everything new was an amazing feeling as a parent. It was a good reminder to Robby and I (after we had a horrible week with the new baby) why we became parents in the first place.

DSC_1594Most of the structure that was the water tower still exists. Visitors are unable to walk through it although there is a path that leads right up to the entrance.

DSC_1641The grounds of the park are a photographers paradise indeed. From the “mountain top” views of the lake below, to the stately castle remains, to the trails winding through the woods, there are a bounty of opportunities for coveted nature shots. I’m no photographer by any means (although I have been trying to learn more about my fancy SLR camera and how to take “good” pictures), but I could have spent many more hours there. It was a little difficult to get some of the shots I wanted, since I did have a ten pound baby strapped to my chest.

DSC_1634Hiking the trails was what we could call slightly difficult with a two year old but Robby was steadfast in his resolve to not let that stop us. Even when he had to carry 33-lb Olivia up 316 stairs.

DSC_1639That’s right. 316 steps. The Spring Trail (which you have to hike if you go here) connects the castle to the river-turned-lake below. It’s quite the climb by yourself, even more so when carrying kids.

DSC_1613Don’t worry, you can still see each portion of the park without climbing the steps if you’re not up to it. There were several more trails than we were able to explore in the few hours that we were there.

DSC_1589DSC_1659Spending the day with my little Pan-made family (Okay, okay. Robby helped a little), became a day that made my heart happy. The adults got exercise. The baby slept. Olivia smiled, wide-eyed in astonishment, all day.

DSC_1612DSC_1654

At the end of the day, as parents, that’s what it’s all about.

I hope you take the time to visit this gorgeous state park. There is a cave trail and a playground that Olivia would have loved but we didn’t have time for. To find out more about Ha Ha Tonka State Park, visit their website here.

Runge Nature Center; Jefferson City, MO

I’m going to start off by saying that this post writing is likely to be a bit rusty. You see, I just had a baby. Which means that the 9 months prior to that, I was pregnant. And for those of you that know me well, know how much I loathe pregnancy. My achievements during pregnancy include sleep, lounging in my pjs, and more sleep. I’ll be the first to admit that I pretty much peace out on life during pregnancy. I don’t feel like myself and trust me, it shows.

Now that my precious Easton is here, I am beginning to feel like my former self. Slowly, I’m starting to get back to running and I have even been putting some time into blog-type business. I haven’t forgotten about my alter ego, Pan. Oh no no. She’s been here all along, hiding in the shadows, waiting for the beast of pregnancy to vacate my body.

So, my next tale is about my first post-pregnancy outing (aside from the daily tasks of grocery shopping and the like). Tuesday afternoon was yet another bitter cold day for Missourians so I met up with my gal pal (kids in tow, of course) at the Runge Nature Center in Jefferson City.

Even though I live about 10 minutes from the Runge, this was a first time for me. It’s operated by the Missouri Dept of Conservation and showcases live snakes, fish, and other small reptiles plus other nature-related displays.

fish aquarium

fish aquarium

 

The parking lot was deceiving (it looked like the place was going to be packed) but there really weren’t many people there. The building was deceiving as well; it looks quite large when you’re outside but once you get in, there’s really not that much inside.

 

There’s an outdoor viewing area that overlooks the woods where several birdfeeders have been placed.

 

IMG_2830

 

There seems to me to have been an abundance of snake exhibits. I’m not sure why they’re so obsessed with snakes.

 

IMG_2835

You can just barely see the green snake wrapped around the tree branch. That night at dinner, Olivia was using her green bean as a snake and making slithering snake noises. So, for her it had some lasting impact, I suppose.

 

Me and my friend liked this next exhibit. There is a tree slice laying on the ground that shows the age of the tree and displays the rings. The great thing about this tree is that the rings were marked with the year. Say, 1940 for example. It pointed out areas of drought and areas where there was fire damage. It’s absolutely amazing to me, that the actual age of the tree and all the years in between (including important weather conditions that took place through the years) are all able to be pinpointed just by looking at a cross section of tree. Amazing.

 

IMG_2843

I thought that the Runge would be more specific to the wildlife and nature in Missouri but it was not. It was more generalized including nature topics from areas across the United States.

IMG_2845

IMG_2846

When I was young, there was folklore that there were mountain lions and black panthers hiding in the shadows of the woods in Callaway County, where I grew up. Of course, nobody had ever actually seen one, that I knew of. Several years ago an actual mountain lion was hit by a vehicle on the highway about 2 miles away from my parents house! So, folklore in this case turned out to be true. Officials took the mountain lion and he is displayed here at the Runge. This was the highlight of the day for me.

IMG_2855IMG_2856

The kids enjoyed themselves I think more so just because this was something to do that got us out of the house. I think we can all agree that it’s been a terribly long winter.

IMG_2831

In short, I wasn’t overly pleased with the center. The few displays and live creature exhibits were great but we had explored everything within an hour. It’s free so it’s nice if you need a good reason just to get out of the house, like we did. There are several nature trails in behind the facility that would probably be good to check out as well, but it was way too cold for us to attempt that. They do host special events so check out the website here to look at the schedule.

 

 

 

 

Family-friendly things to do in Nashville

Several weeks ago, I had an old friend ask me for some travel advice. Him and his fam were driving to Florida but planned on stopping in the country music capital, Nashville, for a night. He wanted to know some good things to do for a family-friendly, Nashville vacay. When Robby and I lived there, we were kid-free and we’ve only been to Nashville once with sweet baby O. I had to dig deep into the gray matter (aka brain) for kid-friendly attractions.

Here’s a short list that I put together for him:

1. TAKE IN A SHOW AT THE GRAND OLE OPRY

I will never forget my experience at the Grand Ole Opry. Robby bought us tickets on our first trip to Nashville. Carrie Underwood was surprised by Randy Travis, after she sang his famous song I Told You So, and invited by him to be a member of the Grand Ole Opry. It was awesome to witness this.

2. VISIT THE ATRIUMS AT THE OPRYLAND HOTEL

Hello! Gorgeous!

If you want to read more about our hotel stay inside the Opryland Hotel (which is completely gorgeous), you can find it here, here, and here.

3. HIT UP THE BARS ON BROADWAY

Ok, I know what you’re thinking. These are all bars and totally inappropriate for children. Well, yes and no. If you go during the day, there is virtually nobody in any of these places (the rowdy ones are still in their hotel sleeping off the hangovers). You can grab a pop and still listen to some live music, without putting you and your family’s lives in danger.

4. THE BELLE MEADE PLANTATION

You get a good history lesson and get to soak up this beautiful estate. We thoroughly enjoyed our tour. This is a good thing to do if you’re needing to fill a couple hours.

5. DRIVE THROUGH BELLE MEADE AND BRENTWOOD (SOUTHWEST OF TOWN)

Even if you don’t know whose homes you come across, you can imagine all the celebrities that it could be. These homes are absolutely jaw-droppingly gorgeous!

6. CHECK OUT THE PUBLIC BEACH ACCESS AT OLD HICKORY LAKE

When we lived in Nashville, I spent most of my days off soaking up the rays at this beach. Find the lake just north of Nashville, in Old Hickory/Hendersonville area.

7. THE OPRY MILLS MALL

Compare any of the malls in Nashville to the malls I’m used to here in Missouri, and it really puts them to shame. This mall is located just next to the Grand Ole Opry and the Opryland Hotel.

8. GET WET IN THE WATERPARK AT NASHVILLE SHORES

This nice waterpark is located just beside the Percy Priest lake, near the east side of town.

9. GO BOOT SHOPPING!

IMG_1271Pardon the horrible picture. Robby bought new boots on our last trip and Olivia was dying to try them on. Of course, no trip to Nashville would be complete without snagging a new set of kickers. (Inside info: There is a boot store on Broadway that sells 1 pair of boots and you get 2 free. Grab 2 other friends and you have yourself one heck of a deal!)

10. RYMAN AUDITORIUM

This gorgeous structure is located downtown. It is the original opry house that still houses the Grand Ole Opry shows during the winter months. Lots and lots of history are inside these walls.

If you have any more family-friendly things to do in Nashville, make sure and add them to the list in the comment section!

 

 

Wenwood Farm Winery in Bland, MO; An unexpected Mommy/Daddy date

DSC_1312

At our first doctor’s appointment when Olivia was born, the pediatrician told us that once a month we needed to set time aside, employ a grandparent, and have a date so that we could spend some time together, just the two of us. He stressed the importance of having that (even if just once a month), for a marriage. Robby and I took his advice for the first couple months and then we’ve just let that idea completely fall off the love train.

DSC_1336

Don’t get me wrong. We do get some time away from Olivia. It’s always bittersweet moments. It’s nice to be able to just sit and enjoy a cocktail instead of wrangling a toddler. Yet, I get pangs of sadness when I remember her cute, fluffy cheeks and realize how badly I would like to kiss them in that moment.

Over the past holiday weekend, I found myself once again sitting across from the man I married. And being able to remember why I married him in the first place.

DSCN0204

Our usual Memorial holiday plans of heading out to the river, were completely ruined by this testy Missouri weather we’ve been having. Since we already had plans to leave O with the grandparents, we dropped her off and decided that if we couldn’t have the river, we’d have the next best thing.

Wine.

Wenwood wine to be exact.

DSC_1310

Several years ago, we stumbled upon the best little Missouri winery out in the middle of nowhere (well, it’s out in the middle of Bland to be exact but it certainly feels like nowhere). It quickly became our favorite Missouri wine and we hadn’t gotten a chance to return until this weekend).

DSC_1308

On any given weekend through the summer, there are live bands set up under the pavilion while wine guzzlers are sprawled across the fields. Robby was a little disappointed to find no live band but it ended up being a little afternoon romantic getaway, because of the peace and quiet.

IMG_1483_146

DSC_1313

We sat across from each other.

“Hey, who are you?”

“Oh yeah, you’re that person I married several years back.”

“Oh no kidding? I think you’re right. What’s your name again?”

“So, what’s been going on? Oh that’s right. Kids. We’ve got a kid now. And that’s pretty much all that’s been going on.”

“Yeah, what happened to us? We used to do this kind of thing all the time.”

“I know. We used to be fun. We used to have a life and get out and see people.”

“Now all we see are the four inside walls of our tiny house.”

“Yeah.”

“Yeah.”

And our conversation went something like that until somewhere about mid-bottle. Then we started loosening up and relishing our time together.

Not only are the selection of wines at Wenwood Winery fantastic, the view and setting are just to die for. Well, maybe not to die because that’d be unfortunate for you and for me. The view and the setting are just to LIVE for!!!!!

DSC_1328

Nestled in the valley off a gravel road (my favorite, you know), sits a couple of old-time barns which house the winery and the area where the owner manufactures the wine. Traffic is few and far between. Any vehicle we saw was headed right to where we were. Parties of people talking intermingled with the music of chirping birds and life feels like it has slowed down to a pace we can all tolerate.

DSC_1307

 

The neighbors have to be regulars. Numerous gators pulled up to the winery with a trailer attached, piles of people in tow. I imagine this is a ritual. Not a bad one if I say so myself.

DSC_1346

 

On our first trip there, we showed up close to closing time on a late Sunday afternoon. The owner gave us a detailed overview on all the selections of wine, along with his background in wine-making. We were very impressed at the extensive learning process he had gone through to provide high-quality, perfect-on-your-palette wine. We were given wine tastings and discovered that each one we came to continued to wow us. My old favorite is Creek Bed Red. I’ve developed a drier palette than I used to have and this time chose the Vignoles. Robby stuck with his favorite, Berry Blush (this used to be called Fragaria).

IMG_1486_148 IMG_1482_145

Coolers inside are filled to the brim of different cheeses to test on their many different cracker selections that line the shelves. Our selection? Gouda cheese. Man, the gouda was good-a! So creamy and flavorful, we ate the whole circle of cheese! We let nothing stand in our way.

DSC_1334

Don’t worry, the mascots got to have a little taste test too.

DSC_1332

Summary:

  • Wine Selection: Delicious and a wide variety. 
  • Snack Selection: All the things one needs as a perfect pairing with wine (except grapes. Which maybe you should think about Wenwood:)
  • Travel-ability: Mediocre. It’s about a 45 minute – 1 hour drive south of Jefferson City in Bland but mind you, that’s all part of the appeal.
  • Relaxability: Astounding!
  • Pan’s Want-To-Return-Ness: 100%

Visit the Wenwood Farm Winery website here.

IMG_1484_147

DSC_1337

 

Joys of the Creek Bed

IMG_1472_123

Some days I get to thinking. Nostalgia comes into the forefront of my mind and I’m whisked away to a different time.

I grew up off a gravel road out in the country on a small horse farm. During the summers, I remember waking up and heading outside first thing, eager to get the day started. I would hop on my 10 speed Schwinn and pedal up the road to my friend’s house. Together, we would ride the gravel roads, skip rocks in the pond, play in the dirt, catch fireflies, or whatever else would keep us entertained for the day.

Hours, we would spend outside. No cell phones in our pockets. No need to rush home. No one worried about you, because there was just no reason to be back then. Sun up to sun down was spend outside playing.

There are days where I wish that for my children so much so that it makes my heart hurt. I know that times have changed so much that my kids will never get the luxury of being out from under my thumb, my kids will have to check in with Mom so much that it will be a bother, and they will have to be back home before sun down. That’s just the reality of the world that we’ve come to live in.

This weekend, however, I felt like we got a chance to give Olivia just a small taste of the kind of country life that we know we want for our children.

On Sunday, after O woke up from her nap, there wasn’t much left of our day but it was gorgeous and we knew we had to take advantage of it somehow. The Hubbs had a great idea to take O to a creek.

We drove up to Hartsburg and through the super-cute town, down a gravel road, until we found the perfect spot to play.

Just off Jemerson Creek Rd is a creek (I assume it’s called Jemerson Creek??) that was perfect for a Sunday afternoon play day.

IMG_1466_117

 

The water was much too chilly for my liking but it didn’t seem to bother O in the least.

IMG_1460_111

 

Of course, that didn’t stop me from getting in to play with my little girl.

IMG_1462_113

 

Aaaaahhhh. Gettin’ ’em wet.

IMG_1463_114

 

Olivia definitely had a blast. For that short while of the afternoon, I felt like she got to experience a little of what my childhood was like. Finding joy in the outdoors and freedom in the country.

This little creek has several great spots to stop at just off the gravel road.

Tell me, do you have any favorite little swimming holes?

Pan, The Gravel-Roadin’ Guru