Flying High: Our introductory flight with Jeff City Flying Services

Jefferson City Flying Services, Missouri, Flying Lessons, Jefferson City airport


This year, I totally outdid myself for Robby’s Father’s Day gift. After years of him talking about taking flying lessons, I arranged a short, introductory flight with Jefferson City Flying Services.

I contacted the Flight School via e-mail and received a call back within a couple hours. Since Robby has a fear of heights (Yeah I know, and he wants to fly a plane. I don’t get him either so don’t ask me……), the flight school coordinator, AJ, suggested we take the shorter 30 minute flight so that we’re fairly close to the airport in case we need to land quickly.

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The plane was small; that’s all I can tell you for I am not a plane connoisseur. There were 4 seats and entry to the cockpit is simply done by climbing up on the wing and sliding yourself right in.


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Once you get settled into your seat, you are provided with your very own Top Gun-style headphones and attached microphone. This is how you communicate with the others in the plane during the flight.

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And of course there is the extensive pre-flight check that must be done before takeoff. Robby listened intently and AJ was kind enough to show him the ropes and explain what each step was and why it had to be done.

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The views of our hometown were breathtaking at this perspective. The pilot kindly offered to fly over our home and he even came around a second time so we could get some good pictures. He was also friendly and talkative and he made our first flight interesting and fun.

We were surprised to find that both the takeoff and the landing were smooth as butter; the landing felt like nothing more than gently sliding yourself down on a beanbag.

The flight, whilst short, was a huge hit with Robby. He was on Cloud 9 for the rest of the day and treasured this gift much more than he would have any material possession I could have given him.

Making your appointment for an introductory flight is easy, just contact Jefferson City Flying Services via their website here to get further details.

Tell me, if you had your pilot’s license, where would you go with it?

The Hartsburg Grand: Again, my new favorite eatery!


Several years ago when the hubs and I were making one of our notorious drives through the countryside searching for land to purchase and make our “home” we drove through Hartsburg, Missouri . It just so happened that it was dinner time, and it just so happened that we were super hungry, and it just so happened that this perfect little restaurant happened to be open. It took no thought at all for us to veer in and grab a bite to eat. (Coincidentally, we eventually ended up finding a beautiful piece of land just one mile up the road from this restaurant)

Since this first Hartsburg Grand encounter, the restaurant shut down and was vacant for some time and recently reopened under new ownership. For about 6 months they didn’t have their liquor license which was a major let down but they finally got that under their belt and are ready to go with a good selection of beers, wines, and some liquor for mixed cocktails.


For me, a restaurant isn’t just about the meal that’s served but it’s more of what they can offer in terms of a “trifecta” of an experience. Not only do you want the obvious: a delicious, unique meal. But for me and the hubs, we want good service and last but definitely not least (probably the most important to me) is the atmosphere. A dining setting that is as unique as the food they serve sets a restaurant apart from all the others.



The Hartsburg Grand delivers the trifecta to a T! With the restaurant being housed in a two-story century old building, the character and the architecture is something that can’t be duplicated. The restaurant is small but has vast ceilings and an open dining room. Each table is set specially for each customer with a formal black tablecloth and white, linen napkins adorning each glass. At first glance, this may seem a fancy-pants setting but they welcome every cyclist off the Katy Trail and even us with our two crazy kiddos.


I started my last meal off with a beautiful arrangement of a side salad with the house dressing. It ended something like this….


Need I say more??

The penne pasta with large shrimp was the ticket for the night, even though I usually stray from ordering pasta dishes. Whatever led my decision in choosing the pasta was definitely on the right track. The shrimp were large and meaty with unbelievable flavor. The white sauce was undeniably made by a pro and was the perfect concoction of cream and spices that blended together to form a taste out of this world!! I ate every last morsel.


Robby chose the steak and potato dinner. He was very pleased as well but did mention that he should have ordered the pasta (I’m not kidding, it was seriously that good!)


On another day altogether, we did end up stopping in for lunch and had the standard burger and fries for both me and the hubs and also a mini-burger for the kiddos.


I don’t know what else to say besides the fact that is was just another plate of deliciousness served to us by another friendly waitress in the same perfect setting. Bliss. Pure edible bliss.

The Hartsburg Grand does have somewhat strange and potentially unpredictable hours so I would call before making plans to venture out our way. Their number is 573-657-1414 and even though there is a website at it’s not truly for the restaurant. It’s for the “event center” portion of the place which is the theater upstairs and the Grand Station just to the side of the restaurant.

If you make it there, be sure and let me know what you had and what you thought! I’m certain you won’t be disappointed!!

Happy eating, Pan


The Hartsburg Grand: Quite possibly, my new fav eatery.

The older I have become, the more picky I have gotten about where I go to eat out. Chain restaurants like Chili’s and Applebee’s were the usual picks when I was a young, unknowing lass in my 20’s. I now crave dinner out at a place that has character and appeal.


And boy oh boy did I find the perfect place. The small town of Hartsburg sits just off Highway 63 between Columbia and Jefferson City. The old town feel of this tiny dot-on-the-map drew Robby and I so much that we’re building a house there now. So imagine my utter delight when we came across my new favorite restaurant just a mile from our future house!

When you step over the threshold, the history of the building totally envelops you. It has an air of being a fancy-pants dining joint but the staff assured us that they love having Katy Trail cyclists (and of course, anybody and everybody else) come on in.

The Grand staff is one big, happy family. No-really. The mother and son man the kitchen, the dad tends the bar, and the daughter and daughter-in-law serve. What a great way to spend time as a family and ensure you give the highest quality service because they all have a vested interest in their success.


We started off with the  ___________ appetizer. Talk about flavor doing a tap dance across your palette! Oh my gosh the fresh taste of this dish was impeccable. Fresh basil was placed on top and I didn’t even know how a-maz-ing fresh basil was until it greeted my mouth with open arms right from the first bite.


The last piece. None was left. I’m telling you, none. It was that delectable.


Robby ordered the fish tacos. He ordered this dish the first time we dined here and was so wowed that he didn’t even think about ordering something else. “The flavors. Just, oh my gosh. The flavors of this!”…….Mutterings from the hubs in between each savory mouthful.


I had the oven-baked chicken parmesan. When this plate was sat in front of me I’ll admit I thought I didn’t think it looked like much but there were roasted new potatoes piled underneath that massive piece of farm-raised chicken. That’s right! FARM-RAISED CHICKEN! Get out! I love it! By the end of dinner I was so satisfied from my meal and from soaking up the gorgeous scenery. I oogled in wonder at things like the battered but timeless wooden plank floors and the original look of the tall ceilings.





The pictures don’t do justice to the work the family has put into such a great dining establishment. Hit ’em up, I promise you won’t be disappointed!

FYI: The Hartsburg Grand is open seasonally (closed in the winter months) and closes at 9 pm (7pm on Sundays, although we were here later on a Sunday and they didn’t shoo us away). Join them for a meal shazam! on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and visit their website here.


Pics from JC KidsFest


This year was our first to attend the JC Kidsfest downtown. It was a beautiful day and I’m always desperate to find something fun for my toddler to do (especially if it’s something outside).


There were apparently a lot of parents thinking the same thing. Several blocks of High Street were crowded with folks and their kiddos. Booths lined both sides of the street and some of the side streets as well.




Our local law enforcement were offering “self-guided tours” (aka letting kids run amuck) through their official vehicles.





There were two bounce houses but I was disappointed that were no set age requirements for each (none that I saw anyway). There were “big kids” in both and I while I knew Olivia would have had a blast I was unwilling to let her get plowed over by the bigger kids.


There was hula hooping, kettle corn, face painting, and sand bag throwing to name a few.


Olivia was a bit too young to really enjoy most of the activities offered but as we were leaving, we happened upon the petting zoo. And that was the highlight of the day. (For Olivia and for Mommy; I so love baby goats!)









Confession: This post was pretty well nothing but self-promotion of my adorable little girl (and my little buddy) and I’m not ashamed to admit it:)



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


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.


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.




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.



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.



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.


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.



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_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.


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_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.


  • 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.

















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.


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_1873Um, hello cacti. What on earth are you doing here in Missouri? No, seriously. What are these cacti doing in Missouri?



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.


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.


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.




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.


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




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.



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



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.


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.


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.





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.


Or down it…


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…


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.


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.


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


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.


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.




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



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.



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.



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.


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.


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.