Joys of the Creek Bed

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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.

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

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

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Aaaaahhhh. Gettin’ ’em wet.

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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

Ecco Lounge: Jefferson City, MO

Several weeks ago, Robby and I were going through our weekend ritual of choosing a restaurant for our weekend family date. I greatly dislike chain restaurants, and with their being so many in Jefferson City, it seems we always have trouble deciding where to go.

This particular night, we decided to hit up Ecco Lounge since we haven’t been there since December.

Ecco Lounge has been around Jefferson City for years and years and years. It’s located at the corner of Dunklin and Jefferson St.

Just a little background

Just a little background

I’ve told you before that we are really big into atmosphere. You can serve me good food but if the atmosphere is blah, I’m not going to be real apt to return.

Ecco Lounge definitely has the atmosphere that we so crave when choosing a hot spot for dinner. The bar area has the feel of being stuck in the old days without actually being that dated. The lights are set on dim to give the feeling of being tucked away in the corner booth.

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The place was pretty packed that night so we kind of got tossed toward the back. The back doesn’t provide as high quality atmosphere as this bar area here so try to squeeze in near here if you’re an atmosphere gal like myself.

The prices are reasonable and the menu offers a lot of options.

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The Hubbs had the fried shrimp, which was super yummy.

See? We nearly had the entire plate devoured before I could even get a pic in.

See? We nearly had the entire plate devoured before I could even get a pic in.

I had the prime rib. It was less than desirable but I’m not a prime rib gal. I just wanted a steak.

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We had both picked something off the menu to order, but when we placed our order, the waitress told us that their grill was down so all we could have are things that were fried or the prime rib. I was in the mood for steak so I had the prime rib. I was pretty disappointed in this, especially since they didn’t tell us about this upfront, but every other time I’ve been here, the food is delish so please don’t judge by this one bad trip.

The Ecco Lounge is a bar/restaurant and a totally acceptable place to take the little ones.

O sucked the ketchup off all of her fries.

O sucked the ketchup off all of her fries.

 

Hit me up with suggestions about restaurants to try out with great atmospheres!

Pan, The Gravel-Roadin’ Guru

 

 

I had the best weekend

It’s not too often that a weekend comes where I have no obligations to anyone but myself, the hubbs, and Sweet Baby O. This weekend just so happened to be one of them. I had the best time.

Friday, I took O to the Zoo for the very first time!

What a pretty kitty.

What a pretty kitty.

Yes, Mr. Orangutan, Olivia is the cutest.

Yes, Mr. Orangutan, Olivia is the cutest.

 

We took the boat out for it’s maiden voyage this year.

Reunited and it feels so good!

Reunited and it feels so good!

Letting my piggies soak up the sun.

Letting my piggies soak up the sun.

 

On Saturday night, we had a BBQ and Robby and the guys provided fire-side LIVE music.

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Today, we went to YoYums in Downtown Jeff City for frozen yogurt. And yes, it was Yogurt Yummy!

Oh yogurt shop, why are we just now meeting?

Oh yogurt shop, why are we just now meeting?

Dutch chocolate and country vanilla swirled with tiny chocolate chips and m&ms. Delish.

Dutch chocolate and country vanilla swirled with tiny chocolate chips and m&ms. Delish.

And to top it all off, we took Olivia to a little creek near Hartsburg to cool off from this super hot, humid day.

That chilly creek water didn't bother O in the least!

That chilly creek water didn’t bother O in the least!

This is what I call quality family time.

This is what I call quality family time.

 

 

 

 

Biking the Katy: From Jeff City to Hartsburg

When I was a young lass, the Katy Trail wasn’t nearly as popular or highly regarded as it is now. As a matter of fact, it’s so “new” that in 2010, they just celebrated the 20th anniversary of the trail. The trail system is made up of the old railway byways, and now is used strictly for recreation by Missourians all year ’round.

Which way? Which way?

Which way? Which way?

Up to this point, I really haven’t spent much time exploring the Katy Trail. In high school, Coach Branham pushed me to run miles and miles on that thing every night after school for track practice. I was the only female long distance runner so I spent many lonely miles on the trail. Long miles. By myself. All by myself.

As I’ve grown older, my friends and colleagues of outdoor enjoyment have told me many-a-story about biking from Jefferson City to Hartsburg. This was always amazing to me, as it seems like such a long way to bicycle. I know when the Hartsburg Winery was down there (RIP. You will never be forgotten), people would stop for a glass of the good stuff before heading back to the capital city.

Several years ago, before I was a Mommy, Robby, myself and some friends took advantage of a nice, spring day and made plans to bike from Jeff City to Hartsburg. This DID NOT HAPPEN. Well, for me it didn’t happen. The April winds were so full of ridiculousness that day that it took all I had just to make it maybe halfway there. Part of the group did make it all the way and caught up with us on the way back but I tell ya I just don’t know how in the world they did it.

A couple weeks ago, when God teased us with that delightful ball of fire in the sky, Robby, Baby O, and I went for a bike ride. We got on at the trailhead in Jeff City and just started biking. I’m happy to announce that I BIKED ALL THE WAY FROM JEFFERSON CITY TO HARTSBURG! Woohoo. Go me!

"Oh sweet Jesus, I made it!"

“Oh sweet Jesus, I made it!”

 

It really did give me a feeling of accomplishment. It’s not that long of a bike ride (20.8 miles roundtrip to be exact) but I felt so proud of myself. All these years of hearing people who biked the Katy from Jeff to Hartsburg and I’d never been able to say that “I did”. But now I can.

The ride was enjoyable and was a good distance to get exercise but not too long that your toosh has worn out. We did take that sweet little Olivia but she didn’t get bored or cranky during the ride. She actually even got a little shut eye.

So happy to be outside!

So happy to be outside!

Father and Daughter. My heart-stealers.

Father and Daughter. My heart-stealers.

Bring your water-the only place to get refreshed in between is the Claysville Store. If you’re a lady and you’re traveling alone, I hate to tell ya this but you really should bring your pepperspray. I remember a story of a woman that got kidnapped (or something along those lines) when she was jogging by herself years ago.

There’s a nice little restroom facility when you get to Hartsburg and Dotty’s Cafe offers free refills for your water bottles. How nice, huh?

Not too shabby.

Not too shabby.

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What’s your favorite section of the Katy?

Pan, The Gravel-Roadin’ Guru

The Old Brick House Deli: A Jefferson City Tradition

In the middle of this dreary day off work (yes, I still have that stinkin’ day job), I put aside the cleaning and laundry (it was so hard to do too, I tell ya) to go have lunch with my mom.

On the days that I’m not out making the money, I’m at home with Baby O. That being said, those Mommies out there already know that I don’t get out for lunch much. Who wants to juggle a cranky tot while you’re trying to relax and enjoy a nice lunch?

Most days, not me. Today, however, I knew Mom would be in town and so I invited her out for lunch. I had the choice of restaurants and trying to steer clear from the chains such as Applebee’s and Longhorn’s, I picked The Old Brick House Deli.

Located just off Edgewood Dr (right down the street from the massive JCMG building), this deli-ry is housed in……wait for it….. an old brick house.

It’s a cute house. Nothing special about it really. But it seems to be a Jeff City tradition. They’re only open during the week which is a bummer but they are open for both breakfast and lunch.

Years ago I frequently visited the deli for lunch. I haven’t been there in probably 7 years but it hadn’t changed. The order line was long but service is quick so we had our food and a seat within 10 minutes.

Mom had the house salad and sandwich. The salad was delish. I actually finished off half of that for her. I had the chicken salad sandwich with chili. The chili was pretty good although nothing to blow your mind away but the sandwich was really quite tasty.

I’ve told you before and I’ll tell you again that I’m an atmosphere kind of gal and this place has what I like. It’s “cute”, quaint, pretty quiet, and different from the rest.

They “had me at hello” when I was ordering and they asked if I would like a plate of cheese and crackers for Olivia. Seriously? No restaurant has ever bothered to try and accomodate Baby O. Kudos to you Brick House Deli!

There’s also a patio out back for those warm, beautiful days that are hopefully coming soon!

Claysville Store: Claysville, MO

This past weekend, the Hubbs, Olivia, and I made good use of such a beautiful day and went biking along the Katy Trail. I had so many things that needed to be done around the house but who can do chores when we had a 70 degree, sunshiny day after the months of dreary, miserable, Missouri winter weather!

We set off from the Jefferson City trailhead. Between Jefferson City and Hartsburg, there is a town called Claysville. No. No. No. Scratch that. Between Jefferson City and Hartsburg, there is a place called Claysville. Wait. That’s not right either. Between Jefferson City and Hartsburg, there is a place that used to be a town called Claysville. Now, there’s just a restaurant that they call a store. Claysville Store to be exact.

It’s not much to look at from the outside. But lest we forget, looks can be deceiving. It’s actually a quaint and clean little restaurant inside. Hardwood floors and murals on the walls. But we opted to sit outside and soak up every last ray of sunshine we could get.

Between Jefferson City and Hartsburg, just off of Highway 63, there is a road called Claysville Rd. Surprising, I know, but this is the road to take to get to this little hidden gem.

Hidden gem, you say? Well, apparently so. When we got there, it was pretty late in the afternoon. Store staff asked if we had reservations. I thought they must be joking but actually they were quite serious. It seems that the store is so popular with the locals that reservations must be made for their lunch service.

And their fried chicken did smell pretty good. Really good actually. I think Robby’s mouth was salivating as we were talking about it. There was a plaque on the wall giving them accalaides for the “best fried chicken” by Rural Missouri. That’s good for something right?

We steered clear of the chicken but did indulge in some good southern sweet tea, served from a mason jar of course (Robby’s fav) and dessert (my fav).

I had the cheesecake. I love cheesecake. In any form it’s made. I. will. eat. it. all. Mmmm…..

Hubbs had the ice cream with chocolate sauce.

And of course Olivia Grace had some of it all!

So, if you’re going to stop in for lunch, make sure you’ve made your reservations. If you get there later in the afternoon, you’ll find some of the older folks still milling about, but there’s plenty of room for you too.

Their list of desserts went something like this: blackberry cobbler, peach cobbler, banana cream pie, chocolate cream pie, banana chocolate cream pie, ice cream, cheesecake, and cherry cheesecake.

And let’s get real, folks. If you can’t find a dessert on that list you don’t like…….Well, you draw your own conclusions.

It’s a cute little place to stop by for lunch or dessert. They’re only open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

But remember when I warned you about the exterior?

It’s a little like Deliverance. But don’t let that scare you off.

I’m hoping you got to enjoy the outdoors as well. Tell me, what did you and yours do this weekend?

Pan, The Gravel-Roadin’ Guru

Unknown Landmark: Missouri Route K outside of Hermann, MO

Roadtrips. That’s where this whole thing started. Gravel-roadin’ and hitting the roads. I can’t remember exactly when I started or exactly why I fell in love but over the years, I’ve enjoyed more gravel-roadin’ adventures than I can remember.

Several years back, I was in a funk. I had just went through a break up and felt a little blue. One Saturday morning, I was showering and had an overwhelming urge to just get out.

I hopped in my car, ready for some high quality alone time. There was nothing on the agenda. No map in the car. Simply me and the roads.

I have always enjoyed Hermann and headed down that direction. The beauty in the river, the majesty in the hills, it all hits me in just the right place. Somewhere along the trip, I ended up traveling along Missouri Route K, located just off Highway 19 just north of Hermann.

I came across the most amazing building set back in a field just off Route K.

Not what you were expecting?

There’s something you should know about me. I’m fascinated with old buildings. Old, dilapitated, worn down, withered away buildings. There’s so much history and so many stories hidden in walls just like these. Old houses strike me with intrigue.

In fact, I was so amazed by this old structure that years later, I drove Robby right back here so he could take it all in too. He’s a bit of an old house nerd-o like me!

I can’t figure out what this particular building is. It’s obviously old. It looks kind of like a house but to me, it seems, it’s a pretty fancy setup for a house that old. Generally speaking, houses of this era were simple and square. It doesn’t look like a church either. Hmmm…..

If you know what it is, have seen it before, or know who I can go to and figure out this puzzle I’ve been pondering all these years, let me know.

I would have liked to take a closer look but the “No Trespassing” signs made me think better of it.

Is anyone else an old structure junky like me??

Float Trips & Camping ~MO River Style~

 

I’m not finished telling you about my Colorado vacation. I still have things to cover like skiing atop the most gorgeous mountain and of course, driving through the arm pit of the US. AKA: Kansas. Ugh.
But today my Missouri friends, I am going to divulge some Missouri stuff. Float trips and camping. What’s more Missouri than that?

The float trip I’m going to tell you about is not the kind you are thinking of. You know, the Current River (or Bennett Springs or Meramac, whichever region you’re in), drinking all day, jello shots, TONS of rafts and canoes that are all just floating lifelessly by mid-afternoon.

No, no. Now, I’ve been on my fair share of those but the float trip we went on last summer was one of the more laid back style. Robby and I had just bought our pontoon. My friend, Danielle, and her boyfriend, Matt, came along on their fishing boat (it’s a bit of a stretch to say just “fishing boat”. Matt’s boat is fairly massive for a “fishing boat”), two other couples, Lindsey & Jon, Amber & Jesse came along too.

We met up at the Mokane River Access to the Missouri. If you’ve never put in here, know that it can sometimes be a little tricky. The annual juggin’ tournament had just finished so fisherman were still lingering about telling all the tales of the morning. Matt & Danielle (well, Matt really) won 1st place so kudos to him. He was in fish-heaven all day.

We set out with no real plan. Our boat was completely loaded down with coolers galore, tents, fold-up chairs, bags, and probably tons of crap that we really didn’t need but I have some friends who tend to come overprepared. Ahem. Amber…..

Anyways, I don’t know what I had in mind. Our plans had changed to camping on the riverbank, to this, and then back to something else.

What we ended up with was perfect. We floated and boated (Haha. I’m a poet and didn’t know it!) all afternoon. Drinking cold brewskies and soaking up the intense Missouri summer sun. We talked and laughed. We listened to music. We laid there. And did nothing. For hours. And it was great.

 

I adore these gals! Besties for the longest time.

Being a parent is the most wonderful thing God ever did for my life but it’s also the most stressful. I hate being away from Olivia but it’s also good for my soul. It’s good to just go be “Amanda” and listen completely and just be. I enjoyed this trip so much that I’m certain we’re going to have to go again this year.

We actually went towards the end of summer, with Autumn on the horizon and the leaves were beginning to turn. This is one of the most beautiful times to spend on the rivers. The bluffsides are blazing with all the bright colors of this time. Robby has always said that when he lived on the Osage River, the fall was always the best.

 

Heaven, I tell ya. Pure Heaven.

The river was so low last year that there were plenty of sandbars to choose from. This one was just perfect as it was kind of blocked off from the main waterway of the Missouri.

 

Do not judge. I promise we picked it all up. Promise.

 

Setting up shop. I mean, camp. Setting up camp.

Like the 30 year olds that we are, we all passed out at a reasonable time and were up at a reasonable time. The perfect time to enjoy the stillness of the water and air. The time before life begins. We made breakfast. We sat there, none of us in a hurry to get back to “regular life”.

As much as our boat needs a full river, I did so enjoy having this huge sandbar all to ourselves. I’m hoping to have another such trip this coming year. As these winter days drag on and on (yeah, nothing but 20s and 30s for the next week!), I keep these thoughts in my soul and dream of the warmer days to come.

What was your best float trip? What are you looking forward to this summer?

Keep your chin up, folks. Spring is here and the winter days will be gone before we know it! (That’s what Robby keeps reassuring me anyway)

Pan

Finding Beauty Amongst the Dead ~ Missouri Waterways~

Let’s face it. Missouri isn’t very picturesque during the winter. I look outside and all I see is death. Death of the grass. Death of the trees. Death of all my beautiful flowers.

Death. Death. Death.

See? Death.

Therefore, I went in search of the one thing that I can always count on to be beautiful to me. The one thing that is mostly unchanging no matter what season it may be.

Water.

Plain and simple. Water. Rivers. Ponds. Lakes. Streams. It doesn’t matter what form it comes in but living in Central Missouri, we are definitely blessed to be surrounded by some awesome waterways.

I think my high regard of water began when I had first moved to the Lake of the Ozarks. I was in my early 20s and didn’t even live on the water but anywhere I drove, I was always alongside the lake. And I absolutely loved it. There’s a feeling of calmness and peace I get just from a quick glance of the rivers or lakes in our area.

I’m thankful that I married a man that has this same (maybe a little bizarre) adherence to the water. Robby has owned a boat since I’ve known him and all of our time together, both here and our short stent in Nashville, we enjoyed much time together on the rivers.

My poor child was out of milk yesterday and even though she’s coming up on 1 1/2 years old (I swear I don’t know how time has flown by so fast), she still insists on a bottle of milk for nap time. Since I was out, I thought a drive would do us both good. She slept and Mommy went in search of “beauty”.

 

This access to the Moreau River is located on Buffalo Rd just off Highway 54

 

Boat ramp at Honey Creek access: I would recommend only using a boat with a jet prop.
Moreau River: great for kayaking.

 

Gravel-Roadin’: It’s what I do!

 

Moreau River Access just off Highway 50 right outside of Jeff City.

 

Aw schucks, Missouri Department of Conservation. You’re no fun. No fun at all.

 

Robby almost lost our truck in this very spot. But, that’s a story for another day.

 

Old railroad bridge above the Moreau just off Algoa Rd

 

I know this is a terrible picture but there was a truck coming behind me as I was stopped in the middle of the road just to take this shot. I had no time for adjustments.

 

Mari-Osa Access: just off highway 50 outside of Jeff City accessing the Osage River and Maries River

 

 

The Osage River: my favorite. I could sit and stare at this view all day long.

I am definitely ready to get the boat out now. I can feel the breeze in my sun-soaked hair now!