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.
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.
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.
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.