The Animals Talked on Christmas Eve

Young or old, Christmas Eve is a magical time when dreams come true, well water turns to wine, and animals talk?  Never heard of animals talking on Christmas Eve?  Vance Randolph’s book Ozark Magic and Folklore, introduces us to several Ozark superstitions about Christmas Eve.  Vance writes: “A great many of the old-timers call December 25 ‘New Christmas’ in order to distinguish it from ‘Old Christmas,’ which falls on January 6. They tell me that in pioneer days nearly everybody celebrated Christmas twelve days later than they do now. Old folks say that elderberry always sprouts on the eve of Continue Reading →

Why do we Go Camping? and the Luxury of Mosquito Netting

When our children were much younger, my family would camp a dozen times each summer (I think we were within six of going to all of Missouri’s State Parks at one time). These were not primitive trips, but we didn’t have a satellite dish, a TV, or phone either. Great family times with lots of memories that we still talk about now that they are grown.  There were also times I wanted a more primitive trip, so I would grab my backpack and take off to one of the many state forest and conservation areas.  No electric, no worries, everything I Continue Reading →

The Elusive Morel Mushroom – Denizen of the Ozark Woods

Born in the light of the moon and raised in the deep hollers of the backwoods, these elusive creatures are the prized game of many hungry Ozarkians. But step lightly as you enter the woods in search of these fungi, those who claim to simply “pick” Morels mushrooms are naive.  These fungi we chase will not just sit there and wait for you.  Although lacking the traditional limbs of the bi-pedal human, these crafty mushrooms can dart under the leaves and be gone in a split second.  Make no mistake, this is a hunt. Although you may stumble across a Continue Reading →

Just Released – Born of the Ozarks

Born of the ozarks

Dawn – a faint light brightens the east. The whip-poor-will calls sleepily to his mate. In the distance a crow caws, and owls who –whoo as they slowly fly back to the old dead stub where they sleep away the daytime. A rain crow’s chuckle is heard and a cardinal high in a tree calls loudly to his mate. The light brightens – gold –rose – and lavender colors blend and spread across the sky. The plaintive call of the wood pewee is heard in the old hickory tree. Then a chorus of bird song fills the air. Robins, Continue Reading →

My Little Red Coleman Lantern

Other than my recliner, I do not know of anything I find as comfortable as the warm glow and quiet hiss of a Coleman Lantern.  When I think back, some of my best memories involve the warming glow of a Coleman lantern somewhere on the bank of the Gasconade River.  I remember the bugs buzzing round the lantern globe and the faint smell of lantern fuel as it burns off into the night. Other times I remember making campsites in the Mark Twain National Forest with little more than a tarp and a blanket.  The Coleman lantern was always my beacon Continue Reading →

The Cedar Tree – Missouri’s Next State Tree?

Driving down a two-lane byway South of Wasola, MO last week I noticed a cedar tree perched high up on a rocky ledge.  He looked to be balancing on one root and any sudden wind would have sent him toppling into the road and ditch below.  But, I don’t believe he will fall to his demise anytime soon, if ever.  It seems that cedar trees not only do well in those precarious situations, but they thrive. A staple of the Missouri scenery, I don’t think enough credit goes to this hardy Missourian.  As a matter of fact, I think Continue Reading →

Ha Ha Tonka – The Castle in the Ozarks

ha ha tonka

Where do you start when you talk about Ha Ha Tonka State Park? This park presents a real contrast, a man-made wonder like no other in Missouri, and a plethora of geological wonders. This area is probably the best example of karst topography (caves, sinkholes, etc.) in the state. The idea of building Ha Ha Tonka mansion was conceived in 1903 by Robert M. Snyder on a visit to the Ha Ha Tonka area.  He fell in love with the spectacular scenery and by 1905, he had purchased 3,500 acres of the surrounding area and began to hire stone Continue Reading →

Glade Top Trail – Missouri’s Fall Colors

Glade Top Trail Postcard

The air is turning crisp and it’s time to load up the “Family Truckster” and take off on the road to adventure.  One of the best Missouri destinations in the fall is The Mark Twain National Forest’s Glade Top Trail.  A member of the National Forest Scenic Byway system.  It was the first National Scenic Byway designated in Missouri.  The Glade Top Trail is one of only 51 National Scenic Byways in the nation.  Located just south of Ava, Missouri the trail extends through the Mark Twain National Forest, with a 25 mile stretch of it across the top of Continue Reading →