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they paved the road to sutton’s bluff

This week found Harry, Dad, myself and Oni making a brief Ozarks excursion. We delayed a day to have an extra one to prepare and severe weather had been threatening and left on Tuesday. We set out around 9:30 and had an enjoyable drive down. The Black Eyed Susan was striking and it was nice to get out into the woods. Going gluten free and wanting shade for the dog kept us out of restaurants and it made me nostalgic for road trips past when we had made sandwiches on the road because we couldn’t afford to eat in restaurants. In 94 I had helped organize a summer long volunteer/protest/environmental education/camp out. We were a roving band of 8-60+ folks who met and did projects and hung out and camped and gave workshops and talked to locals. We worked on trails, repaired a dam, dumped saw dust at a national forest office, publicly threatened to disrupt an ATV race, got death threats, and were almost set up for a marijuana cultivation case we did not commit by a crooked sheriff in a small town. All in all it was a grand old time camping and hiking in beautiful country, learning about the natural world and how to live together and make it better.  A lot of skinny dipping and a lot of driving. One of the places we liked to go was Sutton’s Bluff and I planned to check it out/camp near it and check out some tourist sites I gave short shift to back in the day, namely the recently re-opened Johnson’s Shut Ins.

We had a little trouble finding our road as forest service 2233 was being paved and was renamed county rd 917. We drove up it a few miles weaving around the paving crew then traveled down a forest service road for a couple of miles until we found an established camp site at a trail head for the Ozark Trail. It was a pretty site with some clearing, lots of shade, and some black eyed susans. We pitched our tents then drove to the shut ins but we didn’t have a lot of time and we were tired and the visitor center was closed so we never figured out how it worked.

Camp was nice though, made spaghetti and we had a smoky fire to keep away insects. Got up early made coffee. Thought our Kaldis Bolivian in the French Press quite likely the best cup of coffee in Reynolds County. Hiked the OT up from camp, nice. Found some fresh boar scat which i thought i had heard them snuffleupagussing in the night.

We headed out and drove up to Taumsauk and climbed the tower. Oni was game for it even though she wasn’t quite as tall as the step, but she climbed it like a champ. Beautiful 360 view. We also checked out an overlook than headed down to Elephant Rocks. I’ve seen bigger rock fields but it was cool for the Midwest, getting to scramble around on boulders. We checked out the ruins of an old engine house made of the granite pieces. I learned about Reg Granite which can can come from Missouri and Dad talked about how granite got going (black granite first used as ship ballast to even out loads until they had a surplus and decided to slice em up and sell them) and how they work it (1/4 mile long wires to give it time to cool). Elephant Rocks are the world’s preeminent place to see weathered red granite and it was pretty cool. There were some cliffs you could jump off into a quarry but i wasn’t quite hot enough and wanted to get back to dad and oni.

We then went to Johnson’s Shut Ins which were very cool and Harry and I slid/scrambled our way through that. Rock climbing in a waterfall, just a lot of fun in the water. Went back to camp and cooked again, i made an apple and ham wild rice dish that was impressive let alone for camp food.

Today we packed up, did out OT hike and cruised back. Caught a diner for lunch on the way home, they did a nice hamburger steak and we all made it home happy. Oni enjoyed camping, just thrilled to be living outside and loved the off leash hiking.

Today back in time to mow the front yard and get cleaned up for Batterer’s Group. The guys were rockin’ and we graduated a cool dude, biker type who teared up when I praised his progress. life is good, vacation is fun even when you’re working. Harry and I are both excited to be seeing mewithoutyou tomorrow night in Springfield. I remembered when I was hoping to leave work an hour early to make the show on time and now i’ve had all week off. Surely god works in mysterious ways.

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