John and I are waiting on some tires for our motorhome to come in from Kansas, otherwise we certainly would have been out of Missouri by now. This past week we have had a couple of nights where the temperatures dropped below freezing. It is time for us to head south, which we will do after we get our new wheels. We just heard that the tires have arrived and plan to have them installed tomorrow. Usually we make a trip over into Calhoun County of Illinois during late August or early September to pick up peaches and apples. So it did seem a bit strange for us to make a trip over there after the harvest season. We did not quite know what we were going to do when we got there, but figured that at least the drive over there and up the River Road should be enjoyable. Our first stop was in the small town of Elsah. It is hard to think of Elsah as once being a bustling river town of the nineteenth century. Farmers from the surrounding areas would come into town for their wheat to be milled and shipped out on either barges or on the two railroads which once served this town. There were also hotels, stores and restaurants. Speaking of the latter, many years ago we liked to visit Elsah just to eat at a certain restaurant/bakery ( it is not there anymore). They sure had some delicious pies! Now the town is just a bedroom community, with one inn as well as a couple of bed and breakfast establishments. Population is around 673 people. On Monday our first stop along the River Road was in Elsah. We started out thinking we would just take a look at the Methodist church, but then decided it would be interesting to take a closer look at some of the town's older homes Some of them date back to the time when the town was first established, which was 1856.
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
John and I have not been in Missouri this late into the fall season since we started traveling three years ago. The whole point of selling our home was to avoid spending any more time in cold weather. So we were a little leery about coming here this late in the season. It was our daughter's wedding in Florida which put us a bit off schedule and landed us in Missouri when it is starting to get cold. We have had some cool nights since arriving here, but we also have had some very warm days. And the fall colors have been stunning!
Sunday, October 14, 2012
In some respects the forest in this canyon is similar to what we saw Natural Bridge park. It is a very moist area with many moss-covered boulders and trees. Ferns and mushrooms as well as swamp-type trees are in abundance. The picture below should give you a good idea of the green environment of the canyon.
Saturday, October 13, 2012
From Florida our return home to Missouri has taken us through Georgia into Alabama. Wednesday evening we crossed over the border of Georgia into the town of Eufaula. As we drove through the town we saw many antebellum homes and one large Civil War Monument honoring the Confederacy. As our Triple A Tour Book notes: “the South does not get any deeper than Alabama”. Jefferson Davis’ birthday is still a holiday in Alabama. Wednesday evening we parked our home by Lake Eufaula. The lake was formed by the Walter F.George Lock and Dam on the Chattahoochee River. This was probably are last time for awhile to see moss-draped oaks.
We felt it would be interesting to break up our trip back to Missouri by stopping for a day in some area which we had never explored before. I noticed that in the northwestern corner of our road map there was a notation of a natural bridge. The town of Jasper is near that area so that determined our stop for Thursday evening. Friday we took a day off from traveling and took our little tow car out for some local sightseeing. Natural Bridge was our first stop of the day. It is the longest stone arch east of the Rockies. The sandstone arch spans 148 feet long and is 60 feet high.
The bridge was formed by an underwater river many years ago. Artesian water still flows through this area and it seems like water is flowing everywhere here, dripping off the rocks and flowing in little rivulets around the large rock formations The scenic forest reminded me of other rain forests which we have visited before, covered with lush foliage. There are 27 varieties of ferns here as well as a number of Canadian hemlocks dating to the Ice Age. Another ancient tree here is the large leaf magnolia. Looking up at the canopy of the forest I noticed that the large leaves of the magnolia seemed to dominate in the lofty heights of the forest. I mentioned the lushness of this forest, everything seems so green and grows so big- how about the caterpillar pictured below, he was very busy feeding on the green foliage growing on a rock wall. This is very much a Garden of Eden for plants and animals! There was no drought here this past summer!
Large sandstone formations, besides the Natural Bridge, provided an interesting walk through this forest. Coming into this park we met up with another couple who informed us that their next stop was Dismal Canyons. We were uncertain as to where our next destination was going to be, possibly the Sipsey Wilderness area of the Bankhead National Forest. However, they highly recommended the canyons which are not within the National Forest. Our next stop was Dismals Canyons - it was a good choice!
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
We took our son Mike to the Tampa Airport very early Monday morning. Consequently I was a bit tired and grumpy once we returned home. Maybe it was a bit of a let-down to have everyone gone and the wedding festivities over with. We called John's sister Carolyn to check out their plans for the day. She and her husband Jim were not returning to Missouri until Wednesday. As luck would have it, they missed their exit north after leaving the airport and were heading south on interstate 75 to Largo, Florida. I remembered that the botanical gardens were there so John suggested we meet up with Carolyn and Jim for lunch and go to the gardens from there. Suddenly getting outside and seeing more of Florida's natural beauty sounded like a wonderful idea to me! And Florida Botanical Gardens did not disappoint me at all. The gardens have a blend of Florida native plants as well as exotic ornamentals from around the world. Outside of the entry building for the garden is a native garden where we noticed a fig tree with fruit on it (pictured below). How unusual to see the figs growing coming out of the trunk!
Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Pre-wedding activities started on Thursday, two days before the wedding. The groom had arranged a boar hunt for the men. Stories of that hunt sounded quite horrible to me. Feral hog were rounded up and set loose on a ranch. Cur dogs were then sent out to find them up for spear wielding hunters. Spencer and four other men of the wedding party killed 5 boar. I know that our son Daniel and his cousin Adam had a great time! The meat of the boar has since been processed and is now sitting in Spencer's grandfather's freezer. I think what the women of the wedding party did was a bit more enjoyable. We took a luncheon cruise on the Calypso Queen, which sailed out of the harbor at Clearwater Beach. We were served a buffet lunch, the waiter kept us hydrated with rum punch and other drinks of our choosing. Members of the party were given an opportunity to steer the boat under the direction of the captain. We had a great relaxing time.
I am sorry that I have not kept up with this blog site during the past week. It has been a busy week with our daughter's wedding activities. We also have had many family and friends to catch up with, people who have come from a distance and whom we have not seen for some time. In my next post I will report on the wedding itself, which was this past Saturday. For right now I will only say that all went well and the happy couple are off now on their honeymoon. Last Tuesday we moved our unit from northern Florida to the Clearwater area. Our little tow car had picked up a nail in one of its tires so we needed to spend some time in a repair shop before moving on. We did not get out of the shop until early afternoon and once we hit highway 19 down the coast it was very slow going. Traffic was heavy and many stops lights also dashed any hopes we had of moving rapidly to our final destination, which was Palm Harbor. Palm Harbor, where our daughter's wedding was held, is a small town just outside of Clearwater. Both towns are on the west coast of Florida, on the Gulf of Mexico. In some ways it would be great to continue our stay here. We have loved seeing the lush blooming tropical plants and water birds seem to wander around everywhere.
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
After our experience Monday we should in the future try to avoid touring museums and parks on that day. Between rain showers and park closings some of our plans went awry. Our first stop was in the small town of Micanopy, the state's oldest inland town. In the early 1800s it was an Indian trading post and a peaceful place where settlers from New York built their homes and farms. Also living here were descendants of runaway slaves. In 1835 and 1836 Seminole Wars created a lot of destruction in the town and the town's name became Fort Defiance. Intentionally the U.S. army finally burned the fort, after first evacuating the people living there. In 1837 the town was rebuilt and its name restored. The town has kept many of its older buildings- now antique and curio shops occupy many of them.