Springfield – People, Food & Critters

Wowee!  We’ve been quite social for the past week and really enjoyed our stop in Springfield, Missouri.  Plenty of family visits, bonus time with an old friend and yes, critters.  Food goes along with the people, and I should also add noise to this stop.  Our campground was a regular planes, trains and automobiles adventure, but more on that later.

Are We Sure It’s Spring?!

Bad weather coming and going is all I can say.  We just thought the wind TO Springfield was bad until our bug-out day with 20-30 mph winds with up to 40 mph gusts.  Literally blowing us off the road and Pat looked like he was playing Mario Kart with the motorhome.  Add rain and the ominous clouds and we were glad to arrive to our next stop.  I will say that Missouri is lovely, but we have seen precious little of it in the sunshine.

Fantastic Caverns

Our big sight-seeing outing for this stop was to Fantastic Caverns.  We went with Pat’s sister Dee and her husband Kurt.  This stop provided a teensy bit of sunshine and some amazing views 120 feet below the surface.  The only way to see this place is on a guided jeep tour.  Fantastic is exactly the word!

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That first pic shows the jeep we’re riding in, second one is a magnificent formation and the 3rd one is for scale.  Check out our tour guide walking back to the jeep from the “twins” formation.  This place is truly staggering in size.  It was discovered back in 1862 by John Knox.  His hunting dog ran into the small opening and got lost.  John went in to look for the dog and realized that this was a huge place.  He kept it quiet during the Civil War so neither side could exploit it.  Since then, the large open “room” inside has been used as a speakeasy during Prohibition and was the location for weekly concerts in the 1960s.

Outside in the light of day, we took advantage of the sun peaking out and walked a short trail near the cave opening.

Kurt took our picture and then I took theirs.

The sibs have some fun.  Pat points out the lovely redbud tree and Dee attempts the big climb.  A little help please?

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How do you like our new rig?  Love the color, but it’s missing a few comforts that I must have – running water and a queen-sized bed to name a few.

Family Time

We had a great visit with Dee and Kurt who we haven’t seen in a few years.  We ate out of course, but Kurt made meatloaf for us one night.  That’s one thing we haven’t had since starting this expedition.  We also had a chance to grill out burgers on the last night and Jackson was invited over, too.  He loved having his own dog pack with their three dogs Taz, Sophie and Bo.

I tried to get the shot of all 4 of them at the fence barking at the neighbor’s dogs.  These pups don’t cooperate any better for photos than Jax.  Sophie gets her own cameo.  I called her our little chicken leg since she’s got cute spindly legs and a bit of a mohawk.

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Also a nod to Dee’s garden.  She has a Bleeding Heart plant.  So perfectly named.  I’d never seen anything like it before.  She also has rhubarb.  Pat is not a fan of the pink celery sticks, and flatly refuses to eat anything made with rhubarb.  I’ve never had it, but he’s not terribly picky, so I’m taking his scrunched up face as a sign I shouldn’t bother trying it.

It was also good that we were all over at their house the last night since there were tornado warnings and watches all over the area.  The campground looked to be in some purple spot on the radar, but their house was not so bad.  Jackson even had a couch to hide behind.

An Old Friend

Old friends are special.  They know things about your earlier years that newer friends just don’t.  Not that you couldn’t tell about earlier times, it’s just different if you were there.  Meeting up with my old high school/college buddy Cathy was a special bonus at this stop.  She saw the itinerary I posted earlier and told me she was merely a few miles from where we’d be.  So we hatched a plan and had the pleasure of meeting her husband, 3 kids, and her oldest’s girlfriend.  Pat, Dee & Kurt came along as my family band.  We had a great lunch at the Springfield Brew Company and chatted about old times.  She remembers mom and dad fondly and her dad was my high school cross-country coach.  I won’t say how long it’s been since we were freshman college roommates, but it has been 18 years since we saw each other last!

My New Moabs

We discovered the national headquarters for Bass Pro Shops here in Springfield and it is touted as the Grandaddy of them all.

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We had gift cards burning a hole in our pockets and I needed new hiking shoes.  I’m the proud owner of waterproof Merrell Moabs (Mother of all boots).  I’ll let you know how they hold up in Alaska.

More Food

Dee & Kurt also took us to a downtown institution in Springfield, Hurts Donuts.

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A really fun place with quite unique donuts.  I had a superb old-fashioned, but Pat sampled the oreo cheesecake donut and the Bart Simpson – covered in crushed Butterfingers.  Kurt had a key lime filled donut that looked like a green bulls-eye and Dee had a cheesecake donut as well.  The cereal killer donuts were covered in frosting and Captain crunch, cocoa puffs or fruit loops.  Almost spoiled our lunch!  And the funniest thing?  The restroom labels.  Ladies room – picture of a donut.  Men’s room – picture of an eclair.  I laughed and laughed.

We also sampled Andy’s custard since we were told we MUST!  Such a sacrifice for Pat to eat anything in the ice cream family.  Yum.

Pat & I also decided to try a diner on old Route 66.  Decided we needed some breakfast kicks.  We dined at Tubby’s Diner and hole in the wall doesn’t begin to describe the place.  But I will say, the portions were huge and I had the best eggs I believe I have ever had and I’m not really an egg fan.  Also, big nod to their special almond crusted french toast with raspberry drizzle.

Our other food outing was in search of a Panda Express fix for Pat.  He loves to eat there.  We googled up the closest location and found ourselves in the Missouri State Student Union.  We think we know why retirees often like to settle in college towns.  Such energy flowing from these kids!  We had a grand time eating amongst the co-eds and watching the buses come and go.

Noise, noise, noise!

I felt like the Grinch talking about Whoville on Christmas Day.  Noise, noise and more noise.  The KOA was really a superb campground with great amenities.  Super clean laundry room that I used more than once,  complete camp store with ice cream and beer.  The essentials, don’t you know.  Plus they bake pizza and deliver it right to your site.  What’s not to like?  Well, it is also right next to the train tracks.  I mean so close that you can read the graffiti on the rail cars!  Also, Springfield has a new airport.  I think we were in the flight path.  And if either of those things calmed down, I-44 was a mere few miles away with semis galore.  When new people arrived and paused at the laying on of the train horn, we just laughed.  Wait until the wee hours of the night.

But, our front window looked out on a green grassy area for tent campers.  No tent campers just now, but plenty of frolicking bunnies each morning.  Loved that with my coffee.  There was a skunk staring us down as we came back in the car one night, too.  Made us a little skittish taking Jackson out after dark for the bedtime potty break.  Fortunately never saw that critter again.

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Happy Easter my friends!

Trail-Doggin’ It

Jackson got his walks in for this stop, too.  We found an Ozark Greenway Trail close to the campground and visited several days in a row.  Great paved trail, babbling brook, and spectacular blooming redbuds.  We also learned something along the way.

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Do you know what riparian means?  I didn’t so googled it up.  According to Merriam-Webster, “Riparian came to English from the same source that gave us “river” – the Latin riparius, a noun deriving from ripa, meaning “bank” or “shore.” First appearing in English in the 19th century, “riparian” refers to things that exist alongside a river (such as riparian wetlands, habitats, trees, etc.).”  So now I know and you do, too.  We’re definitely all about NOT mowing and fully support the mitigation!

That’s it for this stop.  Next up, more Missouri and baby horses!  See you on the way.

 

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