. . . I've been told that I write novels for email messages. Perhaps this is the way to go. I'll try to make each entry, or Gemstone, a "precious" one. On mediocre days, all I might be able to produce is a "semi-precious" entry. In any case, an entry might be a "neat" Gemstone--something that is uniquely mine.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Ozark Mountain Daredevils

Many years ago when I was young, I used to listen to all kinds of great music with my dad. Today I think of the band, “The Ozark Mountain Daredevils”. Anyone heard of them? I honestly cannot think of a song that they sang at this time (although my dad could probably hum a chorus and I’d remember immediately). What made me think of this 1970’s band (yes, I’m dating myself) is that my family of five plus my in-laws are off to become Ozark Mountain Daredevils ourselves. We’re off to Misery! Er, Ah, I mean Missouri (having to correct my 11-year-old on the pronunciation of the state we’re about to visit). We’re going to beat the heat and humidity with fun and adventure in the great Cave State, also known as the Show-Me state, entered into the union on August 10, 1821 as the 24th state. Home to such personalities as Walt Disney, Yogi Berra, T.S. Eliot, and Harry S. Truman (not to forget Mark Twain, of course).

Now when I found out that Missouri was our vacation destination about 6 months ago, I was not too sure I’d have a good time. After all, I only heard of negative things like heat, humidity, and lots of bugs, including those bugs that I have only heard of but have never seen before: chiggers and noseeums. (I made it worse by Googling “chiggers” and got even more freaked out from the photos and descriptions of the biting little freaks). But now, armed with bug spray, sunscreen, and a map to multiple cool dark caves, I’m ready to go! I should note here that it is only due to my in-law’s generosity that we are able to stay at their Time Share for free for the week. Did I mention that we’re staying smack dab in the middle of the state, about 3 hours west of St. Louis? No? Well we are going to be staying at Lake of the Ozarks, a many-fingered, 90-mile manmade lake that was made when engineers dammed up the Osage River in 1931. The Bagnell Dam is a 148 feet high concrete gravity dam and was built to generate hydroelectric power.
The Lake of the Ozarks is divided up into 4 regions
So Google and I became fast friends, yet again, as I typed in search words: “Lake of the Ozarks” and up popped a multitude of websites. The most informative was funlakevacationguide.com which provided a pdf of this summer’s vacation guide to download--a plethora of information, places to go, things to do, caves to explore.... I learned that the Lake of the Ozarks is at the edge of the Ozark Plateau that extends from southern Missouri and northern Arkansas (yes, Google helped me locate this forgotten state--it’s right below Missouri) and is nestled between the Missouri and Arkansas (just passed it here in the car!) rivers. The lake has more than 1,000 miles of meandering shoreline and based on a map, it reminds me of a fancy calligraphy-like “S”. I also learned that it is a perfect premier vacation spot for water skiers, speed boaters, jet-skiers, fishing, swimming, parasailing, and pretty much any other water sport that you can think up. Too bad we don’t participate in any water sports, coming from the dry state of New Mexico. “I only dog paddle” is the phrase that comes to mind, spoken from the eloquent Fezzik from one of my favorite movies of all time,  The Princess Bride.

One thing about Missouri really caught my attention when doing my research. I immediately perked up when I heard that one of it’s nicknames was “the Cave State”. Yes! It earns its name with more than 5,000 registered and mapped wild caves. For our family plus in-laws, there are three possible “developed” caves that we can tour: Jacob’s Cave, Bridal Cave, or the Ozark Caverns at Lake of the Ozarks State Park. This part of Missouri, the Ozark Plateau, is known for its karst topography, a geologic feature which is marked by subterranean system of caves, springs, fissures, and sinkholes within the limestone and dolomite rock of the plateau that originated in the Paleozoic seas of the Ordovician period 450 million years ago. I hope to be able to explore the many trails that wind in and out of the landscape at the state park mentioned above. And to top off our trip we plan to go visit the Gateway Arch in downtown St. Louis on our last day here.True Ozark Mountain Daredevils, if I do say so myself!

No comments: