Sunday, August 30, 2015

Tour of Missouri: Elephant Rock State Park

The last week before school started we packed up our camper and headed out on a long road trip to explore the southeastern part of Missouri. After spending four days at Montauk State Park we moved further east to Johnson Shut-In's State Park.

We were so lucky to have shared this vacation with some great friends and family members. The Husband's father joined us on the first leg for fly fishing. One of my work friends and her family joined us at Johnson Shut-In's. We were not the only one's who had family join us, our camping buddy's  mom and husband also joined us. In the end, we had a group of fourteen people for parts of our Johnson Shut-In's stay.

After a hot dog cookout on our first night in Johnson Shut-Ins we were ready to gather  by the campfire to enjoy some adult beverages and a few laughs while the kids "tore up" the campground on their scooters. Apparently our space and group looked so inviting that a venomous copperhead snake decided to pay us a visit.Thankfully a park ranger stopped by just in time and diverted the snake away from our party. As our gathering, well I can say nothing like a venomous snake to send everyone  inside for an early bedtime!

Our first full day on the eastern side of the state, we traveled twenty minutes north of Johnson Shut-In's to visit Elephant Rock State Park.

If I learned anything while visiting the state parks during our vacation, these geological features have been in the making for thousands of years. They are volcanic rocks what have been eroded over time by wind and water. What remains are giant red granite boulders the size of elephants that dominate this state park.

Many of the rocks show evidence of previous mining; miners from a long ago carved their names into many of the large boulders and they are still visible.

A paved walking path winds throughout the park, so that made hiking enjoyable for all of us. However, once we gave the kids permission to climb the rocks, we had a hard time keeping them on the trail!

We hiked to the quarry. We hiked to the ruins of an old engine repair house. Train tracks still run into it.   There is no camping at this state park, it is a day use park only. There are numerous picnic tables at the entrance to the park which we made use of for a picnic lunch.

After lunch, we hiked a bit more. Explored some more. Generally just took advantage of a mild-temperature, overcast day. I often ask my kids at the end of the day or the end of a weekend, or even the end of a vacation one simple question, "What was your favorite thing?"  The Boy has continued to tell me that this day, this park, this adventure was his favorite thing.

Hopefully all the kids...and...even the grown-ups walked away with some new memories. Given that the composition of our family has shifted since we returned from this trip aand we are now sprinkled over two states and a few hundred miles, my favorite park is that we got to spend one last week together before we branched into different directions.

Thanks for sharing this installment of our vacation! Yes, I have more so stay tuned.

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