Day 6

Something ate me alive last night or sometime yesterday. I woke with itchy bug bites all over my legs. Rachel told me i had to hurry and get ready because we were on the verge of leaving for our canoe trip. No one gave Pat the memo. She was out tending to her garden and after my rush to get ready, I had to wait around for about an hour.

We went to a place called Jacks Fork to rent canoes at this rental place/convience store. Boy... it smelled terrible. Those folks were no recreational smokers. They were pros. They did, however, have a few hummingbird feeders out front and Rachel counted 10+ birds out there at once.

They loaded up our canoe and we got in their truck to go up river. On my way in I smashed my knee on the door jamb. Man, did it hurt! I felt nauseous for a spell, but did my best to suck it up. Our driver was a young man and avid outdoorsman. He explained that the reason a lot of the trees were fallen was due to a recent tornado. He also answered Rachel's questions about bears and wild cats. It turns out he shot a mountain lion that was 7' long, not including the tail! Ah, my first country yarn (in MO, anyhow). He also told us it was illegal to have done so, and that they were beautiful creatures. The concept of finding an animal beautiful, then killing it is not one i really understand.

The canoe ride was fun and beautiful and wasn't anything like "Deliverance" would have you believe. We saw lots of different kinds and sizes of fish, we saw soft shell and regular turtles, and luckily we didn't see any snakes. We stopped and swam for a little while when we found a spot deep enough.

We had the place to ourselves for the most part, but eventually we caught up to a family that was having a good-ol-time, but being loud and scaring off all the wildlife before Rachel and I could get to it. When we finally got around them, we were basically at the end of the ride.

(me, Pat, and Joy, Alley Springs)

Joy and Pat met us at the canoe drop off point and took us to Alley Springs for a picnic. It too was beautiful and peaceful. Joy gave me a history lesson on the place, which i found fascinating. Well, i should clarify... a recent history. Mostly about the place during his lifetime. How it went from a state park to a national park and underwent many changes. Most of which he seemed unhappy about. I thought it was funny that while it was a state park, or at least before it fell into national hands, there was a still on the property and you could buy moonshine.

(Alley Springs)

(some caves by Alley Springs)

After lunch we went to the mill and got a brief tour of the facilities. The people there were nice enough to fire up the mill for us, even though it wasn't a scheduled time. Rachel bought a book on pioneers while we were there, and i saw my first muskrat!

(The mill)

(detail of a wall of the mill)

Pat and Joy gave me an impromptu lesson on how to identify poison ivy. I wondered why they chose to do it now, on day 6, and not before. Then Rachel informed me I had just walked through some. OOPS! [as i'm writing this Rachel tells me i need to get in the shower immediately and spray my legs with hot water to get off the poison. My legs are pretty sunburnt from the canoe ride... this is going to be fun.]

There was an old 1 room schoolhouse on the lot and Rachel and I wanted to look in it, but a nasty bunch of wasps had taken up residence in a knot hole right next to the front door. We decided we didn't need to see it that badly.

We stopped by the restored "general store", which was a museum and gift shop. They had a sign outside advertising old-time candy and sodas. Unfortunately the sodas were just over priced Sioux City brand, so i didn't get any. Rachel bought some salt water taffy and a stick of cherry hard candy.

(Big Springs)

Those of us not driving napped on the way to our next stop, Big Springs, which made it a quick trip. Big Springs was much like Alley Springs, only without the mill. And they had lots of tourists with little dogs.

(the fearsome Cave Rachel)

(fern+rock, Big Springs)

Rachel and I hiked the trail going around the spring and saw a little cave that was big enough to get in, and not deep enough to hide any wild animals. We each crawled in for a look around. Joy and Pat met us at the other end of the trail to pick us up. While we were getting in the truck Joy pointed out some woodchucks... another first!

From there we thought we'd check out the park eatery, which was a nice looking cabin-style lodge. Pat determined through questioning the waitress that none of the food was made there, and it was all frozen. So we left and went to Hayden's.

Finally the infamous Hayden's! Hayden's is a converted ice/gas station that is now a 50's style diner that serves BBQ pork. Fortunately for me they also had hamburgers. Rachel insisted I get the "world famous" pink lemonade. It tasted like Smarties to me, which i'm not overly fond of. Rachel ordered a side of fried okra and she and Pat made me eat some against my wishes. The batter was good and the ranch dip was good, but the okra was not good. While this was going on Pat grilled me about when i was going to come around to liking vegetables. Veggies to me are a necessary evil. PROBABLY necessary, that is.

After dinner we took the long way home to see some of Poplar Bluff and then settled in for the night. While i was getting ready for a shave and shower, I realized the shaving cream was absent. I didn't have a shirt so i went as-is and asked Joy for some and he saw my tattoo. I guess Rachel got questioned pretty thoroughly about it. Poor girl!

Tick count: 0
Vocab: Pallet - picnic blanket

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