Last Christmas we decided to celebrate Christmas in July with a family vacation to the beautiful Missouri Ozarks on one of the many Scenic Missouri Riverways.
The area we chose, Steelville, is only an hour and 1/2 from our house.
Three rivers, the Courtois (court ah way), Huzzah, and Meramec all run into each other at some point. It is the perfect recipe for a wonderful float. And that is what we gave our kids and grandkids for Christmas last year – three days and two nights in the Ozarks with a one day float on the river.
We chose the cabin, which was touted to be large enough to sleep 20, sight unseen. We had seen their cozy cabins that sleep four to eight and they are really nice, so we felt comfortable booking the “lodge” cabin. You know, sometimes you just have to take your chances… Imagine how our hearts stopped when we followed the directions and when we got to the spot this is what we saw. (Ok, so I’m kidding…)
That’s right, the directions say the cabin is on the left – not the right!The shack in the picture above really was right across the road from the cabin we rented. And someone really lives there!
The inside was rustic with heavy furniture that even my grandkids couldn’t destroy! Since it is the middle of summer, we didn’t exactly need the fireplace, but I can imagine it would be nice in the fall.
Off of this nice open great room was four bedrooms and two full baths. Each bedroom had either two Queen size beds in it, or a Queen size bed and queen size sleeper sofa. That is in addition to the two sleeper sofas in the great room. They weren’t kidding when they said they could sleep 20.
There was a large yard that bordered on the horse trails. The kids had a great time playing ball and all sorts of other games.
Anna just turned 7 and Allan will turn 7 in a few months. These two sweeties are inseparable.
We spent a lot of time around the fire pit the first night we were there, roasting hotdogs and marshmallows…
… and of course making smores!
At dusk the horses, tired out from trail riding, came to visit us.
Reagan wasn’t too sure about our friendly white stallion here…
We tried to tell scary stories around the campfire but somehow they just didn’t go over too great. I think modern day video games and movies have relegated scary campfire stories to “lame” status. They don’t know what they are missing… step by step, inch by inch, slowly he turned… oh well!
… and just spending time together. The topic of the night was the weather for the next day. According to the weather forecaster thunderstorms was supposed to blow through sometime after midnight. Once they moved through it was supposed to be fair skies and gorgeous for a float trip. Would he be right for a change?About 4:00 in the morning I woke to thunder crashing and lightening flashing. All I could think was, “this is good – the storms will move on through in time for a sunny start to the day.
Austin & James (both 4) didn’t plan this fashion statement. Tessa and Julie, coming from the same gene pool, bought them the same swimming trunks. They certainly seem to be planning on sunshine. But a look outside told an entirely different story. It was raining off and on and no sun was doing its thing at all. but the show goes on.
The big yellow school bus picked us up at our cabin door during a break in the rain showers (good omen here – right?)
Here we are all (yes, everyone on this bus is part of our clan) ready to go – being as optimistic as possible and telling ourselves it doesn’t matter – no matter what, we are going to get wet. Fortunately the thunder and lightening did move on during the night and it was just raining. So – the show goes on!
Just as we pulled into the put in point of the river the skies opened up. I took this picture through the bus window. The bus driver was kind enough to let us sit on the bus and not turn us out right away. As he put it, “it all pays the same, whether I sit here or go get another load”.
We didn’t sit more than five minutes when the sun gods decided to shine down on us. You heard me right – the sun!
When we first looked at the rafts I had rented (only two of them) we were a little worried. According to the brochures 10 of us was supposed to fit in each raft. Did they take into account coolers, towel bags AND people? We were going to soon find out!
Well I’ll be darned. We do all fit – and with room to spare.
… walking and talking…
… having an occasional “poor me” moment…
…having more water gun fights…
… eating and drinking, and drinking and eating, and drinking and… well you know…
… showing off our many talents…
… just swimming around..
… and enjoying the beautiful scenery
The only thing that even remotely marred this family get away was the many others, most of them drunk, who shared the water ways with us. Fortunately there was enough space that, with the exception of a few areas, you could either speed up or slow down and steer clear of them. The grotesque and lewd behavior of many of these young people isn’t something I wanted my grandkids exposed to, but it is what it is. Hopefully our efforts in turning it into a lesson of what not to do was successful. We have vowed to avoid the Saturday crowd next year.
Back at the lodge, although tired (but fortunately not sun burnt) we ate pizza, blew bubbles, took baths and showers, and went to bed.
This was a wonderful chance for my family to spend time together and bond. It is something my grandkids will remember for the rest of their lives (even the drunks, unfortunately). They will talk about the camp fires, ball games, smores, horses, grandma and grandpa snoring in the next room, the scary rain, the water gun fights, and stuff that I don’t even know about.
If there is a way to do something as a family, even when your family is way too big – do it. You’ll never be sorry you did. Before this we used to go camping at Alley Springs, which is also on a beautiful Missouri scenic river way – The Jack Fork River. Alley Springs is our own family tradition, but unfortunately it is almost 4 hours away. We’ve found a get away closer to home makes more sense.
There are many inexpensive things you can do as a family. We’ve talked about having the kids pitch tents at our place and if we couldn’t have afforded our weekend of paradise on the Meramec/Huzzah, that is exactly what we would have done.