20210705 – Lower Meramec – Meramec Park to George Winter Park.
Charbonneau sent me a link for a Facebook Marketplace canoe listing. It wasn’t exactly what we were looking for BUT it was awesome. Totally awesome. Wenonah 16 foot Adirondak in Royalex. Very clean. Dressed as pretty as a picture with a Leinenkugel Lodge livery! This boat was probably a giveaway. I arranged to meet up with the seller. It was in great, like new condition. It’s an 2008 boat, but it was only paddled to church on Sundays.
So I bought it.
On Monday, we took it out for a routine expedition. I had researched a trip down the Missouri. St Charles to the Confluence. We drove down to St. Charles and the river was booming. Just came off flood stage in the last day or two. We passed and went to brunch. Found out later that the last takeout on the Missouri was closed due to flooding.
Conan was asked “what is good?” My answer… “To see your children driven before you and hear the lamentations.”
We had a perfect day to clean up storm damage. Friday it was 103 degrees. Today is was 72. In between, we lost the rest of the pear tree in the south field.
Last year, we lost about one third of it. This weekend, we lost the rest of it. It fell all the way down to the stump.
I loaded the saw in the truck and headed down. I made pear tree firewood for a couple of hours. I also cut a path into the woods. After dinner, Merryweather came out and pulled the tops inside the tree line. I stacked fire wood. We had a beverage.
After the sun set, we made a level line on the side of the house with lasers for a different project. Being a dad is awesome.
The Satur-Deluge Before
We were planning on dinner with Clark and Mrs. Clark. There was a big storm just north of the house. Mssrs and Mrs. Clark were wind bound. We had carry out that needed picked up. On the map, it looked like I could skirt the storm to the restaurant and pick up dinner. In reality, I drove into the storm and ended up parked on the curb of an empty building to avoid the sideways rain and hail.
On the way back, I damn near hydroplaned into the center divider on the highway. It was like the movie we had to watch in middle school. I just remember the hydroplaning and getting in trouble for laughing at the tear jerker after school movie.
Hail damage and a near death experience is a small price to pay for Pappy’s Barbecue. It’s still in my top 5. There is a location less than 15 minutes from my house.
The Sunday Before
I had rolled out the pool cover before the Satur-Deluge. It was filthy, but there was enough water on the cover to give it a good scrubbing. Mssrs and Mrs. Clark came over. The pool was used. We were heading out for dinner. We stopped and harassed Merryweather at his JOB. Our initial dinner plan was denied. We went to Salty’s Fresh Mex. instead. It was delicious.
My dad and I have been fishing my whole life. He has a great setup at his home. He lives about 15 minutes from Eagle Creek Resevoir. He can even take work calls from the Lake. He mentioned that he would like to go on a guided trip for Crappies at Lake of the Ozarks.
I did a little research. He picked out Terry Blankenship http://www.terryblankenship.com . Terry is a pro crappie guide on Lake of the Ozarks (LOTO). Terry has some amazing videos of his fishing and casting and fishing electronics. He was a great choice.
It’s not the size of the boat.
Eagle Creek is 1400 acres. LOTO is 53,996.8 acres. We covered a bunch of fishing holes south the 54 Bridge. Terry has an amazing boat with an array of electronics that would be suitable for hunting Russian Subs in the North Sea. Our first fishing boat had an LED light that spun around in a circle blinking that allegedly displayed how deep. Terry’s boat show the fishing lure dropping down, while using GPS Satellites hold the boat over a fishes mouth. Technology has gotten to the point you can drive the boat from shore with an iPhone. I am not kidding.
I am not exaggerating.
Boating technology has improved by leaps and bounds in all dimensions. Boat engines are more powerful and efficient. Batteries remain charged. Trolling Motors are so advanced that they will move the boat in the intended direction or stay in one spot. Boats lurching in a random direction was the height of trolling motor technology my entire life.
The secret weapon
We had brought some drinks and snacks for the trip. Terry broke out some leftover fried chicken his wife had packed. It was awesome. Crappie Fishing Fun Fact: Calories consumed on board a fishing boat are zero points and low in cholesterol.
Terry has also partnered with Jakked Baits to make jig heads that hold bait. I didn’t realize that losing bait was an issue until this trip. We were on fish the whole time. The bait was getting worked over but stayed attached. I am used to fishing with meal worms and getting robbed by blue gill all day long.
We rented a raft which is not as fast as a canoe or kayak or tortoise. It was a hot day, but the water moved. We also changed thing up in the trip nutrition department. Beer and Tobacco. It was an experience.
Meramec Caverns has been in my conscious basically my whole life. I may have been when I was a kid, but I don’t think that is true. Meramec Caverns is a Roadside attraction that I have been advertised at my whole life. Like Ruby Falls or Rock City or Ozarkland or House on the Rock or Corn Palace.
Unimaginable wonders that we could convince our parents to stop at on the way to somewhere more important. Neil Gaiman uses these places in his novel American Gods. I loved these places before I ever heard of Neil Gaiman, but I love them more as a background scenes for the American Gods story.
Mrs. Jon Bruce Entertainment and I were headed back from Eminence. I had actually stopped by Fugitive Beach near Rolla. I wanted to do a speed run through the biggest slides and things you can jump off. Turns out the highest jump is like 30 feet. It was $18 and you have to wear a lifejacket. It wasn’t a good fit for the time I had available. It is probably awesome. It wasn’t going to add to my resume. So I skipped it.
Running up 44, the perfect place to visit on a 90 degree day was on EVERY OTHER BILLBOARD for 1000 miles in every direction. Meramec Caverns. https://www.americascave.com/
60 degrees year around. Frank and Jesse James used it as a hideout. You exit through the gift shop.
This time of year they have tours every 30 minutes. You can book online. AND Thanks to GPS you can get in there a minute early and go with the group heading out at that moment.
I love all of it. This place has been around since Route 66. So there is some kitsch. I think the tour was 1 hour 20 minutes. Our guide did a fine job. but left a lot of great jokes and bits on the table for the dad who thinks he shoulda been one of them joke people on the Saturday Night Lives. (If you ask me). If we lived closer this would be my job. How fun would it be to say…
I have been in at least five caves. Squire Boone, Blue Springs, Marengo, Mammoth, Crystal Lake, Maquoketa Caves State Park. I don’t want to spoil it if you haven’t been. There are things on the ceiling and floor that form because of water, rich with minerals, dripping.
Remember Ripley’s Believe It or Not?
I like to read. Ripley’s Believe It or Not was a newspaper column. I think it was in the Monticello Daily Herald. It captured the news of the weird, strange, mysterious, some of it true. There were paperback books cataloging all this trivia. Roadside attractions have been essential to Ripley’s for 100 years. I read them all. I have a brain full of useless trivia that wouldn’t even help me win a question on Jeopardy.
So my favorite part of any cave tour is where the guide ask us his tour group to imagine that a blob of rock looks like something. Meramec has them. Our guide was a young man and lacked the conviction to really sell the blob pareidolia (the tendency to perceive a specific, often meaningful image in a random or ambiguous visual pattern The scientific explanation for some people is pareidolia, or the human ability to see shapes or make pictures out of randomness.).
Time marches on.
Time takes it’s toll on Meramec Caverns. The cave was used to film Tom Sawyer in the 70’s. Yes, that Tom Sawyer with Johnny Whitaker & Jodie Foster.
So, I remember this movie fondly. I was born in the late 60s. As a young man, I preffered Kristy McNichol over Tatum O’neal or Jodie Foster, but still. Tom Sawer(1973) is burned into my brain. It was also a location for an episode of Lassie from 1955. https://youtu.be/L6N9yxTpORQ <=== You have to watch it on Youtube. I only know this show from reruns. A lot of the young people on the tour had no idea what these shows were. They refused to stay off my lawn and were playing their rock and roll records in the parking lot on the way out. Back in my day, I tell ya…
Keeping up with the times.
Since it is 2021, There is also a zip-line. I don’t like ziplines. I probably wouldn’t mind a single zipline, but these zipline outfits want you to go on a series of zipline all hither and thither. Check out South Park’s “I Should Have Never Gone Ziplining” Season 16, Episode 6 for more thoughts on the subject.
Did I just switch from travelogue to a monologue on river safety?
Meramec Caverns is right on the Meramec River. They have a canoe livery. I might check it out sometime. Unfortunately, the river is in the news a lot. It attracts a lot of recreation. Allow me to quote from the National Park Service.
I think the Meramec River needs more sober adults telling good stories about it. It is an awesome resource. It’s close to St. Louis.
I got a free thermometer with my turkey fryer that was a turkey. Pro tip. Put a good digital thermometer or two on your Christmas list.
I couldn’t figure out why the oil wasn’t coming up to temperature. So I scienced and used a different thermometer. The thermometer that came with the fryer said 220, the digital said 400. The oil was bubbling like it was 400. I tossed the free one. I also used a digital probe on the turkey. It was awesome.
I am currently using an Inkbird Instant. It is waterproof, rechargeable and has a magnet on the back so it lives on the vent hood. This has taken a front seat to the Thermoworks Instant Read which I have used for several years. The Thermoworks still works, but sometimes I have to fidget to get it to power on.
I use an instant read all the time. On the grill, in the oven, it is absolutely indispensable.
The other kind is a Thermoworks DOT. I hadn’t used it until this week. It has a probe on a long cord. I broke this on in on turkey this year. I am going to get another one. It is very handy.
I used the wired probe in the turkey breast to get it cooked perfectly. Like the little pop up thing, but science.
The web page says BBQ teams buy them in stacks. If the correct temp is important, I can definitely see why. I am going to buy another one to monitor oil temperature next time. They have an alarm that can be set by temperature.