20210723 – Little Rock to Lafayette, Louisiana

20210723 – my first headline was funnier

We survived the night. I was certain that there would be a loud domestic disturbance In the parking lot. Slept very well.

We had breakfast at the Waffle Lodge House. Merryweather has learned the ways, customs and language of the Waffle Tribe. He loves the place. He says Texas Bacon Patty Melt, Smothered and capped. They bring him food. I tried ordering in Plains American. My food came also. The Waffle House next to Twin Peaks in Little Rock is very nice and clean and pleasant. Five stars for a Waffle House. I am not kidding. Seriously.

Mrs Jon Bruce Entertainment had strongly suggested we visit a presidential museum on this trip. Luckily, the William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Library was located close. We got timed entry tickets to avoid the crowds. Also, lucky. I behaved as best as I could. The library is basically ALL the letters that people sent to the president while he was in office. I imagine half the collection is written in crayon. Someday Robot Doris Kearns Goodwin will find a letter President Ivanka Trump sent to then President Clinton as a child. It will bring it full circle. “Grabbing them right in the pussy” will be seen as a reference to Socks the White House cat. History is written by the winners.

Bill Clinton is the Tom Jones of politics. There I said it. Don’t leave your women folk unattended if he is lurking around. This library has the same kind of sexual energy as a Justin Timberlake mosh pit. It’s a little scary. The docents aren’t just knowledgeable and helpful. They are 70 year old fan girls.

I also learned that HRC attend vacation bible school and that the Clintons tried to pass Obamacare. Unfortunately, no one knew what Obamacare was because Oprah hadn’t invented Obama yet.

I was disappointed overall. I wanted to see a picture of Clinton with PJ O’Rourke and Hunter Thompson. I had to settle for a tenor sax, half a Chilhuly and a couple of pictures of James Carville.

For some reason, there is a Central Perk backdrop and Friends replica couch for us young people to “hashtag the MySpace”.

As we walked out, I was still undecided on the next stop. Hot Springs National Park may be lame, but it’s a National Park. I am not going to miss one. We drove through the phalanx of tourist traps to the top of the hill. We then rode an elevator to the top of the tower on the top of the hill. There was a panoramic scenic vista. The gift shop had a pin for our collection.

The free scenic vista was excellent. I could have gotten out of here for free except for the pin. I wasn’t leaving without the pin. Plus we were right there. Its not like we could have not done the elevator tower too. I had really low expectations based on my last visit as a kid. I am glad we stopped. Merryweather had no interest in the hot springs bath house experience. Neither did my mom thirty years ago. This aversion must be genetic. Overall, Hot Springs National Park exceed my childhood memories.

We headed to Texarkana. We had a late lunch at Loca Luna, a local Mexican restaurant. It was excellent. I got arroz con pollo con queso con peppers and onion. On paper this is the same as I order in St Louis. In reality, it was so much better. The peppers and onion are thinly sliced, grilled not oily and not mushy. The cheese was shredded white cheese not cheese for dipping chips. Merryweather got Tahkos con Calle con steak. We needed gas and some Lonestar.

I stopped at the most questionable gas station I have seen in YEARS. As we pulled up, the entrance was blocked by a court arranged weekend with dad hand off. Half the pumps weren’t working. It was a gas station AND a Greyhound bus station. They had gas and Lonestar, but the amount of time and drama required to disentangle myself from the weird heaviness makes me think they could have thrown in the beer for free. Did I mentioned we tagged up Texas and got Lonestar? Win-win.

We drove by Diamond Crater State Park. Merryweather knows a lot about treasure hunting, but wouldn’t be tempted to try it out for himself. We pressed on to Lafayette, Louisiana. The Best Western Plus Vermillion River Inn and Suites is not off to a promising start.

We had a late dinner at Don’s Seafood in Lafayette. We had grilled oysters covered in cheese and bacon which got inhaled. The fried crab claws are fried. You eat them like a chicken wing drum (kinda). The shrimp boil was the spiciest I have experienced. The corn definitely wasn’t from Indiana. It was probably the healthiest thing we ate. I am going to try and eat more seafood tomorrow but healthy options, but also my body weight in shrimp and crawfish and oysters and maybe a grilled seagull.

Mrs Jon Bruce Entertainment mentioned that the last episode needed a lot of editing. My apologies for this one also.

20210722 – Joseph Smith was right. St Louis to Little Rock.

20210722 – Joseph Smith was right. The way from St Louis to Little Rock.

The Garden of Eden is located in Missouri. It sounds ridiculous when you hear the story of the Mormons. Absurd. A comedy tour de farce.

The thing they don’t tell you about Joseph Smith is that he was an avid canoeist or kayaker.

I know this because Merryweather and I hit the road for another adventure. We left Bruce Casa at 8 am ish. I drove to Hofstedler’s canoe rental on the Eleven Point River. Merryweather took a nap.

The Eleven Point is the third river of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways. Spring fed. Plenty of water. The Perfect spot for a paddle in late July.

I don’t think Merryweather has been in a boat with me since Glacier National Park. It wasn’t quite as exciting, but very close.

We put in at Whitten. There was another group setting up camp for the day. I was immediately struck by the change in the air. We had been driving down a hot dusty dirt road. Once we got the boat moving the air was cool and humid. Like air conditioning, outdoors. Like when you mom yells at you for leaving the door open. I am guessing there is a spring or cave close by. We found a couple of other spots like that down the river.

The river is pretty steep. The gradient is listed as 5.6. I think that means it drops 5.6 feet every mile. The pools are pleasantly short. The drops are exciting. The one thing Mike from Hufstedlers had told us about was the shelf.

The only other boat we saw was a family in a motorized Jon boat who said “there is a waterfall coming up in half a mile”. We bombed though it with a clean line and courage in our hearts. It was very cool.

We also checked out Bose Mill Spring dam. It was cold spring water. I got out of the canoe to take a picture. My feet were freezing.

We stayed dry until the take out. Merryweather’s feet had fallen asleep. So when he went to get out of the boat he wasn’t stable and grabbed onto the side of the canoe as he was falling backwards. I was in back. The canoe was angled off the ramp in about seven foot of water. I got all the way wet. Merryweather kept his hair dry. There were witnesses.

We returned our gear to the outfitter and hit the road. I had originally planned to head towards the Buffalo River next. The upper section is closed due to lack of water. The outfitter I had picked for the middle section wasn’t answering their phone. I took that as a sign.

We literally flipped a coin. Memphis or Little Rock. Little Rock won.

We crossed the Arkansas state line on a dirt road. The change in scenery is drastic. Leaving the Ozarks for whatever you call the plains of Arkansas is jarring. According to the internet, we moved from Interior Highlands to Gulf Coastal Plains. In reality, we moved from small farms with cows eating grass next to rusting farm machines to vast fields of rice or cotton or agriculture or something.

Merryweather was dropping truth bombs all day. My favorite… “John Locke said all men are born with free will, but he never saw you playing the cha cha slide for a crowd of people”

He also picked out a great restaurant for dinner. YaYas Euro Bistro in Little Rock. It was amazing. Our waiter was a pro. The food was excellent.

My choice of hotels was not as good. We are staying at a Ramada Limited. The limited refers to your expectations, maybe. Merryweather said “I think this maybe the Hotel from Rwanda.” The lobby smelled my glaucoma medicine. But the beds are comfortable and the bathroom works. And we are next door to Twin Peaks, extremely elegant, neighbors of distinction.

20190527 – South Dakota Kayak Challenge

20190527 – South Dakota Kayak Challenge

SDKC (South Dakota Kayak Challenge) we placed top 3 in our category (out of three). We canoed 72 miles in 12 hours 40 minutes. That is around 5.5 miles an hour in a canoe. That includes stopping so Calvin could talk BWCA with the checkpoint teams. We have the blisters to show it. There were 170 competitors and adventurers. The event was really well organized and run.

At the orientation meeting, they announced that this would be the final race.

The Missouri River was VERY high, VERY Fast.

I got to use Avenza Maps app with geo spatial maps from National Parks and the race team. A tremendous tool. It’s like having a National Park map on your phone and you can see your location on the map. Invaluable.

Calvin is a tremendous paddler. My dad did great support driving.

It was a great challenge. We got to eat some great food and fellowship. Also did some awesome sleeping when we were done.

Friday night we got to carbo load at the world famous Ice House in Yankton, South Dakota. The Ice House will sell you six Bud Light bottles in a bucket of ice for $12 that you can enjoy in the parking lot. Apparently, the tradition is to smash the empties under the dock. One of the weirdest local customs I have encountered.

20200829 – Race for the Rivers

I don’t want to brag but I did win a major prize at the Race for the Rivers today. Big shout out to my sponsors Jamie Watkins Bruce, Wendy’s Hamburgers, Diet Coke, and Orbit Chewing Gum. I ,technically, wasn’t just the last in my class. I was also last person off the water.

I think I should mention there was a slower boat, but they weren’t in the fast racing group like me and had and hour or two headstart. We started last.


20210613 – Current River – Cedar Grove to Akers

20210613 – Current River – Cedar Grove to Akers

I was super impressed Echo Bluff State Park Lodge. I was eager to share it with Mrs. Jon Bruce Entertainment. So we booked the first available room. On a Sunday. One Day Only. And since we were in that neck of the woods, might as well go canoeing. So Mrs. Jon Bruce Entertainment went on a canoe trip with me. Don’t bother googling, this probably hasn’t happened since Cub Scout Day camp.

I choose Akers Ferry Canoe Rental for a livery. I have used three or four canoe liveries around Eminence. They were all great. Akers was particularly great. They put us in a Wenonah canoe with really low seats and low walls. Very Stable. Very Accessible. Floated like a dream. Like all the other liveries in the area I have used, the actual trip was shorter than estimated time. Plenty of water and I am an excellent paddler.

The Current River was pretty busy on a Sunday. Lots of boats. Lots of tubes. Lots of people hanging out on gravel bars. It was hot, in the 90’s. There was plenty of water in the system for a hot mid-June float. Floating under the tree lined banks in the shade was wonderful.

Not a lot of wildlife. We were on the water for about three hours. We made a short stop at Welch Spring.

Another cool thing we discovered. We met two of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways Park Rangers. They gave us a safety talk before the bus left. We also ran into them at Welch Spring. I did a little research. In addition to being pleasant, informative and professional, one of them is also an author. His book Moonshine and Watermelons is downloading to my Kindle as we speak.

On the way to the lodge, we got a moment of cell phone reception notifying us that the room was ready for check-in. The room at Echo Bluff State Park Lodge was great. We went to dinner at the world famous Dairy Shack. There may be another restaurant in Eminence, but I am not sure I want to know about it. We had burgers and fried mushrooms and tots. It was excellent. The cheese fries were drowned in cheese. The only fries that survived were following the ABCs of cheese fry safety and wearing life jackets. The only thing I wouldn’t get again. The ice cream looked great but you had to eat it quick.

We went back to the lodge. The rocking chairs on the back deck are a great spot to watch the occasional plane fly over. Looked at the stars and shared a pretty good shooting star. Sinking Creek burbles in the background. It’s was nice.

We slept about 14 hours.

Had a nice breakfast. Went looking for the Shawnee Herd. The wild horse pack that I had seen on my last trip are pretty elusive apparently. They had crossed the river on Sunday at a canoe take out close by. They were no where to be seen on Monday.

Star Chart on IOS has been on my phone for a long time. It’s great for constellations and satellites and planets, etc.


We get infrequent planes flying over the house. I have been using FlightAware to figure out what is flying overhead. This is highly entertaining. We didn’t see many planes, but the ones we did see were WAY up high, above 35,000 feet, and headed to airports all over.


20210705 – Lower Meramec in a new canoe.

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.

Brunch was excellent. So we went scouting the Meramec. We started at 141 and ended up at Meramec Park. https://goo.gl/maps/uVenZG42uDc89TWQ7

We paddled to George Winter Jefferson County Park. https://goo.gl/maps/nKsmodZf4RZ8rhfW9

It was pretty cool. The upper section was pretty peaceful, but past the 44 bridge motor boat traffic got heavier and heavier. It was the Monday after the fourth of July.

Resources for when you misplace your Missouri Canoe Guide.

Missouri Canoe and Floaters Association

Missouri Department of Conversation


Father’s Day Bonus Round 20210621

The Story

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.

20210514 Fishing – Lake Of the Ozarks

20210514 Fishing – Lake Of the Ozarks

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.

20190617 – Upper Meramec River on a Raft

This popped up in my Facebook Memories today.

“Had a great Fathers Day weekend. Took the family to a primitive skills /bushcrafting cabin. We had 1x cell service and LIMITED Wifi. 5 channels on an old dish box. Calvin and I rented a raft “ on routine expedition” on the Upper Meramec River. Todd got to run in the fields. We ate well. McDonalds in Cuba should probably be reserved for people watching, not food.”

Jon Bruce, June 2019

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.

Kick’n K Vacation Rentals of Steelville, MO was our one stop shop for the whole weekend. https://www.kicknk.com/