Tuesday, May 15, 2012

My 1st Mother's Day

As any of my readers know, I am a new Mommy. My husband and I were blessed with our first born, a daughter, whom we named Olivia. The first 3 months were awful, she had colic and did nothing but scream. And I mean scream. It wasn't a cry, it was a scream! Like I said, awful.

However, as the agony of bleeding ears from the screaming began to subside shortly after month 3, the joys of parenthood started to shine through.

Olivia is now 7 months old and I fall more in love with her every day (although I don't know how because I already feel like I couldn't possibly love her anymore than I already do). Even though it took us a while to get used to the new lifestyle of parenthood versus the singlehood we were so used to after 30 years, Robby and I are both finding ourselves being total smitten kittens.

Olivia's personality is definitely what I expected of any girl that came from my family. Boisterous, playful, happy, loud, girly, and full of attitude.

My 1st Mother's Day was spent not only celebrating my beautiful mother and mother-in-law, but also reveling in the life of my mommyhood. The love a parent has for their child is immeasurable and I wouldn't trade this for anything.

I hope you had a great weekend celebrating your mother's and yourself if you are a mother. To you, I wish you a Happy Mother's Day.

My very 1st Mother's Day: Me, Olivia Grace, and Chiyo
On Friday, we are heading down to Gulf Shores, AL. Of all the places I've been, I've yet to be there. If you have any travel tips on traveling with a baby to the beach, please indulge me. Also, if there's something we must do/see/eat in Gulf Shores, tell me all about it!

Hope you have a great week! Stay tuned for live Gulf Shores updates! Pan, The Gravel-Roadin' Guru

Friday, May 11, 2012

Festival Friday 5-11-12

Terrible blogger? Lack of dedication? Lazy? I promise I'm not trying to be a single one of these things. I know I've disappointed all one and a half of my readers by not presenting many posts lately. I do apologize. Fact of the matter is, I've spent my last several days off soaking up Mommyhood. Olivia and I have spent some much needed together-time on the floor learning how to crawl (well almost, she's soooo close!). Anyways, I really don't have a lot for you to do this weekend but that's okay. We should be spending time celebrating Mom's everywhere anyway! For the ones that still have time otherwise, below is a list of some things around Missouri to entertain you. Hope you enjoy!


Last week I introduced you to the C-Street Market. Don't forget that it's every Saturday at the Footbridge Pavilion on Commercial Street. Lots of vendors. Free event!

Stomp the Blues out of Homelessness Blues Festival will be going on at 1315 E Trafficway ($15-$18 per ticket) on Saturday between 2 & 11pm. Not only will you be helping raise money to benefit local homelessness needs, you also get to do some relaxing while listening to some easy listening tunes. Enjoy!

Head to the Remington's Event Center on Republic tomorrow from 8-5 for the Springfield Indian Artifact Show. Close to 200 tables will be on display showcasing ancient pottery and arrowheads, along with other indian relics. There will be display-only tables and people will also be on hand to purchase your indian artifacts!


Downtown Rolla is playing host of "Downtown Days" tomorrow from 10am-4pm. Head downtown for wine tastings, art exhibits, and special sales from local businesses and discover all Rolla has to offer!


Calling all bluegrass fans! For more than an entire month, Silver Dollar City invites you for their Bluegrass & BBQ Festival. The fest runs from May 10 until June 12 with tons of different bluegass artists. Visit the website for more detailed info and dates.


Get to the Farmington Industrial Parks with the kiddos so they can participate in the Wiggle & Giggle fishing competition. Children must be accompanied by an adult with a valid fishing license and supply all their own equipment. Be there early as the event goes from 8am-11am. 756.2215 for more info.

As always, contact me with your upcoming event so we can feature it on Festival Friday! Happy Mother's Day weekend! Pan

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Famous Leaning Tower of Osage City

Being a new parent is hard. Hard for many reasons but one of those being the lifestyle adjustment you must make for the little one. Robby and I have found that to be one of our toughest battles. Parenthood means not being able to go and do what you please and when you please.

Thankfully, we have parents that love spending time with Olivia, which occasionally allows us to have some Mommy-Daddy time.

Which is just what we did yesterday. Enjoyed a much-needed, long-0verdue river day, out on the Osage. And geez, what a beautiful one at that. We got our solar power recharged (we also got sunburned), as we spent the entire afternoon soaking up those powerful sunrays.

We had to take a jaunt towards Osage City since I learned last week that they're tearing the famous Leaning Tower down. I'm not from Osage City, I have no ties to Osage City (except the partying I've done along the riverbanks there), and I generally don't care what happens in Osage City.

The Famous Leaning Tower of Osage City: early demolition has already destroyed the top right section of the tower.

Except for the fact that they're tearing down the famous Leaning Tower (I know I said this already but I wanted to be sure you heard me).

If you don't know what the Leaning Tower is, you should take a quick trip down to Osage City. It's quite the sight to see. This 5 story tall tower is an old grain mill that sits just beside the railroad track and right along the Osage riverbank.

Just as I turned back to snap one last shot of the Leaning Tower, a train came rolling by. How picturesque.....

Last night, I did some quick internet searching and found where a railroad worker had mentioned that the Leaning Tower was leaning as far back as 1974, when he first started working on the railroad. How the tower could have stayed standing after leaning for so many years blows my mind.

With the construction of an additional railroad bridge, crossing the Osage River at Osage City, the crew has begun the destruction of this landmark, with the completion estimated to be within the next 2 weeks.

The existing railroad bridge. The new railroad bridge will be placed in the foreground of this one.

Yesterday, I pleaded with Robby to please drive (I guess the proper wording would be steer, since we were on the boat) me by the famous tower for one last look of admiration (and a couple pictures) to hold with me in memory.

If you want to see the Leaning Tower firsthand, be sure to get down to Osage City quick, as of a couple weeks, it will be leaning no more.

Pan, The Gravel-Roadin' Guru

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Arrow Rock

When I was little, I remember taking a daytrip to Arrow Rock with my mom and my sister. The Arrow Rock I remembered from so long ago was a cobblestone street lined with vintage shops and boutiques, people jaunting in and out with their bags, a whole day full of purusing.

At the end of the summer last year, I was fat. And by fat, I mean I was 8 months pregnant. Robby wanted to do a quick one-night getaway, just as something to do before baby came and our social lives as we knew it was over.

See? Fat.

After a little online searching, we came up with taking a drive up to Arrow Rock to cozy in at Bunny's Bed and Breakfast and stroll through the town, later hitting up some sort of ice cream festival (with live folk music!) at the old schoolhouse downtown.

We packed our bags and headed that way about noon time on a Saturday. When we arrived, first thing we did was make a quick drive through the town. At first glance, it didn't look like there was a whole heck of a lot to do but we figured we had just missed part of town.

We found Bunny's, located at the end of a dead end street, and followed the directions (given to Robby over the phone by the husband of Bunny) to just make ourselves at home. We entered the home around back where we found our room just off the main living area. Now, Bunny's wasn't just your run-of-the-mill B&B. Bunny's was also Bunny's house. She uses the refurbished basement as her rented rooms. We easily found our room and left our stuff inside. Bunny's room's are also so cleverly decorated in bunnies......

photo of Bunny's Bed and Breakfast, Arrow Rock, Missouri

Here it is. Bunny's.

The room was of a decent size for our one night stay, the bathroom, however, was nothing to write home to mom about. A little small, a little old fashioned, a little rundown.

(Please keep in mind that I really don't like giving bad reviews, I just want to give it to ya straight. That's what I'm here for after all, right?)

Once we took a quick bathroom break, we set off in the car for some afternoon wasting of time. We headed downtown so Robby could appease me with window shopping (and possibly buying!). Once we parked, we began walking along the streets of olden days (or what looked like) until we got to our first shop.

I can't remember the name of the first store, probably because it was fairly forgettable. They did have local, hand-crafted items, which is totally my thing. However, they didn't have anything that was my thing.

The next shop we found did have some neat things but nothing to set the store apart from the next. Also, there were only about 18 neat things, as there was hardly anything stocked in the store.

We kept walking in hopes of finding a shop that intrigued me, but when we got to the end of the street, we realized that was it. Except the ice cream shop. Literally, that was it. There were several stores that looked recently closed and the ice cream shop. And seriously, that was it. We had drove 2 hours for this?!?!

Well, since it didn't look like there was much else to shop for, we thought we'd at least go to the tavern for an appetizer (and of course Robby was lucky enough to indulge in a much needed brewsky to cool off from the stickiness of the day). There were few people in the tavern and no appetizers on the menu. Luckily, they came up with a grape, cracker, and cheese tray. Hey, at that point, we would've taken anything.

This is the tavern. It was just ok.

This part of the day, I remember well, as I busted into a fight of laughter at the sight of my cankles, which were so swollen from the pregnancy and the walking that they looked like water balloons on the verge of busting open. I laughed for 23 minutes, atleast.

I still laugh out loud looking at these things. This picture was taken early on in my pregancy, so you can imagine how huge they were at 8 months pregnant. I'm not proud, just thought you could use a chuckle. I'm ok that it's at my expense.

We did make a point to head down to the schoolhouse for the ice cream festival since that was kind of the reason we had chosen Arrow Rock in the first place. Once again, it left a lot to be desired. Although, I'm pretty sure the whole town did come down for the occasion (probably because there was nothing else to do).

So, after we built up our excitement of getting away for one last small hoorah, it's safe to tell you that we left Arrow Rock with nothing but disappointment. I was saddened to crush my memory of that quaint town with the cobblestone streets. My only hope is that I have saved you.

(If you're wondering, we did NOT stay at Bunny's that night. On our way out of town, I called to tell her such, but had to leave a message, as I'm sure she was at the ice cream festival.)

Friday, April 27, 2012

Festival Friday 4.24.12

Afternoon, folks of Missouri! It's time for another edition of Festival Friday, where I give you a whole slew of things to do, leaving you no excuses for weekend boredom.

Jefferson City:

Tonight, Jeff City is hosting their 6th Annual Gallery Crawl featuring 9 or 10 different galleries. The Crawl is totally free, just call 573.635.8355 for more info or visit visitjeffersoncity.com under the event calendar and see the list of venues.

Tomorrow, and every last Saturday in the month from now until September, head to the Downtown District for the Cruisin' for MDA car show. This event is from 5-9:30, is FREE, and has food vendors and music.


On Saturday, from noon-11pm, visit the Commercial Street Historic District for the 1st Annual Rhythm on the Rails, celebrating the year of 1870, when the railroad came to town. This event will keep you entertained with art, merchants, food, and dance. Of course, this event is FREE. At the same location, visit C-Street Market every Saturday from 8am-1pm for what they claim is an "intimate" market experience with local farmers, bakers and crafters. 417.864.7015 and itsalldowntown.com/cstreet'

Kansas City:

Visit the Concourse in Kessler Park (200 S Benton Blvd) on Saturday and Sunday for the 5th Annual Chalk Walk, where the sidewalks will be transformed into wonderful chalk art creations! Event is free.

St Louis:

Head to the Map Room (1901 Withnell Ave., St Louis, MO, 63118, 314.776.3515) for the French Flea Market where you can indulge in your parisian side with french food, wine, music, and 30 booths to peruse! This event will go from 9a-3p.

Ste Geneveive:

6p-9p tonight, stroll through downtown to view local artists at their best. Local galleries will be open, some providing refreshments. You can pick up a map at any of the galleries highlighting the other galleries/businesses that will be open. http://stegenartwalk.blogspot.com/

Hope you enjoy your weekend, Missouri! Come back on Monday and let me know what you did, saw, played on.......you get the point. Pan, The Gravel-Roadin' Guru

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

I'm in love with... Travel!

My love affair with travel was seeded in me at a young age. I got to spend my 10th birthday in HAWAII!!!! simply because my sister's husband was stationed there at the military base. Of course, we had the traditional "summer family vacations"  every year from the time I can remember. I've been to Graceland, Eureka Springs, Myrtle Beach, and Disney World, just to name a few.

When the tide rises in the evening, it appears the shrine is floating
 But what really got me, was my first trip to Japan. Once again, visiting my sister (who was stationed just outside of Tokyo at Camp Zama), my mother,  other sister, and I spent 2 weeks exploring the crowded streets of that beautiful land in Asia.

A traditional pagoda

I was young still. I had just graduated high school. I had never been outside of the US and here I was jetsetting to Japan. I fell in love. I truly, truly did. I soaked up every ounce of what this new culture had to offer. We had tea with my sister's students, we went to Tokyo Tower (similar to the Eiffel Tower but in Tokyo-duh!), we visited the aftermath of the nuclear bombings in Hiroshima.

Having tea with students
 It was fabulous. My young mind was opened up to the beauty of new experiences, new people, and a new way of the world. I had never before realized how different life is outside of the United States. I mean, you read about different cultures and see pictures in magazines but until you truly experience it, you have no idea.

The famous Buddha in Kamakura

Ever since this trip, I have had a hunger (I mean, the serious kind that feels like your belly is eating away at itself) for travel. Robby always gives me grief (just the joking kind) that he's going to go broke supporting my travel habit. It's what I love. I am always planning the next vacation. Dreaming of the next getaway.

So, this blog is my small-time travel outlet. A reason to continue exploring. It's easy to make excuses about not having time and not having money and not having time (yes, I know I said that twice). But here's the deal. I want to make time. I don't want to always be too busy that we can't enjoy the outdoors and can't adventure to places yet unseen.

Robby is truly a good sport about the whole deal. Heck, I think I've even gotten him into the habit of several vacays a year (yay me!). I hope this continues. I hope we can instill the love of travel and exploration into Olivia's life. I hope we always make time for family adventures.

So, I wanna know...

What was the one vacation that made you fall in love with travel?


Dressed in yukata, which is a traditional summer kimono

Monday, April 23, 2012

You're not from Missouri if you don't like Bass Pro

As a kid, I remember roaming the grounds of the Bass Pro Headquarters in Springfield as we were on our way to or from summer vacation. It became almost a tradition to hit Bass Pro. 5 year old little girl that I was, I remember being so full of anticipation to go to Bass Pro.

I'll admit, being an adult doesn't give you quite the excitment of visiting Bass Pro as that young child had, but we enjoyed our Sunday afternoon there anyway.

Robby designated yesterday as Family Fun Day, which I shortened to FFD. I frequently give people, places, and things ("Vanna, I'd like to buy an A") abbreviated names. I think we'll try to do more FFD's in the future.

Now, Olivia is just 6 months old and I know she'll never remember it and I know she really probably didn't enjoy herself anymore than she does scooting across our living room floor playing with her rattlers.

But, here's the thing. Robby and I have a bad habit of working our weekends away. Okay, he does more of the work but all his work really wears me out! We are on the go most of the days, feeling like staying home is wasting time. Robby has this thing about him. He has to do something productive literally all the time, or his increasing anxiety and jitteriness (if that's even a word), gets the best of me him. And that's about the point that I wanna lock him in the coat closet.

What was great about our impromtu trip to Bass Pro (mind you, we only went as far as Columbia. The one is Springfield kicks Columbia's butt anyday), was that we left all our worries of the world at home. We just went, without purpose, and enjoyed ourselves!

We looked at boats we knew we didn't need.

We have the mind to sell our Bass Tracker and upgrade to this sweet ride (or a much cheaper version, anyway)

We looked at kayaks that we also don't need. And camping supplies we don't need although we wish we did but we don't make near enough time for camping. We sat in UTV's we have no place to ride.

If you missed my last Festival Friday (first of all shame on you!) I mentioned that Bass Pro was hosting a Kids Challenge Weekend. One of the events was casting, which I'm sure they used their beautiful lake for. We weren't there in time to watch the festivities, however.

The fish tank houses a record-setting crappie, caught by a man from my hometown of Fulton. Nothing exciting ever happens in Fulton, so I'm kinda stoked by this.

Robby and Olivia checked out things from the other side. Although she didn't know quite what was going on, she enjoyed watching the fish anyway.

What I took away from our FFD, was simply this. It's ok to not be productive, as long as you're not being productive as a family.

Happy Travels (even if they're small time travels)! Pan, The Gravel-Roadin' Guru

Friday, April 20, 2012

Festival Friday 4-20-12

Oh boy, oh boy. It's Friday. TGIF. Who's ready for the weekend? I actually have quite the assortment of Missouri activities on the list this weekend. So, no excuses! I want you out there exploring. And next week, I want you telling me all about it too!

Branson Area:

Well it's one for the money, two for the show! Branson Elvis Festival hits the Dick Clark (RIP) Bandstand Theater all weekend from 9a-9p. Live impersonators and all things Elvis. Perfect for the Branson vacationers. Tickets are $25 for regular seating. The theater is located at 1600 W Hwy 76. Visit bransonelvisfestival.com or call 800-374-SHOW for more info.

Springfield Area:

You like music? You like ribs? You like BBQ? Then what are you waiting for? Head to the Community Blood Center (event held in the parking lot) at 220 W Plainview (corner of Plainview Rd and Campbell Ave). Tickets are $7 in advance and $10 at the gate. On Friday event is from 5p-11p or you can spend your whole Saturday up there as the event goes from 10a-11p. Visit rocknribs.com or call 417-840-7463 for more info.

Columbia Area:

Bass Pro is hosting the Bass Pro Kids Challenge Weekend on Saturday and Sunday from Noon-4. Bring out the kiddos to participate in activities like the sleeping bag challenge, the casting challenge, or the life jacket challenge. Also, from 1p-4p they will have an area for crafting. Best part of all? This event is totally FREE!!

St Louis Area:

Calling all Jazz fans! The Greater St Louis Jazz Festival is Friday and Saturday at the Blanche M Towhill Performing Arts Center on the MU-STL campus. Visit towhill.org or call 314-516-4949 for the list of performers as there are way too many to list here.

St Louis Earth Day Festival will be held at the Muny Grounds in Forest Park on Sunday from 11a-6p. Activities include live music, food, tons of vendors, and lots of information. Perfect for the whole family. Visit stlouisearthday.org or call 314-616-7354.

The St Louis International Indian Dance Festival will be held at the Clayton High School Auditorium Friday through Sunday and features cultural performances and seminars. The auditorium is located at #1 Mark Twain Circle in St Louis. Visit sooryadance.com or call 314-397-5278 to purchase tickets and learn more.

Everybody, enjoy your weekend to the fullest! The Gravel-Roadin' Guru, Pan

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Change is a comin'!

Waking up to another sunshine-filled, beautiful Missouri afternoon sure does put my day to starting off on the right foot. Unfortunately, I will have to be back at work in a few short hours but I plan to soak up some vitamin D in the meantime.

Well, I've got some exciting news (for me, anyway. I'm sure it's no big deal to you). Tomorrow marks my 1 month anniversary as a blogger. Just 1 month ago, I was laying in bed wide awake, listening to Robby snore no less, brainstorming ideas on a pasttime that I could have. Something just for me. Not for the wife. Not for the mommy. Not for the nurse. Something just for me. Pan. That's where this whole journey began.

Since that night, I've been learning. I've spent time (occasionally stolen time from those that shall remain nameless....) learning. I've scourged through travel blog after travel blog. Asking myself, "What makes this blog something people return to?". Of course you'll have no loyal readers if you bring junk to the table. My new inspiration has been found in a travel blog so rightly named, The Everywhereist. Geraldine chronicles her travels around the country (and the world! Super, super lucky gal!). Several years ago, she got a wonderful opportunity to join her husband while he traveled on work assignments, after she was laid off from her job. Her husband encouraged her to start a travel blog and just last year (only 2 or 3 years after beginning), she was named one of Times Magazine's Top Travel Blogs of 2011. How awesome is that!

What Geraldine gives us is, of course, travel reviews but on top she gives so much more. Providing detailed accounts of her where-tos, she presents her story with an uncanny wit and charm that only I could wish to have. If you want to check it out, (and even though I probably shouldn't be promoting another travel blogger, I just can't help myself. It's so darn good!) visit her at everywhereist.com.

The most important thing that I have learned are these 2 things: 1) your readers want to know you, want to know about you and 2) it is okay to occasionally write about something other than travel. I've been depriving myself from talking about anything besides travel and thereby missing the whole point to this blogging stuff. A blog is about you. That's the point. People follow you because they come to know you, your loved ones, your quirks, and your strengths. Here all along, I've been talking about nothing but travel (even when there's so much more I want to say) and I've kept things very unpersonal (please don't take offense. You just never know what freaks are out there.).

So, change is a comin'. I'm switchin' things up and new things will be done. I've never been one to be scared of the new. I've got goals in mind and slowly I will put them in play. My first goal was to update the website to something much fancier (and esthetically pleasing to the eyes) at month one. I've changed that. I think I'll go another 2 months and see where we sit then. I know myself too well. I'm flightly. I get a lot of big ideas and occasionally (okay a lot. Get off my back already), they fizzle before they even get started. This, I know. I have lived with me for 29 years. So, I'm giving myself more time. Blogging is apparently a slow process. I'm a patient person.

On top of that, I'm going to let you in. My name is Amanda but you can call me Pan. I am a new Mommy to the sweetest baby girl in the whole wide world, Olivia. Robby is my wonderful hubby and we have the cutest puppy dog, Chiyo. That is my family. They are my heart and soul (and at times cause for some serious stress and indigestion).

This is our super terrible Christmas picture. Don't judge based on what you see above. It was not a good afternoon for pictures, even though I forced the issue.

So, I hope you continue reading and traveling with me. Stay tuned for more changes. Hopefully all good ones! The Gravel-Roadin' Guru, Pan

Sunday, April 15, 2012

White Mule Winery

Imagine this. Farmland, cattle, green grass, open fields, no Walmart or Target. That's where we ventured out to on Saturday. It was purely blissful. White Mule Winery sits about 20 minutes south of Hermann just off Highway 50 in Owensville (well, the address is Owensville but I don't know that this place could really be pinpointed to a town). Pardon the low quality of the intro pic, we had such a good time, it was dark by the time we headed back home. White Mule was so named because the area truckers called this spot white mule curve, since the previous owner raised white mules.

Rustic makes up the atmosphere that abounds at White Mule. Barnwood and old tin decorate the walls and cattle line the fields just past the upcoming vineyards. Friday nights, I'm told, are the hot nights to visit. A big dinner (sometimes consisting of farm-fresh beef straight from the fields out back!! Super impressive)  is served and the air is filled with live music. 

White Mule Winery features 7 wines. The Norton and the Port (Mule Shine) are my least favorite. I may like wine but I have yet to acquire a taste for "the hard stuff". My two favorite libations were the Double Tree Red (semi-sweet red) and the Vignoles (semi-sweet white). Seems like no matter where you go, you just can't go wrong with a glass of Vignoles.

Can't hardly imagine a better way to spend a Saturday afternoon, than sitting with friends enjoying a new place with a fresh glass of wine.

Dog lover that I am, I sure enjoyed the company of this sweet Austrailian Shepherd. He greeted us out front upon our arrival and wandered through the tables to find his sweet spot right at my feet.

The day felt like spending an afternoon at home with friends. Neighbors and their kiddos were in and out.Moms and Dads visiting with each other, kids running
through the fields and taking turns getting piggyback rides from Gus, our bartender. By the time we were set to head home, I was wishing we had come sooner and brought along compadres to join in the experience.


White Mule Winery can be found on the net at whitemulewinery.com. Their official address is 2087 Highwy 50 Owensville, MO 65066 (although don't even bother using your maps app on your iPhone 'cause it just took us to the intersection of Highway 50 and 19.) The unofficial address: Nowhere, and it feels so good.

Plan your trip and let me know your thoughts! Until next time, Pan, The Gravel-Roadin' Guru

Friday, April 13, 2012

Festival Friday 4-13-12

One more week down the hatch, Missouri! I hope you have something exciting on the books for the weekend, even though it looks like the spring weather made a turn for the very, very unspring-y, unpleasant, dreary, miserable, cold, nasty weather. It's my fault actually. Here I was talking about how awesome our weather was and that I just really didn't think there was any chance of it getting cold again. Open mouth, insert foot!

If you're looking for something to celebrate the spookiness of Friday the 13th, and you're in the St Joe area, you'll want to do the ghost tour which meets in front of Barbosa's Mexican Restaurant on Sylvanie St. Tickets are $15, tour runs from 8p-10p. Phone 785-851-0856 or visit ghosttoursofkansas.com for more info.

Tomorrow morning in Montauk State Park (Salem, MO), you can meet up for the Spring Wildflower Event from 9a-11:30a. 573-548-2201. I believe this event is free. Don't know if free is worth enduring the crapness of this weather. Your choice.

Like wings? Check out the Spring Fling Wing Ding (try saying that 5 times super fast!) in Springfield at the Battlefield Mall at S Glenstone and E Battlefield. 417-708-1909 & springfieldfarmersmarket.com. This event is Saturday from 8:30am-1pm. A little early for wing dinging if you ask me but hey, I don't think you really did. Also in Springfield, the Ozark Mountain Wine Trail is hosting a customer appreciation day and offering wine tastings (sure way to bring me in everytime!) and cheese samples.

If you're in the St Louis area, and the weather allows (even though the website said nothing of pending weather conditions) you can visit a Walk Through Time event celebrating the new Great Rivers Greenway at Jefferson Barracks County Park. On Saturday from 10a-3p, you can watch war re-enactments for free throughout the park. At 7p, you can choose to take a guided tour and pay only $5. Phone 314-544-6224.

Hope you enjoy your weekend Missouri! I know I will (minus 9a-3p on Sunday that I'm stuck in the dungeon of my work). See ya soon! The Gravel-Roadin' Guru, Pan

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Wishlist Wednesday

Afternoon, folks! Happy to have you back here for yet another edition of Wishlist Wednesday, where we dream together of places we want to go. I have yet to have any suggestions from the viewers (I say that like there are so many of you). So be sure and join in the conversation and let me know of a Missouri place you want to go. If you don't want to go someplace in Missouri (you probably have the wrong site first of all), you can tell us that too. We'll take it. I'm not so closed minded that I think we're going to be doing Missouri travel exclusively! As a matter of fact, next month we're taking a much needed vacation to Gulf Shores and I'm gonna tell you all about that anyway.

This week I got an email telling me awesome news that I knew nothing about and think we should be more proud of. Did you know that Missouri was rated best state for camping from about.com? Me neither! I am surprised we haven't heard more about this. You would think that there would be advertisements, announcements, words from State Park folks, even words from the Governor! But alas, it's just I, Pan, The Gravel-Roadin' Guru, filling your head with all these fun facts.

Photo credit given to whomever took this pic for mostateparks.com

So, in light of this new found knowledge, I am dedicating today's Wishlist Wednesday to Missouri State Park camping. Which I have have an itch to get out and do since our early approach of Missouri spring weather (although it's flubbed that up this week and brought the cold back). I need some outdoorsy time. Time to relax and step away from the rigamarole of the same thing day in and day out. What better way to do that than get your gear packed and head for the hills where there is no tv, no laundry, and no Internet (unless you're one of those crazy-insane people who can't live without your Internet, which I am quickly becoming myself) to constantly provide distractions.

Photo credit to whomever took this pic for mostateparks.com

For all the info you need including directions, camp facilities, and the like, visit mostateparks.com. Does anybody want to tell their favorite camping story. I've been camping, I know there's plenty of stories to be told. Until next time, The Gravel-Roadin' Guru

Photo credit to whomever took this pic for mostateparks.com

Monday, April 9, 2012

Prison Brews

Happy Monday (evening) all! It's so strange for me to be sitting here, feet up, pjs on, wine in hand on a Monday evening. Usually this time on Monday, I've already been hard at it saving lives (or something like it) at work for 3 hours. Gotta admit, I like it. I could get used to it as a matter of fact.

Due to the holiday of bunnies and peeps (Yuck-o), we really didn't get to do much this weekend. However, after countless (and pointless) hours we spent Saturday afternoon driving all over tim-buck-to looking for our future homestead (well, Hubby drove and I napped a little), we came back to Jefferson City to have a breather at our local microbrewery.

Prison Brews. I love it. This name is so stinkin' clever. Let me tell you why (if you don't already know). So there's a small spot (sarcasm!) overlooking the Missouri here in Jefferson City called the Missouri State Penitentiary. Which is another whole blog story in and of itself. The facility is no longer used (except for prison tours which I'm so gonna take) but still stands, very eerily, along Capital Ave. Just a hop, skip, and a jump down the road and to the left (or right) sits Prison Brews.

Playing off their super-close locale to the prison, Prison Brews is a microbrewery that offers live music, brick-baked pizzas, a large patio for the warm weather days, and a feeling that you should be wearing all orange. The brewery is located at 305 Ash St and has additional parking in back (trust me, you needed to know this 'cause the street is usually parked all up). Prison Brews features a number of beers on tap, made in-house, and of course a full bar. The brew names also tie into the prison theme, Prison Town Brown, Go To Jail Ale, I Ain't Your Honey Wheat (my fav!), just to name a few.

So, while I wouldn't make a long trip to JC just to stop into Prison Brews, if you're in the area and have a bit to relax, you should definitely check it out. I'll admit that I'm a super bad parent and we did take in Baby Girl but it was daylight and more of a family atmosphere so don't judge me! If you're in the mood for live music, visit them most weekend evenings.

Wishing ya'll a wonderful week! The Gravel-Roadin' Guru, Pan

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Easter's Here!

Happy Easter, Missouri! Just wanted to pop my head in right quick and wish everybody a happy holiday. I hope you get your fill of Easter chocolate and mustard-glazed ham. I'll see you this week! Pan

Friday, April 6, 2012

Super Late Edition of Festival Friday

Okay, okay, I know. I'm a horrible blogger. I've already missed one day this week (so much guilt) and here I am trying to post at 10 pm on a Friday night (I wasn't always as lame as being home and in my pjs on a Friday night but apparently having children does such things to ya). I have just had one of those weeks where I feel like all I've done is chase my tail. I worked an extra shift at work and Hubby has been working into the evenings which puts me in overtime for Mommy duty. I will try to do better. I promise.

So, for this week's edition of Festival Friday, there's not a wide array of activities since the Easter holiday is upon us. I have a premonition that your weekend (and mine and your neighbors and my sister's friend's daughter's pet cat) will have a weekend full of ham dinners (don't forget the cheesy taters) and egg hunts. Quick funny story.... My oldest sister hid dyed Easter eggs under her bed when she was a kid because they were so pretty she didn't want to get rid of them. Took my mom weeks to figure out what that awful stench was!

This pic was hijacked from Google

I have never heard of such a thing as what I'm about to reveal to you, but Kansas City is hosting an Easter Parade tomorrow (Saturday). Location is Zona Rosa on Dixson Avenue. Parade starts at 11am and you can call 816-587-8180 for more info.

St Louis is also playing host to several events over the holiday weekend. Head to the Anheuser-Busch Consumer Hospitality Center on Saturday from 11am-1pm for their Clydesdale Camera Day and get a chance to snap a shot with one of the famous Busch Clydesdales. If you're a classic car fan, looks like the 51st Annual Concours d'Elegance will be on Saturday in the Upper Muny parking lot in Forest Park. This event features the classics, sporty rides, and mini trucks. And no, I don't know what Concours d'Elegance means. Take a drive to Six Flags at your chance to hunt for 4,000 (yep, that's how many zeros there are) eggs on Sunday, the holiday itself. Be quick to register (registration begins at 10:30), as this is only open to the first 1,000 visitors. Also, this event is only for children 12 and under.

If you're into the Farmers Market thing and live in the Springfield area, you can check out the grand opening of the Spring Gardening Kick-Off. I badly wish Jefferson City had a decent Farmers Market. Nashville living provided me access to the biggest, widest selection of locally grown fruits, veggies, and even meats! It was fabulous. This event is celebrating the new Farmers Market of the Ozarks and will feature vendors, cooking demos, live music, and kiddie to-dos. Be sure to bring canned or box food for donation as a thank you.

Hope somebody out there can get out and enjoy some of these activities. Be sure and let me know what you got to do. Hope everyone has a Hoppy Easter (overused I know, yet I just couldn't resist myself). The Gravel-Roadin' Guru, Pan

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Wishlist Wednesday

Good morning, er... afternoon folks! It may be your afternoon but it definitely isn't mine. After working last night, I slept most of the day, just recently waking up, to prepare for another night shift tonight. Only a couple more weeks of this and I will be working a different shift. Boy, am I ready for it too!

Today's Wishlist Wednesday takes us to....... Wenwood Winery in Bland, MO. On one of our spontaneous gravel-roadin' adventures several years back, Hubby and I stumbled upon this country farm winery off a gravel road (how fitting!) and we haven't forgotten it since that beautiful fall day. Wenwood Winery is located in Bland, MO (I know, I've already said that), at 1132 Brick Church Road to be exact. Bland can be found off Highway 28 just east of Belle and just west of Owensville.

If you are a lover of the fine wines (or the cheap wines, to me it makes me no difference), you have to get to Wenwood! This small-town winery features an assortment of dry or sweet, red or white. The owner of this winery, told Hubby and I that he studied the exquisite art of wine making all the way in Italy (well it was Italy or France, but I'm pretty sure it was Italy). After his wife took over her family's beautiful farm in Bland, they turned some of the old farm buildings into a picturesque setting for a winery. During the spring and summer months, Wenwood Winery plays host to lots of live music events and festivals. You can't tell me that live music, a beautiful setting, and awesome wine isn't calling to you right now!

You can visit Wenwood's website at http://www.wenwoodfarmwinery.com/. See their event calendar for all that's coming up. Until tomorrow, The Gravel-Roadin' Guru, Pan

Monday, April 2, 2012

Karst Topography at Ha Ha Tonka

That's right. Karst topography. Are you reaching back yet? Go ahead, reach back far in your memory (probably middle school years) of Geography. Yesterday, when we were at Ha Ha Tonka State Park, I remembered I had learned this once before. Many years ago actually but we don't have to talk about that. Karst topography means an area that is composed of springs, caves, natural bridges, bluffs, and the like. Exactly what we found yesterday at Ha Ha Tonka. According to one of the brochures I picked up, this park is a prime example of karst topography. If you go there, you can definitely see why. The views are amazing! Sitting on the shores (and encompassing almost an entire cove) of The Lake of the Ozarks, sits this glorious piece of Missouri history.

In the early 1900s, a man named Robert Snyder fell in love with the area now known as Ha Ha Tonka and bought nearly 5000 acres of land here. One year after construction of his castle (as shown above), in 1906, Mr. Snyder died in an auto accident. About 20 years later, his sons finished the castle but another 20 years later, the castle was left in ruins after the devastating fire that brought the castle to the skeleton it is today. Not only is the castle worth visiting, but there are 14 trails, of all lengths to hike. The most scenic (purely my opinion) is the trail bringing you to the spring at the bottom of the bluff. Caution: there are 316 steps to go down and 316 steps to go up!! You think you're in shape until you reach about step 20 on the way back. Talk about working up a sweat!

There are some 48 million gallons of water that run through this spring DAILY! This absolutely amazes me. I can't even begin to imagine how much that actually is. And not only that, the water comes from as far away as 18 miles just to this spring. This area is home to all different wildlife.

See the turtles basking in the afternoon sun? And there is......


Missouri's glorious dogwood trees are in full bloom and sprinkle throughout the wooded acres. Yesterday was even warm enough for some to get the guts to swim in the lake. Not me though. Still too cold. I barely even had the courage to stick my tootsies in for a dip.

All in all, our trip was great. There was so much to explore yet so little time. Baby Girl didn't do too bad being dragged here, there, and everywhere. Be sure to stay in touch this week for more photos of our trip. Hope you're having a great start to your week! Pan

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Sunday Funday...Finally!

Oh folks. It's gonna be a good day. Why? Well, we're fulfilling this week's Wishlist Wednesday and sure enough, we're heading down to the beautiful, blue Lake of the Ozarks and hitting the trails of Ha Ha Tonka State Park. I can't wait! We're taking Baby Girl with us so I hope she will cooperate and enjoy the trails as much as we do.

I've made up a nice chicken salad (grapes included. Yummy!) and have our lunches packed for our picnic lunch. I am so excited. I can't remember the last time I had a picnic lunch. Actually, I'm not sure that I've ever had a picnic lunch. Or if I did, it's just been so long that I can't remember ever having one. Either way, it's been a long time (or not at all). I've got the blanket thrown in the back and Baby Girl's sunblock in the pack. Hehe. I'm a poet and didn't know it. I've got my heavy-duty, strappy, outdoorsy sandals laced and my bug-eye shades in hand. I'm ready!

The last several summers, we haven't even been getting good weather until June. I know Easter is almost always cold (if it's 70 or below, that's cold to me) and usually Mother's Day isn't real warm either. But here we are, a month and a half before Mother's Day with 90 degree temps. Amazing. I'm really feeling the love of the Lord this year. I think He knew I needed lots of sunshine and outdoor time after the many long, agonizing days I spent inside walking with my colic infant.

Make sure and visit me tomorrow so I can show you all my pics and fill you in on the majesty of Ha Ha Tonka. Hope your Sunday is indeed a fun day! Pan

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Late Night Posting

Okay, here I am. 10:30 at night and just now making my daily post. Hey, I can't help it. I've been one busy gal today. Besides being Mommy all day, I made my purchase of garden plantings for the year. My front two flower beds will be full of colorful beauties and the hubby planted the vegetable garden with cucumbers, squash, watermelon (my fav!), okra, green beans, and maters (of course). We do this every year. Till the garden, make straight lines and beautiful hills and plant tons of stuff and usually it bombs. We still do it every year. One of these times we have to get it right. Right?

Tonight we spent time with Hubby's family doing the grill thing. What summer day doesn't deserve a charcoal-grilled dinner? In case you don't know the correct answer, it's NONE!

I hope you got to enjoy this day and are thankful for all God has blessed you with. Be sure to see me tomorrow when I am going to release my Sunday Funday plans! Sleep tight, The Gravel-Roadin' Guru, Pan

Friday, March 30, 2012

Festival Friday

Oh Friday, sweet Friday. Bring on the weekend! After a long work week (I put in 4 shifts instead of my usual 3. And no, 3 shifts isn't lazy-I work 12 hour shifts!), I am so ready to get this weekend started. I think I can honestly declare myself a summerholic. And I'm proud of it! I've decided I need a job that allows me to have off during the summer. If you hear of anything, let me know!

Last week for Festival Friday, we featured the Hermann Wurstfest. Did anybody get down there and eat sausage and watch the weiner derby? We want to hear your stories if you did. For today's Festival Friday, we've got several to-do's around Missouri. If equine-stuff is your forte, Missouri has got the weekend just for you! In Boone County (Columbia), the Maple Leaf Quarter Horse Show will be at the fairgrounds all weekend. If you're going to be down around Springfield, you can hit up the Horsefest at the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds located at 3001 N Grant Ave. The Horsefest features demonstrations, horses on display, and they boast "hundreds" of equine exhibits. This event is daily all weekend from 8:30-5. Last but definitely not least, if you want some major horse action, head to the Sprint Center in Kansas City where the PBR (that stands for Professional Bull Riding if you've been living under a rock for several years) will be for the 11th annual Kansas City Invitational.

Now, for something that sounds kid-friendly and fun to me, Springfield is also hosting the Cherry Blossom Kite Festival in honor of the opening of the Japanese Garden (for the season) at the Botanical Center located at 2400 S Scenic. This event is Saturday only, starting at 11am and ending a short 4 hours later at 3pm. Questions can be phoned to 417-891-1515. If you don't know what a cherry blossom is, I've stolen a picture from the net for you. They are gorgeous trees, I believe to be indiginous to Japan. The trees were brought to the US from Japan in 1912 (a gift of 3,000 to be exact), and planted in Washington DC by First Lady Taft and a Japanese ambassador's wife. From there, it just blossomed. Get it! Ha!

For all you history enthusiasts, you need to get to Branson. On Sunday, the Centennial History Museum opens downtown and then all weekend, "Branson Salutes Vietnam Veterans". For all the info for the veterans, see http://www.bransonveteransevents.com/ or call 417-230-2278.

Get outside Missouri! I know I will. Until tomorrow, Pan

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Trail Thoughts

Afternoon Missouri! Hope everybody's  day has been swell so far. Mine is just getting started (worked last night and again tonight). Well, yesterday we talked about Ha Ha Tonka State Park down by Camdenton (Lake of the Ozarks area). After I posted, I spent a little more time researching the area. I had no idea how many trails this park has! There are 14 different trails ranging from 0.2 miles to 6.5 miles so really there's something for everybody. I'm excited! Hope you all can come join me there soon! Pan

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Wishlist Wednesday

Happy Wishlist Wednesday, Missouri! We are having another absolutely beautiful day! I am loving it! I just had my first Guru whoops. I had my whole entry completely typed and low and behold, gone! I have no idea what happened. So, here we go again. For our 2nd edition of Wishlist Wednesday, I am wishing to go to Ha Ha Tonka State Park down at the Lake of the Ozarks. I have been itching to hit some awesome trails and soak up all this sunshine and this would be just the perfect place to do it! If you've never been here before, you don't know what you're missing! Miles of hiking trails, caves to explore, fishing down on the lake, and let's not forget the empowering castle ruins, which were mostly destroyed by a fire years ago. You can spend a whole day here and probably not see all the park has to offer. So, strap on your hiking shoes and get on down to Ha Ha Tonka State Park. Until tomorrow, this is The Gravel-Roadin' Guru, Pan

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Travel Tip Tuesday

Happy Tuesday folks! Glad to have you with me here again. Today is the first edition of Travel Tip Tuesday. Now, again, this is all still in the works so I definitely need your input. Loveit, like it, or like it not at all? Our tip for this week is: Buy an atlas or map and leave it in your car. We are living in a world where everything is just a button away. I have an iPhone, I know about this. I can be just about anywhere and push my "Maps" button on my phone pinpointing my location within seconds. However, even with our awesome technological advances, this is Missouri and we do still have hills and hollers. You hopefully know that cell phone service isn't guaranteed. During our adventures together, we'll definitely be taking some back roads and I assure you that map will come in handy. Not only is it handy for the obvious reasons, but also for targeting future destinations. There have been several times before where Robby and I have come across some waterway that we knew we wanted to kayak but couldn't right then and there. I would put an "X" marks the spot and then we knew how to get back to that one super cool place (usually out in the middle of nowhere). I hope ya'll are enjoying this beautiful day! See you back here again tomorrow with our Wishlist Wednesday. Until then, The Gravel-Roadin' Guru, Pan

Monday, March 26, 2012

Happy Monday, Missouri!

Good morning all! Happy to have you back here with me today. While most of you are at work and hard at it already, I have my barefeet kicked up while on my sun porch drinking my morning Cup-O-Jo. Why is it called that anyway? How did they get "Jo" from "coffee"? Enlighten me please if you happen to be the one fantastically great trivia person who knows the answer to this query. So, if you've been following me, you'll know that I spent my Saturday morning (and what a gorgeous one it was!) roaming the walks of our glorious State Capital, here in Jefferson City. I'm sure most of you have seen the Capital building or may have even taken a tour (most of us were probably dragged here as children for a fieldtrip in school). Have you ever really toured the grounds and gotten to relish in it's beauty?

If any of you have children, you would have been able to participate in the Easter egg hunt that was taking place in the Governor's Gardens at the Governor's Mansion, just down the street from the Capital.

For those of you who don't know, this building sits atop a hill on the banks of the Missouri. During the summer months, the fountains are full of water. Go ahead, toss in your coin and make a wish! The landscaping is amazing. The tulips and other spring beauties are at their most beautiful right now (great for shooting some photos).

Aside from all this, there are the railroad tracks, the Old Lohman Building, and the Rozier Gallery to view.

The Old Lohman Building sits on the right

I think a lot of folks had the same idea as me. There were a lot of roamers on Saturday. It was great to see people getting out and about!

There's something about a train that gives you that "old world charm" feeling

So, what are you waiting for? Get out of that chair and  engulf yourself in all Downtown Jefferson City has to offer! I will see you back here again tomorrow. Pan, The Gravel-Roadin' Guru

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Oh Glorious Sunday

Happy Fantastic Sunday Folks! The flowers are definitely in bloom right now. This is just a tiny sampling of what's to come this week, when I talk about my couple hour venture to the State Capital in Jefferson City. I got to spend yesterday morning with a friend and her kiddos (and of course, my beautiful baby girl!) at the gorgeous capital building right here in our own backyard! I hope everybody has gotten a chance to "blow the stink off 'em" (as my momma would say, because her momma said it) this weekend, as we're on our last day to enjoy it before it's back to the ole grind. Unfortunately for me, I am back to the ole grind in about an hour (for my day job duty-or night job as it happens to be). I hope you're enjoying this weather at least one tiny bit of how much I am. Robby and I always remark on how we're pretty sure that the both of us are solar powered. The amount of energy that comes flowing through my bones when the weather turns nice is unreal! I'm so glad we had a short lived winter and it looks as if the spring weather is here to stay. Tell me, what'd you do this weekend? Remember, there's more to come of my weekend adventure. Until then, this is The Gravel-Roadin' Guru, Pan