Ha Ha Tonka — It’s No Joke


Missouri Day Trip: Ridgedale to Kansas City

Ha Ha Tonka State Park                                                                  Roadtrippers Map
Lake of the Ozarks
Closest Town: Camdenton, Missouri
About 158 miles from Kansas City and 178 miles from St. Louis
As with all Missouri State Parks, it is dog-friendly

From their brochure:
With its intriguing history and outstanding geologic features, Ha Ha Tonka State Park is one state park that should not be missed.  The park is a geologic wonderland with sinkholes, caves, a huge natural bridge, sheer bluffs, and Missouri’s 12th-largest spring.  The ruins of a turn-of-the-century stone castle overlook those wonders and offer impressive views of the Lake of the Ozarks and Ha Ha Tonka Spring.

 
 

I’ve wanted to visit this Missouri State Park for several years — it’s an Instagram favorite. It’s best known for its castle ruins, and its beautiful location at the top of a hill overlooking the Lake of the Ozarks. It’s easily explored via trails, boardwalks, and staircases.  And many stairs. Lots of stairs. Still … that’s better than blazing your own trail.

Continue reading

Roadtrippin’ the Palouse – A Wanderer’s Guide to the Rolling Hills of Eastern Washington

This was Days 16-20 of a fabulous Fall road trip a couple of years ago. This leg was Seattle to Ellensburg to Pullman, Washington — 289 miles. If you fly, Spokane is the closest airport.

Holiday Inn Express, Pullman, $121/night with a AAA discount + $20/night pet fee. Nice, recently-renovated hotel. Big room; lots of green space to walk the dog, and they don’t mind if you leave the dog in the room (they even give you a tag for the door that says Do Not Disturb/Dog Napping) (love that!). Located close to Washington State University, so be sure to book in advance on football game weekends. This is football country!

I’d wanted to visit The Palouse, famous for its photogenic landscapes, for years and finally made it part of my long roadtrip home (the move from California back to my home state, Missouri).  Most photographers visit in the spring when the rolling hills of eastern Washington are like green velvet, but I think Fall in The Palouse is absolutely gorgeous, in a whole other beautiful way. I was there towards the end of October, long after the wheat harvest, and I used Pullman as my headquarters and spent 4 days wandering aimlessly around The Palouse, which I highly recommend. If your time is more restricted there are lots of local photographers there who offer photo tours, but I really enjoy wandering.

Fair warning: I include a LOT of highway shots from behind the wheel. I do it to remember the journey, and hopefully share the thrill of discovery. You can discover the beautiful red barn when I do, resting peacefully just off the highway in a beautiful field, or perched precariously near the highway curve because it was there long before the highway interrupted.

Continue reading

Road Trip – Dinosaurs, Crabs, and Another Lighthouse

Gold Beach to Bandon-by-the-Sea, Oregon,  55 miles

Another beautiful day on Highway 101…

Photo by Stephanie Roberts, ObsessiveHobbyist.com


PREHISTORIC GARDENS

http://www.prehistoricgardens.com/

This one was a surprise. I automatically stop at all roadside attractions — just can’t resist the kitsch. But I didn’t expect an education. The gardens here are so well-maintained, and the information about the gardens and the dinosaurs is presented on friendly, easy-to-digest signs along the way. The most fun thing was to see the real size of dinosaurs in person (yep, they were huge).

Continue reading

Jackpot – Gold Beach, Oregon

Gold Beach is really all about the beach. Make sure you find a hotel with an oceanfront view and access (I loved the Pacific Reef Inn), and spend your time beachcombing and watching gorgeous sunsets.

Continue reading

Roadside Attractions – Klamath, California to Gold Beach, Oregon

75 miles
Gas $2.75/gallon (thank you, Oregon!)
Pacific Reef Inn, Gold Beach
$99/night + $20 pet fee
Oceanfront room with full ocean view and private patio

Before cruising out of Klamath (minus several $$$ left behind in the Redwood Casino), I cruised through town. Whenever I’m in redwood country I feel compelled to drive through a tree. It’s not PC, I know, but you kinda have to admire the business model, at least. All day long, Jewel at Tour Thru Tree (I think Drive-Thru Tree was already taken) sits there (or goes to the post office and leaves a note), collecting $5. And there can’t be much maintenance on a 785-year-old tree.

Continue reading

Funky Fun – Samoa Cookhouse and an Indian Casino

Eureka, California to Klamath, California
65 miles
Gas $3.02/gallon (why is it going up?)
Holiday Inn Express in Klamath (great, brand new hotel attached to a tiny Indian casino)
$117/night + $25/pet fee

Just north of Eureka is the Samoa Cookhouse – I love finding unique places like this (thanks, Roadtrippers). It’s off the beaten path, but worth the 15-minute drive from Highway 101. Built circa 1893, it’s the last lumber camp-style cookhouse still in operation in North America. Established by the Vance Lumber Company, Samoa is one of the last company-owned towns in the US, and the cookhouse was operated for the working lumberjacks. Today, they still encourage you to eat like a lumberjack. Continue reading

The Long Road Home… or…Mid-Life Evolution, part 2

Why???

That seems to be the universal question when I tell people I’m leaving California’s central coast to move to Missouri. But they all understand the answer: for family. What they don’t know is that Missouri is a beautiful state, the people are nice…I mean really nice. My parents are getting older and I want to spend time with them while I can — I left Missouri for California 34 years ago, so…it’s time.  The worst thing about Missouri is the winters. When I first moved to Los Angeles in 1981 I thought…what took me so long? And…if everyone has a choice, then why doesn’t everyone live in California? And it was a blast…33 years in Los Angeles, and the last year-and-a-half in Pebble Beach. Pretty good. (Someday I’ll insert a link here with more details).

Continue reading