] Around Columbia: July 2009

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Shelter Insurance Fountain

Shelter Insurance is famous for its five acre garden and many weddings, picnics, and ordinary day outings have utilized that beautiful space. Also, the park is the setting for the annual garden concert series which celebrated 33 consecutive years this summer. Less well know is the fountain.

I have been taking my kids to that fountain for nearly twenty five years. That time period spanned my life as a young father in college to a working professional teaching at Columbia College lucky enough to have two kids left at home. Usually we will get ice cream and go sit and watch the fountain and we are almost never alone. When I took these pictures I was there for about an hour and during that time at least twenty people had come and gone before I left. It is also a nice place to talk and the sound of the water, besides being relaxing, conveniently makes eavesdropping nearly impossible.

Although many people just drive by I urge you to stop in and park and enjoy the fountain while perhaps starting a new family tradition.

One thing about the harsh economic times is that it provides us an opportunity to rethink how we live, spend our money, and utilize the time we have on this earth. Sometimes you don't have to travel far to find sights to see and things to do.

During my lifetime a lot of things have changed in Columbia. I am thankful that the Shelter Garden and fountain are not among the things I love that have disappeared. Thanks to Shelter Insurance not only for providing jobs but also a wonderful aesthetically pleasing addition to our community. All corporate entities should be such good neighbors.

If you are driving by on West Broadway some evening, during the season when the fountain is on, do yourself a favor and stop for awhile.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Graham Cave State Park

Located about 40 miles from Columbia, just off of I-70, at the East 170 Exit heading toward St. Louis, is Graham Cave State Park.

View Larger Map

Graham Cave may be one of the best kept secrets as far as campgrounds go if you are looking to get away from the crowds, like hiking, and are looking perhaps for something a little bit quieter. If your looking for a the RV kind of atmosphere but would like to be next to the park there are two private campgrounds located on both sides of the interstate along the access roads each less than two miles from the highway. We checked both of them out and they were both clean and well equipped with nice swimming pools. At least one of them had wifi access. As near as I can tell most private campgrounds now have wifi access which is an interesting sign of the times.

We visited Graham Cave in a scouting expidition in anticipation of a family campout. My impression is that the campground is spacious, well maintained, and under-utilized. We are going to spend two nights there in the near future. Here is a visual tour of the campground and the pictures are in the order that I took them:

The actual entrance:

Jenifer and Hannah outside the park office:

They were looking at this map which shows up well in the picture below:

Parts of the park roadway are wide and spacious:

Other roadways are narrow. The speed limit is 10 mph and there IS law enforcement with radar to enforce it.

Shower house and bathroom located in the camping area. There is also an on site host nearby:

One of several trails located in the park:

The next five pictures are from the western boundary of the park which is bounded by the Loutre Creek which latter turns into the Loutre River.

Why the boot ramp is out of commission I have no idea but the banks of the creek/river showed signs of recent flooding. We have had a lot of rain here in Missouri lately.

There in the middle of the picture is I - 70 At this point in the park you are perhaps about 100 yards from the interstate.

This area is at the end of a huge parking lot. There is also a small playground, one of at least two located in the park, not shown in the picture. The cave is located up this trail but we did not visit it since we are saving that for when we actually do camp:

If I had to characterize this park in one word it would be "lonely." It seems more isolated than it is with the interstate running on the southern side of the park. Overall a nice park and one that is located rather conveniently to Columbia.

Missouri Department of Natural Resources web site for this park:http://www.mostateparks.com/grahamcave.htm