Hiking in the Ozarks! (Desoto, MO) Part 2

Our October 2021 hiking vacation, so to speak, continued on a good note! We were watching the weather closely and discovered the mid west gets a lot of rain storms. But like us in Myrtle Beach, the systems move fast and it seemed the ground dried out. We were prepared for indoor activities just in case….It looked like both Thursday and Friday had high chances of rain. We don’t mind those days as we enjoy museums and other interesting inside venues – such as caves!

Bill and I tried to scuba dive one time, in Cancun. We had “free” snorkeled a lot but those opportunities were disappearing as the reefs were becoming damaged from all the snorkelers. Snorkeling was becoming “controlled” which meant more people going out together so they could be closely monitored. The idea of scuba diving seemed the answer to enjoying that beauty under the ocean! We were optimistic we could scuba dive, but Bill was just too buoyant while I had a hard time equalizing. We did manage an hour in plus 30′ but pretty much declared it wasn’t for us. So to see a dive sign at the nearby Bonne Terre mines initially put Bill off. I looked closer and saw it included an underground boat tour. It just looked worth the price of admission – and it was!

When Bill was checking out what was around DeSoto, Missouri, where we were staying, I am sure he saw the website. If you only read this and have had a somewhat unpleasant experience trying to scuba dive, no wonder you would dismiss this as a rainy day activity:

This unique adventure, can be your “Dive to the Center of the Earth”. Bonne Terre Mine, a national historic site, is the world’s largest fresh water dive resort. Water conditions remain constant with over 100 foot visibility, Sights include: mammoth architecture, guaranteed year round diving conditions. Cal falls, oar carts, scaffolding, grating, staircases, pillars, slurry pipes, the famed elevator shaft, and much more. Bonne Terre Mine is without a doubt one of the most unusual, beautiful, and relaxing full service dive resorts anywhere…..” https://www.bonneterremine.com/about

I looked closer at the website and saw a video that let me know we didn’t have to be divers! They had both a walking tour and boat tour of this incredible mine: “Worlds Largest Subterranean Lake! A guided tour by boat, of the Billion Gallon Lake with its crystal clear water, and spectacular view of the largest parts of the mine. See the No. 1 Elevator, Submerged Ore Carts, Wrapped Pillars, and Ancient Abandoned Overhead Wooden Cat Walks suspended 50-100 feet above the lake.” (also from the above website.)

Boat Tour photo from Bonne Terre Mine website

10/14/2021 Our tour guide was full of great information. But I didn’t take notes so copied a little from “wikizero.”

“St. Joseph Lead Mine at Bonne Terre, is a historic lead mine located at Bonne Terre, St. Francois County, Missouri. It was built starting in 1864 by the St. Joe Lead Company, and is located below the city of Bonne Terre. The mine closed in 1962. It was added to the National Registry of Historic Places in 1974.”

Like most underground caves/caverns/mines, taking pictures underground are challenging. So here are a few of our pictures. But I would recommend going to the website and look at theirs done professionally. If you are into sci-fi movies, portions of the 80s movie, The Abyss, were filmed here.

As it turned out, it was only overcast. It was still early enough in the day, we decided to check out another state park for a short hike. Somehow, we couldn’t find the entrance as the GPS took us to a dead end, virtually. On our way back to the main road, we saw a sign, “Missouri Mines State Historic Site,” We decided, why not check it out? But it looked closed as we drove up. But it looked like we could at least walk around. Then we saw a ranger truck and an “entrance.” What a delightful treat. And to think about it, our tour guide did mention it!

Lead has been big business in the eastern Ozarks since about 1720. Come explore its history – and see the processing plant of the former St. Joe Lead Company – in the heart of the Old Lead Belt at Missouri Mines State Historic Site. The mine’s former powerhouse has been turned into a museum that interprets the area’s lead mining history, displays actual machinery from the mines and houses one of the Midwest’s finest mineral collections.” From Missouri State Parks website

10/14/2021 We woke up the next morning with 80% chances of rain. No regrets taking the day off, but now what to do? The closest museum was back up in St. Louis. It wasn’t a bad drive plus it there is a Costco on the way there, or rather back, so we could fill up at a good price before we take off for Arkansas.

As soon as we drove up to the St. Louis Historical Society Museum, Bill said we were here before! Oh the aging brain, I had no memory of it until we got inside. It was before we converted this blog from our Marriage Blog to our Travel Blog, so pre-2013. We had flown Bill’s mom into St. Louis and then took her to spend time with Bill’s brother and wife. She would stay a month or so. We had an early flight back to Sebring so decided to stay the day and night in St. Louis.

We always enjoy history museums so this trip, we could see what we remembered and what we forgot! There just wasn’t any other venue that interested us at this time – since I didn’t seem to remember much. Bill is most interested in music history so this one has a large exhibit, St. Louis Sound. I even enjoyed it as so many of the musicians were some of my favorite from back in the day. WOW, you know you are old when people you there were contemporaries are in a history museum!!! LOL

I didn’t remember much about the “Beyond the Ballot: St. Louis and Suffrage. I should have asked if it was new or if my brain had really aged….It was wonderful and we both enjoyed the stories of all the woman who were really leaders in so much more than ballot issues! So many St. Louis women were pioneers in making life better for the sick and for children. To me, most of the women I read about were also women of faith and were responding to their calling to serve as Jesus served. That always lights my fire and makes me wonder what more can I do for our Lord? I am so thankful for the Children’s ministry in our church so I am serving there on Sundays and whenever I can do more.

As a child, Bill and his family attended the New York World’s Fair. So he was eager to look over the exhibit of the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. It was well done. It made us wonder what happened to the World’s Fairs? Believe it or not, they have continued on. But they have waned a bit. I didn’t dig too deeply but did see there was an effort to bring one back to the USA in 2023 for the first time in 40 years! The bid was won by Buenos Aires, Argentina and will be the first one there since the inception.

10/15/2021 Moving day! We checked out and then headed west. Ideally, we hoped to spend the night in Fayetteville, Arkansas. I have family there. We don’t follow sports so had no idea the hotels would all be sold out for the Razorbacks! Thankfully, my Arkansas family, all Razorback fans, understood our delay! So we needed a place to stay between DeSoto, Missouri and Fayetteville, Arkansas. Plus, we wanted a place with hiking nearby!

We determined the best area for hotel selections and hiking was St. Robert, near the Fort Leonard Wood US Army base. This area is relatively new. The Army base was built in 1940 as a training facility for the Sixth Infantry. Soon afterwards, it expanded to the 8th, the 70th, the 75th and the 97th.

“St. Robert, bordered by and north of Fort Leonard Wood had its origin in the early days of World War II. After construction of the Fort Leonard Wood army base 1941 the population swelled in that area. At that time, the only Catholic Church in Pulaski County was at Dixon and the few Catholics in the Waynesville area attended church there. Some of the people asked the pastor, Father Herman Schuessler, if he could come to Waynesville to celebrate Mass on Sunday, so starting in June 1942, Father Schuessler came to Waynesville each Sunday, where he celebrated Mass in a theater….

“An interesting note about the naming of the parish was told by Father Arnold. In discussing a patron saint for the parish, Cardinal Ritter asked Father Arnold what his first name was. The priest said his name was Robert. Cardinal Ritter said we will name the church St. Robert and the patron saint will be St. Robert Bellarmine, a Jesuit Cardinal and scholar of the 16th century, who had been canonized a saint in 1930. The town that grew up around St. Robert Church was also was named St. Robert.”

From History of St. Robert, MO website

This was an amazing week, topped off with a wonderful visit with family, both in Arkansas and back in Missouri. We have been visiting family in Missouri for over a decade and had no idea of the beauty in the Ozarks. We had hoped to get in more miles but it seems my knees just want to grow old and slow me down. They actually cooperated but something is definitely going on. I was a avid runner back in the day. Obsessed might be a better description. It would irate my mom for some reason. Once she warned me I was going to wear out my knees. I laughed at her and said how could that be???

“Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?” Job 12:12

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