September 5th, 2022

Clouds…cool weather…a real need to get out of the house…all sound like good excuses for a road trip!

Missouri has fantastic state parks

This morning I loaded up the dog and we hit the road. We both needed to get out and get some walking in plus just a change of scenery was nice. Our first stop was Weston Bend State Park near Weston, MO.

I had been to Weston Bend many years ago but really didn’t remember much about it. This is a really nice little park that has excellent picnic, hiking and camping…as all of the MO State Parks I have been in also have. Lots of trees and all sorts of things to look at. There’s a dog park, birdwatching, interpretive programs, playgrounds…something for everyone.

We started out taking a hike near the Tobacco Barn parking lot. These types of barns have spaces between the siding boards to facilitate air movement to dry the leaves. They would be draped over poles or hung to dry in some other fashion. At some point there would be auctions to sell the tobacco crop. The crops are then shipped off to a factory.

Tobacco has had a long history in the area. There were many tobacco fields and barns I remember seeing when I was a kid. There used to be lots of apples in the area as well. Even though I did not see much tobacco, apparently it still has an impact since I saw both older and newer tobacco warehouses.

We hit the trail and it was a very nice hike.

Lots of trees and understory to look at and I always like to try to figure out what things are as I hike. A few different oaks, some maples, poison ivy & oak, I think some sarsaparilla trees, and many others – some I could not identify. There is a decent amount of hiking through these woods – over ten miles of trails! The campsite look really nice and, as with all of these state parks, well-maintained.

We made a loop to the paved road through the park and walked back on it. I usually don’t do an out-and-back hike unless there are no other options. I like to see all I can see.

The dog was worn out already! It was starting to get a bit humid so we got some water and went on the the Scenic Overlook.

We got there but someone decided to picnic right in the way and I had to squeeze in front of them to get a picture. It was foggy still so the views were a bit less than I was hoping. I’m sure I’ll be back again and will explore much more.

Scenic Ovetlook – Weston Bend State Park, Westin, MO

We left and went into downtown Weston, MO. I have not been here in probably 40 years and it still looks like the same town. Weston has a history of being a river port city and by 1858 was recognized as the largest hemp port in the world. Let’s hope that comes back! It’s a quiet little town with lots of tourist shops & restaurants and can get quite busy in the summers.

Our next stop, Lewis and Clark State Park, however, was a new place for me to visit. There’s a lot of history around this area with Lewis & Clark’s expedition. Actually there’s a lot of history of all sorts in this general area. More on that later.

This park sits on the edge of a village and features an oxbow lake. There’s birdwatching, picnic areas, a decent campground (which we did not drive through) and about a mile of hiking. There’s a short interpretive trail which is concrete and goes back to a lookout over the lake. It’s a nice little park.

We got back in the truck and headed north, then west across the river into Atchison, KS. I have been here before but I never spend any time in the town. It is the birthplace of Amelia Earhart, and has the distinction of being the most haunted city in the U.S.

We went on south into Leavenworth, KS. It is the first city in Kansas. In the battle over slavery Kansas was a “Free State”, while just across the river is Missouri, a “Slave State”. Missouri had a tenuous relationship with slavery; They wanted slaves but also wanted to remain in the United States, mostly pressured by people in Kansas City (MO side) and St. Louis.

I remember hearing in my younger days about tunnels running under the Missouri River from Missouri into Leavenworth as part of the Underground Railroad. I knew people that had been in them before they were (unfortunately) eventually closed off for access. There is even a section of Leavenworth that has an “underground not unlike Seattle’s Underground though not nearly as big.

It felt good to get out of the house and it was even better walking in the woods. I have missed that quite a bit. It reminded me of one of my favorite parks in Washington – Robin Hill County Park. The dog was enjoying the hiking as much as I was, but he was wasted when we got back to the truck!

And I need to get off my ass and get more exercise since the weather is better. The last eighteen months has shown me the importance of health.

That’s all for today. Enjoy the rest of your day and thanks for reading my blog!

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