Travelogue -- Day Six, Lake of the Ozarks State Park
Thursday Morning was chilly and windy, and the early morning boat ride was considerably less peaceful, but fun all the same. I was commenting to Erik, who was my paddle boat partner that morning, how fast we were going for so little effort. He said nothing then, but later as we neared the dock, when I suggested we go on the other way, he said he was too exhausted. It was then I realized that Erik was doing all the work. No wonder it seemed easy to me. We laughed about that the rest of the trip.
There were wonderful chocolate muffins and raspberries delivered to our door that morning. All of the pastries that Yvonne provided were delicious, but I think that was my favorite. But then, how can one go wrong with chocolate? Jill and Erik again had a hearty breakfast of eggs and bacon, along with the muffins and fruit.
We got away a little earlier that morning. We took Chris's car that time and decided to give the search for the old swimming beach one more shot, since we now had a credible lead complete with a recent map provided by the visitor's center at Willmore Lodge. Chris was really into the spirit of reliving family traditions and promised a quarter to the first person who saw a split-rail fence. Daddy often made such offers to occupy us kids during car trips. It was Erik who collected the quarter from Chris when he spotted a split-rail fence soon after we entered Lake of the Ozarks State Park. I placed my camera on the back of the car, set it on delay, and ran over to join the others on the fence for a shot.
It wasn't long before we found the beach marked on the map. As soon as we saw the stone steps down to the beach, Chris and I knew it had to be the right place. There were some changes in the last forty years, but there was no mistaking that we had found the beach we remembered. It wasn't a day for swimming - much too chilly - and the scenery was far from the most inspiring we had seen, or would see, but it was good of Erik and Jill to indulge our nostalgic desire to go there. We really enjoyed walking around the area where we had vacationed so many times as kids.
The lady at the Willmore had also told us about the Swinging Bridges area that was worth seeing, and she had given us directions, so that is where we went next. I learned later that the bridges were built in 1929 when Bagnell Dam backed up waters over country roads near Brumley, Missouri. Auglaize Creek was formed from the coming together of the wet and dry Glaize, which are the backwaters of the Glaize Arm of the Lake of the Ozarks.
It was a pretty area, but a little scary because the slats of the old vine-covered bridge had large gaps allowing one to see the creek below clearly. We drove over the smaller of the two, then Erik, Chris and I decided to walk across the larger bridge. I'm not sure Jill ever crossed the bridge. She explored the shore below instead.
Chris walked part way out on the bridge then freaked out as the gaps between the slats got larger. Erik, ever the intrepid one, had to rescue her. She held onto the railing with one hand and onto Erik with the other as he led her slowly and deliberately back off the bridge. I thought it odd that Chris was always alarming me by going too close to the edge of cliffs, yet the bridge frightened her and not me; but I guess logic is irrelevant in such matters.
The view from the bridge was lovely. That part of the lake, if it can be considered that, was very peaceful and beautiful and completely free of commercialization and development. I'm glad at least part of the lake area was left unspoiled.
We planned to eat lunch back at the cottages where we had some boiled eggs ready to make egg salad sandwiches. We needed a side dish, though. Several people had recommend the fried potato salad at a local eatery called Backwater Jack's. We made a quick stop at the grocery store and a Harry and David's store for a jar of Pepper and Onion Relish to make dip. Then we went looking for the restaurant, which was hard to find. After a wrong turn or two, we found it right on the lake and purchased four servings to go of the celebrated potato dish.
Chris mixed up the dip and I made the egg salad sandwiches when we got back to the cottages. The dip, which was just cream cheese mixed with the relish, was absolutely fantastic with Triskets. After tasting the fried potato salad, we wondered why it was praised so lavishly. As far as I could tell it was just a potato salad made with fried potatoes instead of boiled, and not as tasty as most other potato salad. But it was an experience, and we can now say we've had the famous Backwater Jack's fried potato salad.
Erik was hoping to see a cave, so after lunch we drove to Ozark Caverns in the part of the state park that is south of the Glaize arm of the lake. Alas, the cave was closed. There was, however, a mile-long self-guided trail called the Coakley Hollow Trail that we decided to hike.
The were huge boulders along the trail covered with lichens, mosses and ferns. We passed a lovely spring fed stream and a glade, but most of the trail was wooded, including oak and butternut trees, and swamp dogwood and willow shrubs. Jill took a booklet that explained different areas along the trail. She was in rare form, and played the part of tour guide. At each station, she read to us from the booklet. It was great fun.
For supper we fixed a delectable chicken dish, an oven fried chicken encrusted with almonds, breadcrumbs, and Parmesan cheese. It was Chris's recipe again and wonderful.
We served baked potatoes, peas and carrots with it. I think it was my favorite meal we cooked at the lake. That evening I started the cinnamon rolls for which we had bought ingredients. We didn't need them, but if I didn't make them then, I probably wouldn't get around to it.
We had also bought stuff to make smores, so when it was dark, Erik put a log in the chiminia down on the dock and we tried to toast marshmallows to make smores. It didn't work out too well. It was cold, and we had neglected to get sticks on which to toast the marshmallows. We found a wire that sort of worked, but we needed coals, not a flame. We gave that adventure up before half the chocolate bars were gone and went back to the cottage where it was warm and hot cocoa, candy, a puzzle, and scrabble awaited.
I baked the cinnamon rolls late that night before bed. I went to sleep thinking about how much we had overeaten, how much fun we were having, and how our visit was going way too fast. Just one more day before we had to go home.