• 31Aug
    Categories: life Comments: 1

    Ah…vacation. Just the word vacation evokes pleasant thoughts of airplanes and autos conveying us to destinations that range from mountains to beaches, from cities to the country, sometimes even out of the country. This year, we had planned on taking a road trip to visit our neighbors to the north, do some fly fishing, see Niagara Falls…. But we changed our mind and decided instead to plan a relaxing trip closer to home. So several weeks ago we left civilization behind and spent a week in the woods.

    Our goal was to learn the ins and outs of fly fishing. I had previously purchased a fly rod for my husband, but life had gotten too hectic for him to have a chance to use it. This year, he bought me a rod of my own so that I could participate, rather than just being an observer and knitting on the sidelines.

    We planned a trip to Bennett Springs in Missouri and chose to stay in a quiet little cabin not far from the state park. We took casting lessons, which lasted 4 hours in 100 degree heat. It was a hot and sweaty afternoon, but fun and rewarding to (attempt to) master some basic casting skills. We were ready to hit the river the next morning, and were very excited about the trout we would catch! We just needed some more gear. We planned to rent waders, but they were not available in my size, so I became the owner of my very own set of hip waders. I am trying to start a new trend in boots for fall.

    {Waders: The latest trend in fashionable footwear}

    Benjamin, on the other hand, rented some full length waders. They even had a pocket inside the front for holding his pliers, box of flies, etc. I was envious of the pocket, but I just loaded up my fly box and pocket knife on an O-ring and clipped it to my belt loop. On our first day of fishing we went out in the later morning and again in the evening, but with no success.

    On the second day of fishing, we were up before dawn and out on the river when the starting horn blew. I enjoyed the sounds of the insects and the mist rising from the river. It was a calming contrast to our whole-body efforts to successfully cast the fly onto the water in a way that would appeal to the trout. We casted and casted, then casted some more. Benjamin was successful and caught the first fish. You can see him looking at it in the above picture and showing it off proudly below. (Animal Rights Activists: Do not worry, no trout were killed on our fishing trip.)

    {I think that standing in the water with waders on makes him look like an Oompa Loompa, rather than a 6-foot-tall man, lol. I know it is just an optical illusion.}

    I have to admit it: the trout triumphed on this trip. I did manage to get two different trout on my hook, but I got excited and tried to reel them in too fast. Both times they broke my line. By this time it was raining and we were both soaked and chilled. A warm shower and some dry clothes sounded wonderful.

    After donning fresh clothes and having lunch, we set out on another adventure. We decided to travel an hour to Springfield, MO and visit Fantastic Caverns. We are cave enthusiasts (our favorite being Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. I recommend the Introduction to Caving Tour to those who are interested, and the Wild Cave Tour to the adventurous.) We were underwhelmed and unimpressed by Fantastic Caverns. The tours are given via a tram pulled by a jeep. I cringed as I thought about what the exhaust fumes must be doing to the cave’s eco system. The tour guide mentioned that occasionally they will see a small bat, but usually they are scared away by the noise produced by the vehicles. Imagine that. The other thing that I disliked was that the cave was daylight-bright. The tour was definitely not worth the $21.50 price of an adult ticket.

    On the final day of our trip, while driving back home, we stopped at another cave on a whim. I think we partially wanted to find something to erase the memories of the over-commercialized and overpriced cave we had visited the previous day. Onondaga Cave State Park was pretty and clean. The cave tour was $10 for adults, which we found to be reasonable. The tour was informative and interesting. The cave was adequately lit for walking, but dim enough to maintain a sense of mystery. My favorite room was the Lily Pad Room with its lily pad-like stalagmite formations. These were formed by mineral rich water that dripped down from the stalactites above then hit the surface of the water, scattering the minerals to form shelf-like stalagmites that appear to float on the water’s surface. This was the first time I had seen this type of formation, so it was definitely a highlight.

    All in all, it was a very relaxing and restful vacation. Our cabin had a kitchen, so we were able to purchase groceries and spend quiet evenings listening to the insects and watching the sunlight dim over the treetops. We had no internet and no cell phone service and, while I felt rather isolated, I enjoyed the reprieve.

    Now summer is coming to a close, and I wish it had lasted just a bit longer. We do have plans to go on one or two fly fishing weekend trips this fall, which I am looking forward to.


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