Last summer I went on a very fun road trip out to Saint Louis with my husband and dogs. I had previously spent lots of time in the Saint Louis area, but had never been to southern Missouri or Arkansas. After having read Gone Girl, I was pretty excited to be driving through this part of the country. Plus I was dying for some mountain scenery.
The plan was to hike along the Lovit trail with our backpacks and set up camp as it started to get dark. Unfortunately, no one had warned us about the Arkansas ticks and we were unprepared when, 3 miles in, we noticed them on every square inch of our bodies. We panicked, ran back to the car, and drove to the nearest open car-camping site where we could pick off the ticks.
The first place we went was Moonshine Beach, which was so nice we didn’t want to leave. The water was beautifully clear and the temperature was perfect. That night we saw Shepherd of the Hills, a play based on the novel that made Branson famous. It was a fabulous outdoor production with live animals and fire – I highly recommend it. The next day we stand up paddleboarded on Table Rock Lake, hung out at the beach some more, and visited the Titanic Museum. We couldn’t find any decent-looking restaurants, so we cooked for ourselves the whole time in our vacation rental condo.
Ha Ha Tonka and Lake of the Ozarks
This was my favorite hiking of the entire trip. This park has it all: castle ruins, dolomite cliffs, rock bridges, a beautiful lake, an island, and clear springs. The spring was so clear and fresh and beautiful, and we saw wild muskrats by the water. We ate dinner at a floating restaurant called Larry’s on the Lake, where I had a delicious home-made veggie burger and fresh snap peas. Large catfish swam below our table, and the restaurant had fish food that we could throw in the water.
We camped for the night at Lake of the Ozarks State Park, where we witnessed a spectacular sunset and a sky full of stars. I’m hoping to go back to this part of the state for a longer visit.