Monday, January 21, 2013

Mid-MO Monday - Vol. 2

Because the temps are in the single digits tonight (below my temperature threshold for outdoor running) and my incision from last week's minor procedure is precluding bike trainer time and because I feel like it again - you get another volume of Mid-Missouri Monday.  Tonight, I will focus on the awesomeness that is having many waterways/impoundments within a short distance to be enjoyed when temps are not quite so cold.
  • Binder Lake - operated by our City parks dept.  It is a pretty big lake (155 acres) in our largest City park (644 acres).  While few outside of the Jeff City area really know this lake, I feel like I grew up on it.  My dad kept meticulous maps and notes of about 30 years that he fished there.  He named each little cove.  He (and I for that matter) could tell you all sorts of stories/memories of the waters there.  We fished from his boat, from the bank and wading in the water.  I had never been on the trails until last summer, but look forward to doing some more trail running out there this year (when we get back out of the single digits).
  • McKay Lake - another local park lake - much smaller (20 acres) with a 0.6 mile trail around it.  My father-in-law lives about a block away so sometimes we walk there.  When I was a kid, my school bus route went over the dam.  That road is no longer there (just a grassed dam now).  Back then it was called "Sunset Lake". 
  • Osage River - It stretches from Bagnall Dam (Lake of the Ozarks) to the Missouri River (just downstream of Jefferson City), but the portion we usually go to is about 11 miles from our house.  We'd love to find a small lot there, but so far haven't gotten lucky enough.  We have friends that built a place there and our neighbors have a place a few lots over.  Not wanting to feel like a mooch, we don't go there too often.  Water levels vary a lot based on what they are letting out at the dam and the rainfall.  Some years it is really flooded.  Last year, docks had to be extended and even then, you couldn't run a boat in some sections it was so shallow.  We have skied and gone tubing with friends.  My favorite times are when we go out on our neighbor's pontoon and hook up with another couple of pontoons and float around (cue "Red Neck Yacht Club" song) or go up to the gravel bar and splash around.  But the boys also go out frog gigging, set out trot lines to catch big channel catfish, cast a line for other fish species, etc.  And, of course, we fry all that up and everyone shares side dishes, salads and desserts to make it a real meal.  Everyone has a cooler full of beverages - adult and otherwise - and it is a great time. 
  • Gasconade River - For us, it is all about the float trips on the Gasconade.  We have floated from Paydown (conservation dept boat ramp) to Hilkemeyer's (private boat ramp/camp ground about 30 min from our house and with a service that will allow you to leave your car at the takeout and drop you and your canoes off at the upstream end) several times - sometimes with a ton of friends, sometimes with a smaller family group and last year just the four of us.  Depending on how often and for how long you stop, it is a pretty easy day float.  The day always involves another cooler full of beverages and snacks.  On a good year, there is less paddling and more floating (and no dragging).  On a crazy year, you might have to hide out on the bank to let a storm pass.  On a crazier year (or three), you might sneak off on a gravel bar with your husband and do naughty things.  On a drought year, you might pray you don't have to get out and carry the damn canoe with your 11 year old son.  Wear lots of sunscreen and a floppy hat though - float trip sun is dangerous stuff.
  • Missouri River - I don't recall ever having actually gotten in/on the Missouri River, but it is a part of my daily life.  As the crow flies, it is just a couple miles from my back door (though down a big bluff and across railroad tracks so no worries of my house ever being flooded).  I also drive across it each time I go to the office or to go anywhere really (except south).  There are many locations around the area where you can see really pretty views of the river - from the Capitol grounds, the pedestrain bridge (attached to the hwy bridge), from the Katy Trail, etc.  It is why our town is here.  To me, it is part of a definition of "home".  It was really scary when it flooded in 1993, but mostly it is just something that you see everyday.
  • Wears Creek - This isn't much of a creek anymore.  The base flow is very low due to development, but I do like running along it on the City's greenway trail for a couple of miles.  I also know this watershed like the back of my hand having been the City's stormwater engineer for 4.5 years.  I've helped with cleanups on this creek and I do think it is a valuable asset that should be protected. 
  • Unnamed pond across the street - If my kids and husband want to sneak off on a spring, summer or fall evening after work to catch a few fish, this is where they go.  It is across the street, through a cattle gate and down the hill.  They walk or ride the ATV over there and have a great time.  It is just a hair too small for my open water swim practice though. :)
There are tons of other small creeks, lakes, etc. in the area.  We have a lot of federal, state and local park land within a short drive and most have some amount of water resources.  Of course there are larger lakes and rivers within just a couple of hours - Lake of the Ozarks being the most well known of them.  We are so fortunate to live in an area so close to all this beauty and opportunity for outdoor recreation.  Now if only it was hot and I could go swimming.  Oh to dream.

When I visited Green Bay in 1996 was the first time I'd been to a body of water I couldn't see the other side of.  When I went to Jamaica in 2000 was the first time I'd seen/swam in the ocean.  I've still never been to any American beach - though a beach trip was discussed with my family and they voted to save the airfare and go do more stuff in Branson. We're a hard drive from the closest oceanfront property, but I don't feel we miss out too much with all we have close to us. 

Where is your favorite "water" and how is it a part of your life?


  1. Two spots I like - Alamitos Bay in Long Beach, which has a great buoy line for swimming and Corona Del Mar Beach in Newport, which despite being a quarter mile away from one of the better surf breaks in the area is really calm and has it's own set of buoys.

    Believe it or not, I'm not a big open ocean guy.

  2. The oceans are my favorite, though I make do with Lake Michigan nowadays. Pretty much any water is good to be by.

  3. We drive down to Gulf Shores Alabama or more recently Navarre Florida just about every year for some beach time. We go the first week of fall rates to save some money. It's a long drive, but I usually drive straight through.