Category Archives: Outdoor Fun

Historic Preservation Weekend in Sullivan, MO

 removing invasive euonymus and honeysuckle
Tom and I are pictured removing invasive honeysuckle and euonymus from the Shamrock Courts in Sullivan, MO. In the center all the volunteers are having a lunch break.

On November 7 and 8th, 2020, members of the Route 66 Association of Missouri and other volunteers worked on a historic preservation project at the Shamrock Courts in Sullivan, MO. The Shamrock Courts were an historic Route 66 motel that was later converted to apartments and then left empty for over a decade. The goals of the volunteers on this cleanup weekend were to preserve the buildings, get the property cleaned up and looking good to help it find a good buyer who will restore it, and to look for artifacts and history to pass on to the new owners and to the historic record of Route 66.

I was only able to go on Sunday the 8th because I had a lot of homework, but was nevertheless very pleased to make my contribution. My husband Tom joined me. I concentrated on removing invasive vegetation from the building and the surrounding property. Removing the invasive vegetation helps with preservation because it prevents fast growing trees and vines from gradually prying apart bits of the buildings.  In addition taking seeds and parts of the plants that can grow away from the property helps to prevent regrowth and the cost of future labor to remove it. I may be back because there is a lot more to do!

Artifacts that thrill Route 66 fans
Artifacts that thrill Route 66 fans

When you can find actual historic details and artifacts, it’s an extra reward. For Route 66 fans, to see the outside of buildings like this is exciting, but it’s even better when you can get permission to get close and even go inside to discover things that you may not ever see during a “drive-by” photo op visit, or in a book. Historic finds, like the neon sign tubing we are holding up in the center photo, add to the historic value of the property as well as the satisfaction for history-loving owners and volunteers.

Personally, the day I spent at the Shamrock was extra special because it was on the 21st anniversary weekend of attending my first Route 66 Association of Missouri meeting and the first weekend of exploring Route 66 in Missouri with my Mom and Dad. We stayed at the Boots Motel and stopped for classic roadside sights for the first time such as Red Oak II and Bill’s Station. The following year I became a lifetime member of the Route 66 Association of Missouri!

Experience some of the thrill of discovery with these videos by Roamin’ Rich Dinkela, President of the Route 66 Association of Missouri!

Day 2 of saving the Shamrock

Finding the neon sign tubing!

Operation Clean Stream 2019 on the Meramec River

On Saturday, August 24, 2019 Tom and I participated in Operation Clean Stream sponsored by the Open Space Council and many other supporting organizations. I’ve done several of these trash cleanup floats before but this was Tom’s first time. We had a blast because we love to get dirty, we want to do our part to keep our rivers clean and any excuse to get out and be on the water is a good one! We brought our kayaks to the beach on the Meramec River and met up with other volunteers who brought their own vessels. The people I end up floating with on these cleanup days are terrific and we hope we get to float with these folks again. I floated with leader Tim before in 2016 – here is an article I wrote about that day:
Fit and Healthy on Route 66: Two Sections of the Lower Meramec – Part I

untying kayaks at Castlewood State Park
Here is Tom around 7:30 am untying our kayaks that I transported on top of my Jeep. You can tell by his body language he is pretty eager to get started!
unloading the trash
Here is our group’s trash haul in the foreground at Greentree Park in Kirkwood. We were pretty exhausted by this point but the Open Space Council fed us a nice lunch to revive us a little for the trip home! Loading the kayaks is easy in the morning, not so easy in the afternoon!

I took a couple of videos too:

Tom bags a tire:
https://youtu.be/EN4QmrwSWn8

Some of the members of our group share their favorite finds on a sandbar near Highway 141:
https://youtu.be/vrrsEfZF8qg

Water hyacinth I collected on the Meramec River on August 24, 2019.
Water hyacinth I collected on the Meramec River on August 24, 2019.

I found some water hyacinth along the way and picked up as much as I could. I want to use it in our pond which should be finished soon, but even more importantly I want to get it out of the natural body of water because it’s an invasive species. More info about water hyacinth here: http://stopaquatichitchhikers.org/hitchhikers/plants-water-hyacinth/

This is the first time I can recall seeing water hyacinth in a natural body of water in Missouri. Our winters should kill it – that may or may not mitigate the threat – I don’t know.  What if some floats downstream to a warmer state? That’s why I grabbed as much as I could. Here is some Missouri specific information: https://mdc.mo.gov/conmag/2008/01/not-state

Introduction to Letterboxing

Letterboxing logbook and samples of personal stamps
Letterboxing logbook and samples of hand carved personal stamps.

I recently taught a two-part class to help people get started in the hobby of Letterboxing which combines outdoor exploration and creative expression. Two of the items you need to participate are a rubber stamp and a logbook. In part one, we hand carved a personal stamp and in part two we made a personal logbook. I wrote a tutorial for each class and they are now published on the Schnarr’s Hardware blog. If you want to try letterboxing or just learn to carve a rubber stamp and make a simple handmade book, here are links to my tutorials.

Read more on the Schnarr’s Hardware blog:

/Introduction to Letterboxing – Part I – Carving a Personal Stamp

Introduction to Letterboxing – Part II – Making a Personal Logbook

I Have Planted My First Letterboxes!

My first two letterbox plants!
My first two letterbox plants!

I’ve been involved in the letterboxing hobby since 2010 but I just now got around to planting my first letterboxes. Each box contains a logbook for visitors to stamp in and a hand-carved stamp for finders to stamp into their own personal logbooks. If you want to try to find either of these boxes, go to the web site www.atlasquest.com for clues. If you want to see the stamps in these boxes, you have to find them! It’s against the “rules” for me to show you online!

Screenshot of www.atlasquest.com
Screenshot of www.atlasquest.com

If letterboxing looks like an activity you would enjoy, I can teach you how to carve a custom rubber stamp, make a logbook, get clues and look for boxes. I hope you can join me at Schnarr’s Hardware on March 22 and 29, 2018 where I will be teaching:
Introduction to Letterboxing

My Entry for the Canvas Corp Brands January Challenge

I’m still new to the Canvas Corp Brands Creative Crew so I didn’t handle the entry process for the January challenge quite right and it’s not on their web page. But that’s ok, I’ll just put my entry here on my blog. The challenge was to make a project based on the prompt “Be Lazy” or “Be Lacy”. I decided to do a couple of scrapbook pages about kayaking for my contribution. Kayaking is often strenuous but there are opportunities for lazy moments when you float around on a lake eating a picnic lunch or let yourself drift downstream for awhile on a river. Almost every time I go floating I take a “foot selfie” to remind myself of how chilled out and relaxed I am on water. It makes the effort of transporting the kayak well worth it!

2 page scrapbook layout of kayaking outings from last summer.
Simple two-page scrapbook layout of kayaking outings from last summer. My fiance Tom is featured on the left hand page, my friend Jodie on the right.

I do some of my scrapbooking in a memory planner. The pages shown here are 8 1/2 by 5 1/2 inches to fit within the memory planner format I’m currently using. I have a current planner that I carry around with me, and after the pages get used I transfer them to an “archive” volume. I periodically go back and scrapbook photo pages into the “archive” volume as I get time if I didn’t complete them while the pages were current. I use 7gypsies binding rings to assemble the archive volumes because it’s easy to open and close them and add pages as I get them done.

The papers I used in this project include some selections from the 7gypsies Architextures collection and the Canvas Corp Natural Nautical collection. I enhanced the papers with some Tim Holtz design tape, a couple of brads and a couple of sequins.

Here is where you can see the other challenge entries:
JANUARY CHALLENGE “BE LAZY”

Making Holiday Centerpieces From Natural Materials

Holiday party centerpiece made with donated and natural materials
Holiday party centerpiece made with donated and natural materials


Litzinger Road Ecology Center has an annual Holiday party for volunteers. I wasn’t able to go because I went to the Master Gardener party instead which was the same day. I did however get to participate in the fun of making centerpieces from natural materials and donated flower arranging supplies.

Read more on the Schnarr’s Hardware Blog:
Making Holiday Centerpieces From Natural Materials

Aquatic Macro Invertebrates at Litzinger Road Ecology Center

Mother crawdad with babies
I used my childhood crawdad catching skills to hand-catch the most “Macro” invertebrate of the day – a large mother crawdad with tiny babies clinging to the underside of her tail. We released all the animals back into the water after we had a look at them.

Aquatic Macro Invertebrates are animals without a backbone that live in water and can be seen with the naked eye. I’ve had an interest in these creatures ever since I can remember. When I was young I caught a variety of water invertebrates such as water beetles, clams, crawdads and snails and attempted to maintain them in my aquariums. I was thrilled when my brother’s aquarium started to grow hydra even though they predate on tiny fish, because I’d read about them but never thought I’d see any. I currently have small colonies of freshwater shrimp in three of my aquariums. Many aquatic invertebrates are insects that live part of their life cycles in water but have an adult flying stage.

When the Litzinger Road Ecology Center offered a training workshop for volunteers on how Aquatic Macro Invertebrates are used to monitor water quality, of course I had to attend. Master Naturalist and Stream Team member Cliff Parmer taught us some Aquatic Entomology facts then we went outside to Deer Creek to learn how to take a scientific sample of water invertebrates.

Read more on the Schnarr’s Blog: Aquatic Macro Invertebrates at Litzinger Road Ecology Center

Prairie Restoration at Litzinger Road Ecology Center

I’m a volunteer at the Litzinger Road Ecology Center in Ladue. Volunteers and on some occasions the public are invited to educational events on the premises. I recently attended a session for volunteers to learn about why the prairie sections at the center are periodically burned and an introduction about how to start a fire, control the fire, and perform the burn safely.



Tallgrass Prairie at Fort Bellefontaine County Park

An example of a restored tall grass prairie at Fort Bellefontaine County Park

Read more

How I Use My Garden for Self Care

mygardenLife can be stressful at times. If we don’t take time for self care our health can suffer. I recently saw an advertisement for a workshop about gardening and holistic self care. I was not able to attend and learn some new things, but I can think of a lot of ways in which my garden already helps me with my own self care.

Read more on the Schnarr’s Blog: How I Use My Garden for Self Care

Fit and Healthy on Route 66: Two Sections of the Lower Meramec – Part II

Points of interest on the Lower Meramec River
Points of interest on the Lower Meramec River

It was only a few days after my participation in Operation Clean Stream on the Meramec River that a fellow member of the St. Louis Adventure Group Meetup suggested a float from Sunset Hills to Arnold. Kelly was trying to experience some sections of the Meramec that he had not yet floated and I’d never been on that stretch either so I agreed to join him on September 2, the Friday before Labor Day.

This part of the Meramec would not be everyone’s idea of a great place to paddle because it doesn’t have the fast-moving crystal clear water that many of our Missouri streams are known for but I enjoy large rivers and bodies of water that require a lot of paddling. I don’t mind semi-urbanized areas because I enjoy exploring around bridges and other large scary structures. When I was a kid, on occasions when my Dad would take us boating on Lake of the Ozarks or Table Rock Lake, if he piloted the boat too close to a dam or bridge I would scream and cry. I don’t scream and cry if I get close to a bridge now but I do get a weird kind of thrill from it. I probably would scream and cry if I got too close to a dam – even the little tiny one at Creve Coeur Lake gives me a queasy feeling!

Kelly’s plan was to meet at what would be our takeout point, Arnold City Park, where his neighbor would meet us to kindly help us with our shuttle. Our put-in point was at Minnie Ha Ha Park in Sunset Hills, a 10 mile float by river but only a 10 minute drive from one point to the other. This route is a very efficient way to get in a lot of paddling for a small expenditure of driving time.

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On the left is Kelly with our boats at Minnie Ha Ha Park. Since it was a weekday and the holiday weekend had not started yet there were a few people fishing but not much traffic on the river – most of the time we had it to ourselves with only fish, turtles and birds for company. The picture on the right is of George Winter Park, located where the river bulges out in a strange manner as you can see from the map at the top of this article. Kelly explained that much sand and gravel has been and is being mined from the vicinity causing lake-like sections that are a lot of fun to explore.

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A few times during the day we pulled onto a gravel bar to stretch our legs a bit or eat lunch. There are banks that are too steep or muddy to climb out of the vessel but also plenty of gravel bars that are just right. The picture on the right shows the Hwy. 21 bridge in the distance. This section was toward the end of our float and we’d been paddling against the wind for quite awhile so a little time to sit back and drift while taking pictures was welcome.

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This last pair of photos shows the remains of the boat ramp at Arnold City Park on the left and the Lemay Ferry Rd. and Hwy. 55 bridges on the right (the Hwy. 55 bridge is the one in the distance). Flood damage has rendered this boat ramp pretty useless to all but small watercraft like ours. If you can’t hand-carry your boat down to the water look for another boat ramp to use. The rocky shoreline was not that easy to disembark from either, I did it without falling on my butt but it was close. My footwear for the day was imitation Crocs – something sturdier would have been safer for scrambling around on the rocks and debris.

Our float took about five hours including a stop for lunch and maybe an extra hour and a half or so for shuttling, loading and unloading. We could have added more padding miles by more thoroughly exploring all the little coves and inlets but we only did a few. If you float this section, a map would be a good idea because the geography can be confusing. There is not a lot of shade along the way so make sure you have plenty of sunscreen! Watch out for jumping Asian carp – I don’t know if there is anything you can do about them but be aware just in case. None hit me or jumped in my boat but a group splashed me pretty good and put a momentary scare into me! The myriad of parks along the Meramec are worth exploring on foot and by bicycle. The natural flood cycle of a river can take things away but it also gives by making some land suitable for recreation rather than development. Enjoy!