"Adventures at Wilderness Lodge"

by Barbara Gurtner

"Is it hot? Not on the Texas Coast, compared to the Midwest!

Over the July 4th holidays my husband and I took our grandsons, daughter and son-in-law to the wilds of Missouri (oh yes, there are wilds there) to stay at the Wilderness Lodge in Lesterville. The resort was built in the early 1900’s and it’s where my husband took our daughter when she was a little girl.

I must say it was pretty. I loved the rustic resort, the grounds. The food was all comfort—home cooking at it’s best; the hosts were gracious. The lodge with dining rooms, sitting rooms, library and game room was congenial to sitting and visiting. Outside a miniature golf course, basketball hoop, shuffle board, and swimming pool held the interest of those physically inclined. Winding paths through the hills, leading to the cabins scattered in the woods, tall trees, and the Black River flowing clear and cold a few steps away completed this idyllic setting.

Okay except for the temperature which was over 100 degrees.

So what do you do when it’s hot? You head for the cold waters of the Black River. We started with canoes. Those of you who know me know that I’m not the least bit athletic, don’t do outdoors or sun (can you say fish-belly white?) and I’ve never paddled a canoe in a river. That was some challenge, but my husband only yelled at me in the beginning and the grandsons didn’t laugh too hard. They even rescued me a couple of times by telling us which way to go so as not to scrape bottom in the shallow parts of the river. I had a good canoe-er steering. Gunnin is a water guy and had canoed this and other rivers growing up. We saw folks enjoying being in the water, some canoeing, some swimming, lots tubing, which looked much easier to me and more my style, relaxing and letting the water take me downstream.

I checked canoeing off my bucket list. We headed back to the lodge, grabbed a couple of short-legged folding chairs and some inner tubes went back to the river and just sat in that beautiful cold water!

There were some great parks nearby. Johnson Shut-ins are not a family in poor health, but a collection of rocks shaped by water into a maze filled with paths and pools of the flowing river. Elephant Rocks State Park entailed some climbing, but was quite a lovely walk along trails meandering through and around the huge granite boulders.

It was fun being with the family, enjoying mostly grown-up grandsons with their quick wits and wry humor. An absolute delight! It made up for the mouse that got into my bag in the night and ate my cocoa covered Kakawa beans. I’d forgotten about living in the country."

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