This morning was for work. Knowing that we’d be away from Ernie most of this afternoon, and not wanting to leave all of our strike-camp routine for tomorrow morning, we hit the to-do list early and hard — packing what we could, flushing the holding tank, jamming frozen food into the cooler and reducing the number of tasks we’ll have to do right before we leave.
I think we did pretty well with that.
As advertised in yesterday’s Ubi Libertas Blog post, our Canadian friends camped next door drove us across the Missouri border this afternoon to a place we’d never been before — Top of the Rock in Ridgedale, not far from the Bass Pro Shops Shooting Academy we visited recently.
Top of the Rock is, in short, an amusement park for grownups, the creation of Johnny Morris of Bass Pro fame. Morris’s kingdom is fabulously rustic and just plain fabulous. Everything about Top of the Rock is over-the-top and yet precise, with no detail overlooked.
The four of us had reservations for brunch at the Osage Restaurant at Big Cedar Lodge. There I sat down to one of the best meals I can remember, skillfully conceived and perfectly prepared, paired with a Kentucky Bloody Mary — bourbon played the role of vodka, and bacon was involved.
Rarely have I enjoyed fine dining and enormous portions in one meal, but the Osage made that happen. It was amazing.
From the restaurant we drove to a different part of Big Cedar Resort and rented a four-seater golf cart for a tour of the “Top of the Rock Lost Canyon & Nature Trail.” A wide and smooth cart path dove and climbed, twisting back and forth through a natural canyon. Waterfalls and breathtaking vistas appeared around every turn.
The trail was created to be an experience, manicured and perfect. Even the parts that were manufactured, like some of the water features, were true to the natural topography of the place. It’s extremely well done.
At one point the path enters the Lost Canyon Cave. Inside the dark, cool and damp cavern is the “Bat Bar” — that’s right, a bar in a cave. Each of us ordered a “Cannonball” (bourbon, amaretto, pineapple juice and prickly pear purée over ice). Delicious.
We stopped many times to take photos and generally soak up the Ozark environment presented in this unique way. The day was full of laughter and warm conversation with our new friends.
We’re back at the campground now. After what promises to be a good night’s sleep, Ernie’s wheels will turn once again.
We’ll see you on the road.
Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.