Maybe even more so than 2020, 2021 has been an odd camping year for us. We didn't do a big, epic camping trip, like 2020's visit to Yellowstone and Grand Teton, due to several factors. We have a high school student-athlete that starts work outs in July, and we try to get her to as many worksouts as possible. We have two kids that both attended week long camp at Camp Ondessonk, which the kids highly recommend, as well a week-ling BSA camp, also highly recommended. And final excuse for not camping more and doing a big camp this summer - we changed our mind. We visited The Keys in March 2021 and had a great time, however the weather wasn't ideal for what we'd planned. We dreamed about a week of swimming and snorkeling, but the weather was windy and cool. So we took a family vote: keep our reservations to Glacier, where the park was still partly closed, or go back to The Keys. The Keys won, and more to come on that visit soon.
We did get in monthly camping trips locally during the summer. In June, we visited Timber Run Campground in Perryville, MO. We visited this campground several times before. For this visit, it was Christmas in June. Many of the campers had their sites decorated for the holidays, Santa was on. site, and a brand new pool complex just opened. Timber Run, aside from having themed activities, also has music on the weekends, We always enjoy listening to music before dinner.
For Fourth of July, we returned to another favorite campground in Missouri, Big Creek RV Park in Annapolis. This is in Iron County, which is a great destination to see unique geographic features in the midwest. Annapolis is a short drive to Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park, Castor River Shut-Ins, Elephant Rock State Park, Taum Sauk Mountain State Park, Battle of Pilot Knob State Historic Site. All of these are great half day trips from Big Creek. We also visited "K Bridge" on the Black River, which is a popular spot for tubers, kayakers, and those hanging out on the bank of the river. We enjoyed the holiday with a great firework display from a party near the campground and attended a Fourth of July parade in Ironton followed by very good coffee at Arcadia Valley Roasting Company.
We wrapped up the summer in the Mantis with a return to Timber Run Campground in August with another family. We went to Castor River Shut-Ins. If you are not familiar, a shut-in forms when a creek or river flows over varying rock types. The harder rocks form pools, shoots, and falls, creating a natural water park. These seem to be most commonly found in the St Francois Mountains, part of the Ozarks, where there are said to be at least 90 shut-ins. These mountains are said to be 1 billion years older than the Appalachian Mountains, and the only part of the Midwest to have never been underwater. The locals tell stories of finding Civil War bullets, and even guns, in this rugged terrain.
Although we had a great time on these shorter trips, we love the Mantis and look forward to our next camping adventure.
Shane and Jessica
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