Tag Archives: outdoors

Summer Week 7: Johnson Shut Ins


Many months ago, prior to summer even starting, Jeff had a nostalgic moment.  He remembered the time before cell phones, tablets, and constant connection to people/medias that only end up frustrating you because of the complete stupidiocy (yes, thanks to social media that word does work!) of the post.  This nostalgia led him on a quest to “get away from it all.”  So, many many months ago- he booked us a cabin at Johnson Shut Ins.    It is a beautiful spot to camp, hike, and swim at…I would highly recommend it to anyone who lives in the Missouri area.

The last time Jeff and I had been there, I was pregnant with Brianna.  I broke my tailbone (or sprained it really, really bad where it hurt for a year afterwards) and Jeff sprained his ankle on that trip.   And no, Jeff did not kick my butt…  I fell in the water and my rear was cushioned from the fall by a rather pointy rock.  Jeff slipped while his foot was in between a rock and a hard …rock.  Ahh, the memories.

The girls have never really been camping, so we were very excited to take them.  They were very excited, too.  The first day we got there, we did not arrive until late afternoon.  We just played in the water…no hiking that day.   The girls loved it.  You get to crawl, climb, slide, and jump all over the place.  Brianna hung out with me.  Mikaila hung out with Jeff.  Which, for the first day, was good.  I was strongly encouraging (some would say threatening, but everyone knows that mothers don’t threaten- they strongly encourage!) Brianna to climb the rocks, not to crawl on them, and to enjoy a little risky exploring.  Jeff was trying to strongly encourage Mikaila to not climb all the rocks, to maybe crawl on some of them, and to enjoy a little relaxing exploring.  Has Mikaila and I partnered up that first day…well, I am sure we would have ended up with cuts, bruises, and sprained butts and/or ankles.

Throughout the week, we feel into a pattern.  The mornings were spent hiking, we would then come back to the cabin and eat lunch, rest up, and then late afternoon we would head back up to the shut ins to go swimming until evening.  So, remember earlier when I said the girls were excited about this trip?  Yeah, that excitement evaporated with the heat as we made them hike every day.  Of course, the very first trail we hiked was a 2.25 mile hike that had steep climbs, narrow ledges, vertical rock climbing, and it was very hot.  I’m not going to say our family follows all rules, (we do sneak food into movie theaters…) but we did follow the rule that said to not bring any disposable containers on the trail.  We filled out metal drink containers with ice cold water before we left the cabin.  About halfway into the hike- we had to drink them all because the water was getting very warm.  Let me paint this picture for you:  We are nearly out of water. What we do have left is warm- NOT refreshing at all.  We have no idea what time it is (cell phones had NO signal so we left them in car).  We really have only a general idea about where we are on the trail and no idea of what is coming up.  The girls are hot, tired, and they just want to go swimming.  In other words- they wouldn’t stop complaining or bickering.  Which means- I was also complaining and bickering at them for their complaints and bickerings!  I actually came up with a new threat strong encouragement for Brianna.  “If you can’t make something good out of something bad (aka good attitude in what she considered a “bad” situation), then I WILL make something bad out of something good (aka, when it was time to go swimming- she wouldn’t go).”  So, here we are trying to encourage the tired girls to keep going when the trail gets a little…well, wild.  The rock path we were following was now barely visible.  We had to actually look for trail markers to make sure we were indeed still on the trail.  So, we are hiking up this steep hill, there are some flat rocks up ahead, so Mikaila asks if we can stop for a break.  Sure.  We sit down, rest, and look around for another trail marker.  Yeah, when we found it the girls did have a fit.  Literally- a fit!  Way at the top of the pile of steep rocks…is the next trail marker.  You could barely see it.  Obviously, we made it.  And so did the girls.  At the top of that hill, Mikaila and I even rock climbed straight up…it was about 15-20 feet.  But let me tell you, watching your baby girl climb a rock wall- with no harness, in the wild…it felt like it was 100 feet!

I love hiking, Jeff loves hiking, and the girls will learn to love hiking.  They will.  They have to.  Jeff and I have plans to tackle this 14 mile backpacking trail…that will take several days…and will not have the convenience of an air conditioned cabin.  This is years away- but to get to that point we have to go from our 2-3 mile hikes that we did to 5-6 miles, then 9-10…etc.  So yeah, they will either learn to love hiking or will be eaten by a bear.  But don’t worry, we will let them make that choice.

In the evenings, after Jeff would grill our dinner- we played card games.  We played spoons, rummy, king tut, go fish, and yahtzee- oh yes, and 52 card pick up.  My cell phone didn’t have any signal- so I didn’t really bother with charging it.  We didn’t play games on our mobile devices against each other- we actually- physically- played games with each other…in person.  I am ashamed to admit it- but it had been too long since we did that.  We play with our girls, but there is something more bonding about not constantly checking facebook, messages, emails, updates..blahblahblah in the middle of playing.  We laughed…oh how we laughed…and we got to enjoy each others company.

Our cabin was pretty cool.  Well, it did not have ANY running water, so that was not cool.  Aside from that- we loved the simple- but more importantly AIR CONDITIONED-  cabin.  It had a porch that overlooked a pond full of lilly pads.  It kind of looked like something Monet would paint.  Inside, it was two rooms.  The log cabin had high cealings and two rooms.  The bedroom and the living/kitchen area.  The wall that separated the two did not go all the way up.  Which meant, we had sock wars between the rooms.  A long time ago, in a cabin far far away…SOCK WARS.  Sad to say, the rebels (that would be Brianna and Mikaila) were slightly better with their blind aiming than the empire (obviously that had to be Jeff and I since we are parents…aka evil dictators).

All in all- we had a fun trip and will be doing it again.  I did not miss the fact that my cell phone didn’t work.  I did miss the fact that all of my books were in the cloud…which meant I couldn’t read.  Worse things could have happened.  I could have not packed half of my clothes..oh wait…I did that….

I loved our adventure and can’t wait to do it again!  I know the girls will remember this trip for a long time.  They might not remember the beautiful sights we saw, but they will remember the threats encouragements that let them conquer the mountain!