Joplin Empire Market

It’s Friday night, and I pull my minivan up to the ATM. I’m as fired up as a high schooler getting cash before heading out on a big date. I do have a date of sorts – with my daughter. The following morning we are going to Joplin Empire Market.

 

Yes, I’m fired up about a market. But this isn’t just a place to pick up a few produce items; Joplin Empire Market is a weekly event that showcases local products and local talent, and fosters a sense of connection in our community.

 

joplin empire interior

I know that I will see some vendors whose storefront businesses I’ve visited and written about before, and I’ll also discover new vendors, as they rotate each week at the market. I know I’ll also get to visit with the ever-present market coordinator Ivy Hagedorn, as well as Lori Haun, Executive Director of Downtown Joplin Alliance, an organization created to foster the revitalization in the heart of our city. Joplin Empire Market is the result of this organization’s latest effort to do just that – and it’s off to a great start in its debut season.

 

 

Where It’s At

Housed in a 1907 building that was donated to Downtown Joplin Alliance by Empire District Electric Company, this enclosed, year-round market features vendors from a 150-mile radius selling produce, meats, eggs, local products, crafts, and art. It’s open every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Can I just take a second here to say how much I love these hours? I can still sleep in and get my market fix.

 

joplin empire exterior

A market report is posted on Joplin Empire Market’s Facebook page each week listing the vendors that will be attending that Saturday, which I find  helpful for formulating a game plan before I hit the market. To follow the market’s Facebook page, click here. If you want an overview of the market experience, keep on reading.

 

 

Plants and Produce

When I see the variety of plants and produce offered at the market, I often think, “They grew that around here?” I tried growing a garden one year and it yielded just one cucumber and a handful of strawberries, so I have a great respect for those who cultivate gardens which produce bountifully, like Green’s Greenhouse & Garden, Our Little Piece of Heaven, OakWoods Farm, Joplin Greenhouse & Garden Center, and Robertson Family Farm (you can also visit this farm to pick your own blueberries during the season; click here to read more about it).

 

joplin empire oakwoodsjoplin empire joplin greenhouse

If you’re hankering for seasonal items like berries and tomatoes, make sure to arrive at the opening of the market, as they sell out quickly.

 

 

Meat, Eggs, and Baked Goods

If you’re a conscientious carnivore, you can buy eggs, pork, and grass-fed beef at Black Cat Barnyard, “a family farm that focuses on raising pastured animals that lead happy lives.” Fleetwood Farmette also sells eggs as well as baked goods, including cheesy bread and sweet bread.

 

On my first trip to the market, I arrived around 11 a.m. and Marty Yates, the Bearded Baker, was standing behind his empty booth, since all of his artisan bread loaves were already sold out. So the following week, I got to the market earlier and was able to snag one of his Nonie loaves, which we ate with dinner that night. Who am I kidding? After eating half of that dense and hearty loaf myself, that bread was my dinner that night!

 

joplin empire bearded

If you’ve got a sweet tooth, check out the artisan cookies at All Mixed Up Bakery. For people who enjoy sweets but have special dietary needs, stop by Sugar Creek Bakery, which offers sugar-free and gluten-free baked goods.

 

joplin empire all mixed up

This fishie from All Mixed up Bakery is too cute to eat!

 

 

Unique Area Products

Finding local items that I can gift to my out-of-town friends and family is one way that I like to introduce people to life in the Ozarks, and there are several vendors at Joplin Empire Market that help me out in this endeavor. On a recent trip to visit my parents in Chicago, I brought them a bottle of Savory Sauce (great for marinades and salads), and a shaker of salt from SmokeLicked Salts (hardwood-smoked Atlantic sea salt sold in a variety of flavors – I’m obsessed with the Adobo, which is now a staple in my kitchen).

 

joplin empire savory

The ladies behind Savory Sauce – literally and figuratively 😉

joplin empire salt

Other great local food products include honey from Robertson Family Farm (the blueberry people), and no-sugar-added fruit leathers from Fleetwood Farmette. My daughter loves to eat these and I’m feel good about giving them to her because they’re wholesome snacks.

 

joplin empire robertson

Local honey from Robertson Family Farm

joplin empire fleetwood

Fruit leathers from Fleetwood Farmette

Handmade local products make fun gifts, too. If there’s a man in your life with a beard, Artisan Beardworks can help him keep it neatly groomed with their selection of balm, oil, beard wash, and combs. They also sell boxed sets, which makes gift-giving easy.

 

joplin empire bearded product

 

Artisan Creations

There are vendors at Joplin Empire Market that create unique, non-consumable products, too. These artisans and craftspeople bring an added layer to the market’s offerings. Let’s start with Martha Goldman. In addition selling her art at the market, Martha is also the creative force behind the market’s mural, which was inspired by Joplin’s natural beauty: the bluffs near Shoal Creek, the wondrous (and now-closed) Crystal Cave, wild blackberries, coneflowers, purple-tailed skinks.

 

joplin empire mural

There’s also Stone House Merchant, selling jewelry made from crystals, beads, and rocks, like these stunning wire-wrapped stones featuring the tree of life.

 

joplin empire stone house

The Market Artisans is a group of five woman who rotate selling their goods (jewelry, textiles, pottery, etc.) at the market. One member of this group, Kristin Girard, is a jewelry artist whose work I’ve been a fan of for years, and you can read more about her here.

 

joplin empire market artisans

Fairy Gardens at The Market Artisans booth

 

You can bring home a piece of yesteryear from White Buffalo Sign Company, which creates high resolution scans of original vintage Joplin signs, then applies them to 24-gauge metal.

 

joplin empire white buffalo (1)

 

Market Dining

You don’t have to wait until you bring your edible goodies home from Joplin Empire Market before you indulge. The market features a different food truck each week. Past vendors include The Sweet Truck (gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches), Blondies Woodfired Wheelhouse (pizza), Cochinita Mexican Street Food (their Mexican corn is a must-try), and Take a Stand (featuring smoothies and fresh-pressed juices).

 

If you need a little lift to power through your Saturday, grab a cup of joe from the market’s coffee vendor (Bearded Lady Roasters and Cottage Small Coffee Roasters have been at the market).

 

 

Music and Special Events

The market is more than just a place to buy local produce and goods; it’s a place to connect with the community and to cultivate your own creativity. With live music playing in the background, it’s easy to find inspiration while crafting your own piece of art at special events like Markers at the Market.

 

joplin empire music

 

My daughter was thrilled when WellSpring Acres brought their sweet alpacas to the market for people to meet.

 

joplin empire wellspring alpaca

Not only was it fun to pet the alpacas, but when we went inside the to the farm’s booth, we found it interesting to see all of the products made from the alpacas’ wool.

 

joplin empire wellspring

Wool dryer balls make an environmentally friendly alternative to paper sheets.

The lively, dynamic atmosphere at Joplin Empire Market energizes me each time I go. I leave there not only with bags filled with locally produced items, but with a sense of connection to my community, a community that continues to grow and thrive.

 

 

Market info: The market is open year-round on Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and is located at 931 E. 4th Street. Some vendors do accept credit card payments, but be sure to bring cash, too. Click here to find the weekly market reports on Facebook, and click here to visit the market’s website.

 

To read more about my adventures in the area, visit JoplinMOLife.com.

 

Enlight Inn

We all could use some pampering every now and then, taking a time-out from the stressors in our fast-paced lives in order to catch our breath. This pampering may involve a massage or pedicure at the spa, allowing others to take care of us for a few hours so we can relax before being thrust back into our normal routines again.

 

But what if there were a place where you could not only get pampered, but you could also be inspired to live a life of wellness and self-care?

 

I discovered such a place, right here in Joplin, called Enlight Inn. I spent two days sampling the many services offered here (rough, huh?), and the experience not only left me feeling amazing, but it also introduced me to news ways of approaching self-care and stress reduction. It was like my reset button had been pressed, prompting me to become more mindful in my everyday habits.

 

enlight inn sign

Located in a complex of quaint white cottages that once comprised a Route 66 motor inn decades ago, Enlight Inn is the brainchild of Joplinite Christa Tullis. With over 20 years of experience in the wellness industry, Christa wanted to create a center where she could share the tools that she found most beneficial in the journey to restore her own health (which you can read about in her book). In 2017, Christa opened the doors of Enlight Inn, ushering in a novel approach to wellness in the Joplin area.

 

enlight inn cottages

The Enlight Inn complex reminds me of a college campus (but one where you get to attend your favorite classes and automatically pass just for showing up). There are the “classrooms” of experiential learning, which are the spa rooms where you learn about new techniques while getting pampered (a total win); the drive-through “cafeteria” which offers smoothies and healthy snacks; and the “dorms,” whimsical individual cottages where you can spend the night (which is a good idea if you feel like jelly after the spa services, like I did).

 

SPA SERVICES

Here’s an overview of the services I received:

 

Whole body vibration

Far infrared sauna session

Mind spa

Flotation therapy

Fascia blasting

Halotherapy

 

I really didn’t know what to expect from any of these since they were all new to me. Now that I’ve experienced them, I’ll describe what they’re like.

 

Whole Body Vibration

When I first saw the Zaaz machine, I panicked.

 

enlight inn zaaz

Did they want me to exercise? Thankfully, no. All I had to do was stand on the machine and it started vibrating. Before long, I was shaking like J.Lo (or was it jello?), and the unexpected sensation made me giddy. Why make your body shake like a leaf? To increase metabolism and improve lymphatic flow (which helps the body detox).

 

Far Infrared Sauna

My idea of a sauna used to be a small wooden room filled with heat so dry and hot that it’s nearly impossible to breathe. But there are new types of saunas, like this far infrared sauna which heats the body from inside a zippered dome, leaving your head exposed to (blessedly cool) room-temperature air.

 

enlight inn sauna

Before you climb inside, you’ll need to strip down to your birthday suit. Then, you perch your hiney on the towel-covered chair, place your feet on the designated cool plates, set the timer, then zip up the dome from the inside. There are openings for your hands so that you can read, or use your phone, or turn on the portable fan when your body starts getting toasty (I was so grateful for that little fan).

 

enlight inn chris sauna

It’s getting hot in here!

By the end of my session, I was as as soggy as a swamp monster, which is a good thing because the sauna aids your body in detoxifying and improving circulation. Bonus: My skin felt so supple afterward and my daughter even said that it was glowing hours later.

 

Mind Spa

This one really surprised me – in a good way. The mental vacation created by the combination of tools used in the mind spa was downright psychedelic, and it was one vacation from which I didn’t want to return.

 

enlight inn osaki chair

First, I got settled in the zero-gravity Osaki massage chair (aka my new best friend), then I put on brainwave entrainment glasses, which use pulsing lights to stimulate the brain to align to the same frequency as a certain stimulus (faster pulsing to elevate your mood, or slower pulsing for relaxation). Your eyes remain closed while the wearing the glasses so you don’t look directly at the light.

 

enlight inn meditations

Finally, I chose a meditation which would guide me to a twilight state in which I would receive positive suggestions for an area that I wanted to work on. When these three tools were set up, my session began. (Don’t worry, you won’t have to figure all of this out on your own. Someone from Enlight Inn will be there to walk you through the process and get you settled.)

 

Now, I’ve sat in massage chairs before, but they were nothing like this Osaki, which used a variety of techniques to knead my tight muscles. When the arm compartment activated, it felt like someone was giving me a warm hug. The rhythmic kneading of the chair, combined with the pulsating lights and soothing meditation made me feel like I was in a cocoon. I never wanted to emerge.

 

Across the room from the Osaki chair is an area where you can put on a headset and try out a virtual reality meditation, which will make you feel as though you are physically immersed in whichever setting you choose. This is a fun way for beginners to ease into the practice of meditation.

 

Flotation Therapy

What happens when you enter a tub filled with 1000 pounds of Epsom salt? You float. Why is that a good thing? When you float, stress melts away and the magnesium sulfite in the water eases muscle aches and pains.

 

The first part of my session in the private flotation therapy room involved taking a pre-float rinse in the shower to help make sure that the tank’s Epsom salt water stays as free as possible from outside contaminants (you float without clothes on, as well). I also grabbed a pair of earplugs to keep the water out, a neck pillow, and a washcloth to wipe off the salt water that would inevitably sting my eyes when I touched my face (which happened several times).

 

Here’s what it looks like going into the tank:

 

enlight inn tank door

enlight inn tank opening
enlight inn tank tub sky 2

 

enlight inn tank tub

 

enlight inn tank starry sky

The tank itself was bigger than I expected. There are three buttons on the wall to the right that control the starry lights on the ceiling, the tub lights, and the music.

 

enlight inn tank buttons

Next to those is an intercom button. Once I was settled into the tank, I pressed this to let the person at the front desk know that I was ready for my session to begin (I could also press this at any time during the session if I needed anything).

 

For the first few minutes, I played around with the buttons to experience the different sensory options. I quickly decided that I preferred to float in silence, and in complete darkness.

 

The most difficult part of floating for me was trying to quiet my monkey mind. But I think this is something that will get easier with each float; the more I get accustomed to the experience, the more I’ll be able to let go.

 

For those of you who may be anxious about staying in a tank for an extended period of time, I want to point out that I was able to get out at any time to take a break or use the restroom. I knew my session was over when I heard the water pumps turn on. I then showered to rinse off the salt residue (shampoo, conditioner, and body wash are provided).

 

I felt deeply relaxed after my flotation therapy session, and I desperately wanted to check into one of the cottages and sleep the rest of the afternoon, but reality dictated that I must pick up my children from school. Knowing that I’d be back the following day for more spa services made the transition easier.

 

Fascia Blasting

The following day I returned for a fascia blasting session. Fascia blasting is a technique developed by Ashley Black which uses hard-noduled plastic tools to help break up the connective tissue (fascia) that surrounds our muscles which can sometimes become so tight that muscle movement is restricted.

 

enlight inn fascia tools

Breaking up the fascia allows for ease of movement, reduced pain, and – bonus – a smoother appearance of the skin (see you later, cellulite!).

 

Because fascia is more malleable when it’s warm, each blasting session at Enlight Inn begins with a 15-minute sit in the far infrared sauna. After that, it’s time for blasting on the massage table.

 

enlight inn massage room

Fascia blasting involves moving the plastic tools vigorously across the skin, applying more pressure as needed in areas that are more bound. I wouldn’t say this is a relaxing technique, but it certainly is an effective one. Think of it like deep tissue massage work: it hurts so good (but never to the point of pain).

 

I was so intrigued by this technique that I immediately booked a second session and then went on Amazon and bought a fascia blasting tool to use at home for maintenance. Using it has helped loosen my neck and hip – the areas where I tend to hold tension.

 

Halotherapy

A few friends of mine joined me in the afternoon for a halotherapy session. This service uses a halogenerator to dispense a fine aerosol of salt particles throughout the room in order to recreate the climate of natural salt caves. (The halogenerator is located behind this door.)

 

enlight inn halotherapy

When inhaled, the particles act like a gentle brush, moving mucus and bacteria through the airways and improving respiration.

 

enlight inn halotherapy group

What I liked about our halotherapy session is that I got to catch up with my friends in a relaxing environment while doing something beneficial for my body.

 

THE CAFE

After our session, we stopped at the Cafe and I ordered a Bulletproof Coffee (made with Bulletproof beans, MCT oil, and grass-fed butter), and my friend Carrie ordered snacks which included veggies and Zummus (hummus made with zucchini), and Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding.

 

enlight inn food

Christa’s experience as a raw foodist has influenced the selection of healthy menu items, which also includes a variety of smoothies.

 

enlight inn drive through

With Enlight Inn’s convenient drive-through window, it’s easy to eat clean while on the go.

 

PRIVATE COTTAGES

These cozy cottages provide a convenient crash pad when you’ve had a day filled with spa services and don’t want to drive anywhere. They’re also a unique option for out-of-towners who can take advantage of Enlight Inn’s services while visiting Joplin (overnight guests receive discounts on spa services, too).

 

enlight inn guest room

The beds in each cottage are also equipped with grounding mats, which have a negative charge. As we go throughout our day, we build up a positive charge in our bodies, and having contact with a grounding mat can even out this positive charge and return our bodies to a neutral state. When you sleep at Enlight Inn, your body is restored in more ways than one!

 

Not only did I receive pampering during my visit to Enlighten Inn, but I also earned my degree in self-care. I learned that the things that I do for self-care shouldn’t be departures from my daily routine; they’re essential to the foundation of a life lived to the fullest.

 

I guess you could say I’ve become enlightened.

 

Enlight Inn is located at 3817 North Main Street in Joplin. Click here to visit its website, or click here to follow it on Facebook. Christa Tullis is also an instructor at Precision Pilates.

 

To read more about my adventures in the area, visit JoplinMOLife.com.

Candy House Gourmet

One of my favorite houses in Joplin is located downtown. However, a family doesn’t live there.

 

Chocolate does.

 

candy house facade

This is Candy House Gourmet, where handcrafted treats are made using recipes that locals have craved for decades.

 

Candy-House-Historic

The original location of this candy store opened in 1970 in an old rock tavern on Redings Mill Road, just south of Joplin. Back then, it was called Richardson’s Candy House, and was owned by Don and Peggy Richardson. I sampled a chocolate from here the very first time I visited Joplin in 1992, and it was love at first bite.

 

Over the years, ownership of the Candy House has changed, with the business actually closing for a period of time, causing sadness among its loyal customers and local chocoholics. Thankfully, it came back to life in December 2016 as Candy House Gourmet when Cara and Wayne Adolphsen (who also own Joplin’s Mizzou Aviation) purchased the business. The Adolphsens also hired its former employees, which was a smart move, considering they knew their way around the candy kitchen and were already familiar to the customers.

 

What are the specialties of Candy House Gourmet? The original-recipe treats include toffee, caramel pecan treats (turtles), brittle, fudge, divinity, pecan logs, and sea salt caramels – the dark chocolate ones are my favorites. Unfortunately, my kids like them, too, so I have to share (but only if they catch me before I can stash the caramels in my secret hiding place).

 

Candy-House-Case (1)

In addition to producing local classics, the Adolphsens have fun experimenting in the test kitchen, and have already added some new candies, including the Banana Split Cream, which is half banana, half strawberry, and topped with chopped peanuts.

 

In the spring, Candy House Gourmet offers chocolate-dipped strawberries and, in the fall, chocolate-covered caramel apples. These aren’t just any chocolate-covered apples; they are both inventive and HUGE!

 

candy house apples

Until this year, my favorite apple has been the Deluxe, which is drizzled with three types of chocolate, and then sprinkled with pecans. The Adolphsens have now introduced the Apple Pie flavor, as well as the Sea Salt Caramel one. Can you can guess which one is my new favorite?

 

Candy House Gourmet also makes gourmet popcorn in traditional flavors like Sweet Caramel Nut Corn, and new flavors like spicy Cinnamon Corn. You can buy the popcorn individually, or try a few flavors (plus some chocolates) by purchasing one of the mixed baskets from the Candy House Gourmet’s gift guide. The guide also includes customizable chocolate bars, which make fun one-of-a-kind gifts.

 

candy house interior

Do you want to see how all of these sweet treats are made? You can! Candy House Gourmet offers tours of the facility which you can arrange by calling 877-623-7171. Tours are generally available during the week, but during the busy winter holiday months the candy elves are busy filling orders, so please call before you visit.

 

Here are some highlights from my own group tour of Candy House Gourmet:

 

The first thing we saw was the Peppy Pumper, a machine that spurts out chocolate from a faucet which is used to fill different shaped molds, such as eggs at Easter and the very popular “brain” mold sold at Halloween time.

 

Candy-House-Peppy-1

Next we saw the enrober, where items such as Oreos get bathed in chocolate and then take a slow ride down a conveyor belt through an air-cooled tunnel where they emerge cloaked in hardened chocolate 13 minutes later.
 
Candy-House-Enrober-out

We saw an actual dried cocoa pod,

 

Candy-House-Pod

Cocoa pod

 

as well as cocoa beans and powder, plus a crate of ten-pound chocolate bars that they melt and use in their recipes. Each crate holds 2000 pounds of chocolate!

 

Candy-House-Bar

The kitchen is where all of the candy centers (such as caramel) are made. When production was at the Redings Mill location, a granite-slab table was used in the caramel-making process, but they were making so much of it that the granite wasn’t getting time to cool and the caramel was sticking to it. Now, they use these fancy water-jacketed tables, where cool water below the table surface keeps the caramel from sticking.

 

Candy-House-Caramel tableA table of caramel – I want this in my dining room!

 

Are you salivating yet? Me, too.

 

I know I speak for many Joplinites when I say how grateful I am to the Adolphsens for resurrecting this Joplin institution – for bringing back our favorite candies and for introducing us to new favorites.

 

Candy House Gourmet is located at 510 S. Kentucky in Joplin. Click here to visit the Candy House website, and click here to visit it on Facebook.

 

*For people with food allergies, please be aware that Candy House Gourmet is filled with food allergens, such as nuts and dairy, and all of their items are labeled accordingly. If you have a peanut allergy, you might appreciate knowing that, while all of the products share the same equipment, all of the peanut products are run at the very end of the day and the equipment is cleaned immediately afterwards, which reduces the risk of contact.

 

To read more about my adventures in the area, visit JoplinMOLife.com.

All Aboard Ice Cream

There are restaurants you stop at to fill your belly, and then there are restaurants you visit to fill the pages in your family’s book of memories.

 

All Aboard Ice Cream is one of those memory-making restaurant destinations.

 

Location

All Aboard Ice Cream is located on Highway 86, just south of Joplin. It’s right across the street from Shoal Creek and some of Wildcat Park’s scenic hiking trails. Take advantage of this great location by enjoying a nature walk before or after your visit to All Aboard.

 

 

The Appeal

The Kansas City Southern postal car that sits in the front of the property attracts curious visitors to All Aboard, but the old-fashioned ice cream and hamburgers are the gustatory draws (more about those later).

 

all aboard rr car

 

When my daughter and I visited All Aboard, the first thing she did was run to the rail car to begin exploring.

 

This was once a postal car, and I found it interesting looking at the names of the towns listed on the mail slots in the center of the car.

 

all aboard mail

 

Back in the day, it might take days or weeks for messages to be delivered. Explaining this process to email-savvy young ones makes for a unique history lesson.

 

all aboard car interior

 

You can also eat inside the air-conditioned rail car at one of the dining booths.

 

By the way, All Aboard offers birthday party packages in the rail car. Talk about a one-of-a-kind location!

 

Whisler’s

After exploring the rail car, we headed over to the train depot to order our food.

 

 

all aboard depot

 

The counter is divided between All Aboard’s dessert orders on the left and Whisler’s Old-Fashioned Hamburgers on the right.

 

Burgers? Wasn’t this supposed to be about ice cream?

 

I promise I’ll get to the ice cream, but first let me tell you about Whisler’s.

 

Lunch before dessert, you know.

 

People who grew up in southwest Missouri have heard of the original Whisler’s in Carthage that has been perfecting its hamburgers since the 1950s.

 

all aboard grill

 

Well, I didn’t grow up around here so I’d never heard about Whisler’s until it opened at the All Aboard location.

 

Whisler’s is the type of all-American restaurant that you envision when you think of the wholesome 1950s, when burgers and ice cream were regarded with much more reverence than those served in today’s fast-food chain restaurants.

 

That’s because everything was made from scratch back then – and with quality ingredients.

 

Whisler’s old-time burgers are made to order on a busy, sizzling grill in the open kitchen. If you come at peak lunch time, be patient. There’s only so much room on the grill, so strike up a conversation with your neighbor in line while you wait for your juicy beauties to be ready.

 

all aboard burger

 

I ordered a single cheeseburger, which is slightly larger than a slider. Made with fresh, local beef, this burger was dressed with mustard, onions, pickles, and cheese, and topped off with a fluffy bun.

 

If you’re craving more meat, you can order double and triple burgers, or you can choose burgers topped with other types of meat, such as the “Pig and Bull” (with ham), “Sow and Cow” (with bacon), and the “Farm” (with ham and bacon).

 

My daughter doesn’t like burgers (what?!), so she ordered a hot dog.

 

all aboard picnic 2

 

She was obviously happy with her choice.

 

 

Finally, the Ice Cream!

A good old-fashioned slider meal begs to be topped off with a rich, creamy treat. All Aboard makes it easy to satisfy that craving by presenting a variety of ice cream flavors at the counter adjacent to Whisler’s.

 

all-aboard-ice-cream small

 

I confess that I’ve eaten All Aboard Ice Cream countless times in the past — but it was known as Anderson’s Ice Cream back then.

 

Let me explain.

 

Anderson’s Ice Cream satisfied the collective sweet tooth of the Joplin community for many years. Carl and Freda Anderson founded the original ice cream company in 1936 in downtown Joplin, and it was operated by family members until 1999.

 

In 2012, Billy Garrigan answered the prayers of many Joplinites and opened up Anderson’s Ice Cream inside the Candy House Gourmet Chocolates building.

 

Treating my kids to Anderson’s Ice Cream to kick off the first day of summer vacation became our family tradition.

 

When Garrigan moved his business in 2015, he also changed its name to All Aboard because a company in the Northeast had trademarked the name Anderson’s. While it would’ve been nice to carry on the Anderson’s name, I think All Aboard suits this train-themed business perfectly.

 

Drew Evans is the owner of All Aboard now, making premium ice cream in the Anderson’s tradition (its richness comes from 14% butterfat). I tried a scoop of caramelly Creme Brûlée (which is hard to see in the photo because it was such an incredibly bright day), and it was creamy perfection.

 

all aboard dessert

 

Family Friendly

When Garrigan opened All Aboard, his goal was to make the business and location as family friendly as possible. He scored well with the high-quality (yet affordable) burgers and ice cream.

 

The train theme puts him over the top.

 

In addition to the rail car, there’s other railroad memorabilia to discover. My daughter had fun standing by the crossing sign (which looks like she’s standing just a few feet from an active track)…

 

all aboard rr crossing

 

…and ringing the bell in front of the train depot.

 

all aboard bell

 

Older kids can play in the picnic area out front, and young children can toddle around safely in the enclosed patio area where their parents can sit down and eat in peace. There’s also a sandbox and a mini train; tickets can be purchased for a ride around the picnic area.

 

all aboard mini train

 

All Aboard has gone to great lengths to create a destination where families can enjoy wholesome food and family fun.

 

And where lasting memories are made.

 

 

All Aboard is located at 102 Castle Drive. Visit its Facebook page here.

 

To read more about my adventures in the area, visit JoplinMOLife.com.

 

Grand Falls

Grand Falls is a must-see for anyone visiting – or living in – Joplin.

 

This natural formation is beautiful, so be sure to bring your camera. Bring your family, too, because Grand Falls makes an outstanding background in photos.

 

But Grand Falls isn’t just a pretty place to visit.

 

It’s also the largest continuously running waterfall in Missouri.

 

falls autumn

That’s, right! The water in Shoal Creek plunges 12 feet to a rock ledge.

 

What? Only 12 feet? Clearly you won’t need to crane your neck to see the top of the falls, but you are guaranteed a chance to see it flowing every time you visit because, well, that’s how a continuously flowing waterfall works.

 

Above the falls there’s a man-made dam. This was installed to form a reservoir that supplies water to Joplin residents.

 

The natural falls are created by a ledge of solid chert rock that measures 163 feet across, creating a Little Niagra Falls right here in our backyard.

 

There are outcroppings of chert next to the falls that fill with water and create pools that kids of all ages can splash in,

 

falls pool splash

and explore to discover frogs and other types of life in the water.

 

falls kids on chert

Grand Falls is accessible from Riverside Drive, and there’s a small gravel lot where you can park your car. You can admire the falls from there, or you can walk the path from the parking lot down to the creek.

 

As you can see from all of the rock in the photos, the terrain is uneven, so be sure to wear appropriate shoes. If you plan on playing in the water (especially in the pools of water in between the rocks), I’d recommend a pair of rubber aqua socks because the rocks can be slippery.

 

Falls kids on rocks

Or maybe you just want to find a dry rock to sit on so you can rest while listening to the peaceful flowing water. Visit the falls at sunrise and treat yourself to the sight of early morning mist drifting off the creek while you sip some coffee.

 

falls mist

Ahh.

 

After visiting the falls (which is on the east side of the creek) our family usually stops at Inspiration Point and McClelland Park (which are both on the bluff on the west side of the creek).

 

Inspiration Point is located near the intersection of Glendale Road and McClelland Park Boulevard. There’s a gravel overlook area where you can pull over and enjoy a breathtaking view of Shoal Creek.

 

falls inspiration

Next to Inspiration Point is McClelland Park. This park is situated on top of a hill, making it a prime spot for kite-flying in the spring. There are several areas with playground equipment, plus a disc golf course that’s located in the south part of the park.

 

The many mature trees at McClelland make it a perfect place for a picnic, and there are several tables located throughout the park.

 

Here’s a table near the bluff that overlooks Grand Falls to the east. We visited the park on that spectacular fall day take photos to use in our holiday card.

 

falls picnic

 No, we didn’t use this for our holiday photo and, no, she did not push her sister off the table (surprisingly).

 

So take a few minutes out of your day to stop at picturesque Grand Falls, where you can enjoy the unique natural surroundings and recharge your batteries.

 

If you have more time, swing by Inspiration Point, then have a picnic under the trees at McClelland Park.

 

 


Grand Falls is located at 5400 Riverside Drive, and McClelland Park is located at Maiden Lane and Shoal Creek (click here for its website and map).

 

Directions to Grand Falls: Off I-44, exit 6; south on Route 86 (Hearnes Blvd./South Main Street) two blocks; at the roundabout go west (right) on Glendale Road 1.5 miles; south (left) on Jackson across the low-water bridge; west (right) on Riverside Drive two miles; and Grand Falls is on the right.

 

Photos by Travis Smith; family photo by Lloyd Smith.

 

To read more about my adventures in the area, visit JoplinMOLife.com.

Wildcat Glades Conservation and Audubon Center

Wildcat Glades Conservation and Audubon Center is one of my favorite places in Joplin. It’s a place where you can both learn about and experience the unique beauty of a chert glade in southwest Missouri.

 

The first stop on a trip to Wildcat Glades is the visitor’s center; a unique building that reflects its desert surroundings (yes, desert, but more on that later).

 

christmas bird count center facade

The center houses a hands-on learning area, classrooms and a gift shop that sells educational items and earth-friendly items like these earrings made from recycled cereal boxes.

 

wildcat butterfly earrings

The Missouri Department of Conservation has an office adjacent to the center, and it’s a good place to pick up information about other Missouri parks.

 

In the middle of the center, visitors can view wildlife native to the area. There’s a 1,300-gallon fish tank and Ozark stream, plus a chert glade terrarium complex that houses snakes and a tarantula.

 

wildcat turtle tank

A bobcat and a coyote can be found lurking nearby (both are stuffed, thankfully).

 

wildcat center cat

Stop and say hello to Willow, the female American kestrel (a type of small falcon). Adopted by the center in 2015, Willow is unable to fly, so she now lives safely indoors here at the center.

 

Isn’t she pretty?

 

wildcat kestrel

There’s a discovery area where you can listen to different wildlife sounds (such as bird calls), as well as feel the textures of various animal pelts.

 

wildcat center pelts

 

There are several classrooms in the building, and the center offers frequent programming for both children and adults, like “Nature Photography” and “Bird Banding” (for adults), and “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and “Talkin’ Turkey” (for children).

 

Several large events are held at Wildcat Glades throughout the year, like the Shoal Creek Water Festival in summer, and the Christmas Bird Count in December.

 

Armed with knowledge of the area and its wildlife, you’ll be ready to hit the trails and start exploring. Exit through the rear of the visitor center, and you’ll find the hiking trail that begins on the chert glade. 

 

wildcat romping on chert

In Missouri the term “glade” is used to describe a place where underlying rock cuts through thin soil to develop its own unique ecosystem. At Wildcat Glades, the rock that cuts through the soil is chert, which is extremely rare and extremely hard, and it breaks sharply. Like flint, chert was used to make spears and arrows, and archaeologists have found many near Wildcat Park (there are some on display in the center).

 

The chert glade ecosystem is very dry, and plants that are native to arid climates can grow here (yes, that means cacti in Missouri!). These plants also attract wildlife native to arid climates, such as lizards and scorpions (eek!). I’ve personally encountered snakes twice while on the trail.

 

wildcat girls on path

After crossing the glade, the trail enters the woods and begins following the banks of Shoal Creek. The change in scenery is dramatic: from a dry, sunny glade to a cool, shaded forest.

 

wildcat peaceful water

The view from the creek bank is breathtaking in places. Tall bluffs jut out from the sparkling water and demand admiration. If you are up for a challenge, there is a trail that follows the edge of the bluffs and offers a fantastic bird’s eye view of the creek; if not, you can safely view the bluff from below.

 

wildcat cliff reach

If you stay on the trail that leads to the Redings Mill bridge, you can peek into a cave (this is my kids’ favorite trail, for that very reason). We’ve also been fortunate to have spotted a fox along this same trail.

 

There’s so much to discover at the Wildcat Glades Conservation and Audubon Center; we find something new each time we go.

 

 

Wildcat Glades is located at 201 West Riviera Drive. Click here to visit its website and click here to view its Facebook page.

 

To read more about my adventures in the area, visit JoplinMOLife.com.

Girls’ Day at George Washington Carver National Monument

My friend Johanna is a firecracker: fun, friendly, and full of energy. Her life has been an adventure; she came to Joplin from Germany almost two decades ago and has traveled to over 20 states, which is more than many Americans can claim. I think she also knows more about our country’s history than many Americans, too.

 

Time spent with Johanna activates my wanderlust and elevates my IQ.

 

Ever since Johanna moved from Joplin to Oklahoma a few years ago, I don’t get to see her as often as I’d like. When she does visit, we try to maximize our time together by doing things that speak to our combined love of travel and history.

 

And the outdoors.

 

After all, this woman grew up with the Alps as her playground. 

 

Johanna visited Joplin recently, on an autumn weekend when the sun’s rays beamed down as strong as on a summer’s day, and the air felt balmy. We wanted to take advantage of the unseasonably warm day, so we ditched our lunch plans and instead met at a place where we could spend time outdoors basking in the sun, then venture inside to soak up history and learn something new.

 

That and wrinkle cream would keep us young, we figured.

 

We decided on a place just south of Joplin that offers heavy doses of nature therapy, as well as educational, historical, and even spiritual lessons: George Washington Carver National Monument in Diamond.

 

This 240-acre park was established in 1943 and is part of the National Park Service. It’s also the first national park to be named after a non-president, as well as the first one to be dedicated to an African American.

 

It’s also one of my favorite places to visit in southwest Missouri.

 

I met Johanna at the welcome center, which houses a variety of exhibits. Although I’d been to this park numerous times before, I’d always come with my kids, finding it challenging to immerse myself in the exhibits while trying to keep track of them.

 

So coming that day with Johanna was like seeing parts of the center for the first time; specifically, the first-floor exhibit which details the biography of George Washington Carver. This time, I actually got the chance to read and learn about Carver without little hands tugging on my shirt sleeve.

 

gwc-girls-boy-painting

George Washington Carver was a slave owned by Moses and Susan Carver. The Carvers raised George on their farm in Diamond Grove after his mother was kidnapped by Confederate night-raiders when George was a baby. George was a sickly boy, so he was excused from chores and allowed to wander the woods and prairie instead, during which time he learned about native plants and developed a talent for taking care of them, earning the name of the “Plant Doctor.”

 

“Hmm,” said Johanna. “I’d always thought he was ‘The Peanut Man.’”

 

While Carver is known as “The Peanut Man” because he discovered multiple ways to use peanuts, he also invented uses for a variety of other crops. He spent his life exploring and educating, and blazed the trail for other African Americans to follow.

 

gwc-discovery

On the second floor of the center, there’s an interactive science and nature exhibit which features examples of the animals that Carver encountered on his daily walks around the homestead, as well as native plants and the multiple uses that Carver found for them, which is extensive.

 

gwc-girls-lab

Next to this area is a lab where demonstrations, like how to make peanut milk, are held on the weekend.

 

gwc-girls-classroom

Also upstairs is one of my favorite places at the center: the schoolroom.

 

“Check these out,” I said to Johanna, placing a 100-year-old schoolbook and an iPad-sized slate board in front of where she was seated at the wooden table. “Can you imagine what our kids would think if these were their school supplies?”

 

“I’m not sure they would understand what to do with the chalk,” she said with a chuckle.

 

Besides the novelty of looking at the teaching tools from Carver’s era, what I love most about this schoolroom is the information on its walls which offers examples of Carver acting as a humanitarian and teacher.

 

For instance, Carver the scientist never patented his inventions; he wanted everyone to have access so that they could use them.

 

gwc-girls-schoolroom-painting

As a teacher, Carver shared eight cardinal virtues with his students:

 

1st: Be clean both inside and outside.

2nd: Who neither looks up to the rich or down to the poor.

3rd: Who loses, if needs be, without squealing.

4th: Who wins without bragging.

5th: Who is always considerate of women, children and old people.

6th: Who is too brave to lie.

7th: Who is too generous to cheat.

8th: Who takes his share of the world and lets others have theirs.

 

 

“Carver would have made a great president,” I said to Johanna.

 

 

At this point, we wanted to get outside and explore the area that inspired the great and humble Carver, so we hit the trail.

 

Before entering the forest, the ¾-mile nature trail passes a replica of the base of the cabin in which Carver was born.

 

“It says here that the cabin measured 12 feet by 12 feet,” said Johanna, reading the historical marker. “Can you imagine that?”

 

“Um, no.”

 

We continued our walk, watching leaves detach from the branches above, dance through the air, then come to rest on the forest floor. At one point, we paused on a bridge that spanned a sparkling spring and admired the reflection of the autumn sky mixed with the fallen leaves.

 

gwc-girls-trees-1

In the silence, I thought about Carver’s quote: I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in.

 

At that moment, I had adjusted the dial and was all ears.

 

That connection remained with me as I continued on the trail, observing the nature around me: the occasional twitter of songbirds, and squirrels searching earnestly for a winter hiding spot for their acorns.

 

I savored that connected feeling as we passed the Carver homestead, emerging from the forest and onto the open prairie, which provided a contrasting landscape and beauty of its own.

 

gwc-girls-homestead

At the end of the trail, we stopped at the bronze bust of Carver and I thought about how this former slave rose from his circumstances and forged a successful path in his life all on his own.

 

More than just a girls’ afternoon excursion, this trip to George Washington Carver National Monument had proven to be a day of education and inspiration.

 

Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom.   – George Washington Carver

 

George Washington Carver National Monument is located at 5646 Carver Road in Diamond, Missouri. Click here to visit its website.

 

To read more about my adventures in the area, visit JoplinMOLife.com.

Joplin History and Mineral Museum

Woolly mammoth fossils.

 

Arrowheads.

 

Glowing rocks.

 

Where in Joplin can you see these cool items?  At the Joplin History & Mineral Museum in Schifferdecker Park.

 

The museum complex is located just west of the aquatic center. Outside of the entrance, visitors are greeted by a dinosaur sculpture which stands about six feet tall and is made from scrap metal and other items such as license plates. Kids will get a kick out of it.

 

joplin-museum-dinosaur

The complex houses a variety of collections. The exhibit displays are informative and offer some unique items to view. In the Everett J. Ritchie Tri-State Mineral Museum, huge slabs of rocks and minerals are displayed in an area that resembles the inside of a mine shaft.

 

joplin-museum-rocks

On the way up to the second floor, there’s a case containing fossil remains of a woolly mammoth and some Native American arrowheads – all discovered in the four-state area.

 

joplin-museum-mammoth

The exhibit continues upstairs, where it traces the lead and zinc mining history of the area. There are maps of the mining areas and I was curious to see if my house was built over a mine shaft. It wasn’t.

 

I was fascinated by the exhibit showing which minerals are found in everyday household products.

 

joplin-museum-products

“Galena: Lead ore used in batteries and detergents. The production of lead leaves bismuth which is used in Pepto-Bismol.”

Meanwhile, my kids were fixated on the display of fluorescent minerals. Here’s what they look light with a standard light on them.

 

joplin-museum-rocks-light

Here’s what happens after they are exposed to a long-wave light.

 

joplin-museum-rocks-glow

No wonder my kids kept pressing the long-wave light button; it was so mesmerizing to see those seemingly ordinary rocks transform into glowing, alien-like formations.

 

On the other side of the museum complex, the Dorothea B. Hoover Historical Museum houses a variety of collections that focus on the history and culture of the Joplin area. Highlights of this section include artifacts from the House of Lords, a famous saloon from Joplin’s mining days.

 

joplin-museum-lords

This roulette wheel from the 1890s was in the second floor of the House of Lords.

And jewelry that was recovered from Bonnie and Clyde’s Joplin hideout in 1933.

 

joplin-museum-necklace-1
Other exhibits at the complex include the Joplin Sports Authority Sports Hall of Fame, the National Historical Cookie Cutter Museum, and the Merle Evans Circus Tent #27 Miniature Circus (my daughter spent about twenty minutes staring wide-eyed at this miniature circus that fills an entire room).

 

joplin-museum-circus-2

Every citizen in Joplin should make at least one visit to the Joplin History & Mineral Museum to gain a sense Joplin’s rich history.

 

Oh, and to see the cool glowing rocks, too.

 

 

 The Joplin History & Mineral Museum is located at 504 S. Schifferdecker Avenue.

 

To read more about my adventures in the area, visit JoplinMOLife.com.

 

Carthage Civil War Museum

Did you know that the first full-scale land battle of the Civil War was fought near Carthage, Missouri?

 

I didn’t.

 

Sure, I’m not a Civil War expert, but I’m familiar with what I’d previously thought was the first major land battle of that war: Bull Run.

 

Yet, the Battle of Carthage (also called the Battle of Dry Fork) was fought on July 5, 1861.

 

That was 16 days prior to Bull Run.

 

I learned about this important Missouri battle when I visited the Civil War Museum, located just off the downtown square in Carthage.

 

civil war museum outside

Located in an old fire station, the museum faces another historic building: the handsome limestone Carthage post office, which was built in 1896.

 

civil war museum po close

The moment I walked inside the Civil War Museum, I was wowed by this stunning mural by local artist Andy Thomas, which depicts the burning of the Carthage square during the war.

 

civil war museum thomas mural

The museum itself is small, yet informative. By reading through the exhibits, watching the short video, and studying the diorama of the battle itself, I learned quite a bit.

 

The battle itself involved 1,100 German-American Union soldiers from St. Louis, led by Colonel Franz Sigel. Confederate Governor Claiborne F. Jackson led the Missouri State Guard, commanding about 6,000 men. This was the only time in history that a sitting governor has led troops in the field.

 

The battle was a victory for the Confederacy.

 

Here are some other things I discovered at the museum:

 

“Petticoat Flag” 

Here’s the story behind this painting by Andy Thomas: Union supporter Norris C. Hood lived on the Carthage square with his family. Secretly, his daughters had made a U.S. flag and placed it among daughter Lucy’s petticoats in order to keep it hidden from the many local Confederate supporters.

 

But on July 4, 1861, when Colonel Sigel’s troops entered Carthage before the battle, Lucy removed the flag and proudly waved it overhead as a welcome to the Union soldiers.

 

civil war museum petticoat

Weapons and Ammunition

It’s always fascinating to see artifacts from the fields.

 

civil war museum ammo

Belle Starr

Called the “Bandit Queen,” Belle Starr led quite a colorful life. She was described as an attractive teenager with a bold personality.

 

civil war museum belle

Yep, that’s bold.

 

Born as Myra Maebelle Shirley in 1848 just north of Carthage, Starr was the daughter of a hotel-tavern owner who supported the Confederacy. Take a walk on the north side of the Carthage square and look for this building.

 

civil war museum starr hotel

In front of the building, you’ll find this marker.

 

civil war museum starr hotel site

Starr would often entertain the hotel guests here with her skills on the piano.

 

But then the Civil War came to Carthage; in 1864, her brother Bud was killed by a Union soldier in nearby Sarcoxie. Enraged by the loss of her brother, Starr began living her life brazenly, going on to marry a series of outlaws, and ultimately suffering fatal gunshot wounds in 1889.

 

She did give birth to one daughter, Pearl, and one of the museum’s exhibits shows a portion of a letter that Starr wrote to her daughter while in prison.

 

civil war museum belle letter

 

civil war museum letter typed

The Burning of Carthage

The Civil War brought fires to the town in 1863 and 1864, destroying most of its buildings, including the courthouse. The current courthouse, which was built in 1894-95 on the same site, is one of the most photographed buildings in Missouri.

 

One structure that did survive the war was the Kendrick House. The oldest home in Jasper County, the Kendrick House was used as a command center for both sides during the war. It’s a short drive from the square and is located at 131 North Garrison Street.

 

civil war museum kendrick

It wasn’t long after my initial visit to the Civil War Museum that I returned, this time bringing my parents who were visiting from Chicago. My dad loves Civil War anything. He majored in history in college, so our summer family vacations always included stops at historical locations like Gettysburg and Vicksburg.

 

Because of that, you’d think I’d have a strong knowledge of the major Civil War battles, but I don’t. I simply have memories of staring at battlefields through glassy eyes and offering pained teenaged sighs to anyone within earshot.

 

But I’m happy to say that my war museum etiquette has improved dramatically as I’ve matured, and I welcomed the opportunity to prove this to my parents by bringing them to the Civil War Museum in Carthage.

 

I’m glad I did, because my second visit to the museum was enriched by the added information that my history-loving father provided as we walked through the displays.

 

And this time, I listened without sighing.

 

The Carthage Civil War Museum is located at 205 South Grant Street in Carthage, Missouri. Click here for more information. 

 

To read more about my adventures in the area, visit JoplinMOLife.com.

Keltoi Winery

You wouldn’t think you’d find it here, right in the middle of farmland in southwest Missouri.

 

But here it is.

 

Its bright yellow building acts like a beacon for visitors, letting them know that their quest has come to a fruitful end on this quiet country road.

 

Like a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, Keltoi Winery offers visitors a treasure of sorts: the rare and precious chance to while away an afternoon, sipping wine and spending time with friends and family.

 

keltoi arbor

Carrie in front of her pot of gold.

 

The leprechaun guarding this particular pot of gold is Erv Langan, the gregarious owner of Keltoi Winery. Erv refers to himself as a “chubby leprechaun,” and even if you don’t like wine, it’s worth the drive to Keltoi just to meet this man whose personality is larger than life.

 

keltoi erv 2

Erv

My husband joined me on my first visit to Keltoi. We lounged inside by the cozy fire, since it was wintertime. On my most recent visit, he served as chauffeur. He kindly dropped off me and my friend Carrie at the winery so that we could imbibe freely. But you don’t need my husband to drive you to Keltoi; just pace yourself and enjoy responsibly – and always have a designated driver.

 

keltoi barrel front

 

To figure out which Keltoi wine best suited our palates, Carrie and I ordered a wine tasting, which allowed us to sample around 10 varieties of Keltoi wines for just $6 each. We began the wine tasting inside the bright yellow building, where there are several tables to sit at, as well as a comfy seating arrangement by the fireplace.

 

keltoi guests

 

We sat on the sofa with a plate of crackers nearby so that we could clear our palate between each trying wine. Then, the wine fest began.

 

I’ll just highlight a few of the wines here so I don’t spoil the experience for you when you go to Keltoi (because you’ll want to go to find your own pot of gold, right?).

 

Red Wines
The Norton is the most popular red wine at Keltoi, and it’s made from the Norton grape, which is the state grape of Missouri. I didn’t even know we had a state grape.

 

Biddy Early is named after an Irish woman who was thought to have possessed mystical powers. This name suits the wine because it’s a bit magical: it has a smoky aroma but, thanks to the flavors of cinnamon and clove, “tastes like Christmas,” according to Carrie. This would be a great wine to enjoy during the winter holidays.

 

Red Shamrock is my favorite red wine at Keltoi because it tastes very similar to a merlot, which I love to drink. A medium-bodied wine, it presents a mix of fruit, earth, and spice. It’s made from the Chambourcin grape, which is a French-American hybrid.

 

keltoi teardrops 2

 

White Wines and Fruit Wines
Irish Raindrops, a semi-sweet wine, is the most popular white wine at Keltoi, and the one most requested for weddings.

 

I’m usually not a sweet wine drinker, but I really enjoyed Irish Moondrops, which tasted like butterscotch to me. I love butterscotch.

 

As for fruit wines, we sampled pear, apple, and peach. All were delicious, and each one’s flavor was true to its fruit. The apple and pear wines reminded me of fall, and the peach wine reminded me of summer.

 

A wine tasting at Keltoi can take as long as you want it to, and for Carrie and I, it lasted a few hours. But that’s the beauty of this. Unlike happy hour at Sonic, where drinks are guzzled down to quench thirst, a wine tasting at Keltoi is an experience to be enjoyed mindfully, and to savor.

 

Keltoi was bustling with activity on the Sunday afternoon that we visited. Tables were filled with couples playing cards while they shared a bottle of wine (my husband and I will have to try that soon), as well as groups of girlfriends chatting away, just like Carrie and me.

 

Canine friends graced our presence that day, as well. There was Kayga, Erv’s quiet old pal.

 

keltoi kayga

 

And this sweet guy, too.

 

 

keltoi sneakers

 

This is Sneakers, who recently chose Erv to be his person. Erv named him Sneakers because he likes to sneak food when no one is looking.

 

keltoi sneakers crackers

Must. Sneak. Cracker.

 

If you’re not a dog person, don’t worry. The dogs here will leave you alone unless you specifically show them attention. Since I was with Carrie, the pied piper of the canine world, we enjoyed our share of puppy time.

 

Halfway through our wine tasting, Carrie and I moved outside to the patio so that we could enjoy the beautiful spring day. My plan was to finish our tasting and then walk the grounds of the winery, since the last time I’d been there it was winter and too cold for a stroll.

 

keltoi patio 2

 

Keltoi has a mile-long walking trail, and an area called Maynooth, which I was curious to explore. Named after an ancient site in Ireland, Maynooth contains a Fairy Circle encircling a Tree of Life, as well as a replica of the megalithic site Nine Ladies.
But my plans were halted when I saw my husband driving our mini-van into the parking lot. I swear it was morphing into a pumpkin with each rotation of its wheels.
Ladies’ afternoon at the winery had come to an end.

Still, the magical feeling that we’d experienced that day stayed with us as we drove away. Like a generous leprechaun, Erv had shared a piece of his gold with us, and we felt a bit richer because of it.

 

 

Keltoi Winery is located at 17705 County Road 260 in Oronogo, Missouri.

 

To read more about my adventures in the area, visit JoplinMOLife.com.