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.

Brunch at Club 1201

There’s something decadent about brunching. For one thing, going out for brunch implies that you possess ample time to linger over a morning meal, which is quite the opposite of how I typically find myself each morning, reaching for grab-and-go foods as I scoot the kids out the door to one activity or another – even on the weekends.

 

Sigh. I remember those weekends before having kids when I could sleep in, back when time was a luxury.

 

Brunching is special because it typically happens at locations with elegant decor and neatly-pressed linens covering the tables. It’s as though these places understand that if you possess leisure time in the morning, then you deserve to celebrate that in beautiful surroundings, by golly.

 

Finally, brunching involves eating dishes that are essentially fancied-up versions of regular breakfast fare. Take Eggs Benedict, for instance, which is basically a plate of eggs, bacon, and toast that’s been artfully arranged and topped with a sumptuous sauce.

 

Yes, brunching has been an elusive activity for me for the last decade or so, ever since parenting trumped leisuring as my primary focus on the weekends.

 

That is, until last weekend.

 

club 1201 brunch out2

Our kids spent Saturday night at Grandma’s house, leaving my husband Travis and I with – gasp! – no obligations on Sunday morning, so we decided to treat ourselves to brunch at Club 1201.

 

For years, I’d been hearing people talk about brunching here and telling me I just had to try it. Club 1201 serves brunch only on Sundays, lunch on weekdays, and dinner on Fridays and Saturdays (in the rear dining room of the building, in what’s called Uncorked @1201). Over the years, we’d eaten every other meal except brunch here, but this was about to change.

 

To commemorate this occasion, I even wore a dress. It just seemed like a brunchy thing to do.

 

club 1201 brunch c and t 2

The interior of Club 1201 is decorated with an eclectic collection of picture frames, doors, and other architectural features that are presented as pieces of art, which creates a uniquely sophisticated backdrop. Linda Williams, the owner of the restaurant, greeted us and showed us to our table, which was covered with crisp black linens.

 

So far, so fancy.

 

Linda asked us if we’d like to start off at the Bloody Mary Bar, which is somewhat of an institution at brunch here. While we aren’t Bloody Mary drinkers, we’d heard so many people rave about Club 1201’s bar that we had to at least check it out.

 

club 1201 brunch bmb1

Club 1201’s Bloody Mary bar is set up in the rear dining room (the one that houses Uncorked @ 1201 on weekend evenings), and you can customize your drink to your heart’s desire. Starting with a base of tomato juice or Zing Zang (if you like yours spicy), you can then add vodka (plain, bacon, or sriracha), and dress it up with an assortment of olives and bacon.

 

You can also celebrate your brunch with a sweet and bubbly mimosa, or with a nice caffeinated cup of coffee, juice, or water.

 

We started off our brunch date by ordering the beignets. I fell in love with beignets when I lived in New Orleans, where they’re served sprinkled with so much powdered sugar that it’s impossible to eat them neatly, and you end up looking like a ghost.

 

club 1201 brunch beignets1

Club 1201’s beignets arrived at the table with an elegant dusting of powdered sugar and a raspberry coulis for dipping. These little French doughnuts were warm and moist, with the coulis adding a light touch of sweetness.

 

But because I love to envelop myself in a cloud of powdered sugar when I eat beignets, I asked our server to bring an extra dish of it. You can take the girl out of New Orleans, but you can’t take the New Orleans out of the girl.

 

club 1201 brunch beignet dust

Our fancy table didn’t look so fancy afterwards, though.

 

I ordered the Eggs Benedict for my entree. At Club 1201, the poached eggs are stacked on top of smoky bacon and toasted baguette slices, then drizzled with a buttery Hollandaise sauce. You can choose either fruit or Parmesan potatoes as a side dish; I chose the potatoes, which were thin and crispy and sprinkled with a sweet and spicy seasoning that was thoroughly addictive.

 

club 1201 brunch eggs benedict

Travis ordered the Steak and Egg Flatbread for his entree. He prefers lunch foods over breakfast foods, so this flatbread option was ideal for him. The size of a small pizza, this dish was made with pieces of tenderloin and scrambled eggs topped with flavorful fresh rosemary.

 

club 1201 brunch steak

Other items on the brunch menu that looked interesting to me included the Monte Cristo Sliders, made with ham and cheese and served on cinnamon swirled toast, then dusted with powdered sugar (more powdered sugar!); and the Chicken and Waffles (something my daughter raves about but I have yet to try), which is served with maple syrup and peppered sausage gravy.

 

The chef’s frittata and crepe specials are not listed on the menu because they change each week, so your server will tell you about those. Club 1201 also offers a lunch menu during brunch time on Sundays. Having more options makes everyone happy.

 

As we left Club 1201 on that sunny morning, my husband turned to me and said, “That was really good. Why don’t we do that more often?”

 

I was about to launch into a speech about the million reasons why we don’t, when a gentle breeze playfully rustled my skirt, reminding me how fun it was to dress up and take the time to do something out of our normal routine, like brunching.

 

“Yes,” I agreed. “We should.”

 

 

Brunch is served on Sundays, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Club 1201 is located at 1201 E. 32nd Street. Click here to visit its website, and click here to view its Facebook page.

 

*The only photo in this post that I took was the one of the powdered sugar/beignet aftermath. Our server took the photo of me and my husband, and Travis (our family’s photographer) took the remaining photos.

 

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

Cunningham Park

Helicopter Park is what we used to call it, about a decade ago.

 

I’d bring my oldest two girls here to let them jump, slide, swing, and climb on the brightly-colored playground equipment under the shade of the many tall trees in this park.

 

If we were lucky – and we often were – we’d hear it: a distant whirring, growing closer and louder by the minute until we saw the source of the sound hovering above the treeline, pausing for a moment as if winking at us before it whisked itself away.

 

cunningham pre 1

Seeing this flying object was a highly anticipated event whenever we came here, and we’d all stop whatever we were doing just to watch it. This magical machine was the St. John’s medical helicopter which was housed at the hospital’s helipad right across the street from one of our favorite places in Joplin: Cunningham Park.

 

cunningham pre 2So many leaves on the ground from so many trees!

 

Unfortunately, what my girls and I knew as Helicopter Park was destroyed by the EF5 tornado that roared through Joplin on May 22, 2011. All of those beautiful shade trees were transformed into matchsticks, tossed with mangled playground equipment, then lumped into piles of debris.

 

But it didn’t take long for the people of our city, working alongside thousands of volunteers from all over the country and all over the world, to clean up the twisted bits of our former buildings and parks, and to create fresh spaces where we could form new memories. The result was a touching tribute, not only to the past, but to the ever-present power of the human spirit.

 

My kids and I weren’t the only ones who missed playing at Cunningham Park in the months after the tornado; lots of people were hard-pressed to find a space in Joplin where their kids could run and play with no worries.

 

Thanks to Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, that all changed. The production, which built seven homes a few blocks from the park, also took on the task of building a play area and basketball court at Cunningham Park, introducing these features to the public in October 2011.

 

cunningham boomtown

This wooden play area is made to look like Joplin in its booming mining days. I like it because it feels like a miniature movie set from an old Western.

 

cunningham tall playground

For kids who crave more height and thrills, there’s a three-story modern plastic playground set that has been added on the north side of the park.

 

cunningham old playgroundThe former playground today.

 

cunningham post tornadoThe former playground after the tornado.

 
In the center of the park, in the space that once contained the playground equipment that my kids climbed on back in the Helicopter Park days, there’s now a serene koi pond on the north side and a pond with a waterfall on the south side, with a bridge separating the two.

 

cunningham koi

This is the reflecting pond, which honors the lives of the children lost in the tornado.

 

Walking southeast from this area is the green space where my kids would once excitedly run from me in an effort to get me to chase them. Most of this area is still open, but there are a few new fixtures that are honor the lives lost in the tornado.

 

cunningham plaqueThis plaque lists the names of the 161 citizens who perished on May 22.

 
cunningham fountain

Dedicated on November 22, 2011, the “Proclamation of Restoration” fountain is a replica of the original one which stood at Cunningham Park, the first city park in Joplin, and it reads: To the City of Joplin and the “Seasoning of Lives” lost during and from the aftermath of the May 22 tornado.

 

The north part of the park features a tribute to the volunteers who flocked to Joplin to help our city in those months after the storm. This is the Volunteer Tribute and Children’s Memorial, designed and built by architecture students from Drury University in Springfield, Missouri.

 

cunningham steel band

This stainless steel band represents the “The Miracle of the Human Spirit” wristbands that many people wore during the recovery process.

 

The four circles of the tribute represent Rescue, Recovery, Demolition and Rebirth, and pieces of debris form mosaics in the walls of the circles.

 

cunnningham debris mosaic 1

In the center of the circles is a mosaic that reflects the stories about the “Butterfly People” that children told after the storm.

 

cunningham butterfly mosaic

To the north of this area, just past the boundaries of the original park, is the Butterfly Garden and Overlook. What I think is so cool about this area is the “penciled” outlines of the former homes that stood at that spot, especially the Carl Owen house, which was built in 1911 (click here to see what it looked like).

 

cunningham penciled

Sometimes while my kids were playing, I’d look at that house with its unusual row of windows on the upper floor, and I’d wonder what exactly the upstairs was used for. I’d like to think that it was a huge dance studio or a writing room that overlooked the park (how dreamy would that be?).

 

cunningham flowers wall outline

Today, you can walk through the skeleton of the house and learn facts about the tornado and the butterfly garden from the series of plaques that are placed inside of it.

 

cunningham strong fountain

There are several places in the garden where you can sit down and reflect, or simply watch the many butterflies alight on the many blooms that were planted there just for them.

 

cunningham waterwall

There’s a cozy spot under a pavilion that faces the water wall, a 38-segment water feature which represents the number of minutes that the tornado was on the ground. There’s a void in the water wall at the seventh minute, which is when Cunningham Park was struck.

 

While I miss those times when my girls were little and I’d take them to Helicopter Park, I embrace the new features of this transformed park and appreciate the symbolism of every one of them.

 

Now, instead of a helicopter rising above the treeline, I envision a phoenix rising from the rubble.

 

cunningham rosesCunningham Park is located at 26th Street and Maiden Lane.

 

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