Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Midwest Old Growth Forest Tour: Part 2

As I write today the snow is blowing outside, the chickens are huddled in their coop, the cats are laying in a ring around the woodstove and we busted out our snow pants and winter bibs for our daily tour. Winter is here for sure, but let's take a quick pause and remember autumn and the finale of our first purposeful Midwest Old Growth Forest tour.

In Part 1, I ended on the native American Persimmon, one of the most delicious of all fruits to us and lots of wildlife including the Eastern Comma butterfly pictured below. These butterflies are a marvel to us....overwintering as adults under bark and other sheltered places and then emerging on warm days to dine on fruit juices or scats or sap runs.

Persimmon oatmeal was a staple for us for a few days. Mmmmmm!

We totally felt like glampers having a whole kitchen to prepare food in for us to eat...

We quite enjoyed the ease for a change...

All these A. Persimmon seeds were cleaned, dried and stored so we can grow many more Persimmon trees for wildlife and for you!

We camped in the Two Lakes area of Hoosier National Forest, an area we backpacked long, long ago and soaked up the diverse forest. It's funny to think that 11.4 mile trail we first hiked as a double overnight and now we do those miles in one day!

Virgin's Bower (Clematis virginiana) seeds are so showy and fantastic and always make us stop and ogle. One of these vines popped up in our chicken aviary this summer, thanks no doubt to our friends the wind or birds, so we are training the plant to grow on top...can you imagine?

Trail food for us looks a bit different when we have access to our little camper kitchen. Below is a fabulous sweet potato grown from starts we purchased from Bakers Creek Heirloom Seeds. Imagine the antioxidants in this and know the flavor is so so so so good. We highly recommend!

The weather started to shift when the jet stream dropped low into the U.S. bringing rain and cool temps so we decided to head a bit further west into Missouri, but before we did we visited an old growth forest that looks very different than many think. This one is an oak barrens and the old growth trees are Blackjack and Post Oak with some topping 300 years old even though they are tiny. Challenging growing conditions makes for slow growth, but a very unique forest interspersed with prairie plants.

The temps continued to fall as we explored, but we were both enthralled with the abundance of this forest and we were so grateful to have this tiny camper so we could fit in the one-car-only parking spot.

Hawn State Park gave us a nice place to land for our first night in Missouri and to run in the morning. The park was mighty busy for us so we only stayed one night, but we soaked up the rain and the rocks and the moss on our morning trail run.

Snakes sought heat on many of the roads we drove and hiked so we saved as many as we saw that needed us still. I have such appreciation for our cold-blooded kindred. What must that be like to be the same temperature as the air? I am so cold as a warm-blooded mammal so even though I am not cold blooded, I seek out those warm places too giving me such respect for these reptiles (and amphibians and invertebrates).

The next few nights were spent along the Ozark National Scenic Riverways in Missouri, the first national park area to protect a river ecosystem. The river was saved from damming by town people with visionary foresight and we got to reap the rewards of their efforts....

There are hundreds of natural springs and caves in this area that would have been buried in the damming so we explored in much gratitude.

Lone people can do so much and we were inspired many times on this trip by the efforts of one person in one area accomplishing incredible feats. Here, a virgin Shortleaf Pine forest was saved by one individual who developed this land as a working forest, occassionally harvesting trees, but in a completely sustainable way with old growth present. It's doable! This forest looked 100x better than any surrounding forest and still produced income. WOW!

If you are in Missouri, you must check this place out.

The rain and cold eventually found us in MO and our trip end drew nigh so we camped our last two nights at Land Between the Lakes in KY. We aren't generally very excited about reservoirs, but the forest surrounding these reservoirs may have been saved just because of them and we were seriously impressed with the ecologically intact and preserved bottomland forest.

A dead box turtle and a live box turtle all on one hike indicates to us a healthy population of these magnificient beings. How freakin' cool.

We hope you all enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving celebrating love and living in gratitude. Our quest for the rest of 2018 and on into the rest of our lives is seeking joy, finding joy, living in joy. JOY. JOY. JOY.

Please join us....

Your friends,

jennifer & steve

Wonder Wednesday Videos

Strong Roots, American Sycamore
The totally cute Virginia Opossum


  1. What a wonderful adventure! I love how happy you two are out there exploring!

    I owe you an email with Florida info, Jennifer, so look for that later this week! I'm probably going to overload because my love for FL is HUGE! ;)

    1. You know how full your heart and spirit become when exploring. :) Thanks so much for all the super information...we cannot wait! Insider intel is just the BEST!

  2. Thanks for sharing potential places to investigate in the less-visited states. We love to have places to visit on our way to more distant destinations.

    1. You are welcome! There are so many places to much exploring to do! We will all have to meetup somewhere on the road since our fall color planned trip fizzled. Hope your holidays are wonderful!

  3. SO glad you are enjoying your new camper, is it easy to heat? It looks really comfortable and cozy! There are pockets of wonderful still out there and you found some of it!! I found out permissions have a fairly shallow root system but one long tap root...We had one blow over last spring after days of ground soaking rain.

    1. Hi Sondra! Yes, the camper is easy to heat. It came with a little propane furnace that keeps us mighty toasty. We were super grateful for that feature on our last adventure. The fan needs electricity to run though so we have to be plugged in or use our solar panels if the battery is low. We are getting this figured out though and seems great! Interesting about the persimmon roots. Thank you for sharing! Those trees are so awesome. I am sorry you lost one. Do you eat lots of the fruits?


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