A much needed vacation!

Three years ago (perhaps a bit longer), on the long drive to Disney World, I began to read aloud the Little House series to my family. The Ingall’s family became a symbol to us. They had hard times, but, as a family, with God’s grace, they made it through. And their story, as well as their way of life, have fascinated our family ever since.

At the time, we were just beginning to contemplate a new lifestyle for our family. We were learning about the dangers of GMOs (and many other nasties) and really trying our hand at growing a garden for more nutrition. The toughest of having space to have a small orchard and maybe a pig or two was building in our hearts, as we continued to pray for a path. It wasn’t long before we felt God really had led us to our ideas of a small farm, but that is a story for another time!

If you have read each of Laura’s books, you know that she, Manny, and little Rose head for a new start in “the land of the big red apple”, Missouri. And there, they built a home and carved a life from the rocky soil. Rocky Ridge Farm is still there, today, about 40 min East of Springfield in a small town known as Mansfield. Our family has been wanting to visit it for three years. And we FINALLY did!!

But this trip wasn’t only about Rocky Ridge, but so much more! We went to Missouri Botanic Gardens on the way down (and had a picnic after visiting the Farmer’s Market at Tower Grave Park), a place I adore, but had not been to in 7 years, my first Mother’s Day and first Birthday (would have been 2) without Levi. In fact it was almost 7 years to the day, as Levi’s birthday was just Monday. He would have been 9 and I miss him so!

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From there, we spent 2 nights in Springfield, visited Bass Pro Shop, and the Springfield Conservation Nature Center, before heading for Mansfield! Can I saw, if you have a family larger than 4, hotels can be tricky. We stayed at the Residence Inn. It was very nice, clean, spacious, had a WONDERFUL breakfast, and I even cooked one dinner in our room! Mmmm… Grassfed Beef and fresh Radishes!

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Mansfield at last!!! But our first stop was NOT actually Rocky Ridge! First, we had to catch the last day of the Spring Planting Festival at Bakersville. I have bought seeds from Bakers Creek for 3 years now, the quality and heart in the company is truly special. I even got to meet Emilee Gettle! The only thing I really wish was that my boys had been a bit better behaved, so I could have heard some speakers. And had a cinnamon roll!

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Beginning to see a theme with my boys? Yep, I made 12 matching outfits for them. For this trip, but also as their summer wardrobe!

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We left Bakersville, made a stop at a local realty office (we have been looking at MO land online for a couple of years now), and headed South to stay in Ava. Remember the hotel issue with a family larger than 4? Yep…rough night, but we made the best of it! Next stop, Rocky Ridge!

The tour was really neat! I actually did not know Laura was only 4’11”!!! Almanzo built the house to accommodate hers and his own stature. So many awesome fact and things to see! Seeing Laura’s best China, the wagon the came from SD in, and even Almanzo’s medicine was WAY better than I could imagine seeing a movie stars ANYTHING would be!

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After our tour of the farmhouse, the rock house, museum, and the bookstore, we headed toward Branson for the last half of our trip.

Before heading to check in to our condo at Pointe Royal, we visited Grand Village and had dinner at Mel’s Hard Luck Diner, where our waiter sang to us! 🙂 Lot’s of fun, pretty good burgers, too!

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Staying in a condo is really awesome for our family. I can prepare meals if needed, there is plenty of space (even a playground RIGHT off our own patio at this one!), and for less than many hotels ($80/nt)!

We spent the next morning at the fish hatchery and having a picnic at Table Rock Lake before heading back for a nap.

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After our nap, we treated ourselves to fresh, homemade ice cream at College of the Ozarks. The cows milked right at the school, by the students, was made into ice cream (also by students), and scooped up for our enjoyment by more students! The vision of this school centers around students who are Christ-like, hard working, patriotic, and debt free when they earn their degree! I would LOVE to see any of my children go there! The boys really loved the Tractor Museum, as well. There really is a LOT to do and see on this campus.

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Our last full day came all too quickly. 😦 We took the day to visit Silver Dollar City. SDC, isn’t a run-of-the-mill theme park. There really is so much more to it. Like Disney, there is also a lot of educational experiences. 🙂 I didn’t take my camera, though so not much to see.

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If you are going to Branson and need a family- friendly meal, I recommend Grand Country Buffet. We are not HUGE buffet people. But the food was fresh and there were options for everyone!

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We left after a pancake breakfast cooked by me, with the car loaded down. We took a long way home, to see more of the area. We wanted a better idea of the places we might find online. Places like this!!! Our dream…rolling pasture dotted with trees!!!

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We did stop and walk one property. The views were amazing. The soil, not so much! But it was a bonus that Isabelle found a Field Sparrow nest!

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We made one last stop coming out of the Ozarks. A place called Twin Pines Conservation. A place the kids could play!! Hands on Science and History!! ALL FREE! They even loan fishing poles for their pond and backpacks to take hiking with birdwatching materials! We spent almost 2 hours enjoying this little unexpected gem!

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Before we knew it it was night and we had lolly- gagged all through the Ozarks.

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What should have taken 7 hrs, took 14 hrs!!! :O We got home at 1:30 Saturday morning! lol!! Got up as early as we could go get our Araya, and headed for our garden! lol!!

Night God Bless!

Missouri is FULL of neat and unexpected places, friendly faces, and good Christian values. We will very happily call this land home!

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