Last weekend we drove three hours north to the town of my birth, Columbia, Missouri and visited with my sister Katie and Dan, my biological father. I've really only known them for a few years, now. Dan and his wife Laura have done a great job raising Katie. She's awesome and though she's about 22 years younger than me, I relate very well with her. She's pretty much the same odd-duck right-brained artistic person that I am, only younger and female.
I suppose this post needs a little back story: my parents were uber-young when they married, had me and divorced. I grew up in SW Florida, far away from the Akin clan here in the Midwest and had very little contact with them until recently. The guy I refer to as "Dad" was my stepfather and he passed away of a heart attack when I was 20. Katie's dad, my actual father, is Dan. She has a different mom.
Anyway, over-share of info aside, we had a great visit with them over the weekend. We got up there a little before noon, hit up our favorite Turkish coffee and shawarma joint in Columbia, Casa Blanca and then went for a short hike in and around the caves at Rockbridge State Park, just out of town (Devil's Icebox cave and the natural bridge).
Then we hit up some shops downtown, including a cool little coffee shop called Fretboard Coffee and went over to Stephens Park to let Gwen get out some excess energy before meeting up with Dan and Laura at their house.
Sunday morning, biscuits and gravy at the Akin household before heading off to Rocheport and the Katy Trail. The Katy Trail (www.bikekatytrail.com) runs east to west for about 237 miles and is one of the longest Rails to Trails projects in the country. We hiked a very small chunk of it down below Rocheport, along the Missouri River. The trail's narrow corridor was lined with bluffs on one side and the river on the other. It was very green with fresh foliage (including more than a little poison ivy).
The train tunnel was a favorite with the kiddo. She loved hunting for the perfect echo spot along it's interior.
No clue what this track is from, but it was as big as my hand.
You can't come this close to a winery without trying a bit and grabbing a bottle. Les Bourgeois Winery is one of our favorites. It sits well above the Missouri River and is a perfect spot to get a wine buzz and check out the view. We didn't have time for the buzz part this trip, so after a quick tasting, we grabbed a bottle of dry red and hit the road back to Columbia. We said our thank yous and goodbyes, upon hitting town, then back to Springfield in time to pick the dogs up at the pet boarding house.
We had a nice visit. Katie turns 21 this summer, so we're in the process of planning another trip up that way when she's old enough to drink. Likely a trip to Hermann or Augusta and the wineries in those areas. Possibly riding bikes to the wineries from a bed & breakfast somewhere. That's another cool thing about the Katy Trail, dozens of wineries along it's length.