I spent my formative years under pine trees and wading in creeks. Big Piney, Missouri wasn’t known for shopping malls or swimming pool complexes. My goodness, pavement was a bit of a novelty!
Adulthood has been a bit of a rude awakening. The fast, loud, and paved life I live often can be described as box-shaped. I bet I am not alone. Boxes dominate my life. I stare at them for entertainment, socialization, knowledge, and more. The streets of towns and cities I find myself in follow box-like patterns, block after block. Even my vehicle and my home are both a bit “boxy” in shape!
When my daughter came along, she only drove home what I already knew. I was living life too “boxed in” and I certainly didn’t want that for her. I could have sold all our belongings and gone off the grid for a simpler life, but I actually love my career and where I live. Teaching Broadcast and Photography at Washington High School has been such a blessing in my life. A simpler approach was in order.
I looked at one of those boxes that dominate my life and searched for a creek on public land that looked shallow, clear, and cold. Maps online often have photos associated with them. I wanted one that reminded me of Paddy Creek or the Big or Little Piney. Also, it had to be within an hour or less from my house in Union.
Imagine my joy when I realized I had a taste of the Ozarks in my backyard. Instead of heading 45 minutes east to St. Louis, I could venture 45 minutes west to Bourbon. Then, I could go down Highway N about 2.5 miles and explore Blue Springs Creek Conservation Area.
When my daughter was a toddler, we had stayed in a private cabin off Brazil Creek a few times, so I was familiar with the area and it just seemed like a good fit for us. From that first visit when Karlene was about 5 years old to the one we just took in June (she’s 11 now), this is one of our favorite places to cool off on a hot summer day.
It’s not too wide, not too deep, full of wildlife, and often not too busy! It’s also helped us live a life a little less “boxed in” and encouraged us to find even more creeks to explore (which I hope to write more about in the future). We often just go to one of the three spots the creek is accessible along Highway N, but there’s other access points down Blue Springs Road.
Parents and grandparents, I encourage you to get away from those boxes and spend a few hours or a full day at a creek. Nothing beats catching crawdads and minnows, enjoying nature’s air conditioning, seeing fossils and frogs, and living a life that’s a little bit more well-rounded. All the “studies” out there indicate that our children are missing out on so much when they aren’t in nature enough. It’s up to us to fix that.
However, don’t just take my word for it. I decided my daughter, Karlene, needed to let us know why Blue Springs Creek Conservation Area is a great place to visit. In her words:
Starting year 24 as a Journalism educator. Photographer. Mom. Daughter. Nature-Junkie. Super Fan of Missouri State Parks and Conservation Lands. Plotting a nomad retirement, but enjoy homeownership. Contradiction is my middle name.