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Published on: Sep. 20, 2011

and seeing fish from a different angle. There is so much to see, smell, feel and do.

By the time we pried them from the indoor exhibits, the morning was slipping away. We decided to take the shortest trail to save some time, even though it held less promise of fall color.

Most of the color on the trail was faded yellows and greens, but that was okay by me because it made the bright orange or red trees scattered throughout seem more special when they did peek through.

Fallen leaves nearly covered the paved trail—that didn’t stop Christopher from trying to dodge them to keep from alerting the deer to our presence. I’m not sure which was more humorous: the idea that our family could keep quiet enough to not scare the deer away, or my 6-year-old trying to dodge leaves like they were a laser-beam security system.

We never did see a deer, but we did stop for a while to watch a box turtle lumber over the litter on the forest floor. After a bit, we took another break for the boys to sketch the trees in their newly acquired notebooks. While cute in theory, the idea of documenting the journey was probably taken a bit far when they decided to draw a picture of the deer scat (or poop, in kid-speak) on the trail. Ah, the joys of having sons.

Rocky Creek

Usually when I think of the Ozarks, I think of Douglas County—I’ll always love the wild hills surrounding Ava, Mo. But I’ve wanted to visit Shannon County for a while now, and the Rocky Creek Conservation Area driving tour seemed like a good reason. Dylan was game for tagging along. As we approached the striking bluffs near our destination, I was glad we had come.

Patches of grass that refused to give up their emerald hue stood in stark contrast to the tall brown prairie grass bending gracefully in the breeze. Many of the trees were brown, signaling that we’d missed the peak of fall in that neck of the state. Evergreens filled in the gaps created by the falling leaves, patiently waiting their turn to shine.

Occasionally, we’d get a glimpse of the hills beyond through the tall pines lining the winding but well-paved road. Beautiful bridges were tucked into the landscape. At one point, the trees made an archway over the road—it

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