Onondaga, Onondaga, Onondaga…CAVE!

Back before the State of Missouri took over management, Onondaga (and its other side, falsely separated by human property bounds — therefore razor wire — FKA ‘Missouri Caves’) were privately held, just as my family held large swaths of what’s now called the Mark Twain Forest. I’m already digressing…


When they were still privately held, we had those crappy local adverts you may remember from the 70s and earlier. The one I refer to in the title was meant to maximise the name ‘Onondaga’ not just to remember but as a Native American chant — like a war drum: ‘ON on da ga ON on da ga…’

Missouri is known for many things, including being The Cave State. Anheiser-Busch and many other breweries made good use of free cold storage below them in said caves!

Caves are a common feature on peoples’ properties and are often accessed by water, also quite often enough during drier seasons (makes sense). Sadly, we suffer spelunking deaths when people venture forth, into perfect darkness during spring or summer when flash flooding occurs.

Onondaga’s true entrance is accessed beyond a spring, under a bluff, by lying flat in a john-boat, using your hands to push the boat along the shallow cave ceiling entrance before it opens up. This is super common for our area and I assume a lot of caves around the world.

Inside, along the ‘tourist routes’ -there are several pathways, some in terrible disrepair and some fine but kept only for geologists and those who study bats or salamanders–Naturalists; this always makes me snort because I think ‘Naturists’ like a 12 year old). I would t think Naturists would stay long with a temp of 57F / 13C year-round — and you’re constantly dripped upon from above with ‘cave kisses’ are found lighting to highlight certain formations.

These are dutifully extinguished as the light causes algae to grow. In part, it’s unsightly but far worse, it provides a food source that a) shouldn’t be there, therefore changing the environment to one that indigenous species would change to start eating and then die off when it went away or worse, b) invite fauna who had no place here. Again, if it happened naturally, it’s evolution that they’d have to suss or perish but since MAN did it to them, it ain’t cool.

Where was I?


The guided tour currently costs 15USD Plus Tax per adult for the normal tour–there are special tours, too.

Here’s a brief part I videoed as there was enough space here that I wasn’t dwarfed by every tween ahead of me, let alone the grownups. Stoopid stature.

Like anything in nature that’s photographed, you just don’t get the SCALE of it. If you have been to other caves, this might be a little more informative of what Onondaga has. If you haven’t, it’s just well, sorry, a terrible representation but I don’t know how one could do a better job because Nature is amazing BUT difficult to ‘show,’ unless you’re there.

The ladies room is full running water and electricity but leaves a tad wanting.


Sand wasps and the Reed Twins

Brother and I both got nailed by sand wasps yesterday morning. It’s a slightly rare occurrence as they do not typically choose to engage with humans (‘non-aggressive).

If you read the brief article closely, you’ll see what these little bastards DO like to get aggressive with: flies.

I’m all for that but when it gets oppressively humid (we were 39C, 75% humidity with a dew point of 70, meaning, there’s no way for evaporation of sweat to occur and you’re perspiring heavily, just standing still, let alone shovelling and rolling wheelbarrows), flies ‘bite.’

They cling to human skin and I suppose try to lap up sweat but it pinches and is not a good feeling. You end up slapping yourself silly, trying to get them to move or die.

Let’s recap: sand wasps hunt flies. Flies cling to human skin when it’s oppressively humid and we’re covered in sweat that won’t evaporate.

Sand wasps–I know this because of my Doolittle abilities having grown up in an old growth forest with a multitude of domestic and wild animals–were trying to get some easy-fly-pickin’s, what with normally being fast but they were intoxicated by Reed Twin sweat. -intoxication possibly being the operative word

Nailed Brother through the sock above his boot and nailed my heel where it poked out under the strap of my sandal.

I’m allergic to our paper and red wasps but apparently not to sand wasps–KEWL! Cos we had plans and headed out of the heat to visit a local cave.

Still. It felt every bit like a wasp sting. When it happened to both of us, we screeched and jumped like Flatlanders getting their hair pulled by a bat.


Big weekend

Took off Monday as we were going to get up to shenanigans this weekend.

As of last night, I’d drank and took some RX painkillers in an attempt to take the edge off my constant and increasing spinal issues (I need some vertebrae removed and replaced).

In other words, we were supposed to do something fun but I hadn’t heard from him…

This means I had my phone in Airplane mode by 21h. At 21:03, I missed his message but picked it up this morning as I had been awakened by an off repetitive sound.


He had shown up, unannounced, at my house, and commenced working on it–which wasn’t in my plans but I suppose, thanks!

Here’s his shovel scraping:

A morning drive, Ozarks

20140719-185406-68046268.jpgFrom Saturday-last. A frequent sign in the Ozarks: Smokey the Bear is letting you know the fire danger in our old growth forests.

20140719-185406-68046301.jpgAlso common are our fine low-water-bridges, often ‘one lane’ bridges like this one that’s fine gravel road with a solid slab of concrete bridge to use. This one is fed by the Skullbone Spring.


20140719-185406-68046352.jpgWhile getting rarer by the minute, our few businesses offer hitching posts for your horse. Almost nobody needs them anymore and those who do find a use for them are probably doing it as a hobby. But we are still active ranchers, yo. This is a local ‘feed store.’ They branched out several years ago with this new building where they offer gardening supplies and hardware in case your sink breaks cos who wants to drive a 60 mile trip to Town? I went to get Bobby a new collar (leather but not those freak-o studded kinds — the only kinds big enough for Himses precious neck on offer at PetCrap or PetShite, major retailers). They rang back an hour later but I was already home.

‘Erm, I’m not driving another 24 mile roundtrip today!’ I made Spike take me. Har!

20140719-185406-68046215.jpgIn addition to the feed store, there are a few other businesses within a 15 mile radius, including this tractor repair joint. Bloke running it took over from his daddy who used to do it at their house a little closer to us. If we need them to work on it, we have to have it hauled rather than drive the tractor along the highway now. Can’t say if the new place has hitching posts.. I’ve never been there these 20 years, though our tractors visit too frequently.

20140719-185406-68046496.jpgThis is called ‘river bottom’ land. In the Ozarks, that’s saying something, to have a flat piece of land. In addition to handily being flat, it’s also FLOOD PLAIN, so flooding brings nutrients to the soil and it’s virtually always farmed with crops. This is fine Missouri Corn (maize). We do a lot of sorghum and soy here, too.

20140719-185405-68045906.jpgIf’n you’re getting yourself hitched, this is a hall to let. The pasture to the left housed a llama for many years. No sign of the llama, guess it’s dead.

20140719-185406-68046422.jpgAnother rare straight stretch of road for the Ozarks but I’m coming down a long hill — note the powerlines. Often your cleared bits of straight are maximised by the power company (otherwise constantly being knocked down and over by branches in tornadoes, general summer thunderstorm winds or broken down by ice in winter). If you look far off, you’ll see the roadĀ drops off, then disappears (and twists many times, crosses a river) and then climbs up to the next hill you see rather far off.

reviews, Monster. With some improvements.

I like the Monster, not so much any other of your caffeinated BS ‘energy/health’ drinks.

I love the zero calorie, carbonated Ultra Zero (basically a white and silver tin with a tetch of baby blue, NOT the baby blue tin with similar colours, thatshitnasty).

It’s citrusy and what I’d call a hyper-caffeinated ‘Squirt.’ -Gram’s highball of choice was Gin & Squirt If you don’t have Squirt, it’s a little like Fresca.

Great with vodka!

I drink Monster ‘orange’ or ‘green’ REHAB, too. Their Rehab line is 20cal/ tin and has a tiny bit of juice in (do not fool yourself that it’s healthy), caffeine and NO carbonation.

They are orangeade and pineapple-ade flavoured, respectively, though the green tin says it’s got green tea in. I’m not saying it doesn’t. I’m saying it tastes like pineapple and both go well with vodka, particularly mango vodka but plain works, too.

I’ve foraged into their Java line, as well.

They only have one ‘lite’ version, vanilla, and I find it sickly sweet. This isn’t to say the full fat, full sugar versions aren’t also like sucking down melted ice cream shakes, because they are!

I’m saying they’re less sweet-tasting, probably due to an artificial sweetener in the former.

At any rate, I don’t love any of the 4 I’ve tried but this was 1/2 off and I thought an experiment with Whiskey could bring me no possible harm, right?

Each tin is 2 servings at 200 whopping calories each (400 total) and very sweet–and slightly thick. It’s sweeter than your average homemade (or pub) Irish coffee IMO. Then again, this isn’t my swill of choice.

I like it, though, tastes like Christmas in July.