Friday, July 13, 2012

Land of Laughing Waters

Alfie's a great hiking buddy.  One of our most interesting recent adventures was last weekend, visiting Ha Ha Tonka State Park .  Grandpa Bob was here visiting from California, and it was a great excuse to take off and do some exploring! The park features the ruins of an amazing, grand old mansion commanding a breathtaking view of the countryside below.  I loved wandering around and imagining what this place must've been like in its heyday a century ago.

Sure, it's a grand mansion, but where are the dog beds?

Looking down on what was once a grand ballroom. 

A circle drive at the rear, big enough to accommodate horse-drawn carriages.

 Looking up at the "castle" ruins from the gorge beneath, near the springs.

 I defy you to say "Ha Ha Tonka" three times without laughing!  Fittingly, the name actually means "Laughing Waters" in a Native American dialect, and refers to the natural springs there.  

The sign said "no swimming" said nothing about wading!

There are several trails to explore in the park, and we sort of combined the most interesting parts of a few different ones.  There were steep inclines --the toughest climb was made easier by a series of over 300 steps, linked by boardwalks such as this.

The native karst limestone gave rise to many interesting features such as sinkholes, a natural bridge...

...and this interesting balanced rock formation.

We all loved the caves.  You weren't allowed to go in, but we didn't have to in order to appreciate the refreshing current of 55-degree air wafting out.

Air conditioning!

You might appreciate a cool cave, too, if you were doing all this hiking in this kind of weather!  Take a minute and look at that thermometer...which was in the shade, by the way!  We took a bunch of water, and let me tell you, not a drop was wasted.  Alfie was the only one to have his own water bottle, though, lucky dog!  Don't worry, we took regular rest/re-hydration breaks, and no one got heat exhaustion...although, a stop at Sonic afterward sure felt good!

Alfie was a bit of a show-off, as usual.  Tim had climbed up a couple of big boulders and was standing at the top...I was on the middle one and could see Alfie on the ground below, wanting to get up. I was thinking of giving him a boost, or showing him that he could follow Tim by using the smaller boulders to climb up on the big one.  Nothing doing! In one giant spring, Alfie had gone from the ground below, to the top boulder with Tim. 

Here's how it's done, folks! 

Well, hello up there...!  I guess Alfie has superpowers.

Take time to enjoy the journey...and all the smells along the way!


The Rhoton Family said...

I just love Alfie!

Becky said...

Wow - that sounds amazing!

Kim said...

I just wanted to let you know that I LOVE your blog. You and Alfie are such inspirations. I'm currently beginning owner-training my own psych service dog, and you give me such great ideas of where to take Capa for socialization.
I look forward to more posts about all your adventures!

Humaun Kabir said...

Thanks for sharing this with us! Some really amazing features.
cpointlessblog alfie

1000 Goldens said...

What an amazing place to visit, so much to see :) I would like to stroll on those boardwalks!