Recently I went on a spontaneous overnight road-trip to see a waterfall while my husband Ray drove to Texas to visit his widowed mom Judy and to do chores around the house that she needed done. I LOVE waterfalls and it’s on my bucket list to visit some sites this summer, at least in Missouri and Kansas.
.For the last several years, I’ve been wanting so much to visit my friend Shelley (Rochelle Valasek), but it would have been much more expensive to ride the train from Lee’s Summit, MO, to Nashville, TN, where she lives and stay several days there at a hotel.
Ray was a little more open-minded to me traveling somewhere here in Missouri and staying overnight at a hotel...that is, after I begged, pleaded, and threatened his life (not really. I did have a few tears that he was going to get to go somewhere, and I’d be stuck at home, bored!)
I took what I could get, because the man holds tightly to his wallet! To be fair, he’s often paid for me going places, but that doesn’t mean he exactly likes it!
Springfield is only a few hours from where I live, so the morning (the SECOND!) Ray left for Texas, I took off driving as fast as I could within the legal speed limits before he changed his mind, drinking my big water bottle and practically shouting, “Whoo hoo!” out the window all the way down the highway, K-Love radio blaring, and me singing (off-key). I do love to travel!
God answered my prayers for clear, sunny weather, instead of the perpetual rain Missouri had been having. (I intently dislike driving in rain, snow, or ice!)
Since I’d never driven there alone, I used GPS on my new iPhone 7 (my dinosaur iPhone 4 just DIED, so I had to get a new phone!) and had printed out directions, just in case I needed a back-up! (GPS isn’t always right.)
“If you don’t know where you are going, any road can take you there.”–Lewis Carroll, Alice In Wonderland
My plan was to go to the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden first (by the Botanical Garden), and then maybe visit other waterfalls in Missouri (which didn’t happen, as I explain later).
When you arrive, you come to the Botanical Garden first. It has beautiful flowers, trees, and shrubs, including a grafted cutting from the oldest cultivated fruit tree in North America, the Endicott Pear. Presumably brought from England, it was planted in Danvers, Massachusetts between 1632 and 1649.
I didn’t write down the names of the flowers, but maybe you can identify them. Pictures can’t do its beauty justice. I especially loved the purple lavender and the quaint sundial.
A Latin phrase says of the sundial: “Dona præsentis cape lætus horæ [ac linque severe]. (Take the gifts of this hour.)”
Past the Botanical Garden and the Butterfly House (which I’ll cover in another post–something really cool happened there to me!) is a beautiful waterfall, which was the point of my trip. It is man-made, but still beautiful and peaceful.
There are chairs and little tables here to relax. When I attempted to take a “selfie” picture by the waterfall, a young woman who was sitting in one of the chairs apparently mistakenly thought I was taking HER picture! She got up, leaving in a huff. Oh well, more peace and quiet for me! (I did feel a little bad!)
I stayed here awhile, just admiring it, listening to the sound of the waterfalls, and thanking God for being able to see it–an answered prayer.
Then I went on to see the Japanese Stroll Garden, which is in another section (about half a mile from the visitor’s center. It was hot, so I drove there!)
The Japanese Stroll Garden was so peaceful and pretty. It includes well-manicured landscaping, winding paths, three small lakes, koi (goldfish), a ceremonial teahouse, a moon bridge, and a meditation garden.
The Botanical Garden is free, but the Japanese Stroll Garden costs $3. You are free to take pictures and videos to capture its beauty.
It was hot, so if you go now and during the summer to early fall, be sure to take or buy some water. They do offer some drinks and snacks when you pay to go into the Japanese Stroll Garden. I sat here a minute to rest and drink my water.
At the entrance are little signs, “Please stay on the path.” This is so that visitors won’t disturb the garden’s beauty, and there can also be ticks in the trees and bushes which might get on you. The signs made me think of how we as believers need to stay on God’s path and purpose for our lives.
There were brooks in the Japanese garden, which had small, more natural waterfalls. I enjoyed looking and listening to these. It seemed extra peaceful in these spots.
As I walked around the garden, looking at the trees and flowers and hearing birds, I thought, “It’d be wild if I saw a red male cardinal here.”
Beside the eagle and dove, it is my favorite bird and a special sign to me of God’s love and presence in my life. Then suddenly, I saw both a male and female cardinal. The male even seemed to follow me around! God is so amazing and good!
To me, it was like a little kiss from God, letting me know He was right there with me in the garden, even as He was with Adam and Eve at the beginning of Creation.
The tea house and its interior were interesting in their design and plainness (but pretty). The tea house is a space used for tea ceremony gatherings, one of Japan’s 3 classical arts of refinement, along with flower arrangements and incense appreciation.
The tea house was originally designed by Zen monks seeking simplicity and tranquility, and a place for poetically-inspired aesthetic pursuits, when the country was in chaos with wars and uprisings. (source: Wikipedia)
Right beside the tea house was a green-brown pond, where I saw a male and female mallard duck, another one of my fave birds. I stood there taking pictures of them and watching them.
Although the waterfalls in the Japanese Stroll Garden were man-made, they were so beautiful. I didn’t know any waterfalls would be in here, so it was a double blessing from God!
As I was leaving, I noticed a Japanese family entering the garden. It amused me a little, so I quickly snapped a picture of them. The little Japanese girl was so cute!
After I left the garden, I was famished and found a Mexican restaurant to eat lunch, for my chips and salsa and chicken taco (being a salsa magnet and God was smiling on me!). After I ate, I asked the owner of the restaurant if there were any hotels nearby. She said yes, right around the corner. To my delight, the Day’s Inn was clean, safe, and an even lower price than I had figured for a hotel room! More favor from God!
I went back to the hotel room to cool off, journal and relax for awhile. I need to find this Jarritos orange soda Mexican restaurants sell; it is delicious.
Then I went shopping at Bass Pro Shop across the street from the hotel, where I saw more (man-made) waterfalls, live alligators that I thought were fake at first, one of the biggest polar bears ever shot, and I bought some chocolate fudge. (Yes, I ate the whole thing–eventually!)
As I was leaving the Bass Pro shop, there was a sudden, bad thunderstorm, so I went through the Chic Fil A drive-through and ate supper [safely] in my hotel room. This storm in Springfield and the area I was planning to head for the next waterfall was the reason I had to cut my trip unexpectedly short (as well as a very sore throat! Boo hiss!)
I will blog more this week about this trip and the next waterfall I saw locally, so stay tuned!
I had so much fun on this trip seeing the waterfalls and the beautiful gardens, and can’t wait to see more waterfalls this summer.
What is on your bucket list to do this summer? Leave your comments below!