Outside at the Giant’s Causeway

It has been a year since we returned from our visit in the great emerald isle, but on this Monday I am dreaming about being back where many shades of green could be seen rolling along the countryside of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Although I loved the vibrant greens on our trip, there is one not-so-green natural area that is deserving of its own post. This area is the Giant’s Causeway.

Northern Ireland's Giant's Causeway has this wall of natural columns formed from a volcanic eruption.

This wall of natural columns is the result of a volcanic eruption.

The tops of pillars at the Giant's Causeway formed from a volcanic eruption in Northern Ireland.

Exploring the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland.

One cannot understand how powerful and wonderful this bit of the outdoors will be until the trail is hiked and the causeway is in sight. Long before our time, a volcano erupted in Northern Ireland that left behind columns of varying heights perfect for climbing and exploring. Many of the pillars are clustered together to form something similar to natural stairs that are fun and easy to climb. Along the trail there are green pastures intermixed with many other interesting rock formations. These rocks are intriguing to view, sit on, stand on and photograph.

Interesting rock formation along the hike to the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland.

Taking a nap on the natural recliner after a hike to the Giant’s Causeway.

The day that we were there, it rained heavily most of the day and we were feeling disappointed that the rocks would be slippery and it may not be enjoyable to explore the area. We were on a tour and the bus driver said with a laugh “Don’t worry, Robbie (the tour guide) always has sunshine at the Giant’s Causeway.” Well, regardless if Robbie had anything to do with it or not, moments before we arrived, the sun and a rainbow appeared overhead. It was a beautiful afternoon to be along the water exploring this natural playground. A local band (I presume) must have had the same feeling because they were out taking photos on the rocks.

Band on top of pillars formed by a volcanic eruption in Northern Ireland.

Band on top of pillars formed by a volcanic eruption in Northern Ireland.

The volcanic eruption that left these columns must have been something spectacular, but the outcome is definitely something to be seen in person. The area stretches a few miles and has tens of thousands of the stone pillars. Unfortunately, it has been too long for me to remember all of the specifics, but it is a vision that I will keep with me for a very long time. If you are ever in Northern Ireland, get outside and explore the Giant’s Causeway.

The tops of the columns at the Giant's Causeway.

The tops of the columns at the Giant’s Causeway.

Camping at Lake Wappapello

A few signs on US67- South pointed toward Lake Wappapello but the GPS knew which sign was correct and lead the car in the appropriate direction. The campground was on the main road of Lake Wappapello State Park in Williamsville, MO. After locating the campsite, we parked our car on the gravel drive and set up the tent on the grassy area approximately 75 yards from the lake. It was getting dark, so we were happy that we had a tent pitching trial in our backyard earlier that week.

Tent campsite at Lake Wappapello

Griff ‘n Fox tent campsite at Lake Wappapello

Cooking over a campfire:
Griff’s parents had arrived the day before and had started a fire before we arrived, so with camp set up, we used their fire to cook our burritos.  Without having much experience cooking over campfires, we had precooked the meat, assembled dinner and breakfast burritos and wrapped the food in heavy-duty aluminum foil the night before we went camping. Griff’s mom and sister-in-law seemed interested in this no-cleanup way of cooking over the campfire so I felt successful in at least one aspect of camping.

The campground:
Our impression of the campground was favorable. The fire rings were taller than expected and had adjustable height grates. The campsites were well-maintained. The shower house was kept clean, had free hot water in the showers and sinks and had a nice private changing area separated by floor-length shower curtains between the shower and the rest of the shower house. The downside was that signs to navigate the park were not consistent and we had some difficulty finding the camp store. The other negative was that the camp store cooler did not seem to be working properly while we were there because the ice seemed on the verge of melting when we purchased it and we had to go back several times to get ice because it quickly melted.

Fishing on Lake Wappapello

Two men fish early in the morning on Lake Wappapello

Our activities:
Our two campsites were located next to the lake, which provided us with easy access to the water and a view. In our camp chairs we watched boats and jet skis on the water, the forest on the opposite shore and geese traveling on the water and on land near our camp.

At least one person in our group went swimming, canoeing, fishing and/or hiking at the park. The trailhead at Asher Creek Campground had signs that lacked explanation and reminded us of video game strategies.  The trails had natural paths that led us by the lake and up the hill through the wooded area where we encountered a chipmunk and a deer.

Close-up of chipmunk along the trail at Lake Wappapello State Park

Chipmunk along the trail at Lake Wappapello State Park.

Overall:
We liked this campground and would recommend it to anyone who is seeking a weekend on the lake. The food was good, the family time was nice and our camping adventures officially began that weekend.

Video game strategy or hiking trail sign at Lake Wappapello State Park?

Video game strategy or hiking trail sign at Lake Wappapello State Park?