Camping at Silver Mines

St Francis River, in Silver Mines Conservation Area near Fredericktown, MO

On October 18, a good friend of mine met me at the Silver Mines Conservation Area. This area is named for the abandoned “Einstein Mine” where in 1870 was used to mine silver, tungsten and lead up until 1946 when the mine was closed. The area is known for its Precambrian granite and felsite rocks.

After a brief visit we began setting up camp. I had brought my Bushnell one man tent and Clarry opted for a hammock and tarp. I was amazed with the hammock setup. Clarry had it down to a science. When he was done setting up it looked very inviting. It was only his third time at setting it up. The temps got down into the upper 30s and he discovered some things he would do differently the next time.

After breakfast we decided down the dam on the St Francis river. It was built when they were mining the area. The trail actually goes across the dam to get to the other side of the trail and we thought about trying it but we were going to have to wade to do it and we decided against it.

We talked to another camper who had done it and he told us about two graves on the other side marked by two wooden crosses and the mine entrance was on the other side too but it had been closed off. The trail was pretty rocky and in places you had to climb over big rocks and because of my ankle not being fully healed we didn’t walk the entire trail and headed back to camp. When back at camp we sat around the campfire talking and we had a surprise visitor.

It was a great time. Trees were just starting to color and in another week should be in full color. We pretty much had the place to ourselves. We did meet a gentleman there who came all the way from Chicago to a camp a couple of days. The scenery is absolutely gorgeous. It would be hard not to feel at peace with yourself while you were here. If you are looking for a place to camp where you can enjoy nature I highly recommend Silver Mines. It is located near Fredericktown, MO off highway D. In the spring when the river level is up they have kayak races.

The Arrival of Fall

Fall has arrived here in Southeast Missouri. Breakout the pumpkin spices, the hoodies and the chili recipes. Let the bonfires begin!

Farmers will begin the removal and storage of their crops. The sky will be filled with the “honking” of geese as they begin their journey to their winter homes. We will soon awaken to cool crisp mornings with frost on the pumpkin. The countryside will become painted with bright yellows, oranges and reds. Mother Earth will show off her artistic abilities. Her forest creatures will be obsessed with gathering and storing their winter food.

Folks will turn to folklore to try and predict the upcoming winter weather. There are two particular methods that are popular in my area.

The persimmon seed. People will look for the ripe fruit and then they will remove the seed. They will split the seed open to see what shape, called a cotyledon, is hidden within. It is said that if the shape is that of a fork we will experience a mild winter. If it is the shape of a spoon we will have an abundance of snow and if it is that of a knife we will have a cold blustery winter so the saying “cut like a knife”.

Another popular legend is the “wooly worm”. The wooly worm is a caterpillar made up of 13 segments representing the 13 weeks of winter. The browner the worm the milder the winter. The blacker it is the harsher the winter. The number of black segments represent how many weeks of bad winter weather we will have.

Unfortunately there is no scientific evidence proving either method works.

Here in the Midwest we are fortunate to be able to experience all four seasons. Here in Missouri there are times you can experience all four seasons in one day. We all have our favorite seasons for one reason or another but as for me I am delighted that the fall season has begun. I can smell the chili cooking and the smoke of the bonfire.

Beauty of Nature

It was another hot day in Southeast Missouri. I had the evening off so I decided to head out to the Bismark Conservation area.

The area is made up of 1,188 acres that surrounds the 220 acre lake, DiSalvo. It is the headwaters of the St Francis River. There are good numbers of bass, bluegill, channel catfish and crappie.

This particular day I went chasing channel catfish. It is hot and the humidity was punishing, two ingredients of pop up thunderstorms. It sprinkled on me a couple of times. There was a thunderstorm skirting to the south. Lightning and thunder.

Mother Nature was presenting me with one spectacular show. I watched intently. The wind picked up and I enjoyed feeling it upon my face. So relaxing.

The fish weren’t cooperating. They had very little interest in the bait I was using, shrimp, hotdogs and night crawlers. At dark the bullhead catfish started to show interest in the shrimp. I ended up catching 3 bullheads before I had to give in and call it a night.

It turned out to be a great evening and it was much needed. Mother Nature was spectacular and gave me some great shots and I had it all to myself.

My Take on Aging

Growing old doesn’t bother me. I know it is a given and I accept it. It’s the changes that concerns me.

Every year my hair grows grayer and my beard turns whiter. When I get out of bed in the mornings it sounds like someone poured milk on Rice Krispies.

The biggest disappointment is not being able to do the things I used to be able to do.

My strength wanes every year. Fifty pound feed sacks now feel like a hundred pounds. I easily run out of breath and my “Git” along seems to have done got up and got along all by itself. I can no longer play “pull my finger” because it is like playing Russian Roulette. The word “depends” takes on a whole new meaning. It now is known as a protective under garment. You now plan your outings around bathrooms. When I go fishing the number of steps decides where I will be fishing instead of where the fish may be hanging out. The song Gimme Three Steps is no longer about a jealous boyfriend and a man with hair colored yellow.

Growing up all I heard about was the “Golden Years” and I can tell you now the only thing Golden is my doctor’s wallet.

Finally I’ve started thinking a lot about the here after. I walk into a room thinking now what did I come in here after.

Now you have my thoughts on aging. Good thing is I am still on the right side of the dirt and hope to be for sometime yet. I just have to take it one day at a time and put on my big boy panties and say I can do this!

A Good Morning Fly Fishing

I awoke around 4:30 am. I was rrestless. I could hear the local lake calling my name but I had so much to do. I went about preparing my breakfast thinking I would get over it.

NOT! I couldn’t shake the urge to go fishing. So I loaded up and head for Lakeview Lake.

I decided to take 2 spin casts and do some tight line fishing. After catching two turtles I decided to break out the fly rod. The fly fishing bug has bit me so hard I never leave home without my fly fishing gear.

Catching a 4 inch bluegill on a fly rod can be exciting. it can feel like you have Moby Dick on the end of your line. There are a lot of skills involved that you will spend a lot of time trying to master but well worth the time.

I have found that patience is a necessity. You can’t rush your casts. You have to be very aware of your surroundings or you catch more “tree bass” than you do fish and flies aren’t cheap.

I am by no means an expert fly fisherman. I only know from experience what has worked for me. One thing I recommend is spend a lot of time fishing for pan fish in order to hone your skills. You can learn a lot from them. They are a little more forgiving than other species when it comes to fly presentation. I am sure there are those who will disagree with me but it has worked for me.

In closing if you have never tried fly fishing I encourage you to give it a try. It may not be your “cup of tea” but you won’t know until you give it a try. Good luck and good fishing.

Note: Pictures are just a few of the fish I caught that morning. I quit counting at 20.

Morning Spent With a Friend

My childhood friend Mark had contacted me about doing some fishing. His sister-in-law had given us permission to fish her private lake.

We agreed on meeting at 8 a.m.. Unfortunately the weather man was forecasting a very hot day. Believe it or not he actually got it right. The heat forced us to give it up by 11 a.m..

Fortunately in that 3 hours the bass and panfish did a great job of keeping us busy. We opted on our fly fishing gear and it was a good choice I thought. We managed to catch several nice size pan fish and a few small bass.

I chose a yellow popper and Mark chose a popper like fly I believe he called “perch assassin”. The fish liked them both. Now if you have never fly fished before I am here to tell you that even a small fish feels like you hung Moby Dick.

All in all it was a good morning even with the heat. Good company, peace and quiet and a lot of action. We are already planning another fishing adventure. Maybe some all night catfishing.

Tent or RV

My one man tent.

“Without the intense touch of nature, you can never fully freshen yourself! Go for a camping and there both your weary mind and your exhausted body will rise like a morning sun! – Mehmet Murat ildan

Two popular methods of camping are Glamping Camping and Tent camping. Glamping camping, also known as glamorous camping, involves camping with the luxuries of a home or hotel ie RV. Tent camping is a primitive form enjoyed by those who want to get closer to nature.

RVs are loaded with the amenities of home. AC, satellite tv, electricity, running water, bathroom and shower. One can get almost anything they want in a RV to meet their desires.

Tents on the other hand just provide one a place to sleep and shelter from inclement weather. There are many types of tents to choose from and come in several sizes. Some are for warm weather camping and there are four season tents that can be used all year. Mats and air mattresses can make sleeping on the ground more comfortable. They can be pitched almost anywhere.

The camper has to choose whatever method fits their desires. Personally I like to keep it as simple and primitive as possible. At the ripe old age of 66 I prefer tent camping. I feel closer to nature and when camping I don’t want any distractions from outside luxuries. I cook on a campfire using cast iron Dutch Oven and skillets like the pioneers carried on their wagons for cooking. I also make Cowboy coffee.

I have a one man tent that I use on float trips, back packing and short camp outs. I have a three man tent I like to use for week long campouts and a hammock with a net and rain fly. I haven’t got a chance to try it out so the verdict is still out as to whether it will work for camping.

Camping is one of those activities you either love or hate. If you love it there are a multitude of places you can camp. State Parks, National Parks, private campgrounds and gravel bars on the river. Both methods of camping have their pros and cons you just have to decide which one is right for you. Happy Camping!!

Return to Fly Fishing

First Catch on New Orvis


“Even a blind hog will find an acorn once in awhile.” Unknown

I destroyed my right foot over 40 years ago and the doctor put it back together the best he could. When I walked, there was a considerable amount of pain and it steadily got worse. I was forced to abandon fly fishing around 1990 because of the pain.

I bought my first fly fishing set up in 1976. I was hooked, no pun intended. I was devastated when I walked away from it.

In 2020 I met doctor Sloan who said he could fix it and I eagerly agreed on the surgery. I had a chance to pursue fly fishing again.

I bought a new Orvis Encounter combo. As soon as the doctor gave me the green light, because it was winter, I headed to a near by lake. No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t land that first fish.

Yesterday I tried another area lake but the fish Gods weren’t in my favor. Since I’m not a quitter I returned today bound and determined to get that first fish.

The day started out a little better. I got some strikes and hung two but didn’t get them in. I guess I wasn’t holding my mouth right.

Then it happened. I had one on. I got it in and got a picture. It was official! I began doing “Snoopy Dog” dances all around the lake, yes even though it was no Moby Dick. I can tell you one thing. A 66 year old fat man doing “Snoopy Dog” dances is not a pretty sight. The word “repulsive” comes to mind.

All in all it was a good day. The “no fish” curse had been broken! I gained confidence and everything was grand in Wayne’s World.

Sacred Space

“Your sacred space is where you can find yourself over and over again.” – Joseph Campbell

I really never understood my overpowering compassion for the river until one day I came across this quote. I read it and the lightbulb in my head went off.

The river is my sacred space, or safe place, where I am free of societal pollution. Once I am in the presence of the river I am free to think with my mind, heart, body and soul. I have the ability to examine my own own beliefs and thoughts in great depth and to understand why I believe the way I do. I reach an understanding of who I really am and who I want to be. The revelation of what I want to accomplish in life and most importantly why becomes apparent. In this place I find a me that I can respect and love. If we can’t love ourselves what’s the point of loving at all?

With all the animosity in the world it is easy to plunge ourselves into the pit of depression which robs us of peace and happiness.

Seek your sacred space, find it and visit it frequently. The real you will soon become visible.

Remembering a Childhood Friend

Some people come into our lives and leave footprints on our hearts and we are never, ever the same.” – Unkown


My maternal grandparents owned a farm in Patton, MO when I was a young un. My grandpa farmed, raised sheep and had some dairy cows.

Across the holler from him lived a brother and sister by the name of Bob and Bert Hinson. Now Bob was a colorful ole gentleman. It was said he made some of the best moonshine that ever crossed your lips. I never grew tired of his stories and he never hesitated to entertain me.

On a ridge that overlooked his farm was a large grove of pines. Bob loved to sit in the middle of the grove, roll him a smoke and listen to the singing of the wind as it swirled through the pines.

I remember during one of my visits Bob asked me if I would like to join him in a visit to the ridge among the pines.

We made our way across the pasture and started our climb to the top of the ridge. Even though he was in his 70s you couldn’t tell it. He climbed the steep ridge with ease.

Once we reached the top we made our way to the center. The sound of the wind singing in the grove filled me with peace. Bob sat in his usual place on a fallen tree in the grove. Once settled in he pulled a rolling paper from his shirt pocket and a can of Prince Albert and filled it with his tobacco of choice.

He opened the Prince Albert can and carefully poured the tobacco into the paper and rolled him a smoke. He lit it and took a long drag. We sat there not speaking a word. We just sat there drinking in our surroundings and the symphony being played by the wind upon the pines. There was a great calm and life was good.

Bob finally took his last drag on his smoke and carefully put it out. He turned to me and said remember this boy, when you are one with nature you have everything you need to enjoy life. He then arose from his perch and we headed back to the house.

That was my last visit with my friend. He passed away shortly thereafter in his sleep. I often wonder what was on his mind that day. Did he know that his visit on earth was coming to a close? I am forever honored that he shared that time in the grove with me on that day. As far as I know that was his last visit to the pine grove. RIP my friend. You are still in my heart.