August 1, 2015

laughing waters

     Did you know that Missouri has its very own castle ruins? Indeed we do. The crumbled stone walls are the crowning glory of a bluff just outside of Camdenton. Beneath it, lies a pristine spring which flows into a lake; boaters, kayakers and swimmers revel in the chilly deepness all summer long. Ha Ha Tonka is the name of the park which is Native American for "laughing waters." In the early 1900's, a man named Robert Snyder purchased 5,000 acres as his retirement home so that he could "loaf and explore the caves of these hills, with no fear of intrusion." Snyder started construction on his mansion (inspired by castles from the 16th century), but died tragically in an automobile accident before it was finished. His sons completed the mansion and it was a beautiful structure until 1946 when both the house and the carriage house were burned to the ground.
     One can only imagine the parties and feasting and fancily dressed ladies and gentlemen! Where the garden fountains used to be, you can picture a pair of young lovers standing and admiring the view. Where the grass and shrubbery has taken over, there used to be the polished wood floors of a parlor and maybe even a ball room. But all of that is gone. What still remains is the natural beauty of the Ozark hills.
     The world is such a well-crafted creation no matter where you go. I love to travel myself -- when the spirit of adventure wells up inside me, the obvious solution is to go explore the alleys of London or Rome. But sometimes I have to stop and realize that there is always something to be discovered right where I live. Pretend you are a tourist in your own home state and take time to appreciate the details of what is familiar to you. That is what I did today -- at our very own castle in southern Missouri. 

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