The Magical Missouri Ozarks

I've shared about our adventures in the Missouri Ozarks before. I always describe the area as a magical place, with geological features you won't find anywhere else in the world. My counterpart is always quick to correct me, pointing out that there is actually a scientific explanation for all of these wonders.
 "It's not really  magic, you know."

 This boulder weighs 8,500 lbs. or about the same as 2 cars!!
This was our second visit to the Elephant Rocks and while we may have changed a bit, the landscape hasn't changed much in only five years. The landscape of Elephant Rocks State Park began to take shape 1.5 billion years ago. Yes, that's BILLION... as in before dinosaurs... as in before any multi-celled life forms! These rock formations pushed through ice ages and mass extinctions. Maybe it was the slow-cooling effect of magma and the forces of wind, ice, and water erosion that formed these geological giants. But what are these things, if not Mother Earth's magic? I stand by my statement. The Ozark Plateau is a magical place! 

As the Earth's forces continue to grind against the colossal rocks, rainwater fills dimples in the surface (called tinajitas), offering a fleeting opportunity for new life to begin. We found tons of tadpoles and perhaps even the mama toad. This region offers a multitude of opportunities for science exploration. During this trip, we spent as much time herping as we did climbing rocks.

During a day trip to another destination, we stopped to help this little turtle cross the road.
We examined him closely to check for injuries to his carapace (top shell) and plastron (bottom shell). Once we confirmed he was okay, we did a little research for World Turtle Day and then released him in the woods near Rocky Falls, close to where we rescued him. As much as Janie Kathryn would have loved to make him a pet, her research showed that Ornate Box Turtles do not typically thrive in captivity when they are caught in the wild.  He was very photogenic and not at all timid around us. I can see why this breed of turtle is captively bred for the pet trade.

See more of our turtle friends below!

Have I mentioned that we brushed up on our map skills too? During all of our day trips in Missouri, we put the GPS aside and went old school! You can read more about it HERE.

 That last one is a strange-looking turtle, eh? Who's ready for a road trip to Missouri?

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