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Part-Time Paradise

Just Me and the Kids at Watkins Woolen Mill

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A small trip report from this weekend.

I have traveled a lot this year for work.  Also the kids' activities coupled with school means I barely see them anymore.  So I decided to give Mom a quiet weekend alone and we loaded up the camper to head to Watkins Woolen Mill State Park and State Historic Site (that's a mouthful, huh?).  We stopped at WWMSPSHS (gotta have a good acronym too right?) last year and toured the historic mill and the Watkins' home.  They are incredibly preserved and the Missouri Dept of Natural Resources does a good job telling the history of the Watkins, the mill, and the land.  Here are a few pics from our last visit:


The home.  Watkins built this house after living in a two room cabin with his wife, kids, sister, and mother for almost 15 years.  While they lived in the cabin they birthed 4 or 5 more kids.  No thanks.  The inside is quite nice for the time and for being in such a rural area at the time it was lived in.


The mill.  All of the machinery is preserved extremely well.  It's like they left for work one day and forgot to come back.


I can't imagine having to work in this room between the wool flying everywhere, the belts moving up and down from the floor trying to grab your clothes, and the machines trying to rip your finger off.  Not to mention the tour guide said the windows stayed closed year round because wool is easier to work in humid air.  Nope.


This is one of the last stops for yarn.  It's taking the yarn from the large spools on the wall to the dowels on the front of the machine.  One person manned this behemoth by cranking a wheel in the middle of it.  The guide said this one one of the highest paid workers in the factory because the skill required to operate this.


Back to this weekend.  We left mid-afternoon on Friday and got to WWMSPSHS around 5pm.  The kids were surprisingly helpful setting up the site (they usually help, but they helped with a lot of my wife's tasks that I thought were too much for them).  We got set up and they blasted out into the CG to find other kids to ride bikes with while I finished setting up and started dinner.


Our campsite, #27, with electric only.  The only sites that have more than electric are the hosts' sites.

After dinner, we had s'mores and found our way to the playground.  They had a good time playing with the other kids and wore themselves out plenty before we headed back to the trailer.


Don't ask me why they are still wearing their helmets.  They leave them on all the time.  I guess that's good for safety, right?

Saturday morning we woke up and headed towards the 4-mile trail around the 100-acre lake.  Trails connect from the CG to the lake and it's quite convenient.  We spent the morning riding the trail and of course hitting the playground once we were done with the loop.


Riding on the path.  There was so much shade in the CG and on the path.  It was quite comfortable all weekend.


The creek that feeds the man-made lake


The kids exploring the creek


The creek and the steps to get down to it from the bike path

We came back to the trailer for lunch and decided to hit the bike trail again, this time stopping off at the visitor center to go through the exhibits again (to review some stuff from a year ago) and stop at the church and school that served the community of mill employees and their families.  


My big girl stepping up in the kitchen making our favorite camping treat, the cookie pie!


The finished product


The one room schoolhouse that for the mill employees' kids.  An exhibit at the visitor center said there were kids from ages 7-22 attending class at the height of mill.


Snack break on the trail.


Made it back to the loop.  Look at all the shade.

The kids were tired when we finished our 10th mile of bike riding for the day.  As we pedaled back to the trailer, they spotted a scrum of kids they'd been playing with earlier.  They asked to go play more while I cooked dinner.  They played before dinner.  They scarfed down their plates and ran back out to play until dark.

Sunday brought an end to our beautiful weather.  We woke up to a kaleidoscope on the weather radar.  I quickly broke camp while the kids finished their breakfast inside the trailer.  As I was lowering the trailer on the hitch ball, the heavens opened up.  The kids helped grab our leveling blocks and threw them inside quick and we beat the made rush to the dump station.  I jumped in behind two other rigs.  They didn't take too terribly long thankfully (though I really question the glove/sanitary situation of some people.  One dude had his gloves on, hooked up his hoses and realized the trailer was too far from the hole.  He hopped right into his truck and backed up with his gloves on.  Then the next rig driver only put one glove on and managed to spill about a gallon of gray...I hope it was gray...when he was winding his hose back up.  I need to keep my eyes closed when I'm in line at the dump station from now on).  It rained off and on while it was my turn and we headed for home.  By the time I left, there were rigs lined up around the corner and I couldn't see the end of the line.  Beat the rush!

A nice quick weekend and it was a good memory that I hope they remember for awhile.

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What a neat thing for the kids, you and the wife/mom.  I bet the kids remember a lot of this weekend.

Unfortunately the photos stopped showing for me after the one where the skilled employee was the highest paid worker.  But the ones up to that point were very nice.  Cool brick home!

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