Weekend Trip to Saint Francois State Park

Title: Anderson Family Camping Trip 2003
Point of Departure: Saint Louis Missouri
Destination: Bonne Terre Missouri
Purpose: Family Camping
States: Missouri
Duration: 3 days
Vehicle: 1991 Ford Ranger, 2002 Toyota Sienna
Odometer: Start: 13,488 End: 14,398
Distance: ?? statute miles (round trip)

Family Camping 2003:

View pictures from our trip here:

We had missed our annual camping trip last year as we were very busy with the girls activites and weather didn't cooperate when we had the chance to get away. I was bound and determined to get our camping trip in this year. We had decided not go in the spring so fall was it. We usually avoid the heat of the summer. The previous weekend we had traveled to Winfield Kansas for our annual family gathering and Walnut Valley Festival . I had been watching the weather in Bonn Terre Missouri for several days and it looked like it was going to be a nice weekend to go camping: a little rain Friday night but that was it.

Day 1 - Friday 09/26/2003

I took the day off Friday and headed down about mid-morning. It has stopped raining at our home and I had the truacjk loaded with the tent, three bikes and various camping gear items. I had spoken with a State Park offical who had told that she thought the park would fill up and that I would need to be down there early Friday morning. It took about and an hour and fifteen minutes to get there via I55 and Highway 67. The park was mostly empty, maybe 2 or 3 tent campers and a couple dozen trailers. It rained off and on the first half of the way to Bonne Terre.

I decide to setup the tent first thing after selecting a campsite near the bathrooms. It is amazing how much stuff (tent, rain fly, stakes etc) the can cram in a small box. Once used, the stuff never seems to fix back in the box. Getting the tent up was a bit of a chore.

Once the tent was up I decided to go for a bike ride. I climbed the big hill out of the State Park standing up - it's a good hill and gets the blood pumping. From the State Park I rode south on Highway 67 to Highway 47, then west through Bonne Terre to Highway E, north toward De Soto. Highway E is rather hilly so once I had accumulated 15 miles I turned around and rode back for a round trip total of about 30 miles. While passing through Bonne Terre, I rode around and looked at the neat older homes.

Once back at the campground, I rode around park to explore. Then back to the campground for a shower - I discovered that I had forgot to bring a towel! A short time later the Mary and girls arrived. The 3 younger family members soon disappeared on their bikes, then to the playground. The girls had a great time riding around the tent camping area and then down around the trailer camping area.

For the evening meal we barbecued hot dogs and hamburgers. After dinner the girls rode their bikes some more and played on the playground with their new found friends. We walked over to the ampitheatre shortly before 8pm and spoke with the naturalist who was going to talk about birds. Once he decided to start his presentation the rain started. Everyone headed back to their campsites. We were in the process of getting into the tent when the Park Ranger drove by in his truck issueing severe weather warnings for the campground and advising all campers to seek shelter in the showerhouse. This spooked the younger girls who started to cry. We walked over to the showerhouse and sat in a shower stall to wait out the weather alert. Apparently rotating clouds had been spotted in the vicinity. I listened to a local station on the radio - the local football game had been canceled and they were reporting full time on the weather. About a half hour later it was all overwith and we headed back to the tent.

We all retired about 9pm and it continued to rain off and on most of the night. Campers continued to arrive up until about 10pm. Setting up an tent in the dark is no fun.

Day 2 - Saturday 09/27/2003

Saturday we started the with a nice breakfast of bacon and eggs, toast, hot tea and hot chocolate. There is something about the smell of breakfast cooking when you are camping that is very appealing. I would admit that it is difficult to get all food done at the same time when cooking on a Coleman stove but we are camping so we aren't suppose to be in a hurry.

After breakfast Kelly, Katie and I met two Naturalists for a "creek criter walk" at 10am. The three of us were the only campers that participated. We got to wade in a creek with sane's and catch all kinds of critters. Katie had a lot of fun catching crawdads.

After the creek walk the girls rode bikes around the campground some more, played on the playground. We played frisbee and tossed the football around. After lunch the girls attended a nature program about reptiles and amphibians. This event was well attended with about 15 kids participating.

Later Kelly and I rode over to the other playground and played for awhile. We had to climb a hill on the way back. Kelly made it part way up before stopping to walk her bike the rest of the way. At this same moment three dear appeared out of the brush and walked across the road right in front of her! Neat! All tolde we road just over 10 miles together.

Our evening meal featured ceaser salad, chicken breasts, wild rice, french bread and a bottle of white wine for the older family members. It was a very nice meal. After dinner we made a campfire and relaxed while the girls played with our new neighbors, a couple of young girls from Arnold. They played games in the dark with flashlights for quite a long time. We invited them over to make samores.

Saturday night was colder. rainbows bed - colder neighbors (4 wheelers, 12 hour campers) lady said well behaved

Day 3 - Sunday 09/28/2003

pancakes & bacon for breakfast, hot choc & tea family hike Mary, Kelly, Kerry home about noon Katie & Rob 10 miles of riding Ice cream in Hillboro Sandy Creek covered bridge

Related Links:

Saint Francois State ParkOffical State Website
Missouri State Park Online Registration
View pictures from our trip here:

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