Hi, my name is Mary and I’m a 26-year-old mother and writer living in Ironton, Missouri, a portion of the Arcadia Valley and Black River Recreation Area. Sometimes it is hard to believe this peaceful and beautiful valley is my home, but no matter how many times I go away, I always return.
My parents lived here when I was born and although we moved away when I was quite young, we returned a few years later. For the last 18 years, I have roamed the region, exploring hiking trails, state parks and other beautiful outdoor recreation locations. I’ve visited area antique shops, bed and breakfasts and boutiques, and have worked at local businesses as a teenager and now.
After graduating from Arcadia Valley High School in 2000, I began working at a campground in Lesterville. That fall, I began attending Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau. While I worked during the school year in Cape, in the summers I remained as devoted to the sparkling, crisp water of the Black River as I had throughout the summers of my youth, and working at a campground couldn’t be beat.
The clear, cool water of the Black River is not to be rivaled on a hot, muggy Missouri summer day. From a tube float on a sunny afternoon to a raft float down the river on a moonlit summer’s night, there are few other ways I would chose to spend a day-or night-in the summer.
After graduating from Southeast in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in English, I married my best friend, Chris, another long-time Valley resident, and we got our first “kid,” an Australian Shepherd puppy named Max. As lively and energetic now as when he was a pup, the now 70+ pound dog still favors a trip to Elephant Rocks over nearly anything. We can’t even mention the name of the local boulder-filled state park without Max running to the door and begging, neither quietly nor patiently, for us to get up and take him there.
A year later, we were blessed with our first child, a son named Hayden. It seems as if there could never be any child who loves to be outside more than Hayden does. During the warm fall months, his favorite form of entertainment was to collect fallen acorns and hazelnuts from along the path at Elephant Rocks or Millstream Gardens. Even during these frozen winter months when his playground and sandbox are covered in snow and ice, he constantly asks to go outside and slide or ride his tricycle, no matter how cold it is.
After getting married, we decided to stay in the Valley, fond of the friendly people and the good and safe schools. For the last year, I have worked at the local newspaper, The Mountain Echo, where I have a chance to work out my creative and journalistic muscles. It is a job I enjoy more than I ever thought I would, due in part to the wonderful people I work with daily and the fascinating and unique people I have had the chance to interview for stories.
Now we are expecting our second (and final!) child, a girl, due in early January. As the weather warms and she grows, we will continue to haunt our favorite places and visit the places in the area we have yet to explore. Through this blog I hope to share those and past experiences with you and answer any questions you may have about the area. Please feel free to ask away and I will do my best to find the answer or point you in the right direction if I don’t already know the answer. Keep checking back for updates as I share my experiences and knowledge of the area, both old and new.