Friday, February 13, 2009

Midwest Outdoor Lovers & Lovers Outdoors

For our first date, my wife and I went on a hike. I guess, looking back, it obviously wasn't the usual "meet for coffee" or "dinner and a movie" get together; but for us, it seemed to be a perfect fit.

I picked a place neither of us had been before, a small section of the Castor River near Fredericktown, Mo., named the Amidon Conservation Area. From what I had read in Steve Henry's 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles of St. Louis, Amidon was home to Missouri's only pink granite shut-ins. It was supposed to be an easy hike and I figured it should make for at least a pleasant first date.

A major storm system earlier in the week had scoured the pink granite walls clean of moss when we visited. The Castor was running clear and fast through the shut-ins and we were both captivated by the place.

Recent pscyhological studies have shown that nature can actively reduce our stress levels. So, maybe it was no mere coincidence that our first date was largely free of any awkward silences or horrible nerves. Instead, our first date was filled with laughter, enjoyment and anticipation of our next hike together. A little over a year later, we were married on that same spot. It has become one of the most cherished locales in our - and our kids' - lives.

We've gone back many many times since that first date, but I don't think it's ever been that beautiful again. The pink walls have never been so clean and the water has never been so blue since that first time. I don't know if that's just my memory of the place, of that first date; or if that's the honest to God truth. I guess it really doesn't matter. It's still beautiful no matter what time of the year you go. (And so is my wife.)

So get outside this weekend. I highly recommend Steve Henry's 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles of St. Louis. You can find it at our Alpine Shop locations in St. Louis. And using it, you can find a place that you and your loved one (and ones) can cherish. Find a place to fall in love. It worked for me.

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