The last day of Fall Break 2011 began, you guessed it, with a late breakfast at Hillbilly Junction at Willow Springs, MO. I then travelled west on US 60 to Springfield and stopped at the Nathanael Greene/Close Park. Its 113 acres boasts a Botanical Center, the Gray-Campbell Farmstead, Master Gardener Demonstration Gardens and the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden.
I strolled up the entry lane and over to some garden club flowerbeds before reaching the Gray-Campbell Farmstead with buildings dating back to 1856. I saw the exteriors of the log granary, the log kitchen, the house which was used until the 1950s, and the barn. Then I walked eastward to my primary target, the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden. I paid $3 at the visitor center, admired its donor recognition wall, and walked through the entry gate down the path.
Strolling over to the koi pond I spied a blue heron over on an island in the big pond doing something which would upset the park staff: it was eating one of the expensive koi. Two little girls strode up and asked if I had change for a dollar since they wanted to buy some food for the koi. I didn’t have the right change, but I gave them a quarter and they happily bought food which the greedy fish sucked up. By then the heron had finally swallowed the huge fish and was trying to get it down its long esophagus.
Eventually it relaxed and I took the walkway over to the island to get a closer look at the big bird. It nervously strode away and I retreated to hide in some bamboo. I also posed on the requisite bridge over the waterway and admired the fall reflections. I passed the pagoda sculpture on my way over to view the garden from inside the tea house.
I exited the Mizumoto Garden and walked past tall trees to a playground where a little girl was climbing a daunting piece of equipment. Over in the butterfly garden I spotted one guest before my rumbling stomach told me it was time to head over to El Sombrero for lunch and then make the westward drive home to do laundry and prepare this post.
Fall Break is over and tomorrow I’ll celebrate by taking my decade-old Camry, the best car I’ve ever had, to the repair shop tomorrow for service on the accelerator, brakes, shocks, and struts. The car has reached the 180,000 mile mark so I’ll also have the timing belt replaced for the second time. I need her in good shape so she can transport me to many more day hikes.