Saturday, June 14, 2014

Washington State Park

Can you see The Mighty Thunderbird?
Washington State Park in Missouri, south of DeSoto, has petroglyphs but I couldn't find them along the Thousand Steps Trail, a "moderately difficult" (aggh!) trail not a thousand steps in length but with a thousand steep stone steps, wet and slippery. The restrooms were locked. A syringe lay on the picnic table. The grills in the picnic areas are stenciled "Washington State Park" to discourage theft. I thought, This park is so bogus.

The petroglyphs near the Park entrance were carved by Mississippian Indians a thousand years ago, so you can look until you're cross-eyed but they aren't visible. The park maps are xeroxed and impossible to read. I drove farther and saw the second petroglyph area, protected by a walkway and roof. And began to change my mind. There carved in stone were The Mighty Thunderbird and his smaller birds who carry lightning bolts to earth, and shapes and symbols (no one knows what they mean). Cool. . .things were getting interesting.

All buildings in the park are historic, built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. They're exceptional. The park's Thunderbird Lodge sells "hand-dipped ice cream." Tackled another trail, the Opossum Track trail, 2.5 miles and "moderately difficult" but more fun, maybe because I had Blue Bunny ice cream, and along the path I saw the day's most extraordinary sight: a huge lime-green Luna moth (Actius luna), about four and a half inches across. They don't have mouths and don't eat. They live to mate. They're common but rarely seen because they live for only seven days in June and are sensitive to urban light pollution.

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