Saturday, August 14, 2010

Ozark Caverns

During our stay at Lake of the Ozarks, we took a couple of hours to vist Ozark Caverns, which is adjacent to Lake of the Ozarks State Park near Osage Beach. For us, it was about a 30-minute drive.

The one-hour tour takes you on a 1/4-mile trail into and back out of the cavern. At the end, you are about 100 feet underground.

One of the most impressive sights inside the cavern is near the entrance, a formation called "Angel Showers", a steady stream of water coming down from the ceiling as if from a shower head and into a basin at the bottom.

We saw a handful of bats sleeping on the ceiling and were also fortunate to spot a blind salamander in one of the underground streams.

Be sure to spend some time studying the exhibits in the nature center either before or after the tour, and don't forget to look out the door near the front desk. A crowd of at least 20 hummingbirds was fluttering around two feeders.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Lake of the Ozarks - Lakeview Resort

I recently returned from a fun family reunion at Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri. As I had researched places to stay that offered the amenities we were looking for, I found a gem in Lakeview Resort near Sunrise Beach.

Our group of 30+ rented five units, including two four-bedroom condos, two three-bedroom units and a studio. All of the units were superbly furnished and really met our needs.

The condos are the newer units and are definitely a bit nicer, although that's not to take anything away from the other more traditional units on the property. The three-bedroom units were in upgraded mobile homes that featured a very large kitchen, as well as a living room facing the lake. One night we crowded all 30+ of us in for a family dinner and got by just fine.

The condos were excellent. Both of our units featured two levels with three bedrooms and two bathrooms on the main floor, and a separate bedroom, bathroom and loft area upstairs.

Our condo had a large granite-covered kitchen table with six chairs. There were also three bar stools that could fit along the kitchen counter. The living room had two leather couches, a round table with four stools tucked underneath it (perfect for playing games), and a flatscreen TV.

The master bedroom had a king-size bed. Another bedroom on the main floor had a queen bed, while the third had two twins (perfect for kids). That room as well as the master also had TVs. The upstairs room had another queen bed.

The living room and master bedroom featured a two-story ceiling and both had sliding glass doors to the balcony. The large balcony featured a cushioned swing big enough for 2-3 adults, a table and chairs, and a charcoal grill.

Since my boys are early risers, and our bodies were still used to Eastern time rather than Central time, we were up in time for the 6:15 a.m. sunrise every day. It was beautiful to sit on the cushioned swing and watch the big orange ball rise quickly over the lake in the cool of the morning.

Resort Amenities

The resort has plenty to keep you busy.

There are three pools. The one in front of the condos is saltwater and ranges from 3 1/2 - 5 feet deep. The other outdoor pool has two separate sections separated by a water-level wall. One section is perfect for toddlers - barely a foot deep. The other section starts very shallow and goes to about 7 feet deep - great for bigger kids and adults. That pool is next to an arcade and fitness room and right next to a Pavilion, which can be rented and reserved for group functions.

There's also an indoor pool that has a deep end that's 9 ft.

Stroll to the end of the complex and you'll pass two playgrounds, a sand volleyball court, and a combined tennis/basketball court. Past all of those areas, you'll reach Pebble Beach. We went down there twice to swim in the bath-water warm lake. (Note: Bring water shoes. They may call it "pebble" beach, but it's basically a bunch of rocks that hurt like the dickens.

A lot of people just swam off the docks.

You can rent watercraft at Bikini Pier located at the resort. They have various sizes of boats, as well as jet skis.

I thought the $45 rate for an hour on a jet ski (before noon) was quite reasonable, so I gave that a try for the first time in my life. What a rush! It took 10-15 minutes of being cautious to get a feel for what I was doing, but after that I felt pretty comfortable at about 25 mph. Not quite the 40-60 mph capacity of the jet skis, but fun enough for me.

Getting There

Getting to Lake of the Ozarks was easy. It took about 7 1/2 hours from Indianapolis (434 miles from our door on the NE side to the resort, according to our GPS).

Warning: Don't let your GPS or even Google Maps lead you to the wrong place. Both of those had a Lakeview Street, but not Lakeview Resort Blvd., which is the actual address of the resort.

Your best bet is to locate Bikini Pier on Google Maps and enter that as your destination.

We shot straight across I-70 about an hour or a little more past St. Louis then headed south on US 54 at the Kingdom City exit. US 54 is a four-lane highway the entire way to Lake of the Ozarks, and the speed limit is 70 much of the way.

For more photos of Lakeview Resort, check out the album on our Facebook page -