Lord knows I can rough it. Tent camping or a barebones camper cabin doesn’t faze me at all. He also knows that I like to be selective in how I spend my dollars.

With that said, one of my splurges can be found in Lesterville, Missouri.

From Highway 21, turn south at Lenny’s onto Peola Road. About one mile after you cross the Black River bridge is a place that has become a fall tradition for my daughter, Karlene, and me.

Wilderness Lodge Resort is far from roughing it despite the idyllic forest setting. From three-course meals to a game room filled with distractions from the hustle and bustle of life, this place has become what Karlene and I lovingly call our “Lesterville Home.”

While this is a popular spot in the summer, it has become our autumn retreat. We typically book our visit at the end of the first quarter of school, just before it’s time to set our clocks back an hour, and while fall is showing us her finest colors.

I wish I could say someone recommended this fanciful spot to me, but how I came upon it is an all-too-typical modern tale. It was Google that led me to this gem.

 

When Karlene was in the second grade, we were both WORN OUT and ready for a break. I literally Googled “cabins for rent” because it was chilly that weekend and I didn’t want to camp.

When Wilderness Lodge Resort popped up, I initially passed it by when I saw it was not “roughing it.”

However, after a few more additional days of online research, I returned to their website. For some reason, the idea of staying at this resort instead of a barebones cabin, sounded more and more appealing by the minute.

I finally got over my cold feet and fear of the unknown. I booked a standard room in the “Hilltops” for one night. They let me break their two-night minimum requirement because it was my first visit and it was off-season.

Clearly it did not disappoint us. We have returned for a fall getaway five out of the past six years and have stayed two consecutive nights on the past three trips.

Yes, Wilderness Lodge Resort has great food, accommodations, and amenities. We could easily spend our whole weekend on the grounds of the resort doing anything from playing pool in the game room to enjoying a campfire or a book from the lending libraries.

Yet, there have been times we have taken side trips to the beautiful sights located nearby. Johnson’s Shut-Ins is only 13 miles away, while Taum Sauk Mountain is 20 miles from the resort.

Besides those destinations, my daughter and I have just enjoyed driving the backcountry roads that follow along the Black River.

In an ideal world, we could find the time and funds to spend a full week there. I feel instantly at home when I sit on the screened in porch of the “Hilltops” sipping my coffee and watching the morning fog over the Black River.

My daughter and I are able to slow down and enjoy each other’s company without worrying about homework, chores, or the daily to-do lists that seem never-ending.

However, I am a practical person and not currently living a life that can supply both the time and money for a full seven-day retreat.

So, I will take those weekends in the fall every chance I can get.

If you want to learn more about Wilderness Lodge Resort, visit them at www.wildernesslodgeresortltd.com/ and consider following them on Facebook.

(Michelle Turner lives in Union, Mo.)