Welcome to Green Spiral Tours:

adventure maps

& field trips

designed to help you

fall in love with your place on the planet.

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Field trips spiral the calendar,

 and are one-of-a-kind,

off-the-beaten track adventures.

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Typically a $10 per family donation

is requested as a donation

by the trip leader.

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2010-09-22 Citygarden Rainbow Umbrella Arch

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Founded by nature teacher

Jessie Hoagland in 2008,

Green Spiral Tours offers a way

to supercharge your learning

in the company of curious

and like-minded others.

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Feb 2020 marks the beginning of

Year Eleven

for Green Spiral Tours.

While families remain the central focus,

everyone is welcome on all adventures at any time.

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We have lots of grandparents, nannies,

architects, landscapers, and yoga teachers

on any given adventure.

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To find out about the next adventure,

join the Green Spiral invitation list

by submitting the form below.

Emails come out about once per month,

or when inspiration strikes.

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The emails are fun and educational —

they give you the bigger picture,

while the field trips bring big ideas

down to practice.

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Lots of people are inspired to follow along

with their own adventures,

at their own pace,

and on their own time.

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Unplug, play with your city

and get connected

to nature and each other.

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Scroll down to see where we’ve been,

and to collect ideas about where you can go

on your own.

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2016 Best Photo

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Or

Buy these adorable

Green Spiral Adventure Maps

on Amazon.com

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And because “less is more,”

keep a sharp eye out for Green Spiral emails,

and know that your email address

will never be sold or shared.

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Let the Wild Rumpus Begin!

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This essay was published in the Healthy Planet

during the covid pandemic

and shifts the focus to nature as the best playground:

I’m going to make a bold hypothesis:

Saint Louis has the best playgrounds on the planet.

photo by Randy Allen

Let’s start with Forest Park.

Much bigger than Central Park in New York

or Golden Gate Park in San Francisco,

it’s America’s most beautiful urban park.

Forest Park is a natural playground all its own,

even without the gigantic new children’s play-scape

currently under construction.

Any tour of America’s most amazing play spaces must include

the City Museum.

It’s so out-of-the-box it defies definition,

except as an adult playground,

which is a ridiculous thing to say but arguably true.

Adult Playground?

Citygarden,

(not originally designed as a children’s playground),

has become a magnet for children of all ages.

When viewed as a children’s playscape,

it blows Millennial Park in Chicago out of the water.

We Love the Flamingo Festival and Pink Duckie Race!

Throw in the children’s garden at the Missouri Botanical Gardens,

the new ropes course at Union Station and the Magic House,

and these anchor institutions alone

put Saint Louis on the map of best playgrounds.

Muckerman’s Children’s Fountain at TGP

Now turn your attention towards Turtle Park,

Rocket Ship Park,

the Children’s Fountain at Tower Grove Park,

plus inclusive playgrounds at

Tilles Park,

Forest Park

and Zachary’s Playground.

Does not the mosaic of great playgrounds come into focus?

To Infinity…. and beyond!

Simply put,

Saint Louis has both a density and a diversity

of creative playgrounds.

Follow the White Rabbits

Saint Louis is like a grand old lady who loves her children.

She throws her heart into the wide open spaces,

has the imagination to fill those spaces with surprises

and the pocketbook to keep them super fancy.

Grand Old Lady

I enjoy nature travel and believe our gateway city is home

to the most creative playgrounds on the planet.

But how do we quantify this rather bold hypothesis?

Walk this way…

Let’s encourage families to make adventure maps

of the places in parks

beyond the playground tape.

Make your map!

It’s something you can do

while maintaining social distancing

and pondering a rather bold hypothesis.

It also draws attention to the fact

that nature is the greatest adventure playground.

Beyond the Playground Tape…

Let’s prove that Saint Louis has the most creative playscapes on the planet —

or at least enjoy finding out.

Buy our book if you need help getting started.

We worked really hard on it

and it took us a long time to make it.

We hope you like it.

Take your friends

Here’s the link on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1542349230?tag=duckduckgo-ffnt-20&linkCode=osi&th=1&psc=1

Curated by Angela Wildermuth

Maps by Jessie Hoagland

Published by Green Spiral Tours

Let the wild rumpus begin!

Here’s a sample map:

Stardate: 2020-03-11

Bellefontaine 2019-04-03 -14

Middle March is the perfect time to go on a daffodil hunt and there is no better place to do it than Bellefontaine Cemetery in North Saint Louis. Daffodils are the trumpets of spring, and nothing shouts spring like thousands of bright yellow daffodils bursting wildly from the ground.

Surprisingly, this is a great trip for teenagers, particularly brand new drivers. Teens are intrigued by cemeteries and the narrow sleepy roads are perfect for building spatial intelligence and for taking the wheel that very first time.

Be sure to stop first at the Main Office to pick up a map and a bottle of water, and perhaps use the facilities. Use your official map to target one or two destinations, but in general, simply have your teen follow the white line around the cemetery, which might take about an hour. The cemetery is surprisingly large.

2019 Bellefontaine map

The best daffodils are located near Cypress Lake and the Beer Baron sites. Daffodils are the trumpets of spring; they shout that spring is coming but spring is not necessarily here yet.

Missouri weather can be unpredictable in March, but this trip works in any kind of weather. If it’s a nice day, bring a picnic and get out of the car to explore on foot, or head towards William Clark’s plot to leave a penny on this famous adventurer’s gravestone.

Wm Clark Pennies 2019-04-03

Bellefontaine is full of significance and there is something for everyone. You will want to return many times to begin to explore this magnificent arboretum and nature preserve, perhaps during the Beer Baron Tours in the fall.

This is also a nice field trip for families seeking social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic. Interestingly, Bellefontaine Cemetery was originally created in response to a cholera epidemic that killed nearly 6% of the Saint Louis population before a clever doctor made a map and determined that a single water well was the source of the contamination.

Speaking of maps, here’s a Green Spiral adventure map designed for younger families. You can make your own adventure map, download this map from the Green Spiral Facebook page or buy it in the Urban Wild book of adventure maps available on Amazon.

Bellefontaine 2020-02-12 COLOR

Indeed, whether following the trumpet of angels, soldiers or daffodils, Bellefontaine Cemetery has an adventure for nearly everyone in early spring.

Bellefontaine Cemetery: 4947 W. Florissant; 63115

2019-Dec-10

Field House 2019-02-11 WEB Draft

The Field House Museum is a small and important touchstone in American culture. Come for the history and leave with a wind-up toy or book of poetry for your home collection.

2018-12-01 Field House Calico Cat

This is the childhood home of Eugene Field.  Ultimately remembered for his children’s poetry, Eugene Field was first a journalist who wrote about music; then he pretty much invented the personal opinion column.  Eugene’s father, Roswell Field, was the lawyer who developed the legal strategy to free Harriet and Dred Scott from slavery. This attempt was denied by the Supreme Court, precipitating the Civil War and projecting Abraham Lincoln into the White House.  During the Great Depression, the children of Saint Louis saved the Field House from disrepair by collecting over $2000 in pennies, dimes and nickels.

2018-12-01 Field House Dred Scott

Check the internet for hours and admission fees; as a special tip, the holidays are a particularly nice time to go, because the house is decorated with goose-feather Christmas trees.  It’s also fun to pick up a new wind-up toy for the holidays.  Expect the visit to last about one hour. Warn the kids that this is a “do not touch” museum but the gift shop will let you play with the wind-up toys as you choose one to buy at the end of your field trip.

2018-12-01 Field House Goosefeathers

Begin your journey in the free parking lot behind the museum. If the Cardinals are playing, expect the museum to be busy.  Enter the museum, pay the admission fee and inquire about a guided tour. There will be a fee.

2018-12-01 Field House ballpark

The guides are attentive and very knowledgeable and the tour is short and interesting. Visit the smoking parlor, the ladies tea room and the upstairs bedrooms. Delight in the personal items, the house appointments and the toy collection.  See if you can find the teddy bear with real bear fur.

2018-12-01 Field House Highchair

After the tour, explore the changing exhibit in the new wing of the museum, designed by an expert in green building. Eugene Field loved to collect toys, so expect toys to be a focus in many of the changing exhibits.

2018-12-01 Field House toy shop

Finish up your field trip in the gift shop by playing with the wind-up toys.  Inspect the books for sale which include famous poems by Eugene Field such as “Wynken, Blynken and Nod,” “Little Boy Blue,” and “The Gingham Dog and the Calico Cat.”  The books with Maxfield Parrish illustrations are particularly nice.  Return home and read a new poem from old Saint Louis before bedtime.

2018-12-01 Field House-WBN

Here’s the link to the Field House Museum: Field House Museum & Toy Collection

2019-Aug-09

STL Fed 2019-02-26 WEB

The famous economist Milton Friedman once said “There’s no such thing as a free lunch” — and yet the Economy Museum is free.

Of course it’s paid for by your tax dollars and run by the Federal Reserve Bank of Saint Louis. The St. Louis Fed is famous for its presentation of data, so it comes as no surprise that the Economy Museum would be award-winning as well, but why this tour remains a hidden gem is still a bit of a mystery.

Plaza

Located on Broadway within walking distance of the Arch, this is a good field trip for older students who have jobs and are beginning to learn about money, debt and the economy.  You might want to open a checking account and credit card in conjunction with visiting the Economy Museum, as a thought.

It’s best to create a small group learning experience, so bring a few friends, or perhaps another family or two.  Park on the street near the museum, and make your way through the security check-point, after which you will be ushered into an introductory lobby with short video. Plan on spending about 30 minutes inside the museum, depending on the interest and engagement level of the young people. The visit is a short and sweet self-guided trip, with interactive exhibits.

Inside the Economy

Be sure to play the BUY-SELL game located in the middle of the room, which mimics action on the stock trading floor. It’s super fun and why you need to bring a few friends with you.

Get your picture taken with the giant Lincoln penny in the middle of the room. The photographer regrets the lack of teenager to show you the scale. The penny is quite large.

Penny

Towards the end of the exhibit, be sure to find the short video on the wall that illustrates how everything gets better over time, when viewed through the lens of data.

Except for WWI, which experienced a huge dip in all things, the data shows that all things get better with time; a comforting message for today’s world.

Data 2019-03-18 COLOR

After exiting the exhibit, you will enter a small gift store where you can pick up free shredded money.  As a special treat for hungry teenagers, Sugar-Fire BBQ is a three minute walk around the corner.  The Blues Museum is located adjacent to Sugar-Fire and is also an excellent destination, making for a perfect teenage trifecta stay-cation.

2017-01-21 Blues Museum

Check the schedule before you go, as the Economy Museum is open only during office hours and not on weekends.  The “dog days of summer”, when it’s too hot to do anything else, is the perfect time to go.

Here are your links to the Economy Museum, to Sugar-Fire and to the Blues Museum.

Here’s the link to FRED, possibly the most trusted economic data in the world.

And here’s the GPS to the Economy Museum at the Federal Reserve Bank of Saint Louis:

One Federal Reserve Plaza; 63102 – (Locust & Broadway)

Log Date: 2019-May-28

Fly Away 2019-05-15 COLOR

Saint Louis is a magical world for children and a wonderful place to grow up. This map invokes formative childhood memories of Saint Louis and celebrates teenage touchstones and interests.

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Turns out, Saint Louis has invented a lot of teen-friendly foods.  First you make the map, and then the map tells you what you see.  You never know what that might be!

Here’s the story guide that goes along with the “Fly Away Home” map:

Fly Away Home Story JPG

Loyal fans and followers are welcome to download and printout the story and map for personal use.  If you’d like a small poster, there is a limited number available at The Nook, a gift and gathering space in Ladue that benefits St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

Nook Advert 2019-05-28 WEW JPG

You can also be the first to buy these adorable pillows from Zazzle and send your student off with hugs from home.

The pillows are 16″ x 12″ and have the “Fly Away Home” image on the front plus a quote from our great poet T.S. Eliot on the back: “The end is where we start from.”

 

Pillow from Zazzle -1

Pillow from Zazzle -2

Here’s the link for the pillows, they are priced at around $30.

Fly Away Home Graduation Pillows

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It’s fun to watch Saint Louis fall in love with itself, and if you’re like me, or Ferris Bueller, you know that life moves pretty fast, and you have to stop and look around once in a while. If you don’t you just might miss it.  #FlyAwayHome

 

Updated: 2019-05-10BlueBells 2019-05-10 COLOR

This is an enchanting “hike” that travels down into a cool hollow and thus back through geologic time; your target is a field of bluebells, juxtaposed against miniature train tracks.

Tracks

A charming creek meanders along the trail, and the profusion of wildflowers, mixed with the brilliant new green of spring has a shimmering ethereal effect.  You will travel through an IBA, an “Important Bird Area” as designated by the Audubon Society, and birdsong will fill the air.  Go around Tax Time to see the bluebells, or go around Mother’s Day when songbirds are migrating. See if you can find some woodland faeries.

Hand Close Up

This is an asphalt trail, with no restroom facilities, so wear good tennis shoes and bring water, plus a snack.  It’s 1.5 miles to the turn-around spot; expect to be gone for about two hours, due to the meandering and the uphill return.  Athletes, large dogs and teenagers will have no problem with this hike, but children, small dogs, and stroller families might find the return trip a bit difficult.  As you proceed, keep calculating your endurance for the return uphill trek.  Cell service is not dependable. Consider bringing the macro lens for your camera, or perhaps a bird book or Missouri wildflower book.

Birds of Missouri

Start at Ridge Meadows Elementary and park on the permeable pavement.  The Rock Hollow Trail begins around the corner and descends quickly downhill; it’s 2.3 miles to the river.  Start listening for songbirds at the first meadow, and notice the many creeks joining Hamilton Creek.  See if you can spy the hidden tree fort, or the hawk’s nest through the trees.  Below is a typical map you will find, which is why I made the special magical map for you, above. Again, the photos and maps don’t begin to capture the spirit of this magical place, and they don’t tell you when to go.

Rock Hollow Signage

 

“Rocks Make the Place” and the sedimentary rock you’re looking at is Dolomite Limestone layered with sandstone.  Enjoy the five finger maidenhair ferns and the walking ferns which grow directly on the rocks.  The first upright flower you are likely to see is Rose Verbena.  As you travel further, crossing several wooden bridges, little blue flowers called Blue Eyed Mary will appear.  These native flowers are uncommon, native to the area, and are on the “do not touch” list.  Their presence indicate that the area has never been disturbed.

Blue-eyed Mary

Look for mile markers on each bridge and stop to read the interpretive signs.  As you reach mile marker D, you are approaching the IBA and will hear the loud symphony of bird song.  Massive magical bluebell fields and miniature train track begin to appear around mile marker G.  This would be a good turn-around spot from either starting place.

Mile Marker

 

Watch out for mountain bikes as bike trails begin to crisscross the path in this area; check out GORCTrails.com for the best mountain biking maps.  If you want to walk your dog, there is a charming creek walk at Rockwoods Reservation near the nature center, which might be a better place due to the many bikes.

Signage with Lucy

Come back another day for a family biking trip. Start at the bottom of the trail at the Al Foster Trailhead near the miniature railroad, knowing about the extra mile along the Meramec River.  You will park at the railroad and travel past a wetlands and dry cactus glade before turning gently uphill to find the bluebell fields making for a 4 or 5 mile trip total.  This makes for a nice first family bike ride, as the trail is fairly open and flat, and your trip back to the car is all downhill.  Send me a photo of your family bike ride and I’ll publish it on this blog!

Railroad Crossing

Of course if you have preschool kids, you must do the Wabash Frisco and Pacific miniature railroad first!  It operates on Sundays only and costs $4.  Many others have written about that.

20-July-2018

Blog by Angela Wildermuth, Nature Guide and creator of Urban Wild Adventures

2018-07-20 Wild Blackberries

Some brambles of wild blackberries were discovered along Grants Trail in south county last week.  GPS Directions: Park at the parking lot at 3900 Reavis Barracks Rd – this is the “Gravois Greenway” parking lot. Head north on grants trail for maybe 1/4 of a mile. Look for blackberries along the left hand side.

The Blackberries had thorns – lots! The kids quickly learned how to carefully and slowly go in for a pick. Along the way we also discovered ripe wild grapes! The leaves were slightly sour but tender, and the grapes had the same sweetish-sourish flavor with crunchy little seeds inside.  How cool to see grapes in their non-cultivated, non- altered “original” form! They are tiny!!!

2018-07-20 Stepper Helper

Stepping stools were very handy. On arrival to the blackberry brambles, we soon realized that the animals and birds aren’t the only ones we needed to beat to the berries  – other humans knew about these berries too! One older man was there with scratches along his arms who said he’d been picking at this spot for 70 yrs!  Luckily, he left some low berries for the kids to pick.

We were out for about an hour. The sun was pretty low so it wasn’t too hot, and everyone felt satisfied with a little loot and an educationally good time too. Next July -keep your eyes open! There always seems to be something edible fruiting in the summer!

2018-07-20 Angela eats grapes

What you can do:

Keep your eyes open and be curious about wild edibles.

Follow Angela at Urban Wild Adventures for future adventures.

Ask your Parks and Recreation Department to plant edibles like plum trees, blackberries, herbs and wild grapes.  Inquire about spraying and herbicide policies.

Buy our book, Urban Wild Adventures, which includes ten adventure maps to ten popular parks in Saint Louis, along with clues about where to find native edibles. The book is curated by Angela Wildermuth and illustrated by Jessie Hoagland.  Angela’s last name means “Wild Spirit” in German.