2016-06-11 Trip Date
Scouting Trip # 283


The Sustainable Backyard Tour began in 2010 in Saint Louis.  It’s a grassroots event, one of the first of it’s kind, and it just celebrated it’s 7th anniversary in 2017.  Known affectionately as the SBYT, this is a free event by locals, who throw their garden gates open to the public each year, to showcase best practices in organic vegetable growing, beekeeping, chicken farming, native habitats, water retention and clean energy.  Typically, over 40 hosts showcase their backyards and gardens every year.  Green Spiral Tours took advantage of the SBYT to visit the celebrated Urban Harvest Food Roof in downtown Saint Louis.  The Food Roof is fantastic!

2017 Food Roof Logo

Located downtown near the City Museum, and above Wave Storage, you can easily park on the street next to Wave Taco, which offers a volleyball tournament arena, several tons of white Florida sand, and a tiki bar serving tacos, beer and margaritas.  To get to the Food Roof, enter through the doors at W-ave Storage, and make your way up the stairs to roof.  When you pop up, expect to be impressed by an exceptionally well designed space and vibrant scene.

2017 Wave Taco

5 staff, 15 interns, 300 volunteers, and several master gardeners help make the Urban Harvest Food Roof what it is today.  It’s a beautiful rooftop farm, showcasing best practices while collaborating with a cluster of food partners.   The Food Roof is the brainchild of Mary Ostafi, an EarthDance Farm graduate; Mary is a trained architect, who brings high design and great intentionality to everything she touches.  The Food Roof is the first rooftop farm in Saint Louis, and is growing into a localized network of farms, gardens, educators and food distributors in north Saint Louis.

2017 Urban Food Roof

There’s a chicken coop and greenhouse on the roof, plus hydroponics, a community garden, test garden, and gathering space for events, educational functions and weddings. It’s incredible, and, it’s beautiful.

2017 Food Roof Chickens

70% of the food generated is donated to partner organizations, including the STL Metro Market (the Food Bus), the Fit & Food Connection, St. Patricks and the kids at Flance. Green Spiral has hosted field trips to both St. Patrick’s and Flance in the past.  St. Patrick’s serves under-priviledged populations, and has one of the first “kitchen incubators” in the country. Flance is a Platinum-level preschool – only the 4th such school in the world – and what happens inside the building is as impressive as the green building structure itself.  It’s exciting to watch these world class, cutting-edge sustainability programs grow, right here in Saint Louis.

2017 Food Roof GreenHouse

Now here’s the best part: if you want to visit the Food Roof, and missed the chance during the SBYT, you can drop-in any Saturday morning from 9 – 12, when the Food Roof is open to the public. OR, you can attend any number of special events, such as workshops, Happy Hours, Harvest Dinners, or yoga.  The events serve as fundraisers to help fund the many programs.  Find the time to visit this incredible and beautiful farm –  on a roof! –  in downtown Saint Louis; you’ll be glad you did.

2017 Test Kitchen

Here’s the link to go on your own: Urban Harvest Food Roof

Here’s the SBYT link:  Sustainable Backyard Tour

Here’s Wave Taco on Yelp:  Wave Taco – Yelp

Here’s GPS to Wave Storage: 1335 Convention Plaza; 63103


Trip Date: 2017-02-27
Trip #50
GPS: Address: 5025 Pattison; 63110 (at Kingshighway and I-44)
Search Words:  Chocolate Factory Tours

2017-02-01 Chocolate morsel

Surprisingly, Saint Louis has a high concentration of award winning chocolate makers; probably due to our immigrant roots. There are many chocolate destinations worth visiting in Saint Louis, but the Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate Company has the “best” chocolate tour in Saint Louis for kids, only because it’s the shortest and the sweetest, and thus the easiest for busy families to visit.  This is a 20 minute “tour” with a piece of chocolate waiting at the end.  The tour is free.  Over 50,000 people come from all over the world visit this chocolate factory every year.

2017-02-01 Chocolate Sig

Drive to the GPS address at Pattison Avenue listed above, and wind around to the front lobby, which is right up against the highway.  Inside awaits an oasis of delights.

2017-02-01 Parking Lot

Tours launch every 30 minutes from the spacious ‘Chocolate Shoppe’, and everyone is required to wear a “hairnet,” which doubles as a rather cool souvenir.  Guests get a little giddy as they gather, and then enter through the doors marked “Chocolate Heaven”.

2017-02-01 Chocolate Heaven

Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate is a third generation family business started by the Abel family in 1981, near the famous Ted Drewes ice cream stand on Route 66. They moved to the current location in 2012 in order to accommodate their expanding business. This is a Greek family who got their start with help from another Greek family, and are thus now continuing the American Dream.

2017-02-01 Factory Floor

Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate uses the term “clean chocolate” to describe their products. Listen carefully when they list their ingredients:  chocolate is sourced from the Ivory Coast, vanilla comes from Madagascar, sugar from Belize.  Anything worth doing, like making chocolate, is worth doing well, and making fine chocolate is harder than it looks.

Doing Well

Take special note of the solar panels on the roof, the LED lights throughout the factory floor, and the Goodwill employees to packaging the finished chocolates.  Ask about the creation of jobs, as local jobs increase the multiplier effect of money — basically meaning that money circulates throughout the local economy instead of whooshing away and into the pockets of people who are already rich. Handcrafted local chocolate is an example of “Slow Food”;  every chocolate you buy brings you closer to a “Less but Better” world.


Keep an eye out for Oompa Loompas on the factory floor.

2017-02-24 Oomp Loompas

Back inside the “Chocolate Shoppe”, be sure to ask about specialties and sample any award winning chocolates. Also ask which holiday drives the most sales.  Don’t miss the “Oops Shelf” which is full of perfectly imperfect chocolates.

2017-02-01 Oops

The science of happiness is a relatively new field, but it’s really, really true that some things make you happy.  It’s not the weather, or your salary, or your kids that make you happy, but rather flowers, dinner with friends and adventures to new places that bring happiness. Take your friends and family on a tour of a chocolate factory, and follow Green Spiral Tours in enjoying all the goodness that Saint Louis has to offer.


Trip Date: 2018-Jan-06 * Scouting Mission: 2017-Jan-07 & 2016-Jan-08


Old Courthouse WEB 2018-01-02*

The Old Courthouse, located in downtown Saint Louis, is a magnificent building, and an important touchstone in the ongoing struggle for justice and equality.  You can tell what a society values by looking at their buildings — once inside, the Old Courthouse feels like a temple to the Rule of Law.  The arc of justice is long.


A wonderful time for locals to visit is on January 6th, which is Epiphany, the Twelfth Day of Christmas.  On this day, the Old Courthouse comes alive with music and dancing from 1768, as period actors in military dress throw a party for the public, complete with music, dancing and a ceremony involving the “King’s Cake”.


The event is called the “Twelfth Afternoon Ball“,  and it comes with ladies in long dresses serving pralines, little cookies and hot cider to visitors.  The public is invited to join in the dancing, which is fun and easy to learn. The whole thing is free.



Street parking is easy in winter, and you get two hours at the meter.  The Metro stops at 8th & Pine, a brisk four block walk to the Old Courthouse.  As you approach, look for the International Fur Exchange building on your right, (now a Drury Hotel), which stands as a tangible reminder of the enormous wealth generated by beaver pelts, and the french fur traders who procured them.  Take a moment to admire the dome, which was modeled after the Capitol Dome in Washington D.C., as well as the Vatican.


Long Shot 2 2018*

Once inside, stand next to the warm radiators to shake off the cold, and look left at the underground railroad map, then take a moment to explore the Dred Scott exhibit. Watch the short history channel movie as you wish. Use the restrooms as necessary.


The music and dancing will beckon to you from the center hall, and fancy ladies in long gowns will serve you cider and cookies.  Enjoy the music from your seats while the more courageous members of your party join in the fun and easy dancing.




Because of the Dred Scott decision, the Old Courthouse is a National Park, and like Yellowstone Park or Yosemite — where most people don’t go more than one mile from the road — most people don’t think to climb up into the rotunda of the Old Courthouse.  This is your adventure.


National Park


When you’re ready to climb, explore the side halls until you find the cast iron stairs, which are beautifully crafted and highly unusual.  As you climb each flight, hunt around for the next flight of stairs, until you’ve climbed as high as you can go.




On your way up, peek inside the historic courthouse rooms, preserved in all their classical revival splendor, and if no other visitors are around, say something, like “hello”,  to experience the amazing acoustics. Maybe you could shout something like “Let Freedom Ring!”, “Once free, always free!” or, “From the Darkness Cometh the Light!”. Imagine the enormous expense, and admire the incredible craftsmanship, and know such a building would not likely be built today.




Make note of the Greek columns which ascend in architectural order from Doric to Ionic to Corinthian, as you ascend each level.  Some of the columns are load bearing, (made of cast iron), and some are decorative, (made from wood). Knock on the columns to see if you can tell which are made from iron, and which are made of wood.


2017-01-06 Longshot


The rotunda was designed to carry voices to as many people as possible without amplification, so your climbing adventure will be accompanied by the merry sounds of music and dancing below.  It’s fun to peer down on the tiny dancers, while ascending the upper balconies above. You’re standing inside an old fashioned amplifier!




When you get to the top, you will be standing beneath the skylight, known as the “eye”, which brings sunlight down from on high.  The very top structure is called a “cupola”, which means “upside-down cup” in Italian.  There are two ways up to the third balcony, which is as high as you are allowed to go;  visitors are not allowed on the fourth balcony.


See if you can identify the four allegorical paintings by Wimar, representing the British-Indian attack, the discovery of the Mississippi Rive by deSoto, the founding of Saint Louis, and the transcontinental railroad through the Rocky Mountains.  Also see if you can identify the allegorical figures on four walls representing law, liberty, justice and commerce.


Flag & Dome 2018


Make your way back downstairs and out onto the East Steps, overlooking the Arch and facing the Mississippi River.  It is here that slaves were auctioned off, as well as the Eads Bridge (to your left) and the St. Louis Post Dispatch (to Hungarian immigrant Joseph Pulitzer).  This is a great spot for a family photo.




The Dred and Harriet Scott sculpture is to your right. Dred Scott finally achieved his freedom a year before he died. Visit the gift shop on the way out, and check out the children’s books on Lewis and Clark, as well as the excellent selection of children’s books on African American History.  Buy or bring your National Parks Passport, so it can be stamped.






Use the Restrooms before leaving, and look for the turtle motif on the wrought iron fence facing west, an homage to a quirky custodian who once kept a real turtle in the Courthouse fountain, and complained that the turtle was the only thing in the courthouse that didn’t cause the tax papers money.


Turtle Fence 2



Epiphany at the Old Courthouse in Saint Louis is an excellent adventure for families of all ages; toddlers will get lots of exercise on the stairs, kids will love scampering about the balconies, and teens will enjoy the magnificent building and authentic military weaponry.  It’s a refreshing, short and sweet adventure for the whole family, with a little bit of exercise.


Finding the event on your computer can be a challenge.  Start with Gateway Arch events; and if all else fails, search Facebook for the  Twelfth Afternoon Ball. The event is hosted on the Saturday nearest Epiphany.  If you miss Epiphany, similar events are held throughout the year, including the President’s Ball on President’s Day.  If you can’t make one of the re-enactment dates, go on MLK Day in January, which hosts the second largest annual civil rights gathering in the nation.


Here’s your GPS location: 11 N. 4th Street; Saint Louis; 63102. Watch for this information to be uploaded into a collection of adventure maps for sale on Amazon, soon.


Dome 3

Trip #46
Trip Date: 2016-09-17 Saturday 3:30
Attendees: 7 adults + 8 kids
Message: Be Kind to Animals
Wildlife Rescue Center


A trip to the Wildlife Rescue Center, located near Castlewood Park, is fantastic, and Green Spiral Tours ventured forth on a Saturday afternoon in September.  The best time to visit the Wildlife Rescue Center is in June, when lots of “May Babies” are in residence.


The Wildlife Rescue Center cares for over 2,500 injured, sick or orphaned animals per year, and releases them with permission on private property.


Green Spiral has hosted a lot of scouting missions and field trips over the past seven years, and we don’t think we’ve ever seen a better nature program for kids.  Director Casey Philips, who led the tour, is especially skillful with kids.  We had warm-up exercises in the conference room, followed by a tour of the facility, some veterinary practice on stuffed animals, and a quick hike around the lake.


The WildLife Rescue Center is volunteer run, and volunteer funded; the place is surprisingly big, and it’s all very clean and orderly.  There’s an x-ray machine and a small operating room for treating fractures and emergencies.


If turtles get run over by cars, or whacked by a lawn mower; the Wildlife Rescue Center zip-ties their shells back together and nurtures them back to health.


If squirrels get orphaned or injured, they are put into hammocks, and hand-fed by volunteers.


We got to see a baby opossum who tried to scare us away with his tiny sharp teeth, and we also got to see a baby fox.


We took a nature walk around the small lake, (actually a bog), full of mallards, frogs, fish and duckweed.


There’s always a lot of magic, and some bit of mischief on each Green Spiral field trip. The magic was seeing the animals. The mischief showed up in the form of poison ivy, which we narrowly averted when we popped down to explore the creek.


Poison ivy is tricky, because it can look like a bush or a vine.  Look for jagged edges,  leaves of three (leave it be), and especially, look for an extra long stem on that middle leaf.


We took about 15 people, which was the perfect sized group, although the facility can handle up to 30 people.  The fee is about $50 fee for 10 participants; each additional participant is $5 per person. Because this is an animal hospital, folks need to be calm, and the age range is limited to Kindergarten and up. To get maximum benefit, definitely organize this as a small group tour; if you have a scout group or classroom, divide the group in half.


What you can do:

Visit the Wildlife Rescue Center with kids; you will be delighted and learn all sorts of things. Here’s the link to begin organizing a tour: Wildlife Rescue Center

Keep cats indoors. Cats kill and injure a great number of wild animals, notably songbirds.

Sign petitions to protect habitat and clean water.

Give generously to the Wildlife Rescue Center, as they are completely volunteer run, and they are doing such great work: http://www.iGive.com/WildlifeRescueCenter/?p=19992&jltest=1 #iGiveDoYou


TripDate: Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Use this Green Spiral Map

along with the blogpost from

“Becoming a Wild Family”

to explore Shaw Park

in Clayton.

2016 Shaw Park Map

This is part of the

Spring Series of

“Urban Wild Adventures”

featuring fabulous nature guide

Angela Wildermuth


Becoming a Wild Family

We went on our weekly park tour today!

Kentucky has their horse derby 🏇and we have the leaf race 🍃…

… Read on to find out who won…. 😉

We began the tour of Shaw Park at the playground. It’s quite a fun park that tries to draw upon the aesthetics of nature!

Angela always engages the kids right away by telling them what the park has in store for them!  She quickly drew the kids’ attention to the Sensory Garden.

She passed around samples of the plants that could be found in the sensory garden and had everyone touch and smell the leaves and flowers.

She also had a scavenger hunt list for the kids to check off.

Simone was in charge of our family’s findings.

She took the hunt very seriously…

The boys listened and hunted but in a much less organized way.

Some of…

View original post 488 more words


Follow Green Spiral Tours nature guide Angela Wildermuth and this beautiful Wild Family into the parks and playgrounds of Saint Louis…

Becoming a Wild Family

Angela led us on another fantastic park tour today… And the kids were so engaged and excited to hear all that she had to teach!

She began by leading a child-led discussion about spring and any interesting things found so far in the wild. She then passed out some hand drawn maps and gave the kids a sort of preview of what to look for! This really got the kids excited!

Then we were off to the creek!

This rock is limestonewith lots of potholes – made from a rock, trapped in a crack, and swirled around and around and around by moving water.

After that- we were on the look out for a sideways sycamore tree.

Next on the map to find:

ring-around-the gigantic Burr Oak Tree

Back to the creek bed… To find Quartz!


  • knock two rocks together and sniff
  • If it smells like smoke, it’s…

View original post 220 more words

2015-11-01 Halloween Hangover Logo SQ Sm
TripDate: 1-Nov-2015

2015-11-01 Right Trouble Logo SQ Sm

We often get into trouble with Green Spiral Tours, and our trip to Bellefontaine  Cemetery was no exception; the trick in life is to figure out the right kind of trouble to get into.  Visiting a cemetery with kids is the right kind of trouble.

We got in trouble for bringing too many kids.

2015-11-01 Hide n Seek Logo SQ

Kids weren’t always banished from cemeteries. During the Victorian age, newer thinking moved cemeteries from churchyards & family plots into landscaped gardens, which also served as children’s playgrounds. Families would spread out a picnic blanket after church, near their deceased loved ones, and the children would play hide and seek among the grave stones.

2015-11-01 Champion Tree Logo SQ sm

Bellefontaine (pronounced Belle Fountain) Cemetery is a wonderful destination for families longing to stretch their legs under a wide open sky. It’s not only a cemetery, it’s also an arboretum and haven for wildlife. Keep it in mind for when you need a quiet place to go, and just “be”.   We ventured forth with several families on the day after Halloween, as a cure for our “Halloween Hangover”.

2015-11-01 Welcome SQ All Souls Sm

Start your trip at the Welcome Center by picking up maps and bottled water. Beautiful restroom facilities are on your left.  If you rendezvous with more than 8 people, keep it on the quiet, or notify Dan in advance at 314-381-0750.

Bellefontaine Cemetery is historic, culturally dense and rich with art and nature; they offer lots of interesting tours of all kinds (but none for children), which you can see here:  Bellefontaine Guided Tours

2015-11-01 Columbarium logo SQ Sm

Use your maps or simply turn right when you enter, and find your way to the lakes and the Columbarium, a beautiful column fountain and final resting place for cremated remains. Obviously, children will need to be respectful, but a little skipping and hopping between the rocks is part of the quiet celebration of life, not unlike the lilies, dragon flies and butterflies that frequent the same place.

2015-11-01 Stay & Play logo SQ Sm

Drop kids off at the top, at Cypress Lake, and let them hop and skip their way past the Columbarium, all the way down to Cascade Lake. Stay and play for a while.

2015-11-01 To the Lake logo SQ Sm


Here’s a Green Spiral Adventure Map for you to download and use as a guide. Put it on a clipboard and let the kids color it in as you invent your own adventure.  Switch between the Arboretum, Cemetery Tour and Green Spiral map as you explore the cemetery.

2015-11-01 Green Spiral Map

2015-11-01 Beer Baron Tour logo SQ SmWhen you’ve had enough time at the lake, jump back in the car and drive along the rolling hills of the cemetery.  Be sure to see the Wainwright Tomb, and look for a variety of “Beer Baron” tombs.  Come back (without kids) in October for the “Beer Baron Tour,” complete with local food, trolley tours and local beer tasting. It’s fabulous!

Be sure to find your way to the oldest part of the cemetery, down the ravine near #18 and on your way to William Clark’s resting place at #16, and marvel at all the really old mossy gravestones.

Know that “Evergreen Meadow” on your map is one of the few resting places in the country that offers a green burial option.

From William Clark’s grave, refer to your Arboretum Map or your Green Spiral Map to find your way to the giant red mulberry tree, which we have named “Mother Mulberry.”  She makes a great climbing tree.  This is a nice place to spread out a blanket and have a little nap or a snack.

2015-11-01 Mother Mulberry logo SQ Sm

2015-11-01 Calvary logo SQ Sm

Calvary Cemetery is across the street, and SLU is studying the bees in that cemetery.  Turns out, Calvary Cemetery hosts the greatest bee biodiversity in the region; and by the way, city bees are healthier than rural bees because city folks use fewer pesticides than the farmers do.  Kinda scary, huh?

Rock hopping, a winding drive and a picnic at Mother Mulberry will probably use up all your time, so be sure to use the restrooms on the way out, recycle your maps and make a plan for your return visit. Best of all, a visit to Bellefontaine Cemetery is free! Saint Louis is rich with free destinations for kids.  Let’s keep it that way.

Logo Green Spiral

Now, here’s your homework:

2013 The Dead Bird

While uncomfortable at times,  death, like sex, is something that children are curious about, and families are learning how to normalize conversations about these difficult topics, from a young age.

Find age-appropriate books for your personal library, for that inevitable moment when someone, or something, dies. The author of “GoodNight Moon” wrote a classic titled, “We Found a Dead Bird.” I’m Jessie, and I used this book quite a lot while teaching, as we would often find dead birds on the playground. There are lots more contemporary books on the market. Post your favorites, and the ones that have helped you, or your family, in the comment section, below:




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