More Than Just a Liquor Store-Brown Derby International Wine Center

Searching for that perfect gift for a wedding or housewarming???  One of the best kept secrets in Springfield lies at 2023 S. Glenstone Avenue. Brown Derby International Wine Center boasts an excellent deli, gift shop and thousands of different bottles of alcohol including this gem from Ozark Mountain Daredevils. 

One of many offerings in the liquor department

The Derby Deli ( offers small plates, sandwiches, soup and salads along with a wine bar payable by the glass.  I have personally sampled the Tarragon Chicken Salad sandwich and the Asian Chicken Wrap.  Both are fresh, delicious and served with a side, enough for two.  The deli is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 am to 7 pm and if the food doesn’t call to you, the eclectic collection of books, tableware, and various other offerings will.  Another note about the deli is that they serve locally made desserts and use locally made bread for their sandwiches when they are able. Tables are scattered around the deli area including a communal table, and an overflow area is also available towards the back end of the store.  Brown Derby also offers event catering and bartending services.

Deli seating area

Scattered throughout the north and east side of the store are shelves packed with an extensive array  of elegant and useful objects that will impress any difficult to buy for family member or friend.  Personally, I would choose from the variety of coffee table books or the novelty liquor choices. 

One of many book options

Usually buying alcohol for me is a hasty, “I know what I want” proposition.  I rarely stray from domestic beer and can easily find what I want in any store.  The International Wine Center invitingly draws you in to wander around, browse the offerings, eat, drink, and probably spend more than you were planning to.  Even if you abstain from drinking alcohol, check out the atmosphere in the deli and browse the gift areas.  You may surprise yourself by coming back to the International Wine Center again and again.

A small sample of gift ideas

TommyHawks Ax Throwing

TommyHawks on College

TommyHawks 1631 W. College Avenue in Springfield Missouri is a veteran owned company and the largest ax throwing venue in the Midwest.  Much more than ax throwing, TommyHawks boasts 2 corn hole games, foosball, ping pong, kid friendly games such as tabletop Jenga® and a massive Connect 4®.  Tom and Kacey opened the 12,000 square foot facility, TommyHawks in 2018.  Beginning his journey as an ax craftsman after leaving the service in 2015, Tom began crafting his products in 2016 selling to ax throwing enthusiasts and military personnel.  He also designs all the cool T-shirts and other merchandise for sale up at the counter.  The photo op area is one of the best I’ve seen and helps balance the large space, making it look less cavernous.

Part of the photo op and game area

My coworkers and I headed over one Friday night (open at 6:00 p.m.) to give ax throwing a try.  Let me tell you the folks who throw axes regularly make this sport look easy.  It is anything but.  I was concerned that I would waste my shoulders on this adventure and was hesitant about paying the fee for a full 2 hours of throwing a heavy ax at a target.  Turns out the ax really isn’t that heavy and you use much more than your shoulders to be accurate.  Whether you throw one handed or two, ax throwing is definitely a challenge.  Kacey gave us all training and practice time to perfect our technique (LOL) before we were split into teams to compete against each other, 4 on each team.  Lining up one by one with different weight axes and attempting to at least hit the wood around the target was an exercise in frustration and hilarity.  We are not used failure.

Oh the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat

As I stood there watching my coworkers struggle knowing a few of them had actually done this before, I couldn’t help but think what a great date night this would make especially in the beginning stages of a relationship.  I have always maintained the idea that doing challenging things on dates is the key to understanding your partner’s mindset and level of maturity.  Ax throwing and how easy it is to be awful may just bring out the worst in that jerk who is not used to failing, or make you both laugh until you cry.  Pick the mate that can laugh at themselves.

There are tons of options while waiting for a lane.

TommyHawks has some rules like no open toed shoes, no cash, and no standing in front of the tables when others are throwing.  I recommend visiting the website: for full rules disclosure, understanding the waiver you are going to sign, and for hours as they vary by day/weekend.  Also the alcohol policy was interesting.  You may bring your own beverages and food, no hard liquor so malt type beers and wine coolers only.  An alcohol monitoring fee of $5 is required for each person in your party, which is probably a good idea.  Ax throwing, accuracy and alcohol did not go together for me anyway so you might choose to drink water or soda and actually hit the target more often.

This venue would be excellent not only for date night, but team building within organizations, a teen birthday party, or even a bet between friends.  There are a lot of other free activities to take up time while waiting for a lane which I was impressed by.  All in all, this was money well spent and I will be heading back with my tribe, maybe making a friendly wager beforehand betting on how bad they will be.  Get out there, friends and challenge yourself.

2022 Highlights and What to Watch for 2023!!

February Trip to Discovery Center in Downtown Springfield

Lunch at Whole Hog Cafe on Sunshine and Campbell in Springfield Mo

Pit stop at Redmon’s in Phillipsburg Mo

Should have considered this before the hike!!!

The hike was worth this picture! Hemmed In Hollow, Compton Arkansas

Awesome eats outside Jasper Arkansas

Boating on Stockton Lake on a summer day! Paradise.

Hiking Pomme de Terre MO

Camping in Lesterville MO on the Black River

Mountain biking trip at Fellows Lake Mo turned into a nice hike. Next time I’ll bring a helmet.

Seasonal Encounters Branson was fun for the whole family! Attentive staff and an excellent Santa

and Mrs. Claus.

As always, I have many plans but only so much time. The Etsy store is still in the works with items in production this month (January 2023). Darby and I are planning a podcast discussing some of the crazier aspects of our adventures and a trip to Oklahoma with Cole for a hiking/camping trip. I have already hiked this month on January 1 and am planning another short hike this week.

Check out htdto2020 on Instagram to follow other adventures that are too short to blog about or head over to my FB page How to do the Ozarks and check out other places I’ve been visiting in SW Missouri.

I’m still working on that Stockton Lake camping trip as well as visiting the RV show the first weekend in March at the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds to dream about my new investment for the blog-a popup trailer. Stay tuned for more adventures, places to eat, shop and take the kids.

Floating the Black River

Many of you have read my post about my First Scary Float Trip Over the past weekend, I went floating with my two youngest children, Cole (25) and Darby (21), in a 4-man raft on the Black River. Had I floated this way on that first float trip, I would have fallen even more deeply in love with floating than I already am.

Floating, especially on the weekend, is not for everyone. There are a lot of people partying on the river on the weekends, celebrating time off from work, turning up the radio and generally having a good time. Depending on your WHY for floating, you may want to choose a weekday for your next float or maybe even your very first river adventure. I try to cover all genres of people in this blog, but I’m mainly targeting the intrepid woman looking for new adventures to have with the family. Depending on your tolerance for revelry and colorful language, floating on the weekend on ANY Ozarks river may not be for you.

Parks Bluff Campground had many choices for floating the Black River

Shenanigans aside, it was a great float and just under 5 hours from Parks Bluff Campground, to their takeout spot. Parks Bluff is located just inside the Lesterville city limits in Reynolds county. The staff at Parks Bluff made the rental super easy as we were also camping there (more on that in a later post or possibly a podcast!!!), were super friendly and helpful when down at the river getting everyone loaded onto their craft. When thinking about floating, especially your first time, plan to be there early. Most outfits have a time that they do NOT rent past due to the time the float takes. I know of one friend who was stranded on the river at night due to the fact that the outfit transported them to the long float when they should have stopped at the short float. Being stranded on a river at night with no supplies is NOT fun so plan carefully and plan to get out on the Black River before 11 a.m.

Kayaks are maneuverable and easy to handle on most Ozark rivers

Clear water, ample fishing opportunities (you cannot fish from most rafts), reasonable fees for the raft rental, all made for a very pleasurable trip. Once we had paddled past the partiers, the river became quiet and filled with moments of deep reflection and camaraderie between the three of us. Two-foot fish swam lazily beneath us, just begging for a jig to lure them in. The banks were crowded with trees all the way up to the river but there were only a few snags actually in the water to impede our progress. Shallow water was our biggest hold up as we are currently experiencing a drought in SW Missouri and other parts of the Ozarks. We did have to jump out and slide the raft over a few spots.

My children did most of the work this trip, and I was able to sit in the middle of the raft and enjoy the sun and just relax. I do not drink alcohol on the river as when out on the water you never know what will happen around the next bend, so my adrenaline generally burns through anything I drink and want my wits about me. This is a personal preference, my children can and did drink margaritas and beer while floating. You can rent cooler tubes to pull behind your craft to keep your beverages ice cold.

This float was just what I needed and I am looking forward to bringing you the next float adventure with JRO in September. I’m even contemplating a winter float with Cole, just to say I did it! Get out and do something you’ve never done before, you won’t regret it!

What to watch for in 2022!!

Ahh…dear reader, every January I sit at my desk to map out a plan for this blog and the vlog on YouTube and by December many of my plans have disintegrated.  Some of 2021’s mishaps were owed to vehicle trouble and the pandemic still raging across the country, even here in the middle of America.  Some of it was pure laziness.  This year I hope to be more like Turtle Quotes, a blog I follow who was prodigious this past year, apparently keeping their promise to themselves to really up their blog game and succeeded.

So, reader I will attempt several things with more verve this year such as posting every two weeks, upping my Instagram game and remembering to get my Small Business Saturday posts on Facebook actually posted on Saturday.  Kayaking Lake Springfield, a feature on Dickerson Park Zoo, Fritz’s Adventure and Discovery Center are all in the planning stages as well as that spread on camping at Stockton Lake which was cancelled last year due to my prodigal daughters visit.  That was definitely worth postponing.

I will also be stocking an Etsy store with Ozarks inspired items made on my new CNC router.  Plans are on the table for an Ozarks inspired Tic Tac Toe game, fishing rod holders, and picture frames for that outdoor lover in the family.  So watch out 2022, this girl is ready to get out there and cover the best of what the Ozarks has to offer!

What to Watch for in 2021!!

Hello fellow travelers!!!  2020 is behind us, Covid 19 vaccines have been developed and a new year has begun.  2020 did not put too much of a damper on my travel, but it did make visiting restaurants, museums and entertainment venues harder.  My goals for this year include bringing you even more Facebook posts on my How to do the Ozarks FB page, Instagram photos on htdto2020, vlog posts on YouTube at How To Do The Ozarks, and visiting more fun places in this amazing geographical part of Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma.

Be on the lookout for a spread about camping and boating at Stockton Lake, hiking in Arkansas at Hemmed In Hollow, kayaking with James River Outfitters and more.  I have been toying with the idea of allowing comments on the blog, vlog and other social media to drive where I may go from week to week and I will let you know soon enough if that is the direction I decide to go in this year. 

I will also be revisiting a few places that just didn’t get enough attention and blog space last year like Elephant Rocks, Johnson’s Shut In’s and Eureka Springs at Christmas time.  I did visit these places last year, but decided to hold back on writing about them as I wanted to see if I could gain a better experience especially at Elephant Rocks and the Shut In’s.  I was very tired from hiking when I visited these sites and not prepared to experience them in a positive way to give my readers a true look at these amazing sites.

So!  Get ready friends and prepare to get out there!     

What’s in Your Backpack?

This whole month I’ve been considering the troubles we avid adventurers can get into and how to minimize the risks when we camp, kayak, canoe and hike.  Sometimes you can do everything right and still end up in a bad situation, needing basic supplies.

With that in mind, I sent a text to my son, Cole, and asked him to take a picture of what he considers essential for his hikes-some of which are overnight hikes.  He takes an inner frame backpack on overnight hikes.  The bass doesn’t go with.  Here is what he sent me:

What's in Your Backpack?

Essential gear for longer day and overnight hikes in the Ozarks

Due to his habit of sleeping out on his hikes, he always carries his hammock, 2 tarps, paracord, nylon braid cord, flint and a steel knife with fishing line and a hook stored in the handle.  He carries his kettle, sanitizer, extra wool socks, lighter fluid, gloves, tarp and axe.  He brings a dry sack when he kayaks, but it would come in handy for bear food storage as well.  Also included are sunglasses, headlamp, pocket solar panels to charge his phone, cup, fork and pan with a lid.  He carries a small towel,  Sawyer squeeze for water (available online at most outdoor gear retailers), sleeping pad and bag, along with the camera and tripod.  In the summer he rarely uses the sleeping bag and never carries a tent.  He also carries TP and electrical tape, which can function for him as a first aid kit in a pinch.  A lot of Cole’s gear is multi functional.  He can use the tarp for rain jacket in a pinch.  If he needs a quick shelter, stringing the rope and using the tarps will act as a tent.  The trick is to take what you need but not carry so much it takes away your energy and enjoyment of the hike.  Always wear a hat and take a bandana on hikes-they are very useful for everything to cooling down to first aid.

Snakes of SWMO Ritter Springs Springfield MO

This is a non venomous snake. Notice the round eyes and lack of wide head. Possible Diamond Back Watersnake

Of course, he will also take along MRE’s (Meal Ready to Eat) or other lightweight foods and water.  Some favorites are beef jerky, trail mix, dried fruit (don’t eat too much), peanut butter, ramen, bananas, and tuna fish with crackers.  I also like those cracker packs with either tuna salad or chicken salad that are available at Aldi for about a dollar.  When hiking it’s important to stay hydrated and have high energy foods available.

Rushing Sac River

Anyone want to cross here?

Of course, the location and duration of your hike will dictate your needs.  For a short hike in a well-traveled location it’s not as essential to have a big first aid kit or lots of food.  Water yes, food not so much.  On our recent hike to Ha Ha Tonka State Park, we took essentials only and kept our packs small and lightweight.  We traveled 1.75 miles in about 2 hours and had a good time.  I’ll post more about this trip in 2 weeks.

Sac River Trail off Hwy 13

The Sac River Trail off Hwy 13 is a great place to hike or mountain bike.

With my own backpack for day hikes-I never sleep rough-I usually carry a whistle and first aid kit along with water, bug spray, a decent flashlight, rope, sunscreen and a few snacks.  I also have mace, a small army knife, and Chapstick.  I have been lost before when hiking and been down to the last half hour before sunset wondering if I was going to make it back to the car before it got dark.  I’ve also had friends get caught out in weather, remember it is SWMO and weather here can be unpredictable especially in the spring.  I’ve also had friends get caught out overnight with essentially no gear and no food, because what started out as a well-marked trail got less so after a few miles-not fun.

Day Hike Supplies

Minimal supplies for a short day hike

Remember too, your cell phone may not work out in the back country.  You may get a spotty signal if you find a high enough hill, but nothing beats being prepared before you leave the house.  Also, it’s a good idea to always let someone know where you’re going to be hiking and a general time of when you will be back, especially if you are taking off for a few days.

The Ozarks region is filled with beautiful places to hike for a day or a week so get out there!

Check out the Facebook page How to do the Ozarks and Instagram htdto2020 for more pictures and places to visit!

Hiking in Crawford County

Crawford County hiking

Waiting for Spring

Partially frozen Pomme de Terre Lake Missouri

Waiting for Spring

Waiting for Spring

Waiting for Spring

Waiting for Spring Pomme de Terre State Park Missouri

Canada Geese Waiting for Spring

The Ozarks is a great place for winter fun.  From hiking chilly trails, hunting back acres, kayaking quiet rivers, enjoying indoor sports like SkyZone, mini golf and antique shopping-there is plenty to do if you just look around.  This time of year Chili Cook offs for charities abound and the circus acts are in Springfield and other cities.

Today, I wanted to get out to Pomme de Terre (pronounced “Pumeley Tar”-yeah I don’t get it either) and hike, but a nagging pain in my lower back and high wind conditions changed my mind.  Instead I spent time with my youngest daughter, talking about college plans, driving back roads, and taking pictures of the Pomme de Terre State Park waiting for spring to bring it back to life.  I kept an eye out for bald eagles, a bird that moves through this part of Missouri during January and February but found only Canada Geese, perched precariously on thin ice on the windy lake.  Still, seeing the partially frozen water, trees completely bare of leaves, and the quiet that winter brings reminds me that we all need downtime, Sunday drive time, breathing room.

If bald eagles interest you, check out the Springfield Nature Center, Stockton Lake or Dora.  Eagles tend to visit the same areas every year and these spots have watch areas leading to some excellent photography opportunities.

So get out there, take a drive in the wind, roll through those empty back roads and wave to a farmer bringing hay out to his cattle.  Find some rural grocery store with a deli and stop in.  Say hi to the locals, they don’t care that your a home state or out of town tourist, they’re just happy to take your money this time of year. Remind yourself that there is more out there than 9 to 5, kids schedules, and payments to the bank.

What to Look For in 2019!

I’ll be visiting Pomme De Terre for winter hiking, Stockton for spring kayaking, and Wonders Of Wildlife Aquarium during the first quarter of this year.  I will also be bringing you the very best local places to eat and where to take the kids.  Of course, I always have more plans than time, but I will do my best to continue to bring you information you can use on fun places to visit, great places to eat, and other things to do in our diverse area of the US!  Look for my Facebook page-How to do the Ozarks-for day to day photos and information on where I am and what I’m doing!

“Tis’ a priviledge to live in the Ozarks”-Mark Twain

Hello!  My name is Christy and I love living and playing in the Ozark Mountain region of America.  The Ozark Plateau stretches from Oklahoma, into northern Arkansas, throughout most of southern Missouri and a tiny part of Kansas.   This endeavor is my own creative effort to share my experiences with you, my readers.  I will always try to share the best of what I encounter whether I am visiting a restaurant, museum, park, or river.  Negativity breeds negativity and anyone can have a bad day.  If you are looking for a bad review on any business, you will not find it here.  If I happen to have a negative experience, I write directly to the business letting them know privately.  If you leave a negative comment on a piece, I will personally read it but will not share it with others.

So, readers, welcome to How to do the Ozarks.  I hope you will enjoy the photos me and my family take, get a laugh out of my (mis)adventures, and visit the Ozark region soon.