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.

Kayaking Springfield Lake

Springfield Lake Boathouse

Kayaking has become one of my favorite outdoor activities over the years and I always make plans to do more of it whenever possible.  Last summer I was able to get in a session of stand-up paddle boarding with ShowMe SUP ( and I was also able to kayak Springfield Lake with my youngest son, Cole.  Unfortunately, that was all I was able to get in last season, due to working full time and other obstacles like not having my own vehicle for 5 months or so.

So, this year I am making plans to get out in a kayak more often!!!  I am making a promise to myself to use my days off in the middle of the week to do some serious searching of awesome kayaking experiences and letting you know how they went!  For now I will share my last kayaking trip on Springfield Lake.

Small waterfall from runoff

The thing I love about kayaking on a lake is that you are bound in and the currents running under most lakes are less dangerous than on rivers.  I have been on some hairy, scary float trips ( that had my adrenaline burning through any alcohol I may have consumed, so now I don’t even bother having a drink while floating on the rivers anymore.  It’s just not worth it.  In my opinion lakes are also great learning experiences for new small craft boaters to learn how to maneuver their craft whether it’s a canoe, kayak or paddleboard.  Lakes are also a great opportunity to work on boating skills with a partner if you have a dual seat craft before having to rely on each other in a crisis elsewhere.

Cole and I met up at Lake Springfield Boat House located at 5324 S. Kissick Ave Springfield MO on a warm September day 2021.   I made sure to bring plenty of water for this trip as well as snacks and sunscreen.  When you’re paddling and getting wet from splashing, deliberately or accidentally, you can easily forget the sun beating down on your exposed legs and feet.  Lake Springfield Boat House has reasonable prices for single and dual craft and provides everything you need to get out on the water safely including help shoving off.

Leaving the boathouse and heading north then east toward the Missouri Veterans Cemetery we passed bluffs, herons, and picturesque homes perched over the lake, some with their own dock access.  We squeezed into some inlets that were muddy and shallow to get a closer look at some flower or fauna that attracted our interest, both of us in single kayaks.  We passed fishermen angling from the banks and from their own kayaks along the way.  I think what I love most about kayaking is the quiet at certain points of traveling on the water and being able to stop along the way without worrying about a propeller or the depth of the water.

Heron are plentiful on Lake Springfield

Lake Springfield Boathouse opens April 15 and operates through October 15, weather permitting.  For about 2 hours for $25, kayaking is a great shoulder workout and an opportunity to spend time with people you love doing something different and sometimes challenging.  I will always jump at the chance to get out into nature with family or alone whenever possible (unless it’s really awful weather-wise).  Cole and I visited Galloway Grill after our lake trip, which gave us even more time to talk and support a local eatery.  I highly recommend them, especially for lunch.  So get down to Springfield Lake Boat House when the weather warms up and have some fun on Springfield Lake.

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

Follow Me to The Dickerson Park Zoo

Peacocks strut all around the zoo

I love zoos!  I have always been an animal lover and from Racine Wisconsin to Chicago Illinois to Springfield Missouri I try hard to visit zoos wherever I vacation or live. Though fairly small and requiring some serious upgrades to their older bathrooms, Dickerson Park Zoo is a top Springfield destination.  I’ve been taking my kids and grandkids to this entrenched Springfield attraction for 30 years.  DPZ falls under the jurisdiction of the Springfield-Greene County Park Board of Springfield MO.  Quite a few years back the citizens voted for a small tax to help the park system with various projects and expanding and upgrading parts of the zoo were on the agenda.  They did a wonderful job with an elephant enclosure and play area, wolf den, expanded the Animals of Missouri exhibit and other fun projects.  The playground near The Bush Country Café is lots of fun and a great respite area for tired parents and grandparents to relax in the shade while watching their offspring play.

Mountain Lions are scarce in the Ozark region, but lots of people have claimed to have spotted them.

When I was a child growing up in San Francisco, visiting the zoo, especially the seal enclosure where we were able to feed the seals, was one of the highlights of every year.  Dickerson Park Zoo has something similar from March through October with their giraffe exhibit, making getting close to such large animals a fun experience. The newer giraffe deck where giraffe crackers are available from an attendant is so much fun and worth the extra cash for the photos you can get with your kids.  The petting zoo is also a fun area especially for young children.  Having a donkey or goat lip food from your outstretched hand tickles and gives parents an opportunity to teach good animal manners like holding your hand flat, petting nicely, and conquering fear.  Giraffe crackers are $4 and the petting zoo food is $1, so remember to bring cash.  Tokens are available at the gift shop as well as zoo food if you need to use your debit card.  The Dickerson Park Zoo is hilly so get your critter snacks before you head into the park.

Baby giraffe, circa 2018

Zoos bring us close to animals in a way we can’t experience in everyday life and can help establish a lifelong love for animals of all shapes and sizes. DPZ is an accredited zoo which means it meets certain standards set by The Association of Zoos and Aquariums.  Bottom line-they do the best they can with the space and funds they have available.  I believe they’ve done a great job improving over the last 30 years. Personally I love the snake house and the otter enclosure.  I recommend getting online and checking out their website, letting the kids navigate around to the animals and areas they are most interested in.  Though I loved the snake house, one of my daughters did not and refused to EVER step foot in it.  I had to make sure another adult or older sibling went along with me to sit outside with her while the others checked out the boas, rattlesnakes and hissing cockroaches!

Anyone ready for a dip in the pool? The river otters are usually ready to put on a show.

One last idea!  If your kids love the zoo, ask family for a Friend of the Zoo membership as a gift.  My sister-in-law did this one year and my children were over the moon over the opportunity to go check out their adopted animal, visit whenever they wanted (when I had time), and in general wear themselves out walking around the zoo using their zoo key.  We will never forget that special gift and I pass that tip along whenever possible.  Giving experiences trumps giving stuff any day!  Now get out there!

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