Enjoying all that nature has to offer — the good parts, anyway. 

  “Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time . . .”

Norman Maclean

Maclean’s quote from his classic novel and subsequent movie “A River Runs Through It” was referring to the Blackfoot River in Montana. But we here in Mid-Missouri are privileged to have access to many quality waterways — The mighty Missouri, Osage, Maries, and Moniteau Rivers, to name a few. We also have lakes like Lake of the Ozarks, Truman, Stockton, and Mark Twain, as well as spring-fed riverways like the Current, Jack’s Fork, Meramec, Gasconade, and Niangua. Water can work wonders in soothing the human soul, so in this outdoor issue, The Good Life would be remiss if we didn’t talk about enjoying all of nature’s glory in true bon vivant style.

Floating and camping historically meant sacrificing creature comforts for dirt, cold, bugs, and a lack of modern facilities. But that’s not the case anymore. The newest craze is glamping (a mashup of glamour and camping), and glamping is certainly a bon vivant way to commune with nature.

Imagine, you’ve just come off the water after a long day of sun and fun. You’re hot, tired, a little gritty, and a bit wobbly. You just want to clean up, wind down, and settle in for a relaxing evening. Glamping means no more hiking a half-mile to a cold public shower. Luxurious RVs and travel trailers offer all the comforts of home with hot and cold running appliances. 

But if glamping is still a bit too rustic for you, consider bunking down in a comfortable vacation rental property or quaint bed and breakfast. The only thing better than glamping would be waking up after a good night’s sleep and sitting down to a cup of hot coffee and a fresh homemade breakfast. What fun — breaking bread around the table, getting to know fellow bon vivants, and telling tales of yesterday’s exciting river run while anticipating the adventures to come.

And there’s something about the great outdoors that stimulates the appetites too. So what’s it going to be? A couple of charred hot dogs on a stick and a lukewarm can of something? Not for thebon vivant. Gourmet steaks and seafood never tasted better than when cooked over an open fire paired with a simple fresh green salad, grilled veggie kabobs, and a decadent chocolate dessert to complete your evening. 

Make the process simple by prepping, seasoning, and marinating food beforehand so you have more time to enjoy the environment. Live coals from the campfire make the perfect heat source for cooking, and the flavor imparted from natural wood flame and smoke just can’t be duplicated or surpassed.

And don’t forget, a gourmet meal has to be accompanied by a quality beverage. There’s no reason to leave your fine wine back at home. Today’s wine transport and serving systems keep your wine at the ideal temperature while also protecting the glass bottles. There are even some very fine boxed and canned wines on the market today. What could be more relaxing than sitting around the fire after a scrumptious meal, a glass of wine in hand, being serenaded by the rippling waters of the river nearby? Sounds like The Good Life to me. 

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