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I love Google Maps. Although I have and use a number of guide books to the local area for my explorations, many of my favorite discoveries have been found simply by highlighting St. Louis on Google, zooming in and finding a patch of green in place I don't know.

Today I found Magnolia Hollow Conservation Area in this way.It's a wooded hilly area, part of the Missouri side of the Mississippi bluffs a few miles north of Ste. Genevieve. I arrived in the middle of deer hunt with hunters, wearing the odd combination of camouflage uniforms and bright orange caps and jackets, slipping down into the heart of the woods. I did not hear any shots this afternoon, but a deer almost ran into me as I drove along the entrance road!

Still, I decided it might be wiser to stick to the main trail and go to the look-out point rather than ramble through the woods. I'm glad I did. This was one of the finest look-outs I have come across over the Mississippi from the Missouri Bluffs. The whole American Bottom area on the Illinois side of the river was laid out before me.In the far distance I could see the bluffs, with the square quarry holes dug into them clearly showing.A barge was slowly making its way northward, always a lovely sight to my eyes.I got a lot of pleasure from this panoramic view of an area that I have recently been exploring, and I could make out roads and villages I had visited. Once again, it was a warm, friendly day – very satisfying.