Question of the week!

I can honestly say I don’t think I have ever been asked the same question so many times in one week as this past week (unless you count when I was 57 weeks pregnant and Mr. Obvious-types would say cleverly “Haven’t you had that kid yet?”.  Sure, months ago.  I am just carrying a watermelon up my shirt.)

The question- “HOW WAS CAMPING??”

This was usually followed up quickly by anyone that overheard the first question with “YOU went camping?!?!”

You may recall, our family recently ventured out on our first camping trip.  Now I am going to fill the world in on all the nitty-gritty details.

We spent most of Saturday gathering all of the crap needed for the three nights our family of five would be spending in a tent.  A U-Haul may be in order next time.

Alllllllll of our crap, ready to load!

Keith and I discussed it afterward, and we really didn’t over pack.  We brought home a fair amount of food but you never know when our children will simply not eat or eat like little sumo wrestlers.  Besides, isn’t the Boy Scout motto “Be Prepared”??

So, we loaded up after church Sunday morning.  We made a detour to a go-kart track at the Lake where we met up with Keith’s parents for a few trips around the track.  Even Henry got to ride!  He loved it!  Isabelle clearly has her *ahem* DADDY’s competitive gene.  Not long after we left the Lake it started raining on us.  The rain is so desperately needed, we couldn’t complain!  We had packed things to be protected, so it was fine.  The rain even stopped a few miles before we reached Bennett Springs State Park!

However, by the time we actually got in the park it started back up.  Keith and I began unloading and setting up the tent in the rain.  Much to Keith’s chagrin an older lady from a neighboring campsite came to help.  I lost count of how many times she said “OH!  That is how that is supposed to go!” or “I am learning so much!” even “Wow, this is much better than the way we did it!”.  I am not certain how their tent was even standing, but Keith’s pained expressions at each of her comments had me using most of my energy not busting out in laughter.  It seems our tent went up hours faster than our neighbors… By the time we finished set-up and unloading the rain had stopped!

Next on our agenda was dinner.  There was an open fire ban at all state parks, but contained charcoal fires were allowed.  So, Keith loaded our fire pit with the charcoal while I started searching thru the coolers and the kids played.  The kids were very excited to cook their hot dogs over the fire.  For like 30 seconds.  Isabelle decided she needed to pee again (I may have gotten a campsite a little too close to the bathroom, as her bladder seemed to have shrunk considerably while we were there).  As we made our way back I could see the steam coming out of Keith’s ears.  He was livid.

Turns out that charcoal fires contained in fire pits are not contained enough.  Lukewarm hot dogs and less-than-half-steamed veggies by the lantern light were our gourmet dinner for the evening (they even made us put out our tiki torches).  Fine.  We headed into the tent shortly after were Keith and I began our fight for space on OUR air mattress.  It was, of course, far more comfortable than the kids’!  Just as we got them settled- on their own- it began storming, so like boomerangs, they were back.  I have no idea what time it was when they all finally passed out, but when the storm picked back up around 2am, they were up again.  It was around then I remembered the charcoal was still outside!  Not sure why I thought it mattered since we didn’t have a stupid grill to put it in.

Monday morning everyone slept surprisingly late!  Far later than usual even!  We stumbled out of our tent to find a gorgeous day.  The rain brought temps that were a good 20 degrees cooler than it had been for about two weeks.  It was more than bareable- it was comfortable!  Fishing was on the agenda for the morning.  By the time we got loaded up, got our tags and found a spot, Henry had fallen asleep in the truck.  I stayed with him while Keith and the big kids fished.  When he woke up we went and joined them.  For like five minutes.  Henry was rather insistent that he have a pole.  A pole that he could swing and hit and impale others with.  We have taken many a trips now where all poor Keith wants to do is fish, just for a while.  I decided Henry and Isabelle and I would go out in search of a grill (and maybe a McD’s or Sonic diet Coke if the stars were in alignment) so Keith and Eli could have some nice fishing time.  Our trip was divine (happened to pass a McD’s!).  Eli hooked himself in the neck and shrieked like a banshee.  Keith still didn’t catch any fish.

Preparing to fish

Her lucky lure

It was time for a change of pace, so we decided to hit the pool.  This time it was Eli that passed out in the time it took us to change/load up.  Keith was a good sport, but I am pretty sure he would rather have his wisdom teeth pulled than go swimming.  Or wear shorts.  Or any shoes that aren’t work boots.  My kids love swimming, but are big ol pansies about it.  Heaven forbid you get water in their faces.  Isabelle would freak out if I even started going toward her.  Its like she knew I would probably dunk her.  Sink or swim right?  My cousins Tony and Doug taught me mad swimming skills by trying to drown me when I was little.  Anyway, after about an hour we had all had enough.

Who knew legs could be THAT white??

We had the grill, so we ate like kings!  Take that Park Ranger.  (had they just once, anywhere, made the rules clear we would have brought a grill from home.)  Took a nice little walk while the kids rode bikes.  It was such a luxury for them to ride on pavement!  Hit the playground, then we came back and made campfire-cones/s’mores-cones.  Just fill a waffle cone with whatever goodies you choose- marshmallows, choc chips, carmel, nuts, fruit, toffee…- then wrap in foil and warm it on the grill til melty.  We found these to be far, far less messy and labor intensive than s’mores.  They get two big thumbs up from me!  Henry liked them too.

Mmmm. S’mores cone!

No rain that night, and everyone slept on their own air mattress.  Well, Henry seemed to make his way all over the tent each night.  He wasn’t on my bed though, and that is what mattered to me.  Tuesday morning Keith prepared a gourmet breakfast of bacon and eggs.  Isabelle said the bacon was too chewy and the eggs looked weird.  The boys didn’t touch either.  I think his feeling may have been hurt that he got up and worked had on a nice breakfast that no one would eat.  Yeah, that has NEVER happened to me.  We loaded up and were off to spend the day floating away on the Niangua!

We arrive at the check-in about 15min prior to our departure time.  There we are informed there is no alcohol allowed.  SAY WHAT??  Yup.  No alcohol whatsoever allowed and “they will check your coolers, so don’t bother trying”.  Really?  First off, that would be good information to give out say, when the reservations are made!  Second, if we went back to our campsite, unpacked and repacked our coolers (which had like a whooping 12 pack of beer for Keith and myself to share) we wouldn’t make our shuttle.  They said we could go elsewhere, as there are many places that allow lush parents to take their poor impressionable offspring into a flowing body of water while the parents get wasted.  Ok, maybe that is how I took it.  Whatever, I was really irritated with the poor clarity of communication with this place.  There was a place down the road I have been to many times.  I called them and off we went.  Take that Bennett Springs State Park.

The kids were highly upset, thinking they wouldn’t be able to ride a bus.  The bus, you see, was far more exciting to them than the prospect of floating.  That maybe because they knew there were no car seats and their mom may be a bit of a carseat nazi.  Whatever the reason, they were very relieved to see a bus when we pulled up to Fort Niangua.  We made it on to the raft without incident, and we were off.  The float itself was rather uneventful, nice and peaceful actually.  (excluding the half hour meltdown from Henry before he finally passed out in the raft.  That is ok.  We all need a little nap on floats from time to time!)  The kids loved playing in the mud/sand/rocks when we stopped.  They watched the fish swim along side us and occasionally fed them some bread.  We spotted beavers, There was some cloud watching, some playing in the water and some walking along side the raft.  It was a pretty long day for them, but I think they will remember it for years to come!

We tried real s’mores that evening.  They just didn’t work out quite the same over a bbq grill…

So we thought we would give Jiffy Pop a try after a big fat fail on the s’mores.  Lucky for us the kids loved burnt, barely popped kernals.

The rest of the night was basically uneventful, minus a coughing fit from Eli in the middle of the night that caused him to puke all over his sleeping bag.  At least it was our last night!  We loaded up Wednesday morning.  It went pretty well.  I was even able to find the special skill that will keep me from getting being voted off the island/killed in the Hunger Games/make me scout of the year!  I have mad tent folding skillz!  Who would guess that doing 37463 loads of laundry a week would ever come in handy??  I am pretty sure it even saved Keith from stroking out when I came to the rescue after his futile attempts at stuffing the tent back in the bag.

After bidding a final farewell to Bennett Springs State Park (good riddance), we trekked south to Springfield for a fun and fabulous lunch at the world-famous Lambert’s Cafe!  Yes, home of the throwed rolls and family style fried okra, fried potatoes, mac and tomatoes, black-eyed peas… Eli was mesmerized by the train in the foyer.  Isabelle was stoked because Daddy let her order a root beer while I was in the bathroom with Eli (you have no idea how many bathroom trips we make with 3 small children).  Henry caught his own roll, but he wouldn’t eat it.  He was too proud of his accomplishment!  We had to save it.

Practicing for catching rolls at Lambert’s!

Incredibly stuffed, we made our way to the Bass Pro store in Springfield, MO.  The kids loved checking out the gators, fish, and turtles.  Henry was entirely unsure of the stuffed animals though… he wouldn’t get close enough for a picture!  Eli scored a new fishing pole since Henry has stolen his, and he prefers to try beating fish into submission rather than catching them with a hook.  Back on the road for a nice long nap time!

We made a quick stop in Camdenton for dinner with Keith’s sister and her family.  It was a fun place at Sunrise Beach- Captain Ron’s?  The jazz band mesmerized the kids during dinner.  Then they ran off the little remaining energy in the bounce house, beach and pirate ship on site!  We finally made it home around midnight!

Everyone thought we were crazy taking the kids camping.  In a tent.  For three nights.  I have done plenty of things everyone thought were crazy, but I was even questioning this one!  In the end, I think it will probably be one of the most memorable trips I have ever taken.  It is such a blessing to have three amazing little kids that soak up every bit of the world around them with wonder and excitement.  Being able to see and experience the world through the lens of their eyes has been an incredible gift that has changed me to my very core.  So many things I never thought I would ever DO let alone enjoy are now precious memories with my family.

Dare I say it?  I can’t wait to go camping again!


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Connie Cashion
    Jan 02, 2013 @ 14:29:40

    I live to read your journal, it is better than any book I could purchase in the store, getting to live thru you ,and your family, the trips, the expressions of joy ,that those cuties say well to say the least it is a great way to relax , seeing so much pain and misery, that families go thru in these hard times sometimes piles up on me , and then setting down, and reading your family story ,and journey thru life causes some of the pain and heartache I see every day become lighter. thanks Sara for allowing me to share in your Journey of Life and looking thru those kids eyes at this beautiful world God loaned to us . PRICELESS for sure . love you all Connie


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