Tuesday, May 23, 2017

show & tell Tuesday (travelogue edition)

Happy Tuesday!  I'm linking up with Andrea at Momfessionals for this post.  I don't always do the show and tell type posts, but this one was so fun and easy for me.  I knew right away what I'd share about.

I'll start off with saying that we love to go camping.  This is why~for the fun, the relaxation, the unpredictability of it all, and the memories.  We've had many camping trips over the years, good and bad, and one thing we found out is that we only like to go with friends.  It's much more fun that way, and we have had some doozies.  I'm sharing about our first ever three night camping trip, with some of our very best friends, the Dicksons.  They used to live next door to us, but nowadays, they're three and a half hours away.  We go visit them whenever we can, though, so it's like nothing has changed.  Except for that path that led between our houses~it finally grew back from being so worn down for years.

This was back in October of 2011, when we went to Blanchard Springs in Arkansas.  It's somewhere in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains.

Sweet little unassuming Arkansas town we drove through.  More about this town at the end, though.  I'm going to go in order.

Travis suggested this campground.  I like to leave home around lunch time, and get set up before dark.  We also like to stick kinda close by...it's a lot of work going camping, and if the drive time is shorter, it's a bonus.  All of it is hard work, but the in between part is what we live for.  Setting up is hard, too, and moods are usually not the best, because someone is ALWAYS hungry.  This was the time of day we finally arrived to the campsite.

Right off the bat, I knew this would be an unforgettable trip.  As much as I love to camp, I HATE SPIDERS.  Travis had warned me that there would be many on this trip.  (gulp)  When we first got there, I made the mistake of shining the flashlight on the ground, and I saw hundreds (thousands, maybe) of granddaddy longlegs.  As much as I hate all spiders, I am most terrified of those!  The legs freak me out, especially because they come off so easily.

Notice all the hoodies and all the extra quilts and blankets, and how you can't even see Jonah's head on the left.  It was FREEZING.  We used to sleep on sheets of foam covered with sleeping bags and blankets, but nowadays we do air mattresses again.  I miss the foam days, though.  I always sleep so good outside.

Literally, it was freezing.  It was 32 degrees or less.

But look how beautiful it was!

In making breakfast that morning, we attempted our first round of campfire cooking.  Travis had learned that you could make biscuits and cobblers in a dutch oven by burying it under the coals.


The middles were actually pretty good.

We ate eggs and bacon, too.

One of the best parts about camping is all the exploring that happens.

This wasn't far from our tent...you can see our vehicles behind the post.  Do you see what's on the post?!  It's a "baby" tarantula.

I almost died.

I'm pretty sure Travis did this to keep his ears warm.  It stayed in the forties and low fifties that day and I froze half to death.  I'd go wash my hands in the bathroom all the time to have hot water and warm air blowing on me.

We were also right by the bathrooms, which came in convenient, but more about that in a second.  See all the cute little kiddos?  Myles and Zander are still some of Jonah's and Noah's best friends.  Zander chased me ENDLESSLY with granddaddy longlegs this whole trip.  He also called them his best friends.

Look at all the kiddos!  There are two more nowadays, that Travis and Katie have currently.  This was before Caleb and Ellie.

The views were amazing!

This last picture pretty much sums up the whole trip.  I love the ones of Todd and Travis.

To this day, this is my favorite camping trip we ever went on, and the views definitely helped.

We would do all the cooking and we'd make the boys have kitchen duty.  They would also help collect firewood and sticks and after those things were done, they'd be free to go explore on their bikes.  Because you NEVER go camping without your bikes.

I'm pretty sure this picture above was day two.  The days did get warmer progressively, but to tell you how cold it actually was, know that before we left home, I had made and frozen a giant pot of taco soup.  I stuck it in our cooler to act as ice for the trip and on the second day at one o'clock, it was still mostly frozen.  I cooked it low and slow, and added water often to help in the thawing process.

We explored more the second day and that night had a delicious dinner of taco soup and peach cobbler.

And s'mores.  You cannot go camping and not have s'mores every single night.

On day three, this is what Travis and Todd did for a few hours.  They were trying to get more wood and came up with a system for throwing a rope in the tree and pulling a branch down.  I'm not sure if that's allowed or not, but I've never laughed so hard watching two men do something.  I referred to them as Dumb and Dumber.

For dinner the last night, we had hobo packets.  You take ground beef, potatoes, onion, and green beans and add butter, salt, and pepper (all on a piece of foil) and seal it all up and cook it for about 30-45 minutes over the campfire.

It's the best thing ever.

On our last night, in the middle of the night, Noah became sick and started throwing up and kept on doing that for several hours.

I was so tired of making the trek to the bathroom in the middle of the night, so I grabbed our camp chairs, our sleeping bags and pillows, and we slept sitting in the chairs in the bathroom.

It was still so cold, but we were so toasty warm in the bathroom!  I died laughing when Katie walked in during the middle of the night, and about jumped out of her skin when she saw us.

He was fine when he woke up the next morning.

We packed up and headed home after lunch on Sunday.  We went through small towns again, and remember the picture at the top of the cute little unassuming town?

Well, they have random speed mountains (bumps) set up throughout the town, for anti-speeding purposes, I assume, and we hit one of them.  I am pretty sure our vehicle left the ground, as did the wheels on the trailer we were hauling, and everything went EVERYWHERE.  We had things fall, and break, and that pot of taco soup went all over the place, even on the ceiling.

We laugh about it now, but it wasn't that funny at the time.  We made more memories that I can even recount on that trip, and to this day, it was my most favorite camping trip ever.  It was our first camping trip with the Dicksons.  At least two more happened, possibly three, before they added baby Caleb to the mix.  I think on our last trip, Katie was pregnant.  Believe it or not, this was not the worst trip, though all those things happened.  Our worst ever trip was to Tishomingo in Mississippi, when we had two boys go into a stranger's camper, Katie and I were both sick, I locked BOTH SETS OF OUR KEYS in the suburban, and the rain forced us to pack up early and go home after our first night.

Even though not every trip is a success, they're all memorable, and we've learned that this is why you go with friends.  You tend to laugh more, too, which helps.

I'll post again soon on how we do camping.  It's a ton of work, and you have to pack every little thing you could possibly imagine, but it's worth all that effort.  We never relax more than when we go camping as a family.  Now that I've written about it, I want to go again.  Except that I don't do camping when it's hot.  I prefer the cold, when bugs aren't so rampant.

Thanks for reading!  Love to all.

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