Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Camping Diaries: Labor Day Weekend 2010

Labor Day weekend 2010 marked our first family camp out and we had a most amazing time! Since the first four weeks of school was focused around Little House in the Big Woods (which ended with a study of the Gold Rush in the first half of the 1800's), we chose a camp ground that was 1) in big woods, and 2) allowed for us to experience some of the "gold fever." After a bit of internet research, we quickly realized that gold in Texas is "liquid gold" (oil) and while it was free for the taking in the Gulf of Mexico, we thought that a bit messy to pan and lacked the first qualification of "big woods." We decided, then, to pack everything up and head to SW Arkansas, which has ginormous trees and panning, though we allowed for a substitute of diamonds for the gold. You have to be flexible to home school. :)

We began our adventure (3 of the 5 of us never having tent camped really...well, Mom had for one night as a Brownie Scout, but it wasn't very memorable) at Firestone. Wha...? Yes, Firestone. We had a dead battery. They got us in and out within 30 minutes and we were on our way for a four-day adventure we'll never forget!

Our Suburban was literally packed to all the
corners, barely allowing any of us legroom
except the driver. Lucky driver. :)

Below: Here is our assigned camp site
before we began "moving in" for the
extended weekend. We were the first
to use it, the camp grounds having undergone
renovation and just opened that week!
Below: Our camp site unpacked and ready
to enjoy! We went for a family bike ride
to get the lay of the land before we made dinner.
EVERYONE helped set up camp,
though our fearless leader was Dad.
Below: Beginning dinner prep...
We ALL planned our camping menu
so we were all thrilled to have a deep
fried dinner on Friday night. :)

That turkey fryer is serving
us well and making us feel we
got our money's worth.
Plus, it's QUICK!
Fried catfish, hush puppies and
french fries...mmmmmm!
I began experimenting with nighttime
photography on this trip...bear with me.
Each night we planned something "special"
around the camp fire to eat while we
read Someone Special by fire light (provided
by propane since there was a burn ban).
Below: Our hobo popcorn bags worked!
JSS making his hobo popcorn.
First night, it got into the 50's and we all were
sooooooo cold! It was the only night the kids
slept on the floor. We went to Wal Mart
the next day to buy another air mattress
so that they could sleep off the ground...
and we're so glad we did! The temps
plummeted that second night and we were all
FREEZING COLD!!! (We got extra blankets, too.)
What smells better than fried bacon for
breakfast at a camp out? Nothing!
(Ours was turkey bacon.)
Below: These little guys were plentiful!
Saturday we spent several hours at
the "watering hole," which was FREEZING
COLD, too! So cold, in fact, that only
JSS, COS and dear old Dad got into
the water! AMS and Mom laid out,
napped, and just chillaxed.

JSS adores fishing, so we went 3 times over
the weekend with him. Here is the first.

Below: Night 2's dinner was
hot dogs, beans (cooked in their cans),
chips and Root Bear out of real
bottles, which the kids and Simon loved.

Our special "goodie" around the fire was
AMS's idea: S'MORES!!!

Day 3: We spent most of the day away
from our camp site. First, we visited
Ka Do Ha Indian Village, which boasted
it was a "prehistoric" 1,000 year old
Indian village with "authentic replicas."
Below are some of those authentic replicas.
Mom is convinced the entire place is a hoax,
but we had fun nonetheless! You can
make anything fun if you put your mind to it!
Below: One of the "mounds."
Below: An unexcavated "mound"
Signage from the girls' "Pee Pee Tee Pee,"
which was actually just a nasty bathroom.
You could not even flush your TP...they
put a garbage can next to the toilet with
instructions to put your used TP into the
uncovered trash can! It was GROSS!!
We dug in the dirt for some time and came
away with a few valuable finds... us, anyway. :)
COS back at the camp site
washing her "finds" while Simon
got lunch ready.
This was his most elaborate meal.
The kids had hot dogs again, but
he grilled steak, asparagus and
potatoes for the two of us and
fried sweet potatoes for an
appetizer for all. Mmmmm!

Below: After lunch, we headed to a genuine
diamond field where we spent a couple of
hours digging in the dirt again in hopes
of finding "the one."

Below: At the "washing station"

Below: Turning in our "finds" to discover
that none of them were diamonds. Ah well.
We made some memories worth far more.
Next stop: FISHING again, this time
at Lake Greeson just north of Murfreesboro,
where our camp site was located.

We drove around the Lake a wee bit, AMS
spotted one deer and we decided that this
was a pretty spot to try to fish, too. AMS
and Mom enjoyed taking pics.

COS enjoyed playing at this nearby playground.
Lo & Behold!
A baby deer went traipsing through
right behind the river and playground!

Below: Not that this shot will win awards,
but I wanted to show how absolutely
beautiful the weather was our whole trip!
Look at those colors! It was breathtakingly
beautiful and oh-so peaceful!

Day 4: Breaking Camp :(

JSS and COS loved climbing on the
Suburban. Here is COS brushing her
hair the morning we packed up.
Once we were all packed, we went on one
last family bike ride down a nature trail
to this nature observation blind...
...and took some pics showing where we
had just enjoyed the last 4 days...

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