Wednesday, June 17, 2009

father's day camping

I can't believe it's Wednesday already and I've yet to jot down details of our camping last weekend. Boy, for as fast as these first two and a half weeks (is that all?!?) of summer have flown by, I fear for how soon the summer will be gone. I'm already mourning it...

Anyway. The camping.
Well, as I said before, Heather and I got it in our heads to plan a surprise camping trip for the guys as a Father's Day gift. Heather was especially excited about it as she is not the biggest fan of camping and especially with a baby this summer, she knew Kevin would be shocked to be gifted with not only an agreement to go camping, but enthusiastic initiative and pre-arranged planning of such a trip. So we picked our weekend and picked our place and made reservations and quietly made all the arrangements for our weekend away. We comically came across many stumbles along the way, including both of us being completely absentminded on more than one occasion with our planning sessions, mixing up dates or spacing on other obligations. I was beginning to seriously worry about my mind. Add to that the fact that every time I turned around, Ryan was making plans for that weekend (that he luckily told me about) that I would have to go around behind him and cancel/change up. It's a wonder we pulled this off.

Part of the surprise was having Savannah and Norah make up these books to give to their dads...
We had them each make up a five/six-year-old's version of an informational book about camping; complete with their own packing lists, food necessities and views on camping. The last page of the book announced "The moral of the story is... We're going camping TOMORROW for an early Happy Father's Day! Surprise!!"
(sorry, I had to take pics because I don't think our scanner is working... you can click on them if you want to see them bigger)

It was kind of nervewracking to have kids in on the secret... and they almost gave it away once or twice, but thankfully it was passed over without any suspicion.
We all got together for dinner the night before (which actually got moved to two nights before because Ryan was unknowingly trying to sabatoge our plans at every turn and had a million and one things for work going on outside of work this week of all weeks) and the girls presented the dads with their books. They were plenty surprised! It was a sweet, fun way to clue them in (and all Heather's idea!).

So we left Friday (after a morning of VBS and then our trip to the circus) for Hawn State Park. It's just a short drive south, not much more than an hour out of St Louis, so we were there in time to join the Swinigans at camp for dinner. We set up our tent and such and enjoyed a great evening complete with s'mores and an easy bedtime for the kids with us grown ups enjoying some campfire time late into the night.
The campground was great; all grassy with lots of tall shady trees and a loop around that the kids would do laps with their scooters. Just behind the campsites across from us was the creek; directly across from us was a deep section perfect for standing on the bank and throwing rocks. If we walked down a few hundred yards it opened up into a gorgeous rocky creekbed next to a cliff of sandstone, where the kids could wade and catch crawdads and watch fish and even dip in a little sandy swimming hole. We walked down there early in the morning and explored a little and that's when I snapped these pics:

It was a very cool little find and the kids were not happy when we dragged them out of there for lunch.
The dads and the kids (minus Savannah, she wanted to stay at camp with us moms and the napping baby for some reason) went back later after lunch in their swimsuits and had a lot of fun. I can't believe how brave Sawyer and Lucy and Norah were with the crawdads!!

In typical me fashion, I didn't take many pictures. I only got the creek pictures because Ryan remembered to bring the camera down with us, and while I should have picked it up often around camp, I only snapped these few right before bed Saturday night when Savannah and Norah and I were playing spelling games with scrabble letters.

(I didn't even get a picture of Daphne on her first camping trip!! Or, hello- what about the dads together... on their 'Happy Father's Day camping trip'?!?!!)

It was hot that day... it wore the kids out nicely. Tons of kids in the campground and we found lots of new friends joining our campsite sporadically throughout the afternoon. We had an early dinner (of jambalaya... YUM!) and showered the kids and tucked them into bed early. After some major minor drama in the Swinigan's tent (three tired girls'll do that to ya) all the little ones were finally asleep and we played some games and had more s'mores and enjoyed the fire (even tho it was still too warm to really enjoy it) before turning in on the early side ourselves.

In the morning we had a great big breakfast and took our time packing up and getting out of there. We left camp about noon and we were going to go on another hike, but it was getting so warm and I was getting grumpy so we just decided to stay in our air-conditioned car and drive home.

I thought it was a great weekend though. I thought it went especially smoothly considering us two girls planned the majority of it and the packing on our own without the input of the "experts", and the fact that we had a four month old with us! Daphne did great.
I wish we would have explored the whole park more... many people we mentioned to where we were going commented on how beautiful that area was and that was their favorite place for camping and hiking. Well, from what we saw we liked!
Except for the ticks. Ew. Where we're from we've never had to deal with ticks as a fact of life of the outdoors. I've never seen one in my life before this weekend. And from what I hear, we were actually pretty lucky. Ryan found six on him while we were there and it seemed he was the decoy for the rest of us. Upon arriving home though, Kevin also found two on his leg and belly, I found one on my side before I showered that night, and Heather found one on Lucy's arm Tuesday morning! Ugh, those are sick little buggars! Ticks just freak me out.


K.M.L said...

Looks like you guys had a great time! :)

Heather S. said...

We didn't take many pictures either. I intend to post what I do have tonight.

Thanks for making it happen!! Norah is already talking about the next trip!

Nicole said...

I love the camping book idea! Cool!

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