Week two of my new walking routine is going strong. Every morning now after dropping Drew off at school a friend and I have been walking – four miles every day to be exact. Last week was rough. I couldn’t believe how stiff and sore I was. This week things are going much better. I’m not near as sore and I don’t get near as winded. It’s nice to spend an hour and a half walking and talking. We talk a lot about God, our families, our grandkids, the ways of the world. It’s good to take this time to exercise and bond with a cherished friend.
Our anniversary camping trip went way to fast! It was so nice and relaxing with just the two of us at what we’ve decided is our favorite campground. Robert’s Creek is in Pella by Lake Red Rock, about an hour away from home. We love all the trees and the big secluded sites. It was so nice to sit in the evening around the campfire with the trees all around us and above us. We went for walks, stopped at an antique store I’ve been wanting to visit, visited the meat market and the bakery (twice!) and for the most part just enjoyed each others company at the campground. I got a great start on stitching up baby girl’s Christmas stocking while Joe just relaxed and messed around with the fire. Then Eric texted and said we could come visit him on Sunday if we wanted so that ended the weekend on a good note. We woke up Sunday to rain so we packed up early and headed home. Picked up Dad and Mom and Drew and headed to Iowa City to see Eric. We took him out for an early supper and it was nice to be able to see him and give him a hug!
After spending the day in Ottumwa shopping with Eric for college we made a spur of the moment decision to pick up supper in town and head out to Belva Deer and go for a hike. Drew had a free pizza from Casey’s he earned at school and we decided to use it tonight. It was a beautiful evening – cool and calm – perfect hiking weather!
We have been camping for years. At least 25 I would say. Our camping friends have changed throughout the years. Our campers have changed throughout the years. But still we camp. We got our first camper after Joe roofed a house for a friend. In payment, they gave him a camper. An old, dilapidated little camper actually. All the water lines were ruined and the refrigerator didn’t work. It was pretty much falling apart. But, we were young and thought we had hit the mother load! And we had so much fun in that little falling apart camper. We had friends who also had a little old camper, although it was in much better shape than ours, and we spent the weekends at one campground or another with them and their daughters. Their two girls and our two kids were so close in age and had so much fun together. They were from a neighboring community and the kids would never had gotten to be friends if we hadn’t spent so much time camping together.
That’s why we camp. We have made friends throughout the years with people we probably would have known as acquaintances but that would be it. Instead, when you spend weekends camping together you really get to know each other. In a whole different way! We have developed lifelong connections with these people and our kids have developed connections with others that they wouldn’t have in any other way.
It’s different now that we only have one little to take along. And times have changed too. At one time there would no less than four kids and usually many more and those kids would take off in a “pack” and hit the playground or go hiking or ride their bikes all over the campground. They had to check in so we knew they were okay but otherwise were free to roam. They would inevitably make new friends from around the campground. Friends they probably would never see again but they still touched each other’s lives for a day or two. They also spent most nights in a tent and not in the camper. They had way more fun together in the tent away from parents! Camping was a whole different world for them and they loved it. Even as they got older they would want to come with us and camp.
Today is not quite the same. All of our camping friends are our age and so their kids are either teenagers or are gone and so Drew doesn’t get the same experience as our older kids did. And times have changed. You don’t just let kids roam today and check in once in awhile. It Drew wants to play at the playground or ride his bike, an adult goes along. There is no letting him take off on his own and explore. But he still makes new friends. The last time we camped he met the little girl who was staying next door with her grandparents. They would ride their bikes and play with chalk and had a great time. Over the weekend we visited my sister who was camping and Drew spent the evening playing on the play equipment set up where we could sit and watch. He loved playing with a group of kids he’d never met before. Kids don’t get to do that much anymore. We have to be too much on guard at all times to let them make friends with strangers.
But the best part of camping is being together. When it’s just you and your kids at a campground for the weekend there is nothing else to do but spend time together. There is no house to clean or yard to mow or any other day to day chores. It’s just family and sitting around the campfire or playing a game of cards or riding bikes together or going on a hike. For us, camping has been the best activity we could have ever done together as a family. We didn’t go on big vacations, instead we spent our weekends together camping. And I wouldn’t change that for anything. I asked my daughter why her and her husband decided to buy a camper and she said some of her best memories of growing up are of us camping and she wants that for her children too. That’s why we camp.
This weekend has sure flown by. We decided to road trip on Friday and head up to northern Iowa and check out the campground we’re going to be staying at over Labor Day. Where we have had excessive heat and no rain, they’ve had excessive rain and storms. They were working on cleaning up downed trees and downed power lines and it was raining while we were there but they were super nice people and I think we’re going to have fun staying here!
Saturday saw us heading south to Lake Rathbun. My sister was camping and asked us to come spend the day. So, off we went for a nice, relaxing afternoon and evening spending time in another campground! We have camped at Lake Rathbun but never at Island View and what a beautiful campground. We would like to stay there sometime – it was so nice. Beautiful views of the lake, huge sites and playgrounds in the middle so you can sit at your site and watch the kids play. Perfect when you have littles!
When life is not coming up roses look to the weeds and find the beauty hidden within them.” –L.F. Young
Today the temps and humidity broke a little and Drew and I and the chickens took a nice walk around the yard. My flowers are really suffering from the heat and lack of rain but the wildflowers are abundant. Drew picked me a beautiful bouquet that we’re enjoying in the house. I am amazed at some of the beautiful wildflowers in this area. Many consider them weeds but they brighten up the landscape with so many beautiful colors. I love them!
When it’s too hot to be outside and nobody wants to sit inside – you head to town for ice cream and go for a drive! Even though it’s unbearably hot outside, we can still enjoy the scenery from the truck. I love the cornfields and the Queen Anne’s Lace – it is blooming everywhere right now. And the clouds were beautiful!
Oh what a beautiful day we had! After some brutally hot and humid dry days it was so nice to be outside and have no humidity and cooler weather. It’s fair week so we ran into the fair for a little bit to see the animals and the fair projects. Drew thinks he wants to be in Clover Kids and bring something to the fair next year. That is something I can get behind – I’m a firm believer in 4-H and all it has to offer!
We spent the evening outside – Joe and Drew playing with Joe’s new power washer and me pulling weeds and just enjoying the beautiful evening! My coneflowers are really going crazy this year – they are so full I hardly have to weed this flowerbed! Hoping tomorrow brings more of this beautiful weather!
Even as a little girl I remember thinking these flower pots that Aunt Konnie had were so neat but for some reason I never thought to ask about them. Out of the blue while visiting Uncle Jerry and Aunt Konnie, Uncle Jerry told me they were made by his Grandmother and her sister. He said they would hitch up the horses and go down to the river to collect rocks and bring them back to the house and build these beautiful pots. They are unique and one of a kind and had to have taken a lot of hard work and patience to make. I’m glad that they are still there and that they get used. What a wonderful piece of family history for Uncle Jerry!
We visited my Uncle Jerry and Aunt Konnie today. Dad, Mom, Drew and I. Aunt Konnie is my dad’s twin sister. They live just up the hill from a teeny tiny little town called Rubio. I have always loved visiting here. They have a beautiful farm and farm house. Aunt Konnie has such pretty flower beds and Uncle Jerry always has different fun animals to see. I remember staying with them for a few days during the summers. My sister and I and our cousins Terri Jo and Todd would spend a couple days with Grandma Ward in Richland and then a couple days in Rubio at Terri Jo and Todd’s. It was like a different world to me. Aunt Konnie didn’t work and Uncle Jerry was a farmer. He had crops and cattle and hogs. We would walk down to Rubio and get an ice cream cone and visit the Post Office. There aren’t any buildings left in Rubio besides the train depot and houses. The train depot has been kept up and we have attended many a family reunion there over the years.
For years we would celebrate Thanksgiving at Jerry and Konnie’s. Aunt Konnie is the best cook – everything was always homemade and delicious. We would have a turkey Uncle Jerry had hunted and all the traditional fixings and the most wonderful desserts. Then the men would spend the afternoon hunting pheasant and the women would make a craft. Usually something Christmas related. I can remember making Christmas tree pins out of cinnamon sticks one year and Christmas tree sweatshirts out of fabric yo-yos. Then we would watch the men clean the pheasants they brought home. Thanksgivings at Uncle Jerry and Aunt Konnie’s are some of my favorite holiday memories.
The weather was windy and warm but comfortable. We wandered around the yard and Drew got to see some of the animals. He played with the kittens and found an egg in the hen house. He got to pet their pet goose that follows them around outside. We checked out the flower beds and the garden then sat on the deck and visited and had root beer. It was a perfect afternoon and something we need to do more often.