Hot Camping Weekend

Usually at the end of September camping is ideal. You plan for chilly evenings and cool mornings, sweatshirts and jeans and camp fires. Instead we had record breaking hot temperatures and mosquitos. This might have been the most uncomfortable trip we’ve had this season. But we still had a fun weekend. It’s impossible not to have fun when you’re camping!

We camped with Dad and Mom in Pella this time. We were able to leave early afternoon Friday as school was let out early due to the heat. Friday was spent setting up camp, eating supper and going for a walk. We went on a hike on Saturday and came across our neighbors who were camping in a neighboring campground. We stopped and had a nice long visit with them and Drew got to play with their granddaughter. We were walking a nice paved trail under the trees and it was beautiful. Our campsites were also in the trees – my favorite way to camp. I could open up all the shades and not worry that people could see in. We decided we liked this spot the best of the ones we’ve been in – it was so secluded. Of course the majority of the trees surrounding us were hickory trees so we had hickory nuts falling on us. They make quite a racket when they hit the roof of your camper!

I loved the way the light bounced off the leaves of the trees and into the camper. With the air on in the camper – it kind of felt like fall with the leaves falling, the hickory nuts bouncing and the light filtering through the windows!

Too Much Camping?

These two – they went on hikes with Grandpa and Grandma and had so much fun. It fun to watch them together. Uncle and nephew and best buddies!

Is it possible to do too much camping? I’m beginning to wonder! After our nice long Labor Day trip and trying to get laundry caught up and the house put back together Abby asked us to go camping last weekend. So, we got home on Monday, ran errands out of town on Tuesday, spent Wednesday evening out at Belva Deer with dad and mom as they were camping and asked us out for supper and then loading the camper up Thursday and back out to Belva Deer we went. After all, when your daughter asks you to spend the weekend with them camping – you just can’t say no!

It turned out Jeremy’s family (Jeremy is our son-in-law) was having their annual family reunion at Belva Deer and the kids were debating whether to camp or not. So Abby asked us if we wanted to camp too and of course we said yes.  Jeremy works until 6:30 most evenings and works every Saturday and they can’t have their camper at their house because of the rules there so they keep their camper at Jeremy’s folk’s house, so that makes it hard for them to get it ready. I told Abby not to worry about food – we took care of that for them and we tagged their spot so they didn’t have to worry about what time they pulled in and not being able to find a spot. We had a great time. Dad and Mom stayed for the weekend too and we just enjoyed spending time with everyone.

Now that the weather is cooler – I get to enjoy the morning campfire again. I love a campfire in the morning before the kids are up, before the campground wakes up. Perfect way to start the day.

Then, once we got the camper home Sunday, Dad and Mom, Joe, Drew and I took a road trip to Pella. The only place Mom and Dad have ever camped is Belva Deer and they have wanted to try full hook up and have wanted to camp at Lake Red Rock in Pella. So, off we went to check out campgrounds and see which one they wanted to try. We have this weekend free but off we’ll be going the following weekend to Pella. I love camping in Pella. Joe and I were just there in August for our anniversary weekend. I’m looking forward to camping there with Dad and Mom. And fall camping is my absolute favorite. But, we have camped so much – it’s time for a break! Just to get caught up at home and to get the camper reorganized and just to simply be home! I’m hoping we can then have a couple weekends off and then maybe get in a weekend or two in in October. There’s nothing better than chilly mornings, crisp, comfortable days, then nice chilly evenings around the campground with the leaves turning and the smell of autumn. My all time favorite time of the year and my favorite time to spend outdoors. There’s nothing better!

And here it is, Wednesday already this week. The days are just flying by. Monday was spent getting caught up from the weekend. Yesterday I got caught up on watching Outlander. I’m addicted to the books and to the show and since the new season started Sunday I couldn’t watch the new episode until I had re-watched the first two seasons to get caught up. Joe doesn’t care for the show so I’ve been watching episodes during the day when I can but we’ve been so busy I wasn’t able to get them in until yesterday. Then I watched the first episode of the new season last night while Joe and Drew were out changing the oil in my van. I never thought I could get caught up in a series that’s based on time travel but oh my. The books have been a favorite of mine for years. I’ve read the series twice now and it takes me almost a year to get through them. Then when they decided to make the series I was skeptical. Usually if I love a book, I don’t care for it on the screen but not this time. I love the actors and the accents and the scenery and just everything about the show. I look forward to Sunday nights now for the next few weeks!

I got a lot of stitching in over the weekend too – sitting by the campfire!

And today I started walking with a friend. I dropped Drew off at school and drove over to Mary’s and off we went. We walked four miles and boy was I hurting by the time we were done! I so need this. I need the exercise and I need the socialization. It’s just so easy for me to not be around people. I’m perfectly happy spending my days here at home. I’ve always been a homebody but when I was working I had to socialize. Now, I have to make myself go out and do things. Unless it’s family related I tend to isolate and just be home. And walking in town, it’s like being in a whole new world! I’m used to going outside and it just being me and my chickens! We walked and talked and I saw parts of town I haven’t seen for awhile and we stopped and chatted with a couple of Mary’s neighbors and petted their dogs and waved at all the cars that drove by. It was fun! I’m glad I don’t live in town. I wouldn’t want to have neighbors around me all the time. The noise and the cars and all that goes with living in town, it’s just not for me. But, I’m looking forward to walking in the mornings with Mary and maybe even socializing a little with the people we meet. It will be an adventure!

Labor Day Campers

Another Labor Day camping weekend has come and gone. And it went way too quickly! Things weren’t quite the same as one couple had to cancel at the last minute and another couple decided to come but that’s okay. We missed our friends and made new friends and hopefully we will all be together next year. That’s what we’re planning anyway!

We got to the campground early evening Friday and were the first ones there. We got set up and decided to eat supper at the restaurant. They had all you can eat seafood buffet. Who can pass that up! First we loaded up the truck with firewood as there was no bringing in your own here. Drew loved climbing the woodpile while we loaded up the truck! As we were getting ready to eat another couple showed up and they were wanting to eat at the restaurant too. Not what we usually do when camping but when it’s late and you’re tired and it’s there – why not!

Saturday saw us eating a brunch of bacon and eggs and hash browns then exploring the campground. None of us had ever been to Skip-a-Way before. It was definitely full for this weekend and we could see why. There was miniature golf, a game room, a splash pad, peddle boats, canoes, and kayaks for the lake and tubing down the Turkey River. They guys played around in the game room then we played a round of miniature golf. We walked around the campground and enjoyed seeing all the campers that were set up permanently. They all had sites decorated and landscaped and you could tell everyone knew everyone else. How fun that would be.

The days were nice and the nights were chilly and it was perfect for campfires in the evening. We spent a lot of time sitting and chatting around the fire, getting to know one another and to just relax. the best part of camping as far as I’m concerned!

Sunday we had planned on Tubing the Turkey but it was just chilly enough that we decided to make a change in plans and we’re all glad we did. We took a road trip to Spook Cave and it was so much fun. We’ve toured many a cave but not like this. This tour was all by boat. There were times you couldn’t sit up at all as the roof was so low. Not good for those who are claustrophobic. We had a great tour guide who was able to deal with the guys and their antics. She never batted an eye! I decided I want to go back as there is a campground right on the grounds with the cave. You camp right beside a creek and a waterfall. It would be a fun getaway for the family. Maybe next year!

After the cave we drove onto Pike’s Peak for a fun hike and beautiful views. We got to see the spot where Matthew proposed to Whitney the year before which was fun for all of us and especially Whitney’s mom and dad! Again, I would like to spend more time here and do some more hiking and visit the Effigy Mounds. It was a beautiful place.

By the time we got back the campgrounds we were all tired so a quick supper and more campfire time! Rod got out some lanterns and set them off. Something so simple and yet it’s fun to watch them soar away into the night.

Sunday we were up and headed to the restaurant for breakfast and we were all headed for home by noon. Before we left we were planning our trip for next year. Sounds like we’ll be going south instead of north this time. We like to change it up. As this was our year to plan it I’m glad to hand off the task to somebody else for a couple three years. We’ll let Steve and Wendy make the choice and we’ll have fun no matter where we end up! Skip-a-Way wasn’t necessarily our favorite campground we’ve ever been at but it had lots of fun things to do and places close to visit and it really doesn’t matter where we are. We just all enjoy spending the time camping together!

 

 

Relaxing at Roberts Creek

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!

A Sweet Surprise

Kelsey, Whitney, Drew and Matt. If the girls are anywhere around, Drew is going to be with them!

We camped over the weekend with great friends we met through Joe’s work. Joe and Steve work for the same company and they cover the Midwest territory together. Joe in southern Iowa and Steve in the northern part. Joe and Steve are such good friends and since both families camp they thought we should all camp together a few years ago and we’ve been camping together ever since! They came to Abby and Jeremy’s wedding and we went to Whitney’s graduation. We have visited each other at various times for various reasons throughout the years. This year at our annual camping trip to Clear Lake we got such a sweet surprise. We met Whitney’s boyfriend Matt last year and he just fit right in with our little camping group. They are now engaged and they asked Drew to be their ring bearer at their wedding! Drew absolutely loves “the girls” as he calls them, Whitney and Kelsey, and he and Whitney have a special bond. Joe and I feel blessed that she asked Drew to be a part of her special day and Drew is beyond excited! Plus, he got a new dinosaur from Whitney so he’s doubly excited!

There’s No Place Like Home – Except The Camper!

 

And again, we had an unplanned camping weekend out to Belva Deer! Dad and Mom pulled out last Monday and Eric and Drew and I ran out there for supper on Tuesday night. They mentioned they would like to have us come out and join them so when Joe got home Thursday off we went!  Eric came out Friday night for supper and a game or two of Bocce ball. It ended up being a little bit of a reunion of sorts then on Saturday as Mom’s two brothers and their wives and Dad’s twin sister and her husband came out for lunch and to visit through the afternoon. It’s always fun to visit with my wonderful and fun aunts and uncles and we don’t get to see them often enough. Drew made friends with the neighbor kids and had the best time. The weather was absolutely beautiful all weekend. Beautiful temps all day and perfect cool campfire weather at night. The only thing that could have made it better would have been rain. Fun times camping – again!

When we got the camper home today I spent the afternoon cleaning it, with a little “help” from Drew! We scrubbed down counters and sinks and toilet, dusted every surface, vacuumed the carpets and scrubbed the floors. I still have to wash the bedding and make the bed back up and we’ll be all ready for next weekend as we’re off on our annual Clear Lake trip. Fun times with friends and a car show to beat all car shows. 1,000 cars or more in a parade around beautiful Clear Lake on Friday night and then the show on Saturday in the middle of the town of Clear Lake which sits right on the water. We look forward to this every year – the car show is fun but camping with great friends we see rarely is such a treat! And this year Joe’s sister and brother-in-law are going to visit us and check out the car show on Saturday. We are really excited for the weekend!

Why Do We Camp?

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.

A Road Trip, A Visit, And A Walk Around The Yard

This is where we’ll be on Labor Day

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!

 

Back To Belva Deer

Joe came home early from work on Thursday. He’d had a not so great day and was wanting to just “get away”. He walked in the door and asked if I wanted to go camping. I had no food in the house, a pile of laundry, hadn’t showered yet, and the list goes on, but – we went camping! Back to Belva Deer we went. Dad and Mom were already out there so I had them tag us a spot, I got the chores done and watered flowers, did a couple loads of laundry, jumped in the shower, threw some clothes in the camper, all while Joe loaded up fire wood and bikes and chairs and off we went.

You know, we wouldn’t be able to do this if we weren’t so blessed to have a beautiful county park just a few miles down the road. We are able to run home and chore if needed, run to town for groceries if needed. (Which I did!) We can camp and run Drew into the bowling alley to bowl with friends for a birthday party that’s scheduled on a Friday night. (Which Joe did on Friday night!) It’s wonderful to have Lake Belva Deer so close. To be able to get away for a weekend and just be.  Joe said the best part of the weekend for him was Saturday morning. He got up early and started a fire and fixed breakfast for us. There was nobody around to bother him. He could take his time and enjoy the morning and enjoy what he was doing. I enjoyed it too – I got to sleep in and then wake up to a wonderful breakfast of bacon, hash browns and scrambled eggs to eat by the campfire.

My favorite part of the weekend was visiting with Uncle Jerry and Aunt Konnie. They came down for the afternoon on Saturday. Aunt Konnie is battling cancer and it’s nice to see her out and about. They didn’t stay long but she said she was glad she came – it helped make the afternoon go by for her. Sometimes her days get long. We’re planning another trip to Belva Deer next weekend and hoping they can bring their camper and stay with us. We’re praying she feels up to it. We’re also hoping to having Braxton too. Wouldn’t a camping weekend with our grandson be fun??!!

A weekend of campfires, hiking, bike riding, sparklers, visiting with family, staying up late and sleeping in. Sometimes the unplanned trips are the best!

Back To Belva Deer

 

We headed out to Belva Deer last Friday to camp with Dad and Mom. Joe got home late Thursday and was just too tired to hitch up the camper to head out then. We spent Friday getting settled in and Drew spent the day making friends with the little neighbor girl and later the two boys across the way. They had so much fun riding bikes and drawing with sidewalk chalk. Camping and kids just go together and it’s fun to see these little ones make friends so quickly and have so much fun. This is one of the reasons why we camp. The kids learn to make friends with whoever is around and they have so much fun.

It was looking like a good possibility there would be storms coming through the area Friday night so we decided to go home to sleep. Better safe than sorry right? Of course, since we didn’t stay at the campground it didn’t storm! But, if we hadn’t gone home we wouldn’t have seen the hundreds of fireflies. They were absolutely beautiful. When we got home, I went and stood under the oak trees and just watched them. I have never seen so many fireflies in my life and never in the trees like that. It was breathtaking to say the least.

Saturday was a quiet day of relaxing. We took some walks and went on some bike rides and were basically just lazy all day. It was so nice. Abby and Braxton visited in the afternoon and stayed for supper. We sat around the fire and when it got dark we went for a walk to see the fireflies again!

Sunday for Father’s Day Eric and my sister Beth came out. We had a nice lunch and enjoyed each other’s company. It was another nice relaxing camping weekend spent with family. Lots of memories made!