For Memorial Day weekend we met Thom and Brittany and kiddos to go camping! A good half way point between our two houses is the Kisatchie National Forest in Louisiana. We planned to drive in Friday and break camp Monday morning. Friday morning though we get a text saying Thom had a TERRIBLE Thursday night stuck on a plane on the runway for 10 hours. EEK. He got major motion sickness and wasn't feeling well. So I stopped preparations to leave and pretty much thought we'd have to cancel the weekend. Besides Gwen and Charlie both threw up early Friday morning... but started acting normal really quick... like they had just drank too much water on an empty stomach or something. Then I get a call from Chris in the early afternoon that Thom took a nap and feels much better and I added that Gwen and Charlie were acting normal so Chris came home from work and within an hour and a half we were out the door!
During the 5 hour drive there the weather turned from great to terrible. We arrived at this unknown campground at 9:00 at night in the dark and with it pouring outside.. Thom and Brittany were an hour or so away. The first campsite: full, the second campsite: full. The primitive campsite was completely empty. There were no site numbers, no water, no flush toilets, no map and no people... but we finally spotted some picnic tables off in the trees a bit and figured out what the sites might look like. We chose the biggest one and Chris set up the tent in the pouring rain with Alec while I stayed in the car with the younger kids, 1/2 of which were asleep. We had our tent set up and most of our bags in when Thom and Brittany showed up. Chris helped them set up while I finished getting everything settled for sleeping in our tent. Turns out things were a little squished for our family of 6 in a 4 man tent... especially when mom and dad sleep on a comfy queen/cot/air mattress combo.
The rain stopped and we all slept pretty good. Freddy woke up and slept with Chris and I for 1/2 the night and everyone was up with the sun by 5:30. :) We had omelets in a bag for breakfast and biscuits. So delicious!
Then we headed over to the swimming area of the lake for most of the day. It was awesome! Perfect weather, perfect water temperature, lots of space. The kids were in heaven.
They don't allow pets or food on the sand so we had to eat our deli meat/chips/and apples on the grass right next to it.
Then we headed back to the campsite to hang out and get a fire going for dinner. We got out the washer-toss set and had fun playing it. It was super cute to see Jane and Freddy play it. The kids did a fairly decent job of entertaining themselves, but I'm really glad we brought bubbles, and some card games.
We had instant rice with sweet and sour chicken and broccoli and then Thom and Brittany brought stuff to make these awesome smores in a ice cream cone. We filled the cones with marshmallows, mini rolos, mini reeses, and strawberries and blueberries then wrapped them up and cooked them in the coals. The trick was to not put it on the flames but near some good coals and rotate it often. Melted chocolate/fruit goodness with a crunchy cone... can you say delicious?!
The day had been pretty hot and muggy but it sprinkled during dinner and actually felt quite nice. By 8:00 the kids were beyond tired and bedtime was a little tricky. Freddy was the last kid asleep in our tent. By the time we had everyone asleep it was pretty late and we were all pretty tired, but us 4 adults sat around the dying coals and talked a bit so that was nice. I slept much better this second night because we could take the rain fly off and basically sleep under the stars since most of our tent ceiling is mesh.
Sunday morning we woke up had a yummy breakfast of oatmeal and muffins and then headed 30 min into town (Alexandria) to attend sacrament meeting. Then we came back to camp and held primary outside. I gave the sharing time lesson, and Thom led us in singing time with his guitar. All of our kiddos are on the shy side when meeting strangers and they were glad not to have to go to a new primary. Then we ate a lunch of summer sausage, cheese and crackers and went on a hike. Looking at the map we thought we figured out a way to shorten the 10+ mile loop by using some camp roads so we herded our group of young kids off down the trail. Alec and Charlie needed some lessons in hiking etiquette and Gwen quickly lost steam and wanted to be carried... Freddy too. The trail was marked with blue diamonds and we used them to determine when we'd switch the trail leader since most kids wanted a turn.
Freddy loved being the leader and would march with his shoulders back and pointed a stick forward saying, "fahyow me!" I was really impressed with Graham and Jackson, who walked the whole way and never complained (at least I never heard them do it.)
We walked along the lake edge for a bit, it was so pretty. But it was also hot, muggy and soooo much longer than we thought. We worried for a bit that we missed the 'roads' we were going to turn off of and kept looking at the picture on my phone I took of the map to try and figure it out. After over 3 miles we found the camp 'road' and a half a mile later or so we knew for sure where we were and sent the daddies to walk on the busy road to get our vans and come pick us up.
We were glad to get back to camp, had a yummy Sunday dinner of roast, vegis and mashed potatoes and a dutch oven peach/blueberry cobbler with whipped cream. Freddy was way more than ready for bed at 7:30pm and we tried an experiment with putting him in the tent by himself first and when he fell asleep we put the others to bed with headlamps and books. It went pretty smooth but Freddy still took almost an hour to fall asleep. Thom, Chris, Brittany and I talked by the fire and discovered a nocturnal ant colony making a new home or new tunnel or something right at Chris' feet. I fell asleep in the camp chair (I had forgotten to take my thyroid pill one morning and was pretty tired). Chris and I slept well again under the stars inside our tent despite Freddy came into bed with us again.
The next morning we broke camp had hard boiled eggs, yogurt and muffins and took our last cousin picture. Chris and I discovered what happened to the 3 days worth of melted ice in our cooler... it just leaked out the open spout and puddled in our van's trunk! UGH. Its embarrassing to say this is the second time we've forgotten to close that darn spout.
It was a really fun trip, the kids played really well together and it did not live up to my worst expectations of bugs and heat...but it was still pretty hot and muggy. It definitely started discussions between Chris and I about renting a camper or RV, but a quick look online dropped that discussion when we saw the prices. Maybe we should just get a bigger tent and invent/install a misting system around the camp. ;)