Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Our Great Outdoors Experience in Pictures

We are home from our camping trip and what a trip it was! This was the first time we had been camping in forever (over 30 years for me!) although I do vaguely recall us camping once in the early '90s for a night somewhere in Florida. I don't remember much about it except that I didn't enjoy it - at all! This time, however, it was a blast. Here we are setting up camp: I was the official photographer (ha!) so I just set up the little things...I arranged the kitchen tent after Maddy and Randey put it up. And here I am, enjoying the fruits of my (and their) labor:
The campsite, which was Cold Springs Campground inside of Chickasaw National Recreational Area in Sulphur, Oklahoma, was very nice and very well laid out. Every site had a fire pit and grill and a picnic table and a lantern hook plus enough room to put up our two sleeping tents and our food tent with plenty of room to spare.
There's a lot of stuff I'm willing to give up these days in my new quest for Outdoor Adventure (like make-up and a straightening iron), but I'm still fairly attached to the concept of good food. Knowing this about myself, I bought two cookbooks to help learn the art of outdoor cooking. Heaven knows, cooking in a regular kitchen is challenge enough for me so I thought I'd better get some help if I was really going to "rough it".
Both of these books are pretty good, although I think the Foil Cookery book is better. The directions were simple and the ingredients fairly basic. This is what our first dinner at camp looked like:

Baked potatoes, vegetables kabobs and corn-flake chicken. Yum-O! Kaleb, in particular, loved the corn-flake chicken. We made something called Louisiana Chicken (from the Foil Cookery book) the second night that was a huge hit with everyone (except Maddy - she thought it was too spicy). We didn't take pictures that night, though. Too busy eating. lol Here we are, enjoying our first dinner at camp:

See what I mean about giving up the make-up and straightening iron? I know of lot of you kind of shy away from doing that because, well - let's face it - most of us look a lot rougher without the face paint and the hair tools, but I've managed to get my head around that pretty easily. See, last month, when Randey and I took our little vacation, I wore full make-up and fixed my hair on the first day we spent outdoors. The second day...I throttled back on the make-up a bit and just sort of half-way straightened my hair. By the third day, the make-up was done with and the hair developed a life all its own and I was happy to let it. If you just tell yourself that all those strangers you see and who are seeing you don't know you and, therefore, who cares what they think of you, then you're all right with going au naturel' (don't forget that sunblock, though!!). And the people that are with you, your family and friends, they're supposed to love you no matter what you look like so it's okay to be natural in front of them, too. You just have to keep telling yourself all that over and over and before long, it becomes easy-peasy to believe it! lol
And speaking of easy-peasy...can you believe they make coffee pots like these now?
It's like a regular coffee pot but it's made for brewing on a Coleman stove. Don't I wish we had had one of these (plus the Coleman, of course) after Hurricane Ivan when we lived in Florida! Would have made our nine days without power just a little more bearable!
Here's the kids, toasting marshmallows. These guys are not Professional Marshmallow Toasters...and it showed. Oh the marshmallows that were sacrificed for learning purposes! But they had fun and I loved hearing them all laugh together.
Jacob got to do his first thing of Jiffy Pop Popcorn ever. I wasn't even sure they still made that stuff - everyone seems to use microwave popcorn these days. But they do still make it and I bought some for the trip. They were fascinated by it. I think Jake actually just made it to see what the package would do when all the corn started popping and he was pretty proud of himself for the success he had with it. lol
On day two, our first full day at camp, we decided to try a little hiking. Okay, so I decided to try a little hiking and the rest of them decided "why not?" and joined me. This is Jake, Daniel (Kaleb's friend) and Kaleb. Daniel actually started hiking with a cup of coffee (Jake's holding it for him in this picture). Who hikes with coffee?? (Nevermind. I just heart the chorus of "I would" from all you guys out in blogland!) lol
Here's Kaleb, Jake, Maddy and Randey...this is about when they decided that they really didn't enjoy hiking so much (Maddy being the exception...she loves any kind of action like that).
And this little guy settled on a handrail next to me when I was sitting around, waiting for the kids to check out Pavilion Springs, about halfway thru our hike.
Here's Randey upon our return from the hike - making Maddy laugh and the boys writhe in agonizing embarrassment - gosh, whatever would happen if someone saw their father looking so goofy? lol
And here's our first disaster...one of the tents collapsed. We thought it was operator error (Kaleb and Daniel erected this one).
So off we go to buy another one. This time, Derri (my nephew) and Jake put it up with Maddy's assistance.
When this tent collapsed the next night, we realized it was just a crummy tent design. I knew that for $48 we weren't getting the Taj Mahal of tents, but I think it should have at least lasted more than one night. Randey's returning both of those tents today. If we buy another one, it'll be the brand of tent we used for our other sleeping quarters on this trip - a tent his mother and stepfather had given us. It held up perfectly.
Here's a picture of the scenery at Chickasaw Park. This was right across the road from our campsite.
As was this:

This is Maddy, swimming on our last evening there. She just had to go swimming one more time.
Our little mermaid getting out of the water:
And here's Randey and the boys, breaking camp. Getting all the non-essentials packed away the night before we left because rain was forecast for the next morning. We wanted to be down to the bare minimum, just in case. Good thing, too, because rain it did!
For all of you out there who just don't want to camp because you'll be without the civilized amenities we've all become accustomed to, I urge you to reconsider. Let yourself go and just enjoy the great outdoors! I never knew nature could be so much flippin' fun!! I've learned things about myself that I never would have guessed. Things like...I love hiking, I love eating food cooked 100% outdoors, I love being out in the fresh air - even the hot fresh air - and I love not having to worry about what my outfit looks like or if my hair is straight or if my make-up is holding up. But - just so I won't sound too Utopian about the whole experience - I will also tell you that I learned just exactly how much I love and enjoy a nightly bathing experience, how much I dislike the cacophony of chittering a swarm of locusts make and I heartily dislike having to get up and go to the bathroom 3 times in one night because I drank a pot of coffee after sunset. Especially when said bathroom is about 150 feet away from our tent. Other than that, though, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience and can't wait to do it again.
I think our next outdoor adventure will be just a day trip. Jacob's girlfriend's parents have said she can go with us on one of our adventures as long as it's not overnight. I think we're going to check out Lake Murray in Oklahoma for a day next month. There's fishing for Randey, hiking for me and water fun for the kids. We'll plan a picnic lunch and then stop at a restaurant on the way home for dinner. I'm looking forward to it.
But for now, I'm off to fix my make-up and my hair because Maddy has developed a burning need to visit our local library. She says she's wanting to read about Amelia Earhart. I don't know where this desire came from, but far be it for me to discourage it. Just wish the library was located outdoors somewhere so that I could slap on my sunscreen and a bathing suit and just go. Civilization...boy, the work it causes me! (*smile*)


  1. Great pictures! Looks like everyone had fun.

  2. Kari, you had me laughing! Looks like you all had a wonderful time and those kids will always remember it! I didn't know Jiffy Pop was still around either! Thanks for sharing all the pics and stories.

  3. Please don't hate me...I'll take your word for it. You made it sound very inviting and the pictures show that you were having fun, too. That tent was pretty darned expensive for lasting just one night. May there be no troubles with the return of both.

  4. This brings back a memory or two. The last time I camped was at the Missouri State Fair, 1983.

    J and his brother floated the Piney River and camped during the late 80's. I stayed at my mother's, nearby. We would drive down to the river during the evening and have supper and listen to my stepdad tell great old Ozarkan Hillbilly stories. Happy memory!

  5. I love it! It looks like fun! The tent falling in would be something I would experience! The food looks sooooo good!

  6. Love love love all your pictures. Looks like a great time and I'm not a camping type. That coffeemaker looks like a winner and your dinner delicious.

  7. Oh, my gosh! JIFFY POP!! You thought of everything (I haven't thought of that in years). These kids will remember these times forever. C

  8. I'm inspired! I want to go camping now, and I have always HATED the thought of it!!! Beautiful pics (now what kind of camera do you have). I think the most beautiful part is that the family went together & enjoyed one another. Priceless!

  9. You guys are having so much fun...and you're camping...with the wildlife...I'm so proud of you. Worried about you, but proud!
    Aunt Sandi

  10. Looks like everyone had a great time. As fun as it seems, you could not pay me enough $$ to go camping. I'm a hotel and shower gal :)

  11. I always opt for the no makeup, no curling iron while on vacation. Freedom...ahhhh

  12. Great pics and great memories, but if it's okay...I will live vicariously through you!

    Wait... Here's the deal...I'll drop you off, help you set up, eat a little corn-flake chicken and then head off to the Holiday I...I mean...head off to my camp. Then we can meet up again just in time for breakfast.:)

    How's that sound?? (So glad you guys had such fun)



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