We arrived at the campsite and Jeff & the girls pitched the tent.
By the time they were finished, it was dark outside. The meal plan called for soup, so I was making dinner. Next year I'll make sure and double check all the gear and supplies before we leave because it is not fun making soup on a camp stove with no large spoon or ladle and only a plastic utensil. But the dry soup that M was SO excited about when she first saw it at the Alpine Shop turned out to be pretty decent. While we were eating, we had our first two encounters with nature (of 15 that we counted on the way home). First, a skunk walked only a mere few feet away from our table and a raccoon was close behind. If we had gotten sprayed, I would have jumped in the river and then proceeded to pack everything up. We saw him again the next day and thankfully he spared us again. JJ lasted the whole night with no tears. There was a baby at the next campsite and we thought that it was going to be an evening of bad karma but she only cried for about 30 minutes.
The next morning, the girls were up early and ready to go wading in the river. I made breakfast - one of my favorite things about camping is the cooking - and was again thankful for a propane camp stove. But after eyeing all the other campsites, I think we need to upgrade some of our gear for the next trip.
We had only been in the river for a few minutes when J spotted an "eel". I don't remember there being any water moccasins in The Little Mermaid, but I see where she could have gotten confused. Jeff picked up a rock and killed the snake giving the girls raw exposure to the perils of the wild. It turned out to be a harmless water snake, but I guess he didn't want to take any chances. Later, we saw a sign that frowned upon killing snakes in the state park but he was just protecting his offspring. And he HATES snakes. It belongs right up there with things Jeff hates the most in this world, next to Indigo Girls music and Facebook. Speaking of Indigo Girls, I would have loved to go their concert this past week, but it would have been a no-win situation for me. Some crazy girl gave Jeff a CD once that was chock-full of I.G. songs - not knowing that he couldn't stand them - and it just made him hate them more. And knowing that kind of ruins it for me, even though I loved listening to them in my angst-filled high school days and on road trips in college. Convincing him to shell out the cash and let me drive to Columbia for the night would have been a hard sell. I'm still holding out hope for the Jason Mraz concert in September, because he likes his music and it's in St. Louis. :) But I digress.
Playing in the water with my girls was all kinds of fun. We looked for friendship rocks (rocks with holes all the way through that you string on leather necklaces and give to friends. Anyone who went to Kanakuk knows what I'm talking about), skipped rocks and caught frogs. JJ accidentally killed "Kermie" M's new best friend of an entire 10 minutes. She cried for at least 3 times that long when we let him go and then JJ squeezed the life out of him giving him one last "hug". At least neither of them saw him float away so they think he'll be there when we come back next year. There was a great swimming area that we went to the next day and they caught crawdad "families". Parting with them was also sweet sorrow because M grew so attached. The girl loves her nature.
I remember hunting for crawdads in the creek when I was growing up so it was great to see my girls enjoying something that I did as a kid. It was surprising that my girly-girl JJ had no fear and was keeping up with M like a champ. I'm thankful that she's not afraid to get dirty because she's usually our little diva.
The rest of the time the girls rode bikes, rescued a baby bird that fell from a tree (that also later died but they think the momma bird saved him), and visited the nature center. On the way home, we asked JJ what she liked best about camping and she said "everything". I'm glad that we made the trip and I'm already looking forward to next year. Jeff did a great job planning it and picked a perfect spot, Sam A. Baker State Park. The scenery was peaceful and the river was a hit. And to those judging me for letting my girls wear skimpy swimsuits because I know you're out there: I'm usually opposed to my girls wearing two-pieces, but that's all I could find at Goodwill and I just hoped that there were no perverts around.
This little girl was exhausted:
But that didn't stop her from wanting to play at Citygarden on the way back to the car. We had never been before and they absolutely loved it. I wasn't prepared so we didn't have a change of dry clothes in the car, but since I'm a semi-decent mom I DID have two pairs of their clean underwear stashed in the glove compartment so we dried them off as best we could. I honestly think they had more fun than they would have with swimsuits on. There's something awesome about getting soaking wet with clothes on when you're a kid. Or even as an adult. I played in the rain one day with some of my best friends in college and it's one of my happiest memories.
They also have sculptures at Citygarden which the art history minor in me just loves.
M was mesmerized by this piece of artwork:
I think it's safe to say that they had a pretty incredible weekend. At least I have proof for that day when they tell me that they never did anything fun when they were little.
And for those few people who actually read this blog and keep checking to see when in the world I will ever blog again, you have my friend Tara to thank for this post because she reminded me today that there are in fact those few.