Sunday, August 19, 2007

Oklahoma camping is OK!

Anthony's dad has a huge diesel truck that can pull the enormous trailer. The cab of the truck is much roomier than my Highlander! Anthony was nervous but did a great job pulling the trailer. We drove 3.5 hours to Beavers Bend in SE Oklahoma. Why did we go there? Because it was a short drive from where the trailer was (Dallas) and it is the nicest camping park in OK.

When we were young and foolish, Anthony and I did a lot of camping, in tents of course, and we were very disdainful of people in RVs. That's not camping, with electricity and AC! But, after many years, and with small children, and in August, we see the clear advantage of the RV. It was marvelous to go inside the chilly camper for lunch every day, and to cook dinner over a mini-stove instead of a hot campfire. The bed was better, too!

This area is also called the "Smoky Mountains of Oklahoma," and indeed as we pulled in, there was thick mist over the river that we camped right next to. "I see an animal with stripes!" Colin said looking out the window, and sure enough, everytime we went into the RV, a scrawny young racoon would sniff all around to make sure we didn't leave any crumbs, then slink back down to the river. The misty shot and the gorgeous sunset were shot from our trailer door.

One day Anna and I went to the Nature Center, where a ranger helped her make a snake key chain out of beads. I read my book, then we watched the ruby throated hummingbirds fight over their territory. Later, we all walked back to the nature center to watch the ranger feed the hawks and owls housed there. These birds have been too injured to return to the wild, and you can get right next to them and look them in the eye!

We also took a 3 1/2 hour canoe trip one day, definitely Anthony's highlight of the trip. We paddled a little, then pulled over to let the kids swim in the ice cold water, over and over. We skipped stones (Anthony can do it 12 times!), and saw lesser blue herons, turtles, racoons, trout, and alligator gar (those big ugly fish). It was a great day.

The highlight for the kids, though, was roasting marshmallows. They had previously only read about this camping delight, but they were ready to do it for breakfast! On our last evening, they collected lots of wood and we built a big fire. I cooked our chicken breasts over the smoky wood, then after dinner we went back out to cook the marshmallows. Anthony had surreptitiously bought the ingredients for 'smores, a treat my kids knew nothing about. First we showed them how to roast the marshmallows, and they'd each eaten a gooey one, we told them they were in for a surprise. Anthony took the graham crakers and single piece of chocolate, and smushed Colin's next marshmallow between them.

"YOU RUINED MY MARSHMALLOW!" Colin howled, and proceeded to throw a huge crying fit.
"But Colin, it's better. There's chocolate!" we told him. He was having none of it. "No, I wanted that one, and you ruined it! You ruined it!" I tried to give him my perfectly roasted marshmallow, but he wanted his, and it was, you know, RUINED! He was incensed but we couldn't help but laugh at him. Anna was game to try anything with chocolate, and eventually Colin was persuaded to try one, and as you can see he enjoyed it, despite continuing to mourn the loss of the previous marshmallow.

The RV is nice, but it is a lot of work. While Anthony packed up the trailer, I took the kids to an area of the park with horseback riding and train rides. Since it was just me and two kids, Colin had to ride with me on Anna's horse ride and wait for the train ride. Remember, he'd already been on 2 train rides already (in Dallas to the zoo and in Ft Worth). Anna was pleased as punch to get a paint horse to ride by herself. Colin got to ride behind me in a nifty little double saddle, but he was murmuring the whole time, "I don't like horses, I like trains. I wanted to do the train ride first. I don't like horses. I like trains. Trains first." He was cooperating, but under quiet protest. Finally, I said to him, "Colin, what is Woody's horse's name? Bullseye? You're like Woody, riding a horse." After about 5 minutes, he was having fun in the saddle despite himself. He held onto the saddle horn and leaned WAAAAY over to watch the horse's feet as she walked. Anna was directly in front of us, and watching her horse poop was a highlight for the boy, too. The ride was through some cool shady woods, and we saw a momma deer and her spotted fawn. "It's a boy baby," Colin told me, very sure of himself.

As soon as the ride was over, Colin said, "Can I ride the train now?" His dad had showed up by then, and they rode the train together, while Anna and I wished we could go on another trailride.

What was the highlight for me? I think for the whole trip, it was just seeing my children in a different light. Instead of being rushed to go to the next activity, like at home, preoccupied with the mess or next task I needed to do, I really looked at Anna and Colin, relishing them with new eyes. I saw how beautiful their fresh little faces were, and really listened to their delightful words. I loved watching them have so much fun with their dad. They really love water slides, zoos, trains, ice cream, horses, and marshmallows. Being around them made me feel some of the joy of my childhood summers again.


Anonymous said...

What a nice long post. Nice pics too. We can't wait to get Anna for a few days starting tomorrow.
Nana has all kinds of activities planned.
Me, I will be happy to have someone new to snap at-there will be new stuff to blog about.
I miss the Walker kids and the fodder they give me for posting..........
See you for lunch manana. Smile Anna

ColeBugsmommy said...

What a perfect way to spend a family vacation. You perfectly described what I love most about being a mom. There is nothing I'd rather do than watch the flush of joy across Cole's face as does something he truely loves. Each time that happens the weight on my shoulders disappears. What a wonderful feeling.

Anonymous said...

That first post, folks, is from Grandad and he is referring to snapping pictures of Anna -- in case anyone is confused.

Yes, we are looking forward to our little Anna in our home all by herself!

See you tomorrow.
Love, Nana

Anonymous said...

What a fun camping trip! Great pics too.

coleman camp fork

Emily said...

Wow, you make me almost want to go camping again! The pictures are great, I love Colin's face on the train (in previous post) and the marshmellow around their mouths! Beautiful sunset, too. Glad you had a nice time.

A.Norma. said...

That is a lovely and interesting post,Jennifer...and super pictures..thank-you.

Anonymous said...

You guys are so adorable. Your kids are simply gorgeous. It sounds like you had a(nother) great vacation.


Sinda said...

That's what it's like when we go to "Grandma's Lakehouse" - no where to go, no place to be except just where we are. It takes me awhile to settle in to it, but it's wonderful.

A friend asked us to go camping in SE Oklahoma in the fall - your pictures make it look much lovelier than I'd imagined. I forget how like Arkansas Eastern OK is.

A beautiful post, Jennifer!