25 March 2016

Breaking Spring (on the cheaps)

Spring Break was upon us before we really had a plan formulated, so we went with the default option of camping. Luckily our family loves to camp. We wanted to get out of Oklahoma, but not too far out, so we ended up in lovely,  windy Waveland Park in Arkansas. We originally discussed staying at the Lodge at Mount Magazine, but we wanted to fish and rough it, so we went with camping within walking distance of the water instead.

Setting up Camp

It took us 4 hours to get to Blue Lake Mountain.  As we got closer to the campsite, we saw several Confederate flags waving outside a flag store. Emi's boyfriend said "uh oh". We had never been to this area before. We noticed another Confederate flag on the front plates of one of the park employees when we checked in soon after.

We arrived at our camp site late Tuesday afternoon and busied ourselves with setting up our tents. We set up 3 tents but decided to use only 2 tents because of the new sleeping arrangements.  Emi's boyfriend bunked with David and the rest of the family bunked in the big tent. The week prior there had been lots of rain in the area so some campsites were flooded out. Our site was up on higher ground though, so we were good. It was super windy that evening though, and I was worried about starting a campfire.  (Ah, the elements!) But we pushed past that fear so we could make a dinner of hot dogs.

Also, we had NO CELL SERVICE on the mountain. We were forced to be unplugged for the entire 3 days (except for the trip to the Booneville Walmart). That proved to be a nice benefit... in the end.

That first night was hard to get to sleep. The temperature dipped down into the 40s, all of the air mattresses kept losing air and all night long we heard the tall trees whipping against each other with the fierce winds. We also heard thunder and prayed that it wouldn't rain. Around 10:15 the wind died down a bit and during the brief calm, I heard several text messages come through on my phone. I tried to reply to Dakota's mom that we made it safe to the camp site, but that communication window had slammed shut already.

In the morning when the sun finally rose (and the woodpecker, crows and "uh-oh" bird showed up to greet us), Scott and I were smushed together like we were sleeping in a hammock. Gracie, my precious baby dog was under the covers with us. Even covered with fur she was still shivering.


The next morning we watched with much anticipation the coffee perking in our coffee pot. #bestcoffeeever We ate eggs and bacon and listened to the numerous birds in the trees.


After breakfast, I continued to luxuriate around the campfire, assessing our neighbors in the light of day. We found that our little group was the only spot of color among maybe 6 other campsites.  Soon after breakfast, a park ranger came by to inform us that we were only allowed 2 tents on our site and that we were welcome to purchase another site should it come available. This seemed rather unwelcoming. We told the ranger that we hadn't actually used the 3rd tent and would gladly take it down. Later, I told Scott that if they came by and told us that we could not have open fires, that it was clear we weren't welcome and we'd be leaving immediately.

Thawing Out and Getting Sparky

Shortly after that, another camp worker - not a ranger in uniform - came by to inform us that Dakota's mom had called to see if he was at the camp. That guy had the right carrier and let Dakota call his mom to let her know he was safe. This guy was with his wife and much nicer and welcoming than the other guy.


The Little Ones had been discussing Big Foot (Sasquatch) a lot lately and there were excited to go out exploring for one. They didn't have to walk too far before they found a pair of big foot prints. Only 2. Like the Sasquatch jumped down from the tree and then back up into the tree? One of the working theories was that Big Foot was a ninja! How cool would that be? Also, is that what we heard late last night?

Bigfoot Prints

We ran into town later to get supplies and on our way out of the camping area, we drove into massive amounts of smoke.  It was a bit scary to see because this was the only exit from our campsite and there was no signal up there!  We stopped to ask a guy on a 4-wheeler if the smoke was ok and he smiled and said "Yes, it's fine" but offered no more information. We thought that that was exactly what an arsonist would say. We drove further on and saw fire in the forest on both sides of the roads and park employees setting fire to the pine needles and debris on the ground. (We took pictures on the way back in.)

Past the burning forest fires onto the main road, we saw the resort where we almost stayed. Whoa!

Where We Could Have "Camped"

We drove 20 minutes away to Walmart to get proper groceries and cell phone reception... I made Dakota call his mom again to tell her he was ok and I checked in with my peeps, then we got supplies for the remainder of the camp trip.

On the way back to Blue Mountain Lake, we stopped to get gas and beer, but there was no beer. (what?) We were in a dry county.  So we drove another 10 minutes to Paris (we went to Paris for Spring Break!) to a placed called Arkota's Convenience Store for beer and we also found some highly sought after jalapeno chips.

He went to Paris 
Looking for answers 
To questions that bothered him so 

These are bomb-dot-com

On this little excursion away from camp, we noticed some plantation type homes and a couple of chicken factories like we saw in Food, Inc. We even saw a trailer park that I thought looked like one that was raided for illegal workers in the movie. (Things that make you go "hmmmm".)

Forest Fire
This made my heart race!

Smoke on the Water
Back at the camp there was crossword puzzle solving.


And there was fishing.


I even snagged a nice hot shower mid-afternoon. The camp bathrooms were cleaned twice a day and so far there had not been any sightings of alleged tarantulas.

Two Tent Max

That night we had Taco Salad, a camp regular recipe that I inherited from Scott's mom and have been taking liberties with for over 20 years now. It's like my chili, I never make it the same way twice.

Taco Salad
3 bags SW salad kit, taco meat, black beans, purple onion, Thousand Island dressing and Taco Sauce

Later there were s'mores and scary stories by the fire. Sleeping was a challenge yet again. We had gotten another space heater in town, but the power was not enough to run both heaters on heat, so they were effectively little fans blowing around cold air. We had to air up the mattress 4 times during that night. Luckily it was plugged in...

Daylight, blessed daylight for the warmth we'd soon experience and cue the birds... uh-oh, uh-oh
There was a murder of crows, a single woodpecker, many Bluejays or Mockingbirds and a yet to be identified bird who sounded like he was a little special, crying "uh-oh, uh-oh" all the time like a toddler who purposefully tosses his sippy cup and them exclaims "uh-oh".  I am sure that guy gets on the other birds' nerves constantly. The birds were Nature's Alarm Clock...without a snooze.

Everyone cooked their own biscuits and sausage over the fire this morning. There was a quick check to see if anyone needed pinching but everyone either proved that they were wearing some green or alleged that their underwear contained green. We accepted that because no one wanted to see the proof.

And then there was fishing and snoozing. yada yada yada

For dinner, I made an Irish Stew with "dumplings" (to finish off the opened can of biscuits). It was a little more Irish because I dumped in a can of Good Ass Beer gotten from Paris. Everyone had seconds but Aubri. She doesn't like "soggy bread". She let me know this recently when I served French Onion Soup and she tried to retrieve the "soggy bread" from the steaming soup bowl. When I told her that dumplings were supposed to have this texture, she referred me back to Asian dumplings that we enjoy on occasion. Can't argue with that. Oy!


Did I mention that there was a playground nearby? It was smart thinking on Scott's part to place us near a spot for the kids to expel some extra energy. The little kids could play while the big kids fished.

Camp Players
Sweet Smile and Fiercely Peaceful (or Peacefully Fierce)?

More s'mores and scary stories around the camp fire...


The kids were so scared this night that Scott had to actually tell them that HE made the Big Foot prints and that there was no such thing as Big Foot or Werewolves (AFAWK) so nothing to be afraid of....

The next morning was a cold race to pack up to beat the rain. [Note: We did not. And we didn't put an annoying tarp over our stuff so it got soggy on the way to Tahlequah for a quick visit with family.]

We got the fire roaring and cooked hobo packs with shrimp, potatoes, sausage and onions.

Camp Breakfast
A Boy and His Dog

We had a good time, but we were all glad to get back home to our safe, warm house and electronics. Ahhhh!

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