Our group had all of the campsites in the park reserved from Friday to Sunday so we would have the park mostly to ourselves, except for a few day visitors that come in to fish or hike around. We like to arrive on Thursday so we have some quiet family time before everyone else arrives.
We stayed at Bonham State Park. It's a nice little park with a lake and nice hiking trails. Most of the camping sites have their own running water and electrical outlets but primitive camping is also available.
The kids were quick to find things to do. Nicholas rode his bike around and then found a nice spot to sit by the lake.
I watched him whittle on several sticks for a while. One of his creations is a little piece of wood that says, "N loves M"....for Nicholas loves Mommy. Awww, heart melt!
I always love this tree. It looks like it is just swaying with the wind. I imagine it was poorly pruned at one time in its past. Or perhaps the trees were thicker here at one time and it was simply responding with phototropic growth (growing towards the light). Either way, I just like its crazy branches.
But this tree, by far, is my favorite in the park. It is fun to climb on and crawl under. It's a tree climber's dream!
I found a beautiful patch of wild onions soaking up the sun.
Stuart was chopping some of our firewood into kindling and he found some kind of wood-boring beetle larva hiding in a piece of wood.
I made some chili on the camp stove and we enjoyed watching the moon and the beautiful sunset over the lake. It was so breathtaking!
Nicholas had disappeared for a while at the lake with some friends. We found him using their net to catch bait for tomorrow's fishing.
Hey, look! He caught a crawfish! Now we just need about 10 pounds of those, some corn and potatoes, and a little Tony Chachere's seasoning and we'll have ourselves a nice crawfish boil!
Friday morning, the kids were up early, ready to explore and play some more.
While they played, Stuart made breakfast in the Dutch oven. He has truly mastered the campout Dutch oven breakfast. This is called the Mountain Man. It has eggs, pork sausage, onions, bell peppers, tater tots, and biscuits. I'm so amazed that he cooked this amazing dish in one pot over a pile of hot coals!
Nicholas had gotten his hiking boots soaked last night as he was wading around the edge of the lake so I headed to Walmart to get him some tall rubber boots as well as a net and a bait tub to keep his live bait in.
Rachel and several of her friends had fun playing with bubbles and a foam bubble maker.
We kept lunch easy today with just turkey sandwiches, chips, a fruit bowl, and a veggie tray.
You will notice that Nicholas is wearing his bike helmet in probably every picture. I don't think he ever took it off. He was constantly riding his bike around. But most often he was riding around the lake with his new bait bucket and net in hand and those new mud boots on his feet.
He only needed about five minutes to catch these two little guys.
He is a sweetheart and he knows I love unique treasures from nature so he picked some water lily seed pods for me.
Some kids delight their moms with flowers. My kids know me better than that.
A few minutes later he was back in the water. He went almost as deep as those boots are tall.
Here are a few minnows he was storing in his bait bucket. I'm so glad I picked up these few fishing items for him. He was so delighted to have the right tools he needed.
He even caught a cool frog!
I loved watching Stuart relax and tell stories with his friends. The dads in our group are an amazing set of men who love God and their families. They are tough men but not too tough to hold hands with their wives or play games with their kids.
Rachel and her friends spent most of their time playing at the beach area on the lake. They splashed in the water, buried each other in sand, and built sandcastles. They also made concoctions in which they gathered seaweed and called it chocolate. I didn't bother to learn the rest of that recipe though.
While eating, this little bee lighted on Nicholas' hand. I tried to get him to shoo it away but he wasn't bothered by it and wanted to just watch it crawl around on him for a minute. I don't know how this boy got so brave (or crazy!).
After dinner we played a game of kickball. All kids and parents were welcomed. While Nicholas and Rachel played, Stuart stayed at first base the whole time to help the little kids understand when to run to second base. I did get in line with Rachel and kicked the ball. I don't think I've kicked a ball in 20 years but it was fun. I love that my trips to the gym have given me more energy so I can be more active in playing with our kids.
Rachel had a lot of questions about how to play the game but she did great and I even caught this picture of her running into home.
Nicholas couldn't wait to get back out into the water. This time he had a headlamp too.
He caught another crawfish!
Rachel enjoyed playing with all the critters in the bucket. Eventually she got brave enough to pick up the crawfish.
Saturday morning came too soon. Stuart was up early making a fire in the pit and getting coffee made. He finally poked his head in the tent to see if we were all still alive. Yes, alive but tired.
Each troop spent the morning together working on badges and activities. The Tenderhearts were given nature journals and they walked around finding beautiful things in nature to sketch.
They also painted with watercolors and practiced their skit for the group performances that night.
Stuart had a cute little ladybug stop by to say Hi at the campsite.
The Navigators had an amazing opportunity to interview a park ranger. They learned about his police and park training as well as some interesting stories about crazy things that have happened in parks. They also learned that all areas of interest are needed in the parks department from management, computer technology, nature science, education, and more.
For dinner we made some red beans and rice at our campsite while Stuart cooked an apple dump cake to enter in the Dutch oven dessert contest. This was his first year to compete and his dessert was delicious!
We heard the kids come on to the stage for open mic time to tell jokes. Then each unti performed their skits. We listened to the kids who played instruments and sang for worship and then heard an inspiring sermon from one of the boys. It was a wonderful evening of food, fun, and laughter with the best friends in the world.
Back at the campsite, we got to meet this big guy! I've never seen a spider so big!
Weather reports showed the possibility of severe thunderstorms and hail approaching so we had packed up our gear earlier in the day so we would be ready to head home that night before the storms came in. The kids mostly slept on the way home.