Sunday, July 9, 2017

Camping Vacation Trip

For vacation this year, our family decided to go camping. After spending part of the July 4th week with my parents up North in NW Iowa (flat, flat, flat) - but there's a lake, free room & board and a boat down at the dock, so I can't complain. 😉

We ventured home to pack up our camping supplies - that hadn't been dug out since about a year ago. Except for those camping chairs, we use ours occasionally and I'll take mine out when then kids are playing in our backyard. On the way we decided to check out to see if there were any available campsites at Lake Red Rock. Ha! When I was up North, I downloaded a Lake Red Rock activities brochure. At long last I read that there was a Red Rock Lake Balloon Fest happening over part of the time we were going to be camping there. Great! Plenty to do, look at, plus educational opportunities in the area. But, we struck out. We searched all the campgrounds on the lake - we went through at least 2 of them, and saw others that were full. The silly thing is that even though they have it reserved with arrival on Sunday, July 9th (we were looking for Thursday - Saturday) - we weren't able to use the campsite for those 3 days prior to some else's registration. These were all run by the Federal Government, so of course, they couldn't figure this out. To much work. I was mad. Still am. It's just silliness.

So we just went home for the night. The original plan was to pack up when we got home and go in the morning. But it's vacation, right? No rush! Plus, we were sore from inner tubing on the boat earlier in the week. So. Much. Fun! But, we aren't as young as we used to be and we defiantly found muscles we weren't use to using! So we went to bed and packed up in the morning.

The Lake up North (that's not the actual name of it).

We ended up going camping here - Lake Darling State Park - key word is State, not Federal. 

After packing everything in our car and in the truck - because we wanted to bring our bikes with, the extra space was needed - and used! We had to make a food run, of course - because we needed a few things - what's a camping trip without stuff for s'mores? 

Just part of Lake Darling. 

Park sign - see what's here! 

We didn't get to the park until about noon (apparently it takes 30 minutes and 4 tries for the 9yo to roll up his sleeping bag) 🙄 . Setting up the tent in the hot sun was not my idea of a good time, but we got it done. Realizing we (hubby) didn't pack the rainfly - we prayed for no rain and we were so lucky that it didn't! After setting up the tent it was time to go swimming! We later found out that having no rain fly was helpful - it let the breeze in off the lake and sleeping under the stars and watching the lighting bugs was amazing! 🙌  All God's creation. 

Tent was shaded in the evening and in the morning. The bikes were locked up, when not in use. The bath house was up the hill, behind the tent. This was the only campsite that was available that had trees. (One or two shaded the space). It happened to be a full-hook up site, water, electric and sewer hook-up. Which we didn't really need, but I was willing to pay the extra amount, especially if we had power to make the fans run that we brought, because we knew it was going to be hot, hot, hot! 

First day, after swimming. (I'm just sunburned all the time.)

Family photo. 

Hubby did most of the cooking - and I loved it. Little ones face! 😂

Because what else is a 3yo supposed to do before bedtime,
but play with the $4 inflatable in the tent. Sassy! 

The next morning, big brother read a story to little one. Sweetest moment of the whole weekend! ♥️
After breakfast we went on a family bike ride, which was pretty warm, but we stopped regularly for water breaks - we made sure everyone had a water bottle. Lake Darling bike trails are awesome - we went for about 3.0 miles, and almost none of it was flat- more like steep to rolling hills. 

Big brother can do dishes, here he is drying. So much complaining. Is this normal for a 9yo? 😩
We had to get more firewood and more ice for the food in the cooler, so we headed to town. We did what we needed to do and the kids wanted Pizza Ranch that was across from the big box store we were shopping at, and because the outside temperature was 86 degrees, we ate there. We took our time - let's just say it was busy when we went, but it was pretty empty when we left. But it was air conditioned, so I didn't really complain. 

The kids and I fell asleep on the way back to camp, so we slept in the car for a bit - still hot out, but at least there was a breeze.  It wasn't to bad with all the windows down. The 9yo still says he didn't take a nap. 😜  The kids and hubby tried to hang out in the tent for awhile and the plan was to go swimming, just not in the heat of the day. I may or may not have fallen asleep on an inflatable at the beach, while the hubby and the kids were having a great time. We went about 5pm and stayed for a little more than an hour. None of us were hungry at dinner time, because of the large late lunch we ate earlier. So we had a late dinner back at camp. 

The 3yo in her shades and swimsuit after swimming. You can guess what the wet spot is! 
  After this, she promptly said 'change me.' Good thing we are working on potty training!
I'll note here that she was wearing a cloth swim diaper that did a good job of keeping sand out of her diaper area better than the disposables we used the day before. 

Hubby found this cicada shell on his truck tire the first morning we woke up. He got to explain to the 9yo how they come up out of the ground, make a shell and then hatch from it. 

Before dinner the second night, I went down at took this 360 degree photo down by the lake

Hubby did a few camping hacks - here's one: It's a tarp clip clipped to the table cloth looped into a bungie cord, wrapped around a few boards of the picnic table. Worked great. He did this on both sides of the picnic table. 

The other hack he did - and I didn't take a photo of it - he fished a bungie cord through a paper towel roll and bungeed it to the bike rack that was on the back of the truck. Worked great and the paper towel wasn't rolling all over the place in the wind. 

Signs of a successful camping trip - both kids asleep in the car.
Yes, that's my TerraTrike on top of my car - it fits rather well! We tie it up there with bungie cords (hubby has a whole bag full), pool noodles and 2 clips to lock the pedals in place. 

Lake Darling was nice because overall, people were quite, the lake is a no-wake lake (meaning the boats don't go fast), a lot of people were there to fish. There were a few families there, but we didn't interact with them. We had a hard time understanding why anyone would buy a $40k+ camper and transport it to a different camp spot each week. The guy next to us spent as much time setting his camper up than we did our tent. Sure he has a big screen tv, air conditioning, bathroom, kitchen, comfy bed, but what's the point? By that time you aren't camping, you may as well stay home! Especially due to the fact that they came, set it up, didn't sleep there and the camper air was running all day Friday (I'm sure they had jobs to go back to). [I may or may not have thought about breaking in, just to get some relief from the heat & sun.] They were there a little Friday night, but not outside - inside the camper. Saturday morning was much of the same - they weren't there - both vehicles were gone, and then when they were outside we were leaving. At this time the little boy (2 or 3 years old) noticed my 3yo and we had enough time to wave 'bye.' 
I know this isn't true for all RV campers out there - just these people. There were some RV campers who had pretty sweet set-ups for their outside space and were playing card games or just talking around the campfire. 
We don't want to be like the 'Jones' being normal means being broke, and we don't want to be broke all our lives. Update on that! We are now officially under 30k for our debt. What's your debt? Find out more at Read more about our debt-free journey.  

Lake Darling has 80 campsites and most of them have electric and a few have full-hook ups- which, I know is rare in the camping industry. But over 1/4 of the 80 sites are walk-up sites. Which means I didn't need a reservation for campsite #22 - and views of the lake, near the swing set, and the bathrooms and playground area! Part of the time the equipment was to hot to play on, though. Metal slides - in 85+ degree sun, ouch! Brings back my childhood memories, though. 

Awesome vacation time with family! 
Would I go camping again, as the 3yo asked when we got home and had a few things unpacked? Maybe next year. Same place? Oh, no. Next year I'll shoot for Red Rock and register online - early!


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