Thursday, April 28, 2011

Easter Week Camping at Beaver's Bend

This Easter, we continued our tradition of celebrating by going camping. We gathered up our closest friends (Dave & MaryBeth, and Jon & Kelly), packed up some food and our bikes, and headed North to Oklahoma! It was dark-thirty by the time we got there, so Sam and Jon had to park the campers without the benefit of daylight. Dave and MaryBeth had gotten there a little earlier and were already set up, so they helped wrangle the kids while we got everything settled.
Jon enjoys cooking over the campfire, so he was our designated camp-cook. He provided the best breakfasts for us all every morning...bacon, eggs made to order, toast, potatoes...yum!
We went on a couple of hikes during the week. The area is beautiful and there are trails everywhere we looked. We actually spent most of one day looking for geocaches that Sam had downloaded to his GPS. We had never done that before and found it to be quite fun! There were a few that seemingly led to nowhere (or had been removed) but we did find three or four. The kids weren't sure about the whole thing, but as soon as we found our first 'treasure' they were hooked! Jonah was doggedly determined and was the first to spot at least two of the caches. The treasures inside were various knick-knacks (I think this next picture shows what the kids picked from one of the more bounteous boxes...a bath toy, a sheriff's badge, and a fishing bobber).
We had quite a bit of rain that week, so everything was fairly wet. On this next hike, we had to go off the trail and into the woods because there was a pond blocking our way!
We were very excited to get our bikes out and go on a few family bike rides while we were there! Bridget was very nervous about riding on the back of her daddy's bike at first, but once she realized how fun it is (and how fast they could go!) she thought it was awesome.
On one bike ride down to the park, Dave and I were waiting on Jonah and we were the last ones to leave. Dave started laughing and I looked over to see that he was holding his pedal in his hand! It had fallen right off of his bike. I rode up and got Sam to come back to help. In the mean time, Dave tried to fix it himself:
Look closely, and you might see that there is a problem in the way that he arranged the pedals. Let's just say it was a good thing Sam came back to help! ;)

The rain didn't really slow the kids down any. We made them stay inside while it was pouring or when there was lightning, but otherwise they just continued on as though the weather was perfect. The loop we were staying on was completely empty (except for one poor man staying in a tent--did I mention it POURED???), so the kids made the camp-loop their 'track'. They had so much fun riding around and around on it. Coming down one side was a fairly steep hill, and we would all sit around the camp fire and cringe as we'd watch Bridget and Matthew come flying down that hill with their training wheels flopping on either side. They never had any major crash, so all was well in the end, but I do recall limiting them to only riding up-hill for a while!
It wasn't hot while we were there, but the kids wanted to go swimming anyway. We rode our bikes over to a nice little rocky area where the kids could wade around and play. The braver ones (Sam, Henry and Jonah) swam out a bit and the younger ones stayed closer to shore. It was chilly but fun!
Dave and MaryBeth wanted to head back to town so they could attend the Easter Sunday service at their church, so they left a day before the rest of us did. Before they left though, MaryBeth prepared and treated us to an Easter Seder. We had the traditional passover meal and learned about the reasons for all that was taking place. It was interesting and educational and we all enjoyed it. MaryBeth also led the kids in washing each other's feet, and she helped them to each prepare a set of resurrection eggs to take home to help them remember the Easter story and Jesus' purpose and work on the cross.
Beaver's Bend State Park puts on a great Easter egg hunt every year, and we participated in it again this year. They separate the children by ages, and then dump hundreds of eggs in sectioned off areas of the park. In each area are hidden a number of special tickets that the kids then get to redeem for a stuffed bunny at the end of the hunt. We left with buckets full of candy and three cute stuffed bunnies.
They also have a new nature/visitor center at the park, so we went and visited that after the egg hunt. It was a great place and we spent longer there than we intended to! We were able to snap a group shot with the self-timer while we were there, including everyone except Dave and MaryBeth (because they had already headed home).
It was a wonderful trip! We made a lot of memories and enjoyed God's beautiful creation. We were reminded just how much we love camping! Living in Texas, we don't tend to look forward to camping in the summer is just too hot! So this was one of our last trips of the spring, and now we are looking forward to some nice (hopefully cooler) camping in the fall.

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