Saturday, September 26, 2009

Our Family Vacation

We had wonderful luxury accommodations in Max and Nana's camper. It was perfect, comfortable - and we didn't destroy anything the whole time!
We had SUCH a wonderful time on our vacation! We went to the Ouachita National Forest in Arkansas and hiked at Eagle Rock Loop. It was so fun! It started off rough with a hyper dog in a cramped space - one call to the vet and 3 adult Benedryll and she was very calm!
We did LOTS of fun day hikes - we did about 15 miles total and the kids did amazingly well! The dog's paws got really sore after about the 2nd day and she was worn out! 'Course she was hiking circles around us the entire time. She probably hiked 60 miles for our 15.
Rescue dad - pulling kids from rushing water and keeping us all safe at his own expense!
We did one big overnight hike to Winding Stair and it was wonderful right up until a huge thunderstorm that lasted from about 11pm to 5am and soaked us completely. As a result, the already difficult water crossings became VERY scary! The water rose several feet in the night.
Ally carried a full pack and didn't even complain. All the kids were SO tough!

Our favorite lunch spot.
We veered off the trail at one point and found possibly one of the most perfect spot we have ever come across. The kids named it the lagoon. It was this beautiful, deep spot in the Little Missouri River and we had fun enjoying the cool, clear water.
I'm sure plenty of people have been here before us, but it felt like we discovered it. It was so neat to find a spot that you have to hike 4 miles uphill to get to and swim across 2 rivers. WAY off the beaten path! These are the things that make hiking really rewarding.
The dog kept getting swept away by the current and that was kind of scary, but SHE loved the water! She jumped in with her backpack and ruined her dogfood, so she had to eat our food. She was too tired to eat anyway. The funniest thing she did - all the kids were bringing Dad the best rocks they could find for him to judge, and she brought Byron a rock too. A big one too, like 4 inches around.
DEEP water crossings! We had to take off our shoes and walk in crocs or flipflops. They were fun, but made things difficult. We had beautiful weather!
Here is our hero - this crossing was so difficult after the rains that Byron had to carry everyone's packs, and carry each of us across. I couldn't have even made it without him - the current was very strong.

After a day to recover we went to Shady Lake State Park which was PERFECT! We had the whole place to ourselves and we camped right by a stream and the playground. The kids made boats out of twigs and had a big race.
More day hikes and MORE river crossings. Pretty much everyone fell in at least once.
We hiked up to Tall Peak Tower and had this tremendous view! We could see all the way to Oklahoma.
Day hike up a steep cliff made easy with a climbing rope.
Because the park was so deserted, (except us) the kids really had a lot of freedom to ride bikes and play.
We experimented with lots of cool camp foods. One of our favorites we named Mookies - a toasted marshmallow sandwiched between 2 chocolate chip cookies. YUM!

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