We spent two days at Pine Lake State Park, an area with a lake next to the Iowa River about 90 miles from home. We rented a cabin for two nights and brought the tent along too. The cabins were originally built in the 1930s and renovated in the 1990s to include a small bedroom and updated conveniences - ya know, like a microwave and shower.
So we were able to cook meals and shower three very dirty children at the end of each day.
The large living room had a table where we played games and two futons that folded down for the kids (and Tucker) to sleep on.
It was secluded. You couldn't drive any vehicle up to the cabins as they were tucked in a hillside near the river. There were paved and unpaved trails around the area, some leading up into the hills, which our kids particularly loved.
"Daddy, I love going on adventures."
Tent sleeping was also popular.
Psssst! for all you blog readers who've never met my children, please feel free to guess which one is the sassy one. You won't be wrong.
$1.25 giant bottle of bubbles for the win!
No camping adventure is complete without s'mores.
Their first introduction to the low-budget game that is Pooh-sticks.
Do other people call it Pooh sticks or did we watch too many episodes about that stuffed bear as kids?
Tucker loved sleeping with the kids, something we haven't let him do at home. But it was so sweet watching him curl up beside them, I might have to start giving him free-range of the house at night.
We were packing up and getting ready to leave Sunday morning when Jared voiced a surreal thought: he figures we have maybe 8 more years of this kind of stuff before Bailey starts to think it's boring. Hanging out with her parents will be something to endure instead of something to enjoy.
I pointed out to him that he loved camping as a kid and still loved camping with his family even when we were dating. And that even as a senior in high school, I would stay in some weekends just to hang out with my family.
As long as your family is fun - or at least funny - you're still going to want to hang out with them, right?
At least occasionally?
There's no guarantee I guess.
In the meantime we'll have to keep working at establishing traditions and making memories.
My hope is that someday our kids look back, tell stories, and share laughs about our adventures. And misadventures. Some of my fondest and funniest childhood summertime memories involve hilariously horrible hotels, broken down station wagons, and ridiculously low-budget family "vacations" to Minnesota.
God love him, but my dad was bordering on Clark Griswold on a few occasions.
I refuse to worry about how lame my kids are going to find me once they reach teen-land. (Or before.)
And all that matters right now is that they love their daddy and his love of an "adventure."