All of our Thanksgiving plans with family fell apart this year. We didn’t plan to out of town, so we improvised a last minute camping trip. It has been three years since our last Thanksgiving week camping adventure. The kids seemed to miss the camping this time of year. So we quickly shopped for food and packed clothes and bikes into the minivan and took off. Our standard camping destination is Meramec State Park. Its about 90 minutes away from the house and next to the river. It didn’t take long for the park to welcome us with some wildlife!
Our plan was to go for a hike so we quickly parked the camper in our designated spot and went straight to the trail for the hike we had planned for the day. We have not hiked this park before as we mostly just paddle the river, so this was a pleasant change for us. Right off the parking lot, the trail provided us some entertainment!
A short way into the hike, we saw a stone pavilion overlooking the river. This was a fun distraction to look at!
No hike is complete without getting to limbo lower!
Eventually, we got to the most important part of the hike… stopping for lunch! We had deli meat on sandwich rolls and other assorted goodies that we brought with us. Since we were down on a rock bar of the river, we also took some time to attempt to build a rock bridge across the river. We got almost 10 feet across before we gave up to continue our hike.
Now our hike was half way over and we hiked back on the ridge overlooking the river.
We even managed to find a cave and work our way down to check it out!
After our walk was done, it was time to go back to the campsite and check set up camp. We dropped of the pop up earlier, but didn’t do anything to set it up. So after we got the camper mostly set up, we realized that we didn’t bring any water with us. After checking, there were no working water spouts anywhere near us. So I volunteered to go and find water. I ended up checking out several places in the park before driving out into town to look for water. Eventually I ended up at a used car dealership that had a working spigot on the outside of their building. With water, I headed back to our campsite.
From here, we made a fire and I proceeded to burn as many leaves as possible, enjoying the large quantity of smoke!
And being a boy, Corvin found the smoke quite entertaining as well! Since we were camping, we spent lots of time riding bikes in circles and cooking. A very chill evening!
Danelle got into the bike racing with the kids.
After a hard day of camping, we finally packed up on Friday to head out. I decided to take a minor detour after seeing something interesting searching for water the previous day. The remains of a never-finished Sayman Hotel. (Found inside Meramec State Park)
So we ended up climbing around to see what is left of it.
We went out to Danelle’s parents land “Farm” for an overnight visit. On the way out of town, we picked up Grandpa Henry to go with us. When we invited him, he quickly stated that he had nothing more important going on and was going with us 🙂 After picking him up, we loaded some large iron thing on top of the van and headed out to an actual farm near Washington, MO to visit a friend and drop off the iron thing. We stayed for about 2 hours while grandpa caught up with his friend that owned the farm.
Eventually, we made it out and started by setting up camp. We brought the weed wacker, but the area was freshly cut. Time to set up camp!
Now, the second most important thing at camp is firewood and the axe. My kids are just like me!
Somewhere in the mix, Grandpa Henry took off and just explored the woods of his childhood. He occasionally came back for food and water, but was gone a lot. His fun was balanced out by the number of bug bites and poison ivy he had all over his body on Sunday!
I had been out to the farm several times, but never made it down to the Gasconade river. Their property doesn’t touch it, but the neighbor invited us to walk down the path and see the river. Only Sonora and I were up to the task. Lucky for us, the neighbor came down the hill in his 4 wheel thingie and drove us back up the hill to the campsite!
Danelle and Corvin woke up early on Sunday morning like always and got some great shots of the fog in the valley.
We decided to pack it up early and head home. But before I could put stuff away, I had to get the wasp (scary stinging thing) on the camper to leave us alone. I left it to my fearless wife to get photos and then shoo it away so we could pack up.
We were all happy to be home after a quick but fun camping trip. All of the boys had tons of bug bites!
Jake and Robin invited us to go camping with them at Onondaga Cave state park. They gave us the date and told us the campsite they would be staying at. We had the weekend open and decided it would be a fun time to hang out with them. We booked the campsite next to them.
We spent the day doing a short hike to Onondaga Cave to explore the visitor’s center. Of course the kids just wanted snacks and to see the cave, so we did all of that.
Corvin and I went for a long hike while the others hung out and Jake drank fancy wine at the campfire.
We spent some time swimming in the Meramec and trying to avoid all the drunk boaters coming down the river. Corvin got into a bike wreck with a kid running and sent him to the hospital. Just your normal weekend.
A group of guys from church decided to get together and go for a winter camp out. I’m not big into the whole church thing, but it was a chance to hang out with Jake for the weekend. There was also a 10 mile hike somewhere I have never been before. I’ve heard of Hawn state park, but have never been there.
I got out of work early and met Jake at a park and ride lot along the highway. From there, we went south together toward the campsite. We stopped in Crystal City to pick up dinner. While we were getting dinner, I discovered that I forgot to bring the chairs. We found an Alco store that had chairs. Jake bought one, but I was feeling cheap and opted not to.
On we went with full bellies to the camp site. Once we got there, we couldn’t find anybody there. We did a lap of the camp site and then went off to see if there was one somewhere else that we missed. After lots of second guessing and some unsuccessful phone calls. We decided to give the camp site one more try. Driving slowly through, we found Jason running down the hill to say he was there. It turns out that we have the multipurpose/Boy Scout area for camping. You can’t see it from the road, only by driving up the path.
Because we got to the camp site late and it was dark, we opted to sleep in the back of the van the first night. It was simple and there was plenty of room for both of us. Getting up the next morning, we had a quick breakfast including coffee. I stuck to the caffeinated hot chocolate I brought with me. Then we loaded up my van and we were off. It was decided on Saturday that we would do some trail work. The drive with all of us in the van took about an hour. When we got to the trail work area, nobody was there. It turns out that there was a winter weather advisory for later in the day, so the event was cancelled.
Rather than give up on some beautiful scenery,we decided to hike a bit. We went around the St. Francis river (I think) and saw some beautiful rock formations that we enjoyed playing on!
After a long drive back to the campsite, we debated if we should take the 10 mile hike or not. I very much wanted to go and finally got the group to go. So we all walked through the campsite to the trail head and started hiking. The path was a bit damp, and there were a few water crossings. The last water crossing before the group split up had Dan misstep and put his whole foot in the water. He and Jake decided to take it easy and head back for a shorter hike.
About 30 minutes after the group split up, the rain started. It rained for the rest of the hike getting progressively heavier the whole time. By the time we got back to the campsite, Jake and Dan were busy trying to get a tarp over the fire to stay dry and warm. Thinking it was a great idea, I backed my van down the hill and used it along with all my boat straps to help hold the tarps up.
With the tarp mostly up, we ended up putting all the wood on the fire to use it and stay warm. This ended up burning a hole in the tarp that we all laughed about. Ultimately the freezing ran brought us all to the same conclusion, we should call it a night and just go home before we were stuck at the campsite.
When I was packed up, I found that the van was stuck in the mud. The group spent about 30 minutes in the rain getting stuff under the tires so I could get traction to leave the park.
If it weren’t enough to have been rained out, Jake came to my house on Sunday after church to help hang out all of the wet stuff from the trip. While we were hanging up stuff in my garage, I was lowering down one of my boats from the ceiling to hang a tarp on when one of the supports in the ceiling ripped out and fell on my head. The boat fell, but nobody got seriously hurt. All we could do was laugh. As it turns out, I didn’t put in long enough screws and it was an easy fix.