The short version: we all survived! And Marisela does, in fact, enjoy camping as much as she was hoping (and of course we were hoping, too, since next week we’re doing a week-long campout).
We took off for Cleburne State Park after lunch on Friday. It’s about an hour and a half southwest of Dallas, and when we got there things were still pretty quiet. We landed at campsite 22, which turned out to be a perfect spot (I realize this map isn’t showing up big enough for you to see the site, but you can click to make it bigger if you wish . . . the site is in the loop at the far left side of the map, very close to the trail that goes around the park.)
Things weren’t looking great as we set up camp. Marisela was grumpy and unimpressed. Once everything was set up, though, we all went for a walk and seeing the lake improved her mood hugely. She came back feeling pretty sassy:
Dinner was hamburgers and hot dogs, followed by cake balls – Isaiah’s had a birthday candle in it. Not long after dinner the kids were wiped out. It was no surprise: Marisela had been up since 5:30, keyed up about our adventure. Andres and I were delighted that the kids went for our plan of a kids’ tent and a grown-ups’ tent . . . leaving us free to have campfire cocktails and as late a night as we wanted to have. Everyone slept great that night, all things considered. Marisela had a few night terror-ish moments, as she often does when things are new and different, but they were over quickly and she was never fully awake or aware. Isaiah seemed to sleep right through them. The Boy Scouts were pretty raucous until about 11, but that didn’t seem to bother them, either.
The next day we enjoyed a great campfire breakfast, but Isaiah was in a bit of a funk. He kept casting longing glances over at the Scouts. By comparison I think the old family seemed like pretty dull company. This is where our campsite choice turned out to be auspicious. We were directly across the road from an entrance to a trail that went most of the way around the park, and once we told Isaiah he was welcome to go explore he really perked up. After he did some initial recon (during which he was able to befriend some of the Scouts, who had been running around the trail since early morning) he came back and got Marisela and they went exploring together. Andres and I had a second pot of coffee and just took it easy (YAY for our Bialetti “stovetop” coffeemaker, which was perfect as a campfire coffeemaker, too).
We spent a lot of the day just hanging around camp . . .
Later in the morning I took the kids to a playground and then across to a sandy beach area by the lake while Andres wrote letters back at camp. Marisela did some artsy photography at the playground . . .
and both kids enjoyed frolicking by the water . . .
Baba paid us a surprise visit as we were getting ready to head back to the campsite and we decided it was time for lunch. The kids and I found a trail to take a more scenic route back and Andres took the direct route along the road so he could get lunch started. Isaiah and Marisela both proved to be quite the little mountain goats, scrambling up over some pretty steep and challenging spots on the trail. After getting lost a few times and being scolded by a ranger for walking along a service road (we thought it was the trail!) we made it back for lunch and the kids were finally able to eat the Phineas and Ferb mac and cheese they had been longing for since I’d bought it a week before.
Marisela decided it was a bit warm (it was) and so after lunch she made some wardrobe adjustments:
That afternoon Andres went to check out the town of Cleburne while the kids and I went on a hike. Marisela took the lead and we hiked along Fossil Ridge/Whispering Meadow trail until it intersected Coyote Run nature trail, then cut back to the road and took the road back, stopping at the lake to wade a bit and watch some people fish (saw a boy catch a decent-sized crappie). The kids really wanted to fish, but the gear we had was not heavy enough to use in the strong winds we had there. The whole time we were there the wind was blowing around 20 mph and gusting higher.
By the time we met back up at the campsite it was close to dinner time. Andres had enjoyed his tour of Cleburne, especially the city courthouse. He said the downtown felt abandoned and was in considerable disrepair but that it seems to have been a neat town at one point. Thanks to the increasingly gusty wind it was a bit tricky to get the spaghetti cooked, but Andres eventually succeeded. In the meantime, Isaiah had no trouble passing the time . . .
and Marisela provided musical diversion . . .
The Scouts, having run wild all day, were much more sedate that night. We got the kids to bed and enjoyed a quieter campfire evening than the one before. All was well until about 2:30 am, at which point Marisela was awakened by crazy gusting wind. I’m guessing the gusts were around 40 mph, and when one would hit the tent directly I have to say it was pretty impressive. I moved my sleeping bag into the kids’ tent and stayed in there until 6 or so. Isaiah barely registered the wind – guess he’d hiked around enough to earn himself a deep, deep sleep.
The wind was still strong enough Sunday morning that it was a bit of a trick even for our expert camp cook to keep the fire going and get breakfast made. We had to give up on our second pot of coffee . . . we just didn’t have enough fuel left to keep the fire going high and hot enough to get the water boiling in that wind. After we ate we broke camp (to the sounds of Marisela’s bitter complaining . . . she was NOT ready to leave), then revisited our hike from the afternoon before, this time with Baba’s company. Marisela led the way again and Baba kept her moving at a brisk pace (well, as brisk a pace as her not-quite-5-year-old legs could manage) because she was absolutely determined to be the trail boss. She kept us all safe, shouting warnings back to us: “Watch out! Poky plants up ahead!” “Watch out! Loose rocks!” “Watch out! Steep trail!” You would have thought we were making our way through rugged wilderness given her warnings, but it was a very nicely manicured trail.
After our hike we assembled the last of our belongings and shoved everything in the car (somehow it seemed just as full as on the way there, despite the fact that we’d burned all our wood and eaten a lot of food).
We took a tough and grumpy camper picture . . .
and, of course, for Mama, a happy camper picture . . .
. . . and we took off for home. We stopped in our neighborhood for lunch at a new BBQ place, then got home and got unpacked and had stuff put away fairly well just in time for kickoff of the Cowboys game. Just to top off our great weekend, the Cowboys even did us the favor of winning. What a lovely surprise!