Sunday, August 26, 2012

350 miles and 35 years away

We just go back from our family summer vacation- 4 days in a cabin at Devil's Den State Park in West Fork, Arkansas. I'm still going through pictures and running loads of laundry, so the actual "what we did on our summer vacation" post will come later (you're on the edge of your seats, I know), but I had to throw a little something together to commemorate our return to the trappings of civilization. Because civilization is something we pretty much left behind as we pulled out of our driveway. No GPS, no cell phone service (NONE! I didn't know 2,00-acre dead zones still existed), no internet, no TV, no cable, no DVD player- other than my kindle, we pretty much jumped back a few decades in time and it was glorious.

It all started when our GPS refused to recognize that Devil's Den state park existed. Luckily, I have a deep distrust for navigation systems, so I pulled out the directions I'd printed out the night before, just in case, and turned navigation off. Landon had been whining before we left- over what, I can't remember, so I told him no DVD player for the first half of the ride. That is a bit "cutting off your nose to spite your face" for a parent facing a 6 hour drive with two kids under the age of 6, but I haaaaate whining and I wasn't willing to delay our start with a timeout, nor was there much else I could take away in punishment. Next thing we knew we were 5 hours into the trip and he hadn't asked for it, so we kept it tucked away for the remainder of our holiday, only removing it from the car to tuck it away in the TV cabinet when we got home today. As we approached West Fork, I found that my cell phone was dead because it had been searching for a signal for an hour, so until we drove home today I only used it when we drove into "town" and I contacted my mom to find out how my grandpa's surgery went on Friday (he's doing well). It was strange not to be able to check email, peruse facebook, or, most importantly at the time- check the hourly weather report and/or restaurant reviews for places we might stop on our one night out - I can't remember the last time I pulled into an unknown restaurant parking lot without reading every review available, and picking out my items on the already-memorized menu. Thank you Grub's in Fayetteville, as recommended by the volunteer lifeguard we asked at the Devil's Den park pool just like in the olden days, you were delicious.

Our cabin did have a TV, but ever since we moved to Fort Worth and no longer had a TV in the main living area, the kids haven't watched it, so we saw no reason to turn it on if they didn't ask. We spent our evenings completing puzzles, running around the cabin (well, the kids ran, I drank a glass of wine and watched from the Adirondack chairs on the deck, JP sat next to me and whittled), coloring, and reading books. After the kids went to bed JP and I sat outside and talked over the light of the Citronella candle. Later, I kicked his ass in Monopoly- a first in our 11 year relationship, he kicked mine in Bananagrams (how can I read so much and so quickly and be SO TERRIBLE at word games? how?!), and then I kicked his back in Dutch Blitz. We went to bed at 9:30 and woke up at 7 a.m., listening to the kid sing "Wheels on the Bus" and "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" from their beds in the other room. We ignored them for at least 30 minutes each morning, or until we couldn't handle hearing one more round of "Wheels on the Bus," and then made breakfast and spilled out the door for an early hike. We only saw two other people on the trails, and since the campground was full, I can only conclude that most people had better things to do at 8 a.m. than climb up a wall of rocks.

(we didn't)

The most fun thing for me, besides the hiking and rock climbing that I love, was seeing the kids play outdoors the way I remember doing on our camping trips growing up. Our kids almost always get along, but when you only have each other all day (well they had us too, but both of them generally prefer the other to JP or me), it creates a whole deeper level of friendship and play. My siblings and I did not always get along, but we always played great together on those camping trips too- I think it's one of the many reasons my parents took us on so many. L & C spent a ton of time walking in circles around the cabin looking for monkeys (Claire became convinced in the week before our trip that camping involved monkeys, and her belief never wavered despite our lack of monkey sightings), "hiking" alone in the woods nearby (very nearby), and hanging out and coloring pictures on the rock piles by the walkway to the cabin's front door.

We had so much fun. My legs are so sore, I did not sleep well in the cabin at all (not the cabin's fault), I'm on load 2 of 4 for laundry, and I still need to go to the grocery store to be ready for tomorrow.

But we had so much fun.

And JP and I talked about our next faux-camping trip the whole drive home.


  1. That looks like such a fun trip! I love the pictures of the kids hugging. Totally adorable.

  2. No internet? That's really roughing it! Cute kids as always :)

  3. So funny... we went camping last weekend in a regional park "rustic cabin" with AC and electricity. I also called it faux camping (I would say we evened out... we were all in one room, and it was bare minimum in the cabin, but we did get a cell phone signal, so could use our iPhones to connect with the internets). But, it was amazing and fun and I can't wait to go back. I also grew up camping with my family, and the trip brought back so many amazing memories. (best part? it was actually only a 10 minute drive, though it felt like we were worlds away from our suburban (DC metro) home.

  4. They are so precious. What a nice break from the rest of the world!

  5. I'm all about faux camping - tents-schments. :o)