Family Fun Extended Weekend Vacation

We had a ton of things to get done around the house so we got busy by…


leaving town and all the chores behind.

Heath, Peanut and I all had Friday off so after a tiny amount of planning we hit the road Thursday night in a Vue packed with camping, swimming, BBQ, spelunking and other entertainment supplies. We headed east for a long time. We stopped for dinner in Columbia at a McDonald’s Play Place and loaded up the car with gas then continued on mostly south. At about 8pm we entered the Lake of the Ozarks State Park. I had called them up at lunch time on Thursday and they had 1 cabin and about 30% of their campsites available. I’m thinking they had a few hundred sites total. When we pulled up to the campground host they had 0 cabins and 3 spots left. We took spot 24 because they told us it would be the most private and quiet. The host said we would understand why when we got there.

She was right, either the park has a lot of great spots or somehow we just got really lucky. 24 was right at the end of the row so 2 sides were woods. The site was a bit slanted but there was a really flat area cut out of the trees that was perfect for the tent. We had big shady trees on 3 sides of the tent. It was getting dark fast when we arrived so Peanut started gathering firewood, I started unpacking the car and Heath started on the tent. We got everything set up and ready for the weekend in 30 minutes and even had enough firewood for the 1st night and morning.

Once our camp was all set up and the last of the daylight was used we explored the shower house up the hill away and the bathroom around the corner. Then we headed back by the camp host to pay for our spot and get some maps and other brochures. Then we headed down the road a way to the marina store and beach. There were lots of deer out on the road. The beach was closed to swimmers for the night but we explored it and tossed some rocks and walked around all the docks and stuff by the shore.

Then we headed back to camp and started a little fire and our lantern. We told stories about raccons and lightning bugs and other wilderness creatures until quiet time. The whole place really got queit at 11 and we fell asleep in no time. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Friday morning I got up first and started a fire and got a few things ready for breakfast. Heath got up an hour or so later and we sat around the fire planning the day. As we were quietly talking a deer eating grass slowly worked it’s way out of the woods and towards us. We quieted more and watched it slowly come closer and closer stopping to watch us or to eat another bite. It came to a clearing about 15 feet from us and started eating.

Then we heard a rustling in the woods farther away and saw something moving quickly toward us. As it got close we saw a clumsy young fawn appear and run up next to it’s mother. They nursed right in front of us for a few minutes then the mother flipped her leg over the kid and closed down. They both ate grass and stuff and wondered around in the woods by us the rest of the morning. Another fawn eventually came up and joined them.

Peanut got up a little after 10. Sleeping this late almost never happens on a camp out for anyone but it was nice and cool and our tent spot was so shady so it stayed pretty dark late into the morning. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Once Peanut was up I cooked up some sausage links, diced peppers, and cheesy scrambled eggs. Heath and I mixed our stuff up but Peanut stayed away from the peppers. We also had watermelon, cantaloupe and cranberry juice. It was a good breakfast and a nice start to the day. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Then we got our hiking gear on and set camp up to survive all day with out us even if we got some rain.

We drove out of the campground a way and found a big hiking trail. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Before hiking I saw something shiny in the grass and it turned out to be a big turtle. He/She was doing something weird in a hole. There was no mud anywhere in the grass except for right behind the turtle and this little hole.


We were not sure what was going on but assumed it was something with eggs or mating. The turtle was flat like a water turtle and big like one but also kinda looked like a box turtle.

We started our hike and quickly realized it was shared by horses. This is bad if the ground is soft but it was pretty rocky so the horses didn’t mess it up. We hiked a little way and were in a grassy field area when a crazy loud noise beside us made us all jump. A wild turkey was in the tall grass about 3 feet from us and got spooked as we passed and took off. Somehow none us peed our pants as the big bird flew past us. We had planned to hike about a mile in and then a mile out but after a mile we saw a sign saying scenic overlook .7 miles.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
We decided to hike to it and continued on. However we came to lots of forks in the path and could not find the overlook. We probably went another mile or more before stopping at a creek to watch the fish and crawdads and throw some rocks. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Then we hiked out. It had been pretty nice on the way in but the sun was up high now and it was a hot hike out. We got some drinks at the car then drove out of the park. We were ready for some cave exploration so we drove to the other side of the lake.  We took the scenic way over on the way and drove over two crazy swinging old bridges. We were told this way was adventurous so we were ready but still shocked at the old 2×6 boards we were driving across as the bridge swayed over the lake. We got to the cave at 2:15 and discovered the tours were at 2 or 4. So we headed back the parking lot and went up the road a bit for another hike. It started to rain a little bit but was not much so we hiked in the rain along a mossy path to a natural spring. We considered playing in the water some but everything around the spring was covered in millipedes. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It was kinda gross and the worms were everywhere. Peanut didn’t seem to care and walked around on them and picked them up. Then we walked back to the car as the rain picked up some. We made a bunch of sandwiches and other snacks and ate lunch in our seats. We were really hungry and ate all the sandwiches and a bunch of summer sausage with cheese and crackers. For desert we split a bag of skittles and fruit snacks and pezz. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Our lunch was slow and when we were done it was almost 4 so we walked back to the nature center and paid $12 for the 3 of us to take the hour tour.They gave us a little talk on what to do and not do in the cave and some basic info then we each got a light. It’s always 57 or something in the cave so we put on jackets.


We were with a pretty big group and our guide walked fast but it was the same path in and out so after 2 passes by everything I thing we got a pretty good look at everything. The highlight of the cave was something called angel falls I think. The top was a huge dripping formation that 1000s of gallons of water fall through every day. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And the bottom was a big white deal they called the tub that the water falls into.


The hour flew by and in no time we were making our way out of the windy cave path. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The cave tour had really cooled us off but the humidity outside got us again in no time. On the way home we took the other way around so we could stop by another beach. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We had talked about just hoping in to cool off and rinse off but it felt great and was pretty fun so we stayed quite a while. Peanut really likes to swim and never wanted to leave. He really likes it when the water is the right depth to jump off my shoulders.

Eventually we got him out of the water and rinsed off in the shower and back in the car. We drove through a big shopping area called Prewitt’s Point on the way back.


Once at camp we were starting to get hungry again. I had planned to start a fire, grill some chicken then put it in the dutch oven with a bunch of vegetables and cream of soups and cook biscuits on top of it. It seemed like this plan would take about 4 hours to do and it was after 7 already. So instead I started a quick fire while Heath and Peanut took real showers. I cut up the chicken peppers and broccoli and cooked them in a skillet over the fire. I added salsa and the cream of mushroom soup then some water and a packet of cheesy brockoli rice.
When the rice was soft and everything was cooked I melted some cheese over the top. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It was pretty quick and really good. We scarfed down almost the entire pot. Then I headed to the shower in hopes I would cool off, clean off and stop sweating. While I was gone Peanut and Heath cooked up some desert.


When I got back we built of the fire and told stories around it again. This time instead of wilderness stories we told Star Wars stories and then got to bed at about 10:30. In the morning I got up first and had a couple beers and wondered around in the woods and built up a big fire. At like 9am a few rain drops started to fall and I woke up Heath to ask her if she wanted to take down the tent and pack up quick before the rain really started falling. By the time she got out it had stopped and things were fine. We sat around the fire planning the day and getting ready for breakfast until about 10:30. Peanut was still sleeping but we were hungry and cooked up more sausage and started cooking pancakes. Then it started raining for real. There was a decent downpour that quickly got the tent wet. We stuck Peanut in the car and then quickly tossed everything else we had in the car too. It was a terrible pack job and lots of stuff was wet. We dumped our trash in a dumpster then went to the shower house to rinse off and put on clean clothes. Before we even got into the showers the rain had stopped.

We ate the sausage and some biscuits and the rest of our watermelon and cantaloupe in the car. We passed by an outlet mall thing and headed there for Heath to hit up some maternity store. It rained a bit more while we were there but we were in stores so didn’t mind. Believe it or not there are lots more pictures at

(If you want to take an intermission at this point I understand,
I still have our 4th of July party to talk about and all day Sunday but I am thinking of skipping Sunday)

Then we hopped on the highway and headed west. After 30 minutes we stopped for lunch at some little grill and deli and it was pretty good then we drove the rest of the way to Nevada, MO close to where my Uncles family lives and my Grandmother. We got some supplies at Wal-Mart, visited my Grandma and refilled the gas tank. Then headed to my uncles farm to celebrate the 4th.

It was hot out but not too bad. We were up on a hill with a nice breeze and spent all afternoon talking and hanging out. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Peanut played with our cousin Thomas and they spent most of the afternoon in the pool (stock tank). OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

At dinner time we carried out tray after trey of food and filled some tables with home grown cucumbers, berries, tomatoes, onions and lots more.

I filled my plate 3 times it was so good. After dinner the kids did some smoke bombs and other day time fireworks. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

While we kept an eye on them and the clouds behind us. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It rained a few drops then the clouds cleared and it was nice the rest of the night. As the sun settled there were some really nice pink clouds. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Before dark my cousins brought out a huge container of homemade ice cream that was so awesome and we ate all of it then shot off a bunch more fireworks. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

As it grew darker we played with the sparklers and fountains and other small fun things OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Then once it was really dark my uncle started the big ones.


He did a great job and had a lot of big fireworks for us to watch. He let Peanut come down with him for the last two and help with the finally. Peanut thought it was pretty cool and he was a pretty big kid after this.Of course I have more pictures up here

It was pretty late when this was done and we quickly packed up and hit the road. We were eager to get home and had a nice fast drive home. It was cool because we could see lots of displays in the distance through the country as we drove home.

Peanut fell asleep on the way and didn’t even wake up as I scooped him up and put him in bed. Heath and I unloaded the tent and hung it to dry and put our cooler stuff in the fridge. Then I headed downstairs to check on the fish tank. Poor Phil the catfish was very dead. By very dead I mean he was denigrating. This was  real gross and really messy but I got all the big pieces out of the tank and in two garbage bags outside.

Our two sucker fishes are doing well and once Phil was out the tank started to clear up some and luckily the dehumidifier got the air smelling good down there again.

Sunday was a really busy day working on projects around the house that I’m not going to go into. We called the day over at 5:30 and watched the 3rd Star Wars movie then ate dinner and went to bed.


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