Monday, July 7, 2014

Roughing It

Well, sort of...

I'm still super mellowed out from my week-long camping vacation at Table Rock Lake in southern Missouri with my sister and her family.  It's kind of fitting that this trip happened to fall right after my minimalist experiment, because we were living a pretty minimalist lifestyle out there.  Despite that, or perhaps because of that, this is one of my favorite vacations.  I went along with my sister 3 years ago and had such a great time, and I'm so glad I was able to go again this year.  The trip is a family reunion for my brother-in-law's family and I'm so thankful they welcomed me with open arms and invited me back again!  My sister and brother-in-law love the outdoors just as much as I do, as do my niece and nephew.  That's a good thing, because 90% of the day was spent outside the cabin.  We only came in to eat and sleep.  I mean, how could you possibly sit inside when you're surrounded by Mother Nature in all her glory, and views like this:

Now, lest you think I am a professional camper, I assure you I am not.  We slept in air-conditioned cabins, not tents on the ground, and our attempts at making fire were admittedly amateur.  The resort is pretty bare-bones though and the cabins exude a definite vintage charm, since I'm guessing they were constructed around 1960:
We actually had one of the larger cabins this year since there was a new addition to my sister's family since the last trip!  This building is 4 cabins - ours was the top left.
Living Room - we didn't turn on that TV once the entire week!
This was possibly June Cleaver's kitchen
Bathroom with the smallest shower stall known to man (or woman)
Bedroom I shared with my 5 year old roomie (my niece)
When we arrived in Branson last Saturday afternoon, we went on a massive 3 hour shopping spree, in which we procured all the food we would eat that week.  Our calculations were not totally off-base, as we actually had quite a bit left over at the end of the week that we gave to others who were driving home, and we only had to go out once to get more drinking water (you couldn't really drink the tap water).  Our daily food intake looked like this: 
Breakfast - Fruit & cereal
Snack - Fruit (peaches, nectarines, cherries, blueberries, raspberries, plums, bananas) or veggies (carrots w/hummus)
Lunch - Tuna, turkey or PB&J sandwiches
Snack - Fruit
Dinner - Main dish (grilled meat, tacos, pasta) plus sides from all the other families
Dinners were the best because each family would make their own main dish and then bring a side dish into this huge netted tent to share with everyone else.  It was so nice to eat together and there were so many good things to pick from every night!  I made that delicious bean/corn salad that I wrote about one night (post here).  We also contributed pasta salad, corn on the cob, and green salads the other nights.  There was a smorgasbord every night and I loved it.  After exercising pretty much all day long outside each day, I was famished each night. 
Our days consisted of participating in pretty much every water sport imaginable.  Several members of my brother-in-law's family have boats, which they were kind enough to offer us rides on every day.  We also did some tubing behind the boats, which my niece loved!  My favorite though was water skiing.  I picked this up on our trip 3 years ago and luckily it came right back to me! We also did some jet-skiing and plenty of swimming in the lake, which was surprisingly warm.  The only thing we didn't do this year that we did last time was cliff diving, and I am kind of ok with that, because I remember jumping off those huge cliffs gave me a major headache!
In the evenings after we put the kids to bed, my sister (who is 7 months pregnant!) and I would take long walks up the giant mountain.  She is in amazing shape bc we were basically walking straight uphill for like 30 mins!  After that we would attempt our fire.  You may ask why one would want a fire when it is 85 degrees outside.  Well, I will tell you the sole purpose of our fire was so that we could make s'mores.  We tried making them the first night using the charcoal grills and the marshmallows didn't really come out 'toasted'.  My sister had an intense craving for a real toasted marshmallow s'more, and if you know what's good for you, you do not argue with a pregnant lady.  Thus, our need to build a fire.  Luckily my sister's mother-in-law knew a lot more about making a fire than we did and she helped us out.  But even so, our fires rarely made it more than 20-30 mins! Hahaha  We obviously would not fare well in actual survival situations, where I'm guessing you don't have access to lighter fluid and Bic light sticks!  Nevertheless, we had a s'more every night (mine minus the chocolate) and they were mighty fine if I do say so myself. 
We were also treated to live music many nights by several of my brother-in-law's family members who sing and play the guitar and banjo.  They played country/folk type music for us and it was awesome.
A couple of nights we also participated in craft beer tastings put on by one of the cousins, wherein I had the best beer in the world.  I'm not a huge beer drinker but I am now obsessed with Sprecher Hard Root Beer.  Has anyone ever had this stuff??  It tastes like root beer, not beer, and it is heavenly and I don't know what I'm going to do because I googled it and it's not sold anywhere in Maryland?!?!  [Just FYI, I'm guessing a future post will probably be a recap of me solo road-tripping it to Ohio for some of this delicious nectar.]
There are two main reasons why this reunion camping trip has become one of my favorite vacations:
One is obviously the setting and access to outdoor activities.  I love being outside in the summertime when the weather is hot and sunny and even more so in this incredible, removed environment.  And I love spending summer days being active outdoors - even better if the activity involves water (I am a Pisces after all). 
The second reason is that we are pretty much unplugged the entire week.  There's no TV, no radio, very little phone use, no driving, no traffic, no city noise, no shopping - nothing commercial exists in the campground.  I have been longing for this feeling for so long and even more so lately after my minimalist exploration.  I wouldn't say I'm quite qualified for my Pacific Crest Trail trek but I'm getting there and I'm definitely in that state of mind. 
Ok enough are some pics:
My nephew - that face!!
Kids superhero party - Capes made by Aunt Jilly
Twins...except for the belly :)
We're on a boat!
I realize this type of vacation isn't for everyone, especially those who like luxury, spas, and clubbin', but its just another reminder of the type of lifestyle that makes me happy.  And happy I was...all week long :)
*Huge thanks goes out to my sister and brother-in-law for making this trip possible and inviting me along again!
Ever been camping?

What's your ideal vacation?
Any vacations planned this summer?
If you live in a state where Sprecher Hard Root Beer flows like water can you please mail me some?!?!




  1. I was following your pics on instagram and it looks like a fabulous trip! I am totally into camping as long as I'm in some sort of shelter and can shower. :) -Christine

    1. Hahaha, same with me! I tented it once at girl scout camp and that was a little too 'rough' for me!

  2. No joke, I am just getting back from lunch and they had Sprecher's root beer on the menu and they.don' BAHHHHHHHHHHH
    I'm into camping as long as I am with decent people and properly prepared. My husband apparently is not a fan, which I thought was interesting.

    1. OMG ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?!? First of all, why on earth would they remove this sublime beverage from their menu?! And secondly, if one restaurant had it on their menu, that means there's got to be more. I'm on the next flight to Chi Town. See you soon!

  3. Nice recap. Glad you had as much fun as we did!

    1. Thanks Lee. Loved loved loved spending time with you guys. Miss you already!

  4. I have never been camping! I would totally NOT be down with the tent-and-outhouse style of camping, but I'd be all kinds of down with your boat and cabin style of camping. :) Sounds fun! Glad you had a good time!

    1. Ha yes, this type of camping was good. I did tent and outhouse as a girl scout and even for a kid, it was a bit of a shocker!

  5. Woooo I'm a big fan of "roughing it" obviously. My version of the word is similar to yours since I can't exactly say boat life is that difficult ;) I'm glad you had such a great vacation!

    p.s. I'll be back in the area soon so you can pay more visits to CCR!

    1. I'm telling you, I am dying to experience boat life after reading about it so much on your blog. It sounds like heaven on water.
      And what is with this cryptic PS?!?! Are you moving back to Balt?!

  6. No real plans this year but I use to love camping and would love to do it again soon. I love the peacefulness that nature offers.