There’s a Wolf in my tent…

This Saturday, we went for a quick overnight camping trip to Camp Currier, a Boy Scout camp located in Eudora, MS and operated by the Chickasaw Council.  Currier was established by the Council in the 1920s and we went there this weekend to take part in Joe’s Cub Scout “pack” graduation ceremony, when each rank advances to the next level.

Joe transitioned from a Tiger Cub to a Wolf, where he’ll remain throughout the next year.  It was pretty special for us to get to watch him and his friends advance to the next level and with any luck, they’ll stick together over the next four years as they cross the line into to the Boy Scouts.  It’s been interesting to watch each of them grow as individuals and as a “den” throughout the year.  It’s also been great to meet other parents, the older boys, and the “leaders of the pack”, who put a lot of time and energy into providing a good program for the boys.

Our trip to Currier brought back memories for me, as I was there as a Boy Scout in the late 1980′s and early 90′s.  I remember thinking to myself the first time I rode to Currier with my troop, how far away it seemed (only about an hour back then, 20 minutes today).  But then I had such a good time while I was there, I didn’t want to go back home when it was time to leave.

So, it was nice to get to be there with Joe’s for his first time at Currier.  It was a short first time though , too short—less than 18 hours from the time we pitched the tent to the time we pulled in to the driveway back home, just in time for Mother’s Day.  But it was good to get back out under the stars for a few hours, while we left the rest of the world—and it’s worries—far behind.

See you on the trail…

Joe and Mom – a Happy Mother’s Day weekend, indeed…

Getting advancements during the pack meeting…

Puleeaaaaazzzze – just a few more minutes?!?!?!?!?!

Digging in the “mine”….

 

The wet shoe…

Joe wanted to write a blog post for our website, so without further ado, here it is!

My favorite part about camping with my grandfather was when we went to the Mather lodge and ate breakfast. But mostly I loved when my shoe got wet.

Joe

Just about the spot where the shoe got wet.  We didn’t actually go in there.  But we thought about it!

 

The curious case of the confounding crick…

Earlier this month, my dad met Joe and I for our third-annual spring camping trip to Petit Jean State Park in central Arkansas.  Joe’s mom was nursing a sinus infection and starting a new job (woot!) the following Monday, so she decided to let the boys fly solo this time around.  As it turned out, this was probably for the best.

All’s well that begins well, right?

Joe and I had a leisurely drive over to Petit Jean and after checking in, we went straight to Rock House Cave to make sure everything was as we’d left it since our 2013 trip.  After Rock House, we quickly set up camp, gathered some kindling and had ourselves some canned goods for dinner.  Before bedding down for the night, we managed to build a nice little fire without too much effort.  My dad was running late, so it looked like we would spend our first night sans Pops, which was disappointing, but not a big deal. So far, so good.

But at approximately 2:43(AM!) I was awakened by an anything but good and totally blood-curdling, scream.  Still half asleep, I quickly realized that the scream was emanating less than 18 inches from my head — by my own flesh and blood. [Read more...]

A Hike in the Snow…

It’s 2014, and high time to catch up on some posts.  A conversation today inspired this one, written with just a dash of my world famous sarcism and dedicated to my Dear Ole Dad.  Happy New Year!

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While cleaning out some boxes at my grandmother’s house several years ago, I came upon some photographs my father had taken during my childhood. He had them organized into envelopes, each with a title and date.  I went through them until I came to the last one:

A Hike in the Snow, January 1987.  

This was the one I had been looking for. It happened so long ago, it seemed like one of those bad dreams that just.wouldn’t.stay.away.  But finally I had the proof. [Read more...]

Parkin Archeological State Park, Oct. 2012 (or Happy Father’s Day 2013!)

I was talking with a friend the other day about how I have several blog posts I’ve been meaning to write, and realized that I’d better do it soon, before best intentions become forgotten ones.  The intent of my blog, after all, is to keep a record of camping and fun experiences with Joe, for Joe.  So for Father’s Day this year, I’m picking up where we left off –father, son, and dog- in Arkansas.

On the drive back from our trip to Village Creek State Park, Joe, Nitro, and I stopped by Parkin Archaeological State Park.  Parkin is located in northeast Arkansas, along the St. Francis River.  While they don’t have camping  there, they do have an informative museum and a short walking trail.

The park is located on what was once Sawdust Hill, a 20th century African-American community of timber and sawmill workers. As early as 1000 AD, it was a bustling Mississippian Native American village named Casqui, according to some archaeologists.  Proximity to the river made this space a valuable piece of land, once upon a time.  Today the Parkin site is on the National Register of Historic Places. [Read more...]

A foraging we will go….

Well, I guess 2012 is just about over and done!   When I started this little adventure log, I wanted to write at least one post a month.  I’ve only missed September, so I’m pleased with that.  I’m looking forward to 2013 – we already have several expeditions in mind, and I can’t wait to see what they hold in store for us.

For December, I thought I would write about our mushroom investigations during our “recent” trip to Village Creek State Park.  While on our trip to Petit Jean, Joe was enamored with all the different varieties of mushrooms we found in the woods.  My dad played the role of instructor, and taught Joe a few key do’s and don’ts to follow when looking at wild mushrooms.

Later, Pops sent Joe a Pocket Naturalist Guide to Mushrooms in the mail, which Joe studied and learned how to identify various mushroom species.  To my surprise, while we were on the trails at Village Creek, he (correctly) identified several different species.  [Read more...]

Village Creek State Park, Oct. 2012

Just the good ole boys....

Just the good ole boys….

Last month, I decided to arrange an impromptu father, son, and dog getaway during Joe’s fall break from school.  I packed the Explorer up on Saturday night and surprised Joe with the news of the trip about 30 minutes before we left on Sunday.  Thankfully, Joe enjoyed our first camping expedition earlier in the year, so he was excited to go on another adventure.  With a few last minute preparations, we were ready to head out.  As we were leaving, Michelle asked “Did you remember the anti-bacterial?”.  Ummmmm, no?!?! 

 For this trip, we travelled about 75 miles to Village Creek State Park near Forrest City, Arkansas.  The park was small, but nice, and had but a few campers, due to our Sunday arrival.  Village Creek has about 25 miles of multi-use trails and a large portion of the park is dedicated to horse riding.  It is a pretty little place to visit, and is situated on a unique Arkansas geologic feature named Crowleys Ridge

When we arrived at the park, we made the obligatory stop at the visitor center to check in and look at all the guides and goodies.  We also watched a program about the animals of Village Creek, given by one of the park interpreters.  After checking in, we started setting up camp site #34.  Our elevated campsite was really nice, the tent pad was set back in the woods from the rest of the camp.   This gave a feeling of being a bit more secluded from the other campsites around us.  After eating dinner and exploring a bit, we built a nice fire and then hit the sleeping bags. [Read more...]

Camping with Joe – Day 4…

Family Portrait - Petit Jean

Our last, but best picture of the trip, deserves a spot at the top…

Well, it’s been a few weeks since I posted on the merits of Vienna Sausage and Swiss Army knives, so I suppose it is time to wrap up the log of our first family camping trip.  It has been pretty neat to revisit the trip over the past couple of months, and look at all the memories we made at Petit Jean.

Day four of Camping with Joe began with a surprise when my dad awoke to find that his cooler had been raided by a four legged masked bandit, who robbed him of a few precious leftovers.  Lucky for us, he fancied the steak, and not the Shiner.  While Dad was surveying the damage, we started cooking another fine breakfast, although we did not do any dutch oven cooking this time around.  We had a few coals left in the fire pit from the night before, so Michelle made some tasty campfire toast, to go along with our eggs and sausage.

Like all good things though, our time at the little campsite we’d called home had come to an end, so it was time to break camp.  This was done in relatively short order, but still, we kind of lazed around the site, making sure we’d picked up and packed up sufficiently.   Joe was able to grab a few more minutes of Scooby Doo while we were packing.   My dad didn’t have a particular place to be, so he kept his tent up, went to the visitor center, and reserved himself another night under the stars.

While it was still hot, the weather FINALLY gave us a break.  Temps hovered most of the day in the mid-80s, and while it got close to 90, it was a welcome change from the low to mid-90s.  With the “break” in the weather, we debated for a bit whether or not to do the 4.5 mile Seven Hollows Trail.  Whether hiked alone, or as part of the Boy Scout Trail, Seven Hollows is a truly magnificent trail, and one that should not be missed.  It has dense forest, rock formations, a natural bridge, a grotto, and even a desert like feature.  But, after an already late start from breakfast and packing up, we opted for the lighter and more manageable Cedar Creek Trail.   Seven Hollows would have to wait for the next trip, and lucky for us, we made a good choice (not that there can be a bad one at Petit Jean!). [Read more...]

Camping with Joe – Day 3…

Yeah, yeah yeah.  How could it take three months to document a four day hike in the woods?  Summer my friends, the dog days of summer.  I’ll wrap up day three in this post, and you won’t have to wait a month for day four – I promise!!!


After another peaceful night of tent camping, day three of our trip began with eggs, sausage, and blueberry scones cooked in the dutch oven.  They were prepackaged, and just needed to be cooked to the right temp.  They were YUMMY.

While I cleaned up after breakfast, Michelle and Joe went to a park program called “Spiders Among Us”, where Interpreter Mystina taught the kid campers all about spider hideouts and also a Cherokee legend about spiders.  This was right up Joe’s alley, as spiders are one of his favorite creatures.  Following the program, we went back to Bear Cave and Rock House Cave, as we had done on day two.  We had a little more time today to explore around and check out more parts of each.  Here is a great shot of Joe and the two massive Bear Cave rocks.

Joe claiming Bear Cave for his own…

After about an hour at Bear Cave, my dad hiked the trail back to Mather Lodge, while we took the car over to one of the four scenic overlooks at Petit Jean, “Palisades Overlook”.  Here we could get a view of of the canyons of Cedar Creek, and I believe this is where my dad, grandmother, sisters, and I used to do a considerable amount of star-gazing, back in the day.  We met up with my dad after having a look around Mather Lodge, which was still closed for renovations.  More on that in a future post.

Later, we went back to Rock House Cave, for a quick look around, and this is where I got to introduce Joe to two must-have items while on any camping trip:  Vienna Sausage and the venerable Swiss Army Knife.  Both of these items have been staples on every camping trip that I can ever remember, whether with my dad, the boy scouts, or on my own.  I’m not a card carrying Swiss Army Knife aficionado, but I recognize their necessity on the trail. Dads have a magical power to make the simplest things into something mystic and when we were through, Joe was thoroughly convinced on the supernatural powers of the Swiss Army Knife. [Read more...]

Camping with Joe – Day 2…

With our first night sleeping on the tent pad at campsite 80 behind us, we started day two of our trip at Petit Jean in great fashion – with a nice breakfast.

After first reading Lonesome Dove 20+ years ago (and a couple dozen times since), I’ve always wanted to make dutch oven biscuits, outside, early in the morning. Since this was our first ‘official’ breakfast in our camping adventures, I got up a little early, started some coals and threw some Pillsbury canned biscuits in the dutch oven.  It wasn’t exactly like Gus’ homemade biscuits, but hey, it’s 2012, not 1875.   Uva Uvam Videndo Varia Fit, as Gus would say.

I must say the buscuits were tasty, and well worth the ‘effort’ that Pillsbury put into packaging them.We made some coffee and had link sausage and scrambled eggs w/Pickappepa to complement the biscuits.    It just doesn’t get much better than a decent meal to get your day on the right track.  Following breakfast, we lazed around the campsite for a little while and Joe played with his new knight and dragon that Pops brought him.

Later in the morning, we hit the first of several stops of the day at Cedar Falls Overlook.  In years past, Cedar Falls was just that, falls.  Due to very little rain, snow, etc. the falls are more like Cedar Trickle, these days.  It didn’t help that we arrived during the middle of drought-ma-geddon.  I won’t depress you with a picture, but this, is what it should look like.  Still, the short trail to the falls has been redone since I was last there, and Joe really liked leading the way down.  This is probably the most kid friendly (and now wheelchair accessible) trail at Petit Jean.  It is a great way to start your trip, and you get a beautiful view of the falls and canyons below you. Here is a shot of Michelle and Joe at the falls overlook.

Joe & Michelle at Cedar Falls [Read more...]