Monday, July 6, 2009

Independence Day--Camping at Elk River

We decided to spend our Independence Day out at Elk River this year. They always do a pretty good fireworks display down there and we have missed the fireworks the last few years so we decided to combine a fun camp trip with the fireworks show this year. We got a little nervous when we got to Elk River on Friday morning because everything was packed! There were no campsites to be found and there were tons of people all over the place--not our idea of a relaxing camping experience. We weren't panicking yet though so we drove back toward Bovil and decided to try the road up toward the Elk Creek Falls. Eureka! We found a really great spot about a 1/4 mile before the parking spot for the falls. It was perfect. No one else around. Not to far from a bathroom. The kids even found the kingdom of Terabithia there. Whenever we would head into the Chaos of Elk River we were so glad that we weren't camping there and that we were far enough away to avoid the insanity. We could enjoy the amenities ie. lake, creek, fireworks show and then we could go back to our nice, quiet, relaxing spot in the middle of the woods.

Amanda and I jumped on the quad one afternoon and took off to explore some areas just west of where we camped. We were pretty shocked to have a little black bear cub run right across the trail just a few feet in front of us. I slowed down to get a better look and Amanda said, "go, go, go!" thinking that the mama might be somewhere close by. It was so fun to see it. I've never seen a bear out in the wild before.
We rode down to this little stream. I'm thinking that I would really love to come back sometime with a picnic lunch and hike my way down this creek sometime. According to a guy we met, there is supposed to be a really cool waterfall with a great swimming hole downstream from where we were. I'd like to find that sometime.

The views were just so pretty--the sky was blue, the bushes and trees were green, the wildflowers were out and the sun was shining. Nice way to remember and be grateful for this amazing country of ours.

We hiked down to the lower and middle falls on Saturday morning. Life was good on the way down. It was coming back up that kept us huffing and puffing. We picked up a couple geo-caches while we were there too. It's always kind of fun to combine the cool hikes and gorgeous scenery with the thrill of the find. --At least that's what I keep telling my kids and the husband. :)

It was really quite nice to have kids that are old enough to hike in AND out all by themselves. (Not that they didn't try to get me to carry them) I just kept telling them that if they got themselves down there then they could get themselves back out--and they did. THIS pregnant lady was NOT going to be carrying anyone out. (although we did occasionally have visions of having to go back for the quad to pull Jeffs big butt out) lol
I have to admit though----I am hurting today. My calves are killing me. Jeff isn't even sore at all. What's that all about.

This is my new favorite camping treat. Amanda brought this idea. You make sugar cookies ahead of time. (you don't even have to mess with the cookie cutters--just cut the dough into squares and bake) then you spread on a mixture of Marshmallow cream and cream cheese and top with your favorite fruit--or whatever is on sale and WaLa! Instant yumminess! We had them for desert one night and then the next morning since we were going for the hike and didn't want to make the more in depth breakfast that we had been planning we decided to make these again for a super quick and easy breakfast. Kaylee doesn't much care for sugar cookies (go figure) and so she just mixed the cream mixture and the fruit in a bowl and ate it that way.

Jeff and Dan went fishing one afternoon while Amanda and I hung out with the kids at the lake. We let them swim around by the shore for a while then when they got tired of that we took them out on the Scanoe that Dan and Amanda brought. The scanoe is a little wider and flatter than a regular canoe which gives it a little more stability--Thank goodness because we had Amanda, myself, K, Addy, Drew AND the Dog all in that scanoe rowing around the lake. It's a miracle that we didn't tip over. I don't have pictures of that because frankly I was not taking any chances of carrying my camera with me on that particular outing. We rowed over to an empty dock and were getting ready to have a great time all by ourselves when much to our chagrin here comes a whole herd of people with 4 other dogs. I was a little nervous about how Maya would react to the people and the dogs but she was actually Great. She pretty much stayed right with me and all the dogs seemed to get a long ok. The kids (K and A) had fun jumping into the lake from the dock and swimming all around. I had to throw Maya in a few times. She didn't much care for that. Hopefully she'll get a little more used to it and will want to jump in on her own sometimes. She doesn't mind wading in the water but she has never really wanted to just jump into the deep areas.

Saturday afternoon we decided to hike/float/drag down the river. Jeff and Dan went ahead of us fishing and we followed behind and had some good times playing our way down the river. Drew loved the shallow areas--he's still a little freaked out whenever we hit an area where he has to float--even in his life jacket. It was a good primer for going to the lake later in the month. The dog came too and actually seemed to like swimming a lot better this day too. Maybe she's getting used to it. The water was still a bit chilly though.
Saturday night was the big Firework display. We got there at about 8. We wanted to get a decent spot to watch. Andrew came prepared with his head helmet flashlight and his citrus gum that he kept pretending was his teeth.
The "real" show didn't start until 10 but that didn't seem to matter because everyone all around the whole valley was lighting off their own fireworks--and I don't mean just the puny bottlerockets and blackcats--I mean there were hundreds of really cool, BIG-TIME fireworks being set off literally all around us. We had monster rockets being set off directly over our heads. Every direction you turned your head you could see and hear the fireworks going off. It was CRAZY! This literally went on for 2 whole hours before the show even started. Then after the "real" show was finished they all started up again and went for at least another 1/2 hour afterwards. I've never seen so many cool "home" fireworks. The great thing was that we got to enjoy them all without having to pay for them ourselves.
The kids were entranced at first by all of the rockets and sparks going on around them. The
dog on the other hand, could have done without them. She huddled into a shivering, little ball for the whole 3 hour ordeal. She was not a happy camper. Addy and Drew actually missed the "real" show because by that time they were so exhausted that they fell asleep--Andrew on my lap and Addy in the backseat of the truck. They don't even feel cheated because there were so many cool "home" fireworks that went up. They don't even realize they missed anything.

We really packed a lot of fun stuff into this weekend. Lot's of memories were made and I can't wait to do it all again in a few weeks.


The Prestwich's said...

Your family is just growing right before our eyes! I can't believe you saw a bear cub! Lucky. I'm glad you had a good time. Call the gals and let's have a girl's night in a week, k?

Emily said...

Can I come to a girl's night?