For a long time our family has been talking about how much fun it would be to go on a family camping trip. We camped together years ago but most of the younger ones don't remember those experiences. Which means it was long past due.
This spring one of the irrigation systems we installed was for a farmer in South Dakota. Now, I know there is amazing beauty in every state in the nation, but I never really thought about the beauty of South Dakota until we tackled the job on this man's property. It was breathtakingly beautiful! While we were working there we agreed that this place would be the perfect spot for a camping trip. When the kind farmer caught wind of our conversation, he was kind enough to invite us to set up camp on the lovely beach area on his property.
We traveled home from the job and told Dad and Mom about the opportunity. There was an instant investigation of our summer schedule to see if we could squeeze in a family trip sometime in July. With Andrew and Kori moving to Florida the beginning of July, the wedding the end of July and a host of commitments in-between it was settled to go the weekend before the Fourth.
Thankfully our schedule ended up working out and the trip was a go!
We hit the road a little later than planned on Thursday afternoon and those of us who had worked at the farm before continually reminded everyone else that yes, the place was beautiful and yes, it was totally worth the drive.
We pulled in just as the sun was setting which made for an exciting -- but thankfully not too eventful -- setting up of the campsite. Elizabeth put together an incredible menu and we had a lot of the food prep done beforehand. We were quickly able to have a big supper which we cooked right over the fire. Salmon, a veggie skillet, stuffed mushrooms and a fruit cobbler at 9 pm perfectly hit the spot!
After a slumber party and a good nights sleep we woke up, unzipped the tent door to discover this view. Everyone agreed. It was perfect!
It was then time to get the activities started. The guys got a fire going and we set out and cooked the breakfast food.
Hello pancakes, bacon and eggs! Mmmmmmm!
Listening to the birds sing, the water gently lapping the shore, the fire crackling, the food sizzling, and looking around at the ones you love was enough to make your heart burst. There are so many times that we rush through life and take for granted the rich blessings that our heavenly Father gives us. That morning was a special time to just pause life and praise God.
Of course, what is a camping trip without a little music?! After family devotions we sang for a while and tried to work up some new music for the upcoming summer concerts.
Then it was time to hit the lake!
Daddy is a superb boat driver. I don't know if we had more fun riding the tube or if he had more fun trying to get us to fly off the tube!
I will say that by the end of the day there had been several pretty impressive looking moments with people flying in the air and an empty tube behind the boat.
Back to the campsite for another campfire lunch before hitting the water again.
This time several enjoyed the skiing!
While others enjoyed the water and just floated by the shore.
Since someone forgot the fishing gear we girls, in a moment of chilling on the beach, tried to be resourceful by using what we had to make a fishing pole. But by the time we got the amazing rod in the water the boat came back and we didn't have time to really try out our experiment. I like to think that we would have been successful in catching a great big fish!
For supper we enjoyed the traditional camping meal. Hot dogs, baked beans, potato salad and s'mores! Only our s'mores had a twist: Our family loves cookie dough so before we left home we made a batch and brought it along raw. When it was time for the s'mores, we brought out the dough and wrapped it around a marshmallow. We then wrapped the dough in tinfoil and cooked it over the fire until it was cooked to your liking. You can then put in in graham crackers with extra chocolate or just eat the melted goodness as is.
Just like at home someone has to do the dishes!
Nathanael was almost always in or as close to the water as was possible.
Even though the previous week had been scorching hot, the days we went camping were actually very cool! Thankfully, the water was warm and the campfire helped keep us toasty.
Friday night brought quite the adventure... During supper it started to drizzle and so we quickly enjoyed our supper and the fire before popping into the tents to enjoy a good nights sleep. Only to discover that the tent that many of us were sleeping in was not quite water proof and several of the sleeping bags were totally wet! With the wind blowing and the raining falling we snuggled up and fell asleep trying to ignore the wetness. By the time we woke up the rain had stopped but a few people that slept in the wrong spot ended up feeling like they slept in a swimming pool all night. I guess now we know that tent doesn't work well with water.
After a wonderful breakfast which may have included a few s'mores, it was time to enjoy a few more moments on the water before heading home.
It was overcast and super breezy but we don't go camping very often. So it was onto the tubes! The water was so much warmer than the air that it was actually nicer on the tube than on in the boat!
It was such a special treat to have Andrew and Kori with us!!!
Then it was time to load everything up and head back home.
I'm so grateful for the beauty of God's creation and for the special moments that we can enjoy it together.
"O Lord, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth,
Who have set Your glory above the heavens!"