Ya’ll know that August in East Texas is hot and humid, especially this year. So we do the insane thing and go camping, in tents none the less! My two oldest are married, two other boys head to college in September, the others start school in just a few days. Rarely can we get them all together, and the boys wanted to go camping, giving up work hours, time with girlfriends, etc. if we’d just take them camping for a few days. Even my married son was coming with his family, just missing my oldest daughter who lives over a thousand miles away.
First we found what we hoped to be one of the cooler nearby areas, gather up food and gear to feed/house a small army, and stuff everything, including a couple of bikes, into/on top of a mini-van along with 7 people, (four of which are over 6 ft tall). Then oldest son packs his Camero with his wife, teething baby, dog, food, baby stuff, camping gear, and bike. (He gets an award for that, reminding me of back in high school when we tried to see how many we could fit into a Volkswagen bettle). They follow a several hours later.
Less than an hour down the road, we lose a tire, tread peeled off completely, just like peeling an orange. Husband fussing at the tire makers, something about cheap, and thread seperation. Pull over, it is over 90 outside, AC is now off, windows open, pull off bike rack to get to spare, unload some stuff in back to get to tire jack. Tire jack is rusty, van heavily loaded, Arkansas highway patrol comes by and saves the day, we need a jack like theirs, officer watches traffic, makes sure guys don’t get run over. I pass out water bottles, and call friends, looking for tire stores in upcoming towns (while guys do the hard part). Thanks to Jeanine, Arkansas highway patrol, and those strong guys, we make it back on the road, looking for a tire store.
Found a Walmart, don’t have our size, they send us to a tire place, they just told the last person they couldn’t change theirs until the afternoon. They have mercy on us, round up help and a couple of tires, while I head to the nearby air conditioned McD’s for hamburgers with the hungry, bored, hot kids. We sit there long enough for the kids to read the nutrition fact sheets as they realize how unhealthy our lunch really is. Van fixed, back on the road, just a few hours behind schedule.
Later, last town before Mt Nebo is Russellville, sign at the bank says 107, I hope it isn’t correct. Head towards the campsite, steep winding road, no trailers over 24′ allowed. Watch that gas needle move on down. Where is the smoke coming from? Our van? Surely not, just one more mile to go. Yep the smoke is us, no place to pull over, pit stop middle of road, stuff dripping/pouring out of bottom of van. Turns out it is transmission fluid, guy comes by in same make/model of van, tells us there is a pull over spot just a couple of turns ahead, he follows us. Turns out transmission got hot, started leaking, if we let it cool, add transmission fluid, it might make it to the top. I unload kids, hike up last mile, yes it is a very steep, girls start walking backwards as their legs, ankles were getting sore. Nice campsites, visitor’s center another .6 mile away, at least the ground is now level. Van catches up.
Visitor’s center just closed for the night, pick your own spot, pay in the morning. Lots of good choices, pick the one with a great view, (next morning we find it reserved for the next night and have to move camp to a neighboring spot. Call son we hasn’t made it yet, have him pick up some transmission fluid.
Starts to rain, cools off some, clears up, cook hamburgers, hotdogs, somemores. Turn on fans and crash for the night. Son shows up, baby Jack’s first camping trip. He loves the outdoors, he can be fussing and fussing, and you walk outside with him and he instantly gets quiet. He slept longer at night, skipping more feedings than he has ever done before.
Next day gets hot quick, that pool looks pretty good by the time it opens, all of us jump in. Nice pool with a view, water slide, water toys. Lots of sunscreen, stop for late lunch, meaning to return. Bike riding, hiking, souvenir shopping, storm comes in.
I love watching storms come in. The air is so alive. Not raining on us, wind whipping up, cools off nicely. Lightening across the valley, a couple of fires started. Quite the show from up on top. Calms down, more hiking and bike riding, picture taking. Back to camp, start fire, now it rains. Kids play cards in tent, while we cook supper, put up tarp. Eat, clean up, rain stops of course.
Nice morning, I head over to sunrise point to get some pictures, lots of haze/fog from previous rain, didn’t bring UV filter, trip back down the mountain, no problems.
Relaxing, building memories. The kids are still saying how much fun they had and would love to head back in the fall. If we do make that trip again, we may just rent one of the cabins, bring less stuff, ditch the van.