Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The Devil in the Den

...still camping with kids

It’s still so fun to go camping with the children. We packed and as we made one last circle through the neighborhood cul-de-sac, to retrieve yet one more forgotten belonging, my husband remarked, “It’s great to drive through a million dollar neighborhood feeling like the Clampetts.” We had bikes bungied to the back and our kettle and we were loaded for possum.

The grub boxes save me all the hassle in packing. We just inventory the boxes once a year to see if the MRE’s were pulled for an unexpected dinner party and then we are off. It’s like a camp trailer in a box. Call me if you want the lists—they are on Excel. (I have pulled off the appearance of being organized and it’s taken twenty years).

It’s always a great experience camping in Oklahoma. The key here is “after Labor Day and before Memorial.” The rest of the time, all the lakes and campsites are uninhabitable because of the varmints and critters that come out in the heat. (It makes clothing optional—and Oklahoma is #2 in the nation for lard butt, so it’s something we avoid.)

We visited Devils Den this year and had a much better time this year than last. Our trip began on a more auspicious note, in the light and without the downpour and a two-inch river flowing through the tent site. We also called ahead and reserved a campsite of our own, not one purloined from a no-show. It’s hard to camp with the truck still packed, kneeling on the end of the tailgate, trying to dutch oven cook in the camper shell, and all the while, ready to pack and go should the no-show show.

The Osarks were alive with color and Arkansas is delightful in the fall. (The husdand tells me that I didn’t see the Ozarks, but yes we were in Arkansas so I’m half right.) The dam there has been reconstructed and the flash flood damage is nearly fixed. There was no fishing or rafting… to late in the season, but the spelunking was great! The bat colonies there keep the mosquitoes in check, but they are a little disconcerting to cave with.

We crawled over, and sidled through caverns and canyons in these caves and counted 105 bats on the way in (and this is in very tight quarters.) The youngest child couldn’t stand it any longer and he petted one. He said it felt fluffy and the wings were boney (not bonny). The food was fabulous as usual, because it was the same menu as usual, dutch oven shepherds pie (Thank you Aunt Shelley) and rolls, burgers, and dutch oven cobbler.

I think we had most of the stuff packed from last year. Thanks to that grub box! Soon, I won’t have to repack anything, we’ll just skim off and eat leftovers from the previous trip! The husband even discovered in our same site, people who met and married while working for him.
They can’t get away from work and him despite their attempts. We made them join us for dessert, (cobbler in Arkansas still isn’t gluten free—so I abstained) as a night cap.

The boys bailed to the tent, but the daughter fought the teenagerism and stayed out and visited. Everyone, my recommendation is to bag the Trial Lake fees to drive up there, to park, to look at the scenery, let alone to camp and just come to Oklahoma and camp in Arkansas for the fall. Hot showers and flush toilets make the $9.00 price tag per night fabulous, in spite of the yodeling girl scout troop across the way.

There is no other assurance that indeed, Life is beautiful.