Tuesday, July 26, 2011


It's been a while since we've gone camping.  Aidan goes pretty regularly with the Boy Scouts and Bridget has been bemoaning the fact that she never gets to go camping.

A few weeks ago, the Scouts were going to some place in Oklahoma called Beavers Bend.  Ray thought it would be a good idea if we piggy-backed on their trip.  The campgrounds don't take reservations, and by heading up mid-week, we'd be able to help the Scouts in securing some campsites.

The first chore of course was locating and dusting off all the old camping gear and inspecting it all to see what was still in good condition.  Apparently, somewhere along the line, we have divested ourselves of a stove, but other than that we were in pretty good shape.  Having a Very Large Car is a good thing, as we don't have to leave anything at home!

The drive up was interesting and pretty.  We went through lots of little towns, which is always intersting in Texas.  Small towns in Texas do City Hall really well...  beautiful and stately stone buildings, typically right on the town square.  Sadly, many of these towns and the surrounding Victorian-style homes were built with now-departed oil money, so what once may have been a charming and thriving town square, surrounded by lovely homes is now desolate and sad.  Shuttered businesses, peeling paint, yet the stone edifice of Town Hall still remains, seeming almost.... hopeful.

It's always fun to stop in some small town and try to find a cafe or diner where the "locals" go, and we had burgers on the way up in Paris, TX, and an amazing brunch on the way home in Mena, Arkansas.

Once we got to Hochatown, OK the quest for the Perfect Campsite began.  There are lots of sites right on Broken Bow lake, and then down below the dam plenty of river sites as well.  After inspecting everything, and evaluating tree cover, bathrooms, site sizes, etc. we selected a gorgeous site right on the river.

The water temperature was cool and lovely!  Being so near the water made the heat almost a non-issue (except at night when I was trying to sleep - then I missed the air conditioning!).  The river was wide, deep, and while there wasn't a strong current, it moved swiftly enough to keep it clear, clean and fresh.
Directly across from our campsite were some great slate rock formations.  Great for climbing on and.... jumping off!

Aidan did quite a bit of fishing and we had delicious fresh trout for dinner.  As part of his fishing merit badge, he was required to cook it.  Since we had plenty, he cooked two and delivered them to his Scoutmaster's site.  His preparation method couldn't be simpler or more delicious.....  wrap two trout in a foil pouch with salt, pepper, and about a half a stick of buttah.  Set them on a rock in the coals of a very hot fire, and in about 12 minutes the packet puffs up and the fish are done.  Delish!

One afternoon, Bridget and I went to the local stables and had a nice trail ride.  It was through a densely wooded area and we saw lots of deer.  And we were highly entertained by the very vocal woman behind me who hadn't been on a horse in over 50 years and used humor to disguise her nervousness.

We spent one morning on Broken Bow lake.  We hit the Redneck Yacht Club and rented a boat and spent a couple of hours tourturing each other on wakeboards and tubes.

In typical "Boy" fashion, Aidan wanted to catch a squirrel.  Using the tried and true "box, stick, and string" method, he created a trail of Cheerios and had several squirrels come investigate.

He was rewarded a couple of times by catching either one slow and stupid squirrel, or a couple of different ones.

There were a couple of places nearby to rent kayaks and canoes, and we did that a couple of times.  It's such a relaxing way to see the river!

The Boy Scouts also had kayaks and canoes, and after they had done the serious work of specific merit badge skills, they entertained us by playing games like "How Many Boys Can You Fit In A 2-Man Kayak" and other silly activities.

I think my camp cooking skills have grown a little rusty, but the family was forgiving.  Bridget invented The Perfect S'more by substituting soft chocolate chip cookies for graham crackers!

On the way home, we took a couple of hours to head in to southwest Arkansas and check out the Ouachita region.  Simply gorgeous, with peaks and valleys, beautiful forests, etc.  We'll definitely be back!

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