Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Our nature getaway

We went on a little nature getaway in late May to Salt Fork State Park. We used to go there all the time when I was a kid. Back then, I thought it was camping. Since we stayed in the lodge (hotel) and ate at the restaurant and swam in the indoor pool, you can imagine my shock later in life when I actually was sent to Girl Scout Camp... in a tent... with outhouses... which we had to clean... and no electric for hair dryers... yes, traumatic. At any rate, on our Salt Fork getaways as a kid we used to hike, fish and boat as well. We had a great time and I have a lot of fond memories surrounding these many getaways.

Because of this, I thought it would be fun to share such things with the kids. We (okay, I) decided to get a lakeside cabin for our few day stay (Steve wanted to stay in the lodge). Lakeside cabin, doesn't that sound divine? I love water and a cabin on the lake sounded awesome. In the photo there was a big "yard" and it rolled into the water. There was a fire pit and table. In my head the kids could run and play in the yard and we could have a fire every night and do fun stuff they never do like make pot pies (pizza, grilled cheese, etc), s'mores and I might even get hot dogs for the occasion. Needless to say, as I am sure you can guess, it wasn't all quite as perfect as I imagined.

The cabin was a pit. A very expensive pit. As it turns out, they were built and furnished in 1972 and that is how they remained (yes, they told me this, furniture, carpeting, curtains, stains, everything...). Really, a Super 8 would have been nicer. Which really surprised me because from Memorial Day (which was the weekend after we were there) until the day the last leaf falls off the trees in the fall, you cannot get a cabin. They are booked a year in advance. Between that fact and the mere cost of these, I really expected something much, much nicer... and cleaner. I won't go into detail, but really, they really needed an upgrade. The photo on their website was also a little misleading (yes, I know, I am in marketing...) because the actual usable flat part of the yard was tiny and it didn't roll into the lake, instead there was a 10 foot drop to the lake... the lake in which you could not see the bottom. The fire pit and table were four feet from this drop. Not exactly ideal for our young and fearless children. That said, we really did have a great time. Of course kids don't notice dirt, stains, and danger, so they had a blast

Our cabin... it doesn't look too bad from the outside... right?

Right after we got there, we decided to hike up to the lodge (partly due to seeing the inside of the cabin... and needing to air it out a bit). As Steve went to walk up the steps and get onto the path, he screamed. He had spotted a huge (*cough* small) snake next to the steps. The boys thought that was great (I was too busy laughing to notice or photograph it). In the first day alone between the hiking and at the cabin, in addition to the snake, we saw a ton of turkey vultures, a heron (who kept us company lakeside all week), a red fox, deer, numerous cool birds, and a ton of different bugs (yippee!).

The bag is for collecting kindling for the fire... which as it turns out is a very exciting mission for three little boys.

After hiking around and checking out different areas surrounding us (and Steve asking me again for the fiftieth time why we didn't stay at he lodge instead), we decided to attempt a bonfire. Between the steep slope leading up to the fire pit and the 10 foot drop four feet from the fire pit... it was a little less than relaxing for Steve and I. The boys thought it was great, between the fire, hot dogs and s'mores, they were happy little campers.

Hanging out on the porch (yes I know his blankets are on the dirty porch... if you saw the inside cabin you would have given up as well) while we cleaned up after dinner.

We got a boat the second day. We decided to get a "real" boat for this adventure, something fun and fast... like a big ol' pontoon boat. What? Pontoon boats don't spell "real," fun and fast to you? The lake was gorgeous and the kids did seem to enjoy it. Ethan and Steve attempted to fish while we were out there, but the fish just weren't biting, at least not within Ethan's (or Steve's) period of patience.

Lounging in the sun...


Oliver randomly screaming... I fun thing to do on the open waters... apparently.

Our cabin... Collin HAD to be behind the wheel.

We also attempted the beach, which was dubbed as 'the longest lake front beach,' with pavilions, volley ball nets and putt putt golf. I brought all our sand toys, a shade tent and a picnic lunch thinking how much fun the kids would have. I've been to a lake beach before, albeit they were three of the Great Lakes, so I thought this would be similar. It was not... not even close... it was a mud pit... (partly due to the massive amount of rain for a few days solid). I've never claimed to be the brightest person (especially after kids). But again, the kids were obviously and had fun regardless. (BTW, mom and dad... now I know why I have no memory of a beach on our vacations... only the clean indoor/outdoor pools... I am guessing you saw it - after we just moved here from the beaches of Maine - and said no fricking way!)

We also spent a little time in the indoor pool. Oliver and Ethan, both with swim vests on, loved it. Oliver was all about trying to swim. Ethan was his cautious self but really enjoyed the water. Collin on the other hand wanted nothing whatsoever to do with the water or the pool area. As a matter of fact, he walked over to the elevator (pool side), pushed the button and got on.... while I rushed across the wet floor in time to stick my hand in and stop the doors from closing. He knows what he wants and does it. Needless to say, we didn't spend as much time at the pool as we would have liked. (no photos of this... too busy chasing a very head strong two year old!)

The boy's room had two sets of bunk beds in it. They LOVED that! They bounced around from bed to bed. When we got there, Ethan put several of the outdoor toys, flashlights, games and activity books into the drawers (thanks to Grandma Dee for stocking us up on tons of very cool things for our trip!), just making himself at home. Every night they would come out after we put them to bed, requesting something. At first it was pretty cute, but it wore off after an hour and a half the first night. Regardless, to see the three of them trail out with the selected spokesperson for that trip in the lead and stating their requests for water, or missing blankets, or tucking in or more lights, or whatever, was quite funny. The first night this went on until 10:30 pm, the second until 9:30 pm and the third they were out by 8:15 pm.

Story time.

The weather was absolutely perfect. It seriously could not have been any nicer for our entire stay there. The views from our screened patio in the morning and late evening were also perfect and relaxing, for water lovers like me... at least once I got over the ginormous spiders (no drama, these suckers were as big as my thumb) crawling on the outside of the screen (*shudder, shudder*).

The boys looking out of the screened in back porch.

The view of the sunset...

Overall it was good time. And considering they offered to give us a "incredible deal" on one of the recently updated more expensive (these include a jacuzzi and fireplace - neither thing we really wanted) lakeside chalets if we decided to come back again, which includes a special deep clean just for us (they sent me a survey... I was honest...), we might try it again next year... a little wiser, a little less nostalgic and a lot more prepared.


Amy Villwock said...

What wonderful memories...thanks for sharing. The pictures are great and the boys will enjoy talking about/remembering their special trip for years to come. So glad the weather was nice.

The Kothe Clan said...

I am so glad to finally see the pictures. The one of them on the deck is priceless and the bunk beds! Glad you survived the dirt.

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