No, we don't have any family in Missouri. Yes, we really did drive 24+ hours to get there. Yes, we did leave southern CA for the Midwest to vacation by choice. And yes, it was all worth it!!
Last winter my siblings (Chris, Val and Michael) talked about how to best honor my parents' 40th wedding anniversary this summer. We know they love us, their grandkids and camping in their pop-up tent trailer- so we made an attempt to put it all together.
Since we are all spread around the country (CA, NM, PA, CT), we looked for somwhere central that everyone might be willing to travel to. As you can see on the map, the Ozarks in Missouri fit the bill. My brother Chris in NM owns a boat for fishing so we let him choose a lake and campsites (with electric and showers for sure!). And sure enough, we were able to find a week where almost all of us could make it (missed you sis-in-law Wendy!).
Albuquerque was the first stop (12 hours later) where we spent a few days with my brother and family before driving the other 16 hours to arrive at Pomme de Terre Lake in Missouri. The kids were awesome travelers!! It's so much easier now that they are bigger. A favorite was listening to the audio book 'The Wizard of Oz", but I'll save that for a later post.
Our campsites were all in a row with a beautiful view of the lake. After we arrived, we found out this really was a great choice (a bit risky since we had no personal knowledge of the lake or campground!). Neighboring return campers said this was one of the best places in MO.
This rocky beach was only 20 yards from our sites, so everyone spent lots of time around the water. It was especially good for skipping rocks (Henry and Gramps) and floating (Peter and Zach). The beginning of the trip was fairly hot- so the water felt great and the kids stayed in for a full eight hours! And just a bit of sunburn- ouch!
My brother Chris brought his fishing boat and all the gear. He spent early mornings fishing for muskies, but took the kids out for their own fishing and boating trips each afternoon.
I think all the kids caught something- and Carson was very excited to get his own fishing rod as a birthday gift. Fish became a staple on the nightly menu. Thanks for cleaning them Eric!
The kids each said that time with cousins was one of the best parts of the vacation.
Henry and Sydney were water rats that climbed trees,
Natalie and Sienna had tea parties and hung out in the hammock,
Peter and Zach played trucks and were generally silly 4 year olds. Carson spent lots of time fishing and reading, while little Jackie showed us her walking skills and talent for finding pretty things on the ground. The kids created some kind of club with missions and training and rankings. I can't say I understood the organization, but I probably wasn't supposed to.
And the rest of us did a little hiking, a little reading, lots of eating, a bunch of celebrating, and repeated cooking over campfires. We enjoyed amazing lightening and thunderstorms almost every night- but never any rain during the day. There was only one tornado watch- but gratefully that only lasted about an hour then we were all able to sleep (fairly) peacefully. The breezes were perfect, never felt too humid- and no mosquitoes!! Wow! Pretty amazing- especially considering what it could have been like!
So happy anniversary Mom and Dad! And I'm so grateful for wonderful parents and brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews- You're awesome!! Thanks for making the trek and making some memories!!