Just Because Everyone Else Jumped Off a Cliff... (Summer's End Road Trip 2013)

My 5 year old jumped off a cliff at the end of the summer.

So did my 2 year old.

In early August, R was out of town for a week and so my mom & I decided to take a last minute road trip.
We checked with Uncle Gus & Aunt Gac & invited ourselves (really - they've been inviting us for years so we weren't completely inviting ourselves)
& hit the road early one Monday morning.

Ellie pretend called Aunt Gac to ask if we were there yet.
To get to Gac & Gus's (really - that's Great Aunt Carolea & Great Uncle Steve - GAC & GUS for short),
we went from TX thru OK, AR, & MO!
Lovie had the brilliant idea to break up the trip with some playtime in the river at Beaver's Bend State Park in OK.
We grabbed McDonald's to picnic with and hit the park.

We tossed on swimsuits and spent an hour swimming in frigid river water

giving mud baths

& learning to skip rocks.
What is it about rocks and a river that can entertain us for so long?
It was glorious way to spend an hour.

We stopped and learned all about a really, really, really old tree

saw some cool animal carvings

and an amazing totem pole

Then we hit the road again - but with tired children.

We finally made it to Table Rock Lake in MO.
Just before getting to the lake, we stopped to buy worms for fishing...
and then we forgot the worms on the parking lot. After 9 hours of driving and curvy winding mountain roads, we decided to consider the worms a donation to whatever lucky fisherman found them.

We had talked up fireflies to the kids a lot prior to the trip.  I have memories of summer trips to MO as a child and capturing fireflies, placing them in a jar, and sleeping with my cousins with the jar as a nightlight in my grandparents' basement.
Once, we woke up to an empty jar - the fireflies had escaped!
Anyway, we really talked up the firefly experience.

We headed out on our first night determined to catch lots of fireflies.  Apparently, they aren't so plentiful in August.  We saw a few but they were up high and out of reach.
We didn't catch a single one.  Perhaps next time.

The kids loved seeing Aunt Gac and reading bedtime stories together.

Aunt Gac had some worms in reserve so Will was able to fish

We explored the beautiful lake 

and played at the marina where the kids were very content to feed fish and ducks

I rented a knee board & a tube for Will to try one day.  
Y'all.  Knee boarding is HARD.  My mother suggested I get out there and show Will how to do it.
I have no idea how to kneeboard.  I did.  At one point in my life, I could do it.
But now?  It was awful.  Probably hilarious from the boat but they were forbidden from documenting the show.  Could not for the life of me do it.
Moving on...
Will LOVED tubing!

He got pretty self confident - kept two fingers up wanting to go faster,

and then began to SING loudly!  
He then added in an air guitar...

and a gust of wind sent him flying out of the tube!
That part scared him a bit but he was fine and kept going - although cut back a bit on the air guitar.

What I lack in knee boarding skills, I made up for in tubing.
Actually, I remember tubing being a blast as a kid.  As a grownup, it kind of hurt my rear end - all that bouncing.
(I feel old.)
But my kid loved it & wanted his old mommy at his side and how could I say no?

Aunt Gac let Will help drive the boat!

Two very tired kiddos - begged to sleep together.
(They played opossum in an effort to keep me from separating them but I ended up having to separate them by a few feet.)

Ellie loved playing babies with Uncle Gus.  She told him he was the daddy & then she kept calling him, "Honey" or "Sweetheart."  It was hilarious.

Will got some special time with Uncle Gus too playing a video game

On day 2, we headed to a low pair of cliffs...

And my kiddos became cliff jumpers!

They were so cute & brave!
So we tried a slightly bigger one!

Ellie was pretty nervous but kept saying she wanted to do it...
Cassidy sat beside her & encouraged her & finally, my Ellie girl Jumped!!!

(FYI- Table Rock lake is huge and beautiful and surrounded by green, wild hills and bluffs.  These particular bluffs were situated over water about 80 feet deep at the shoreline.  For TX people, that's incredible.
(Thanks to drought conditions, our lake is currently like 13 feet at it's deepest in the middle!)

We celebrated summer with ice cream cones at the marina

Will & cousin Cass

A tired, relaxed baby girl

Sleepy kiddos.  

Ellie spends hours bathing her babies every day... we took her little bathtub to MO & that kept her very busy on the porch

3 clean babies

We ended the trip with back to school haircuts from Aunt Gac!

And hit the road for the drive back home.

Thanks, Aunt Carolea & Uncle Steve for having us!  We made such sweet memories.

(and that is the final summer post of 2013)
(I think.)

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