“What are your thoughts on a family camping trip where you and I stay in a cabin?” Mom asked me back in December. I said of course. And before I knew it, it was time to head back to Missouri and drive to Bennett Spring State Park with a car packed to the brim (including a waffle iron and Keurig). It truly was a little insane the amount needed to sustain the two of us, for two days, when we didn’t have to bring a tent.
I was nervous. Mainly because while I’d like to think I’m a frontier woman, I sorely am not. Now don’t get me wrong, I love being outside. I love staring at the sky aimlessly wrapped in a blanket and just sitting and staring at water. Though I love knowing a bed, four walls and few bugs wait for me at night.
Needless to say, the Ladage Family Camping trip was stellar. Growing up, we ran a pretty tight-knit group. Most often, aunts, uncles and cousins all felt like extra Moms, Dads and siblings. Though as everyone started school, getting married, moving, we started seeing each other just around the holidays. I felt like a kid again spending more than just an evening and afternoon with everyone. There was always an empty chair somewhere around the fire. Someone ready to play cards. Someone ready to make s’mores. Someone needing to make the trek to the bathroom in the dark.
We learned that Cousin Kate and Uncle Rob dominate yard games while Mom and I do not. That the way to anyone’s heart is through a Bacon Station. That fresh fish from the river is divine. That the Olympic theme song truly is inspiring. That beverages make things funnier. That hiking is truly fantastic when you have Cousin Alli ready to play the ukulele on demand. That seeing a bald eagle fly over your head while you’re in a kayak paddling around the river bend is pretty damn American.
And that it’s always a Good S’morning when surrounded by your favorite people.