That Tent Camping Life || 2017-2019

June 13, 2020

In an effort to change tags on posts and update things around here yesterday I realized something... I'm missing 3 camping trips!

So here's an updated situation all for the sake of 1) my memories and 2) having my tags correct lol!

One of my main reasons for wanting to camp, outside of all the usual camping reasons is the cost of camping allows for a more diverse vacation for our family. I'm not the cruise type. I love being outdoors. But I also enjoy seeing new cities. Tent camping allows that. 

Our kids get the joy of playing outside for a week, and let me tell you Harry is begging to go back out in the tent as soon as we get home. Plus we get to visit a new place and see new things at very little cost. The best of both worlds!

Beaver's Bend State Park | | Beaver's Bend, Oklahoma

There aren't a ton of photos of this particular trip, I find I take less pictures when we have add on people. My parents and nephew came along on this adventure. Beaver's Bend was a lovely park and the town had some great activities. These photos are of a dino bone digging place we went to. 

The only real issue we ran into on this trip, aside from Murphy's Law, was the lack of cell service in the park. Plus the water is too cold and you really don't want to swim in it. 

However, the canoe trip we took Harrison and my nephew on was amazing. Beautiful shallow water that allowed you to see everything! 

2019 was not the year of the full tent setups. We didn't do our complete kitchen simply because we took advantage of my parents being in a cabin and having hot water. 

But we still made coffee. 

These tent sites were open, and as far as state parks go they were one of my favorites. Our main concern with little boys is always getting into the poison ivy. This wasn't an issue, it could be depending on where you went, but the tent sites weren't that bad. 

The generous amount of pine trees were great for setting up tarps for the tent and rope to hang towels. 

Mckinney Falls State Park | | Austin, Texas

We did this trip with a 5 month old baby! 

I seem to recall that he did great. My only complaint tent camping in 2019 was having to bring a chair into the tent every night so I could nurse. I'm not a bed nurser by any means. 

McKinney Falls had very tight tent sights, you felt a tad separate from the other campers. That could be good or bad. 

Bad - too much brush means more critters (we were in Texas and people were seeing rattlesnakes on the hiking path, thank goodness we didn't!)

Good - I could pee outside the tent at night and not trek all the way to the bathrooms. The animal list for Austin was one of my least favorite. There are things a heavy flashlight can't swat away at 2am. 

Like I said, 2019 wasn't the year of the full kitchen set up. We also planned to eat out more in Austin anyway so that wasn't so much of a thing. However, what really kept us off of the full set was the fact that a terrible storm was predicted to come through. 

It did. 

Again, trees make a world of difference. Jeremy had attached our tarp to the ground/tent instead of the trees on this trip. When that storm (that created tornadoes, but luckily not near us) came in the tent began to "collapse" a bit. It wasn't a true collapse because it popped back up when the wind died down. 

None the less, Jeremy woke me up at midnight and we ran to the car with the kids. How children can sleep through this nonsense I'll never know. I'm just thankful we didn't end up having to hunker down in the bathrooms and actually suffer damage. 

Interesting enough, we went hiking the next day and you could see all the spaces the animals had hunkered down during the storm. 

Now hunters see this... but I hadn't and it was pretty cool. Aside from wild raccoons I haven't seen much wildlife while camping. Shocker! 

With older kids, Mckinney had some great areas to play. Ours just weren't ready or steady enough for this type of water. 

Also, a camping trip with a potty trainer is the best. At least with a little boy. 

Pee outside, leave the potty outside. 

Remember how I mentioned that we use camping to see new cities... Austin was a perfect example. Harrison had a blast at Thinkery (a children's museum). 

This nursing mama was quit happy to have very nice rooms set aside for feeding the tiny tot too! 

He was soaked by the end of this water room! 

Petit Jean State Park || Morrilton, AR

Let me go ahead and admit something to you, I had actually planned to camp at Fall Creek Falls State Park this year and the weather cancelled that trip. So Petit Jean it was, I don't think it rains in Arkansas. 

This is a great camping experience if you are able to hike. Petit Jean has beautiful hiking trails. 

We really enjoyed it, but pregnant with a 3 year old wasn't the most fun I've ever had. I seem to recall doing a full tent/kitchen set up. This was the trip that broke the coolers back though. After being raided again by raccoons we went into town and splurged on a cooler that no one could get into. 

It is actually against the law to swim in the water here, so swimming would have to happen in the camp/public pool. (with a fee each time) That was a con for me, I like a good watering hole. 

Other than that though the campground was nice, they had comfortable bathrooms within a reasonable distance from campsites, and it has great scenery. 

Oh and don't let me forget about ticks. Deer ticks are bad here so bring your bug spray! 

Lake Catherine State Park || Hot Springs, AR

There aren't many photos from this trip, but we went with our good friends from Thibodaux and had a blast. I'm slowly learning that I didn't take many photos early on in our camping adventures. 

We enjoyed Lake Catherine, it had great lake swimming and a beautiful waterfall that was a short hike away with a small enough creek/pool area that you could safely play with kids. 

The only real cons here were 1) this was our first formal raiding by the raccoons and they got us good TWICE! Our friends even got taken by some squirrels. 2) the heat was awful. 

Middle of the day napping for Harrison was tough with the heat, our AC couldn't even keep up and I ended up driving around Hot Springs with him most days so he could briefly sleep. I honestly can't remember when exactly in June we went, but this tripped has shaped my rules for tenting camping in early spring and no later than the 3rd week of June. By the 4th week of June the chance of rain and the temperatures are just too great in the South. 

This was also a trip that we went to the gardens (pictured) and the adults nearly died from heat exhaustion getting out of the place. It was all gravel and miserable with small kids in umbrella strollers. Especially since Harrison refused to take off that hooded turtle towel! 

Chicot State Park || Ville Platte, LA

This was Harrison't preliminary camping trip! We initially camped overnight in our backyard and then a few weeks later at Chicot State Park. We had to make sure he could happily handle camping before we went on our week long trip to Lake Catherine later that year. 

Since we camped at Chicot in February and just overnight I can't say much for the brush around the campsite. They have a nice fishing area and newer bathrooms. (That we didn't find until we were leaving by the way! Using the no longer in use or attended to bathrooms was an awful first experience. Live and learn.) 

We did have the mother of all raccoons walk up to our fire and basically beg for food. Seriously, I've seen much smaller dogs. 

Chicot had a small amount of flat hiking trails, not really my favorite ever. But it was a good tester camping experience. 

Whew! That concludes my comprehensive list of places we've camped as a family. Finally! I can't believe I skipped over so many trips on this blog, or at least didn't tag them well enough that I could go back and locate the post.