Dive-In Movies & Easy Peasy Hiking

June 13, 2024

On our last day to wander around to decided to take it easy. Everyone piled in the car, including Dill, and we went in search of a coffee mug. 

I really think this is Jeremy getting me to get a commemorative mug to make us find a new vacation spot next year. It's fine, we don't need to vacation there again, just buy me a tiny cabin. I don't have a photo of what I bought, but I went into the Mountain View Craft School (after a few stores and someone suggesting Walmart 😑) and grabbed something made by a local potter. 

Afterwards we headed back out to Blanchard Springs to hike, it has been raining all day, so we were limited to the paved hike to the waterfall. The neat thing about this pool of water is this is what trickles and filters through the massive cavern underneath (that we toured last year the Elliot got so scared he peed himself). 

One day I am seriously going to have a sit down meeting with this family of mine and teach them the 5 photog skills I know so at last I can have better pictures of myself. 

The photo below is from under tha rock ledge looking back at the walking path. Let's not even fool our selves and call this a hike. That hike path was too muddy for the dog and kids. 

I was probably telling Elliot here that he could not go out onto the rocks like his father. He has a lot of authority in his little body and very little sense. All day I hear either "but" or "why" on repeat. 

The tiny mushrooms might be my favorite photo. 

There is a similar hike to this one in Helen, GA at the Chattahoochee National Forest. This one is much more tame if you are taking little kids. The other was even wheel chair friendly, but had a bit of a rushing creek situation and steep sides, two ingredients that little wild boys do not need to test out. 

After our mini hike the kids came home and played in the rain until they were forced to bathe before the movie. 

These photos are at the start of their playing and in no way depict what I washed off the two of them. They had a good time. 

Way later that evening we went to the Stone Drive In to see the new Garfield movie, which was really good by the way. The kids had a blast, until everyone had to pile in the car due to the hard rain that suddenly hit. We've got a lot of trunk, but not two kids and two adults "lot of trunk." 

Right at the end of the movie Elliot realized he never got to go to the concession stand. I didn't take him, no one needs popcorn at 10pm. He sure wanted that pointed out though. The child lives for pointing out what he believes is an injustice. As if dinner at Pizza Inn before wasn't food. 

I think what I love most about leaving Louisiana and heading to the mountains in early June is the lightening bugs. Watching them dance around in the yard, and then on the wood line before the movie started is so nice. 

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Kayaking the Buffalo River

June 7, 2024

 Last year we planned to kayak the Buffalo. My great aunt has told me for years how much they loved camping and being in this area, she wasn't kidding. It's absolutely beautiful. 

However, our cabin last year was about 20 minutes south of town and when I looked at everything on the map I couldn't get it straight in my mind. I figured everyone would complain. So we went to the White River, which was much closer, and a big mistake. Fishing is great on the White River, but just being on the water isn't. The entire stretch we paddled was private property and we couldn't even stop on the side for a break. Plus they said it wasn't currently deep enough for a canoe, we ended up with a 6 person raft with only two adults paddling. It was a 10 mile trip that felt like it would end on Gilligan's Island. 

So this year I had to fix the issue. Our cabin was north of town and much closer to any outdoor rec areas. We were an hour from the Buffalo, which is doable and the more reasonable distance considering that the towns between us and kayaking were all populated with less and 300 and barely had grocery shopping. Gas stations were scarce folks. 

All that to say, do take a kayaking shortcut when you are this close to a national river. 

The starting point!

Buffalo River Outfitters was great. We drove our car to the drop point, got in the kayaks, and they took our car to the pickup point. 

The mesh bags attached to the kayaks were great for holding the kids shoes, we both have Chacos so there was no need to take them off. I told Jeremy I really want two of these Jackson sit on kayaks, it had a space in back to tie down our fishing cooler and felt super stable. The kids were able to move around and it never felt like we would tip over. The only down side was needing a tandem for a 9.9 mile float and having to single man paddle that sucker through the river. 

The Buffalo has some movement, but not tubing level movement. We was-a-paddling-away friends. 

The rocky areas were fun to paddle through, granted I tried taking a photo or two on the way and got Elliot and I stuck. There was a rushing water area that I got us sandwiched into where we weren't budging and the water was just flowing! I had to get out and shove us out of the area and then hop back in before the kayak got away from me. 

In one of the deeper areas Harry saw some kids hop out and kick behind their parent's kayaks. He was all on board and jumped right out. Elliot on the other hand talked himself into getting out, freaked out, and made me drag him back into the boat with him screaming the entire time. 

Snack stop!

How cool is this rock formation! 

Whenever you get the chance, kayak with your kids! 

We've loved it over the years, when the boys were little we would canoe so we had a bit more stability. Now that they're older (Elliot is 5) everyone does so well. Although I can't wait for them to be big enough to help paddle, or when they're teens and we all have our own kayak.  

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Antique Malls & Blanchard Springs

June 5, 2024

The only thing better than a swimming hole is a huge antique mall. 

On Wednesday we headed downtown to wander all the shops and then spent the afternoon at Blanchard Springs in the North Sylamore Creek. 

It took everything in me not to purchase this box of records. It was a set of square dance songs and calls for each one. 

Not only do I wish we knew how to square dance, when I was a child my grandparents did. I went to a few of their practices and very much recall them all decked out in their outfits to dance at a festival. Nanny in her red gingham twirly square dance outfit is a favorite memory of mine. Sorry Pop, I wish I knew what you were wearing, I remember you dancing, but Nanny's outfit won with all the ruffles and twirls! 

Once the kids had "had it" with me we went into the Amish store that was bought by someone else, but still carries Amish goods and candy. They loaded up a candy bag and forgot how much they hated antique shopping. 

This was the lesson to be learned last year. Mountain View closes down at 5pm. Get all your shopping done in the morning and swim in the afternoon. Last year we did the opposite and didn't get to shop one bit. 

Off to Blanchard Springs to their swimming hole. Keep a few loose dollar on you for this trip. All of the swimming/park areas cost 3 dollar for day use. There isn't an attendant, but you'll be filling out a form and dropping it into the drop box by the bathrooms. 

Much of this the kids could do without life jackets, but some parts are just deep enough and we haven't created the best swimmers. We also don't swim enough to get any real practice in. 

It's hard to tell from the photos but this entire area of the creek is a huge rock bottom that has been carved out by the water. The deepest bits are waist deep on the kids and the water flows through it so quickly that it is a fun little water slide to glide through. 

If you love ice cold water, this is the creek for you. 

My only complaint about this part of the creek is that this time of the year it is pretty shallow and you've got a ton of rock bank to walk over to get to the water. Gunner Pool is better in my opinion for this reason. 

Pictures never do this area justice. It's beautiful, the weather is mild, and the sun seems to always shine. Who wants to buy a cabin with me and never come back to a city again? 


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North Sylamore Creek @ Gunner Pool

June 3, 2024

I realize it's been quite here lately. The end of the school year was not only exhausting, but I developed a cold that turned into a two week long sinus infection. 

Then we wandered off after school ended to spend a week in Mountain View, Arkansas. Last year we loved it, this year Elliot and I tried to convince Jeremy he needed to buy us a cabin here. Basically what I've learned is that my happy place is zone 7b and up. I can not vacation in the tropics, we live in the tropics. Take me to the Ozark's.  

Gunner Pool is a small rec area stretching along a stretch of the North Sylamore Creek. All camping is primitive, which is why you won't find us camping here. We shall be cabin people in this area. 

The water is absolutely clear and no more than chest deep in the deepest area. I've heard that when the water is higher (early spring) that you can float from Gunner Pool to the Blanchard Springs area. 

Over the next few vacation blog posts I want y'all to play a game of "who took that photo?" I'm going to break down and offer a photo lecture to my fellow family members. I love y'all, but photos just ain't ya thing. 

Theres a sections of the creek here that starts to trail back off into the wooded area and the rock set up is either man made or naturally formed, who knows. But the water rushes through it and it's perfect for little people wanting some fun. 

These areas remind me a lot of how I grew up in Vidalia/Natchez. It feels close enough of our camp life in Monterey and summers spent swimming on the Homochitto River in Franklin County Mississippi. One of my goals this summer is to find the Low Water Bridge area with the kids when we go to Vidalia. The hidden aspect of Gunner Pool feels a lot like Low Water on the Natchez Trace. 

This far south it feels like we are missing a lot of the swimming hole aspect of where Jeremy and I grew up, and I think that is what continually has me wanting to take the kids to these areas. I want the boys to know the fun and simplicity of hanging out by a creek with your ice chest full of snacks and playing all day. 

Isn't that bluff just gorgeous. 

My poor little terrified of fish and butterflies child. He swore the butterflies at Gunner Pool weren't going to terrify him this year. That was an inaccurate statement as he went straight to the spot they all hang out and then proceeded to scream bloody murder. 

I bought the kids the tubes and myself the blue float. As you can see it didn't work out well. That cheap blue float wouldn't hold air and the second I sat on it I went straight into the icy creek water. I quickly abandoned my float and hijacked one of the tubes. 

 I think that above photo was part of an Elliot rescue mission when he once again realized that animals lived outside. He is kind of like his mother in that sense. I'm great as long as I don't think of what is in the water, hence my constant desire for clear water. 

The joys of being in a cooler weather area, and also why we camp the last week of May every year. I drank my coffee outside in the cool air every morning while reading the coffee books at our AirB&B. Expect me to share some of what I found over the course of the summer. 

The boys enjoyed listening to the birds every morning, there was quite a bit of chatter and woodpecker noise. There was a little sparrow living in a bird house on the porch that we got to watch. The most interesting was a huge turkey vulture that showed up and was communicating with the other big vultures in nearby trees. 

Dill was informed to be on the lookout. 😆

We toasted some marshmallows and looked for more lightning bugs that night. Which I really need to improve my bug identification because the braconid wasps on the stumps were in fact not a lightning bug and I quickly abandoned catching one. 😬

A dear friend of ours gave Harry a big pack of Reese's cups for being Student of the Week, he held onto them until we got out here camping and specifically to use them as chocolate in his S'mores. I wish I had kept count of just how many he ate, and then started using Oreos instead of graham crackers. 

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Super Harry and the Lettuce Patch

May 8, 2024

Eventually I'll take a break from weekly recaps and dive into old style blogging. I've got a post I've been sitting on for a year an a half. 

I literally wrote it over the course of a few weeks and then deleted my blog domain for an entire year. I briefly mentioned in an Instagram story what was going on, but IRL friends heard at the time. The last couple years has just been a roller coaster.  

This past weekend we went to a friends house for the Kentucky Derby. As you'll see from the photo, this is why I don't wear hats. I've got a big ole noggin' and there is no need bringing attention to just how large it it. 

I'm still a touch traumatized when I think of the year a student gave me a beach themed gift and my giant skull wouldn't fit in the beach hat. 😂

We haven't taken the kids bowling since Elliot has been of bowling age, so Friday night we went. I told them this big elaborate story about how terrible Jeremy is at bowling and had them convinced I could beat him, so they weren't too happy to find out my wrist isn't healed enough to bowl.  He whipped their butts and they were shocked. I'm really surprised they continue to believe my stories. 

I pulled something on the ulnar side of my wrist in December and it's finally on the mend, but not mended enough to lift weights yet or risk killing myself bowling. 

I've been absolutely shocked at how well the lettuce patch is doing. I threw some seed out in January thinking that it would do nothing, the little seedlings took ages to sprout. One variety finally popped up and we are cutting leaf lettuce for salad with dinner every Thursday night. 

Plant the lettuce people. 

I'm tempted to do a blog post on my tiny garden. This has been my solution to not having raised beds up. I think I've said it before, but Jeremy doesn't want to bother with installing beds or a chicken coop until the wood fence is in. Which I totally understand, no one wants to work around it. 

My biggest issue with a raised bed is going to be rats, City Park is a rat haven (near sanctuary level) and they ate every single bud that popped up on my pumpkins this past year. I plan to try again and plant them in a different area, but still. I doubt they will work. 

Dill and Harry watching squirrels. We've got quite the family of tubby little squirrels in our yard and they live it up in that big old Oak tree. 

Dill is so funny about how he has to be where we are. I had dachshunds previously and Ellie was more like a cat. She came around when she wanted to. This cockapoo though, he is always laying down where we are. Jeremy prays before the kids go to school every morning, as soon as he starts here comes the dog to sit in the middle of us. 

At bath time Dill lays in front of the bathroom door, as if he is guarding his children. If he was a girl I would have long since changed his name to Nana (Peter Pan). Sometimes I call him Nana anyway, but only when he's guarding the children. Come to think of it, when Elliot was hiding from us the other day I should have know he wasn't outside, the dog was inside. Dill typically follows whoever goes out the door. 

Weekend before last Jeremy put on a one day conference/retreat for the teenagers since the Winter Retreat was last minute cancelled by the venue. 

From what I hear (I don't take the kids to youth events often) the speakers were great. We snuck in after bath time to hear the band before everyone was done and wanted to go to bed. Jeremy brought in Zeal House Music, our youth group in Alabama had heard them at Fuge Camp one year and were impressed. They did a fantastic job, and Elliot loved it. 

These events don't get Harry excited, it's all the over stimulation. Elliot on the other hand had a great time dancing around and singing with his Daddy. We stayed in the back to make an easy exit for the moment everyone had seen enough. About half way through their set Elliot declared it was bedtime, and we snuck out. 

My little artistic child has been drawing Super Harry and making Super Harry books lately, so one Sunday when I was cleaning out kids clothes he saw we had some white t-shirts leftover from school project and put me to work. He designed it and picked the colors, but I did the painting. 

Elliot also wanted one, insisted he has glitter, and is now not happy that his shirt has "sprinkles." 

Personally I don't see the need to correct him, I'm going to be so sad when all of his Elliot-isms disappear and he not longer speaks like such a little boy. 

I did the math the other day and realized just how fast the school years are going to go, especially with Harrison. If we could pause the little kid stage of life I would have. We could loop Elliot's first 5 years of life for the next 40 years and be happy to do it. Or maybe just the summers when I'm home. 

We've had our fair share of grief in these 5 years, but the little boy stage has been so fun.

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