Kids proclaim last weekend as “Best camping trip ever”

We had perfect weather for camping last weekend. It was a bit sketchy at first. As we pulled out of the garage the sky grew darker and darker, ultimately devolving into a downpour complete with minor hailstones. The kids were engrossed in a flick, but Christy was worried. She had visions of a weekend zipped inside our tent with nothing to entertain ourselves but non-stop Go Fish and hardcore potty humor from me and the kids. But, as often happens, the storm cleared as suddenly as it began and turned into one of the prettiest days I’ve seen in a while.

Mineral Wells State Park is one of our favorite weekend camping spots. It is close to Dallas but not too close. Our campsite was on a small bluff with the lake and surrounding hills visible through the trees.

We made it through the weekend without serious mishap, although one was narrowly avoided. My son and I found a trail that wound down from our camp site to the water. We sat on the rocks with our feet in the cool water and ultimately decided that it would be a travesty if we didn’t jump in and swim for a while.

The still water was cool and deep. And how refreshing it was to be at a lake that isn’t surrounded by development or infested with swarming jet skis or obnoxious ski boats.

I couldn’t talk him in to venturing too far from the rocky shore. Although accidental, he did manage to get in up to his chin. “What’s the difference between this and the swimming pool?” I asked. “This has no sides!” he replied, which I guess is a pretty good point.

He decided to stretch out on one of the warm rocks at the water’s edge like a long, lanky lizard. I thought that looked like a decent idea so I started to climb out. What happened next was over pretty quick but it was one of those moments that plays out in your mind in stop-motion. I lost my footing on the sharp, slimy rocks and fell backwards towards the water. I prepared myself for the unseen pointed stick or rock that would surely break my fall in a most unpleasant way. The anticipated pain never came. The drop-off was steep enough that I did not get impaled on anything. I came out of the water laughing my ass off, but then noticed how narrowly I had escaped disaster. The rock I snagged with my left hand on the way into the water had knocked my wedding ring off. Thanks to an amazing stroke of luck (and my cat-like reflexes) I had unconsciously managed to snag it with my fingertips, saving it from a permanent home at the bottom of the lake and saving myself from a very, very long ride home with Christy.

My son thought this whole thing was hilarious, particularly when I showed him the green algae skid mark down my left side.

Other than that everyone made it through unscathed although my daredevil daughter had a few wipe-outs on her bike. No matter how well you think you explain it, I guess the physics lesson involving excessive speed, bicycle tires, sharp turns, and gravel is just something she insists on learning for herself.

By the way, if you make it out to Mineral Wells State Park, check ahead of time to see if there will be a night hike and sign up. We learned all sorts of cool stuff on the walk led by the Park Naturalist. It’s hard to beat a walk through the woods at night with the Milky Way shining and the screech owls calling.

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