Roaring River

Just got back from a camping trip to Roaring River in Missouri with Blaine's parents, Aunt, and Grandmother. We spent three days tent camping and hiking and most importantly getting up early in the morning to catch fishes.

I think when you become part of a new family, you naturally become something of a historical reasearcher or maybe part of an archeological dig. You want to learn how they do things and why they do them a certain way, and a camping trip is a very telling opportunity to gain insight. For example, when we were packing for this weekend I had to ask Blaine lots of questions.

"Are we going to be pretty campers? Or grungy campers? I don't mind being grungy as long as everyone else is, but I can't not bring a curling iron if everyone else is going to be pretty.

And what will we do during the day? Why do we have to fish so early in the morning? Do we play in the river or do we hike and stuff? Are we even allowed to play in the river? Doesn't that scare the fishes away?"

You're away from home, at least semi-roughing it--it shows a lot about what you value. What do you take with you? What can you live without? How do you cook and what do you eat? What do you do all day when you're disconnected from the phone/internet/rest of the world?

And then you realize that even though there are differences...
going out to breakfast...hobo dinners...camping in an organized campsite instead of out in the middle of nowhere....there are also many similarities....the quiet time after it's dark when everyone is sitting just watching the fire...the smell of woodsmoke...s'mores...going to sleep listening the the bugs chirp outside of your tent....and those kind of images are what you remember later. I think that's what I was trying to get when I was taking pictures this weekend--not really a chronological "On day one we did this, on day two we did this" kind of thing. I really wanted to be able to look back and see all the smells and sights and sounds and textures and even tastes that you get when you go camping. Anyway....whatever may happen later, always begin with a clean dog.

We were on a hike when we heard this Armadillo rustling around in the bushes.

Moe hitched a ride with Dad after he got tired of walking.

And we got some rain....

After sitting under the awning of the trailer for awhile, Moe and I decided to go on a puddle walk (i.e. a walk in the rain where you sort of dress for the weather, but really don't get too bothered if you get a little wet).

The kids that were camping next to us were excited because they had caught these frogs in this cup.

Of course, a major camping activity is just relaxing.

At Roaring River they release trout everyday for people to catch. This is the trout hatchery where the baby trouts are born.

Most of the river comes up from this underground spring that goes down hundreds of feet. The spring is what makes the river so cold and clear.

This was my niece Emma's first trip to the hatchery.

You can buy fish food and watch the fish swim up to eat it.

This was also Emma's first fishing trip. "Panga" bought her a Nemo fishing rod with a plastic fish on the end so that she could fish like the grown-ups.

But soon "Manga" and Aunt Anita had taken over use of the Nemo pole.

And then later Uncle Blaine used it to catch a tree!

But as long as she had her tootsie pop, Emma was a happy camper.

Later we went down to part of the river that you could swim in and Moe and Emma both had lots of fun.

Since I started dating Blaine I've heard about times that they went to the "axe handle factory" where you pay $5 and get to take as much wood as you want from the defective axe handles that they would otherwise throw away. We made a trip to the axe handle factory to get wood for our fires.

This is Dennis with his fire poking stick. Do not touch the fire poking stick unless you are a qualified fire poker.

We had hobo dinners to eat one night. A hobo dinner is where you put meat and vegetables all in a foil packet and cook it over thr grill. There's a science to making them to come out just right--dinner fit for the king of hobos.

A twilight hike

We picked up s'mores tips from the Dennis, Carolyn, and Blaine--all graduates of the "Phil and Diana Carter School of S'mores Making."

I learned the answer to my "why do we have to fish so early?" question. We went early to stake out a place on the bank to fish from and defend it. Just before the bell rings at seven in the morning, people line up all along the river to reserve good fishing spots. And with good reason. After about the first half an hour the fish get bored and full and start ignoring us crazy humans and our lures.

Moe decided that Aunt Anita has a nice lap.

The art of fire-making (lighter fluid).

These daddy-long-legs were everwhere. It was cool how they almost skim along the rocks and the ground on their spindley legs.

On Sunday we took a drive to the civil war battlefield at Pea Ridge. A lot of what's left there is just fields, but the fences helped me imagine that there were once people there.

On the way home from Pea Ridge we stopped at a fruit stand on the side of the road.