May 2015: Land Between the Lakes, KY

Now that both sons are campered-up, we thought it would be appropriate to get all three RVs in the same place. With Son #2 still at Ft. Leavenworth, and us in Atlanta, a rough half-way point is Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, a little-known national treasure consisting of over 170,000 acres federal land dedicated to every kind of outdoor recreation one can think of. We’d all been here back in 2007 (when both sons were with the 101st Airborne stationed at Ft. Campbell).

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Piney Campground, Land Between the Lakes (2007)

So, 8 years later, it’s like coming home.

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Hillman Ferry Campground, Site C63

Except that the 2007 trip was pre-K, as in “pre-kids.” So how would it work out with four little darlings, ages 2 to 6? On Thursday, May 14, Son #2 arrived from Leavenworth (although much later in the afternoon than planned), with Son #1 not due in until tomorrow, so the first afternoon was basically just hanging around, playing in the water and exploring the “secret fort” in Grandpa’s camper…

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…until we were confronted with the truth of God’s plan that we are made male and female, and little boys are just different than little girls. Proof? Consider this. If you’re walking along the shore and find a disgusting, half-eaten, rotting, alligator gar, covered with maggots, what do you do?

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Right … if you’re a little four-year-old boy, you pick it up and bring it around to show all the grownups what you’ve found (which, incidentally, made Mom throw up in her mouth).

Next day, Son #1 shows up, and we are all set up, three-in-a-row, ready for three days of fun in the sun!

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Just one problem with the fun-in-the-sun plan: the sun. They had been forecasting pretty heavy rain and thunderstorms for whole weekend, but we decided to blaze on anyway, mostly because the likelihoods kept bouncing around, and the heaviest rains weren’t supposed to hit us anyway, and, well, whatever. On Friday night the storms hit, and they hit hard. So, we decided we had to serve up dinner and entertain the LDs in Ace, all five grown-ups, four kiddies, and three dogs. Fortunately, we had movies, good food, and Ace handles t-storms pretty well.

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Next day, still raining (and forecast to continue to mid-afternoon), it was off to the planetarium and nature center.

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Then back to Ace for lunch (inside again, still rain-bound), nap time, and then when the weather cleared, burgers, mac-n-cheese, and s’mores. And in the midst of that, we were treated to one of those moments that drives home the truth of the adage, “Whatever adults can plan, children can plan around.” With large areas of the campground pretty much mudded-up, the kids decided that nothing could be better than stomping, kicking, and sliding around in the drainage ditches.

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But I guess that’s the point. There’s a lot to like in a trip like this: the camping itself, a great place like LBL, a chance for the two brothers to get together one last time before they’re on opposite ends of the country,  more time for the cousins together, and, of course, whatever that magical thing is about kids in the woods. But, as I noted in my last post, the best part may be the virtue for children of disconnected time. I’m pretty sure that no parent ever said, “Hey–I know you’ve been shuttled from one planned environment to another for the past month, so let me make up for it by sending you out into the woods to stomp around in a sloppy drainage ditch.” But while camping, that’s not only OK, it’s the essence of the experience, in fact there are no other options, creating a memory for the kids that will stay with them forever.

The whole photo album can be found here: LBL 2015 Photo Album.

Statistics for the trip:
Campsite: 3 nights @ $22.00 (senior rate) (woo hoo)
10 adult admissions (5 ea to planetarium, nature center): $35.00
Ice, worms, other essentials: $20.00
Est’d fuel cost: $254.24
Est’d mileage: 7.91 mpg (mostly pulling the toad)