June 23rd was the Great American Backyard Campout . Instead of heading to the backyard, I took the family to Bear Creek Lake State Park. The trip was spawned by my friend MS. When I learned of a GABC event at our local and beloved Pocahontas State Park, I distributed it to some friends to see if they were interested in bringing the kids or whole families out. MS replied by letting me know he was already taking the fam BCLSP that weekend.
Apparently, he and I had already discussed this, and after I didn’t confirm he went ahead and booked. I don’t recall any of this, and will chock it up to old age – either his or mine. By the time the weekend was upon us, our friend JB had secured a reservation as well, but due to biology and the prejudices of others MS had to back out.
Our planned Friday PM departure was delayed until Saturday AM due to a combination of unstable weather and my lack of desire for setting up camp and/or riding out a night full of thunderstorms with the family and dog in tow. By Saturday morning though, the sky was blue, the air was crisp, and by 9AM, we had set up camp. Oh, and Trevor – always the shy boy – had made friends with a neighboring camper and had practically moved into their site, which was a prime fishing spot.
Mid-morning we trekked down the Channel Cat hiking trail and fished near the dam for a while. Bobbers were lost and lines were snapped in the low-hanging trees, but fish were caught and that always makes up for any other troubles. We took a break for lunch back at camp, and then Trevor and I hiked down to the public beach area to meet up with JB and his kids. The kids played in the lake and JB and I hid out in the shade and shot the shiz.
Mid-afternoon, we headed back toward camp and midway ran into Mom and Barkley coming our way. They had opted to stay back in camp and take things easy for a while. Back near camp we fished some more, and Barkley got in her first swim before I began the arduous task of starting a fire. Actually, starting the fire was a cinch, but getting the wet firewood purchased from the campground to burn productively was the challenge. I understand why they don’t want people transporting firewood, and I also understand the challenges of providing good, dry firewood to thousands of campers throughout the peak summer season, but this is still my biggest complaint of visiting any SP. Rant over.
We made do, and sausages, corn on the cob, and baked beans were cooked for us, while JB brought steaks and veggies. Everyone seemed to enjoy their dinner, and before long the kids were off again to run, fish, catch turtles (Trevor was bitten on the finger by one!), and be kids in the great outdoors. Things started settling down and S’mores were made. By about 9PM, Trevor was filthy and exhausted. I asked him if he had a good time and he responded with a resounding YES! Mission accomplished.
JB and crew departed and I got everyone – including the dog – settled into the tent. While the day was a success, I was looking forward to a little quiet time around the fire. With a cold can of Fat Tire in hand, I promptly started the dreaded head nod. Oh well, I guess it’s bedtime for me as well. Good night.
I awoke with the light and soon made my way out of the tent. Everyone else was still sleeping soundly, so I grabbed the rod & reel and wandered down the trail to cast a few. I only had one nibble, which actually “freshed me out”, but otherwise things were very quiet in the water. The peace and quiet and morning view of the calm lake was worth the price of admission though. After a while, I headed back to camp. Things were still quiet. I got the fire going…barely…and made some coffee. Eventually, I heard some stirring and Trevor poked his head out of the tent. Before I knew it, he and his new friend were at it again. The start of a new day.
The campground slowly came to life and eventually Mom re-joined the world. Probably sooner than she’d like though no thanks to one particular camp of rather loud fellas. The fire was soon hot enough to cook up some breakfast sausage and pancakes. JB and crew were making an early departure, and stopped by to say farewell. I couldn’t persuade them to stay for pancakes and sausage. Tough crowd. Having plenty to go around, Trevor’s friend and his little brother chowed down with us as well. While getting things cleaned up, I couldn’t help but notice the sky looked a little ominous. I decided to start breaking camp down so that we didn’t caught in something later on.
While Mom and I tended to camp, Trevor and crew were fishing. Surprise. They ended up using a sausage that had fallen in the fire as well as some leftover pancakes. There was some hard core lake chumming going on, and it paid off as a decent size catfish and a largemouth bass were both caught. Much to Trevor’s disappointment, he was not the one to catch either, but was excited about the catch nonetheless.
By the time everything was broken down, the wind had kicked up, there was one respectable clap of thunder, and a stray drop of rain here or there. We opted not to go on the morning hike we had planned. No sense getting caught in the woods if something nasty rolls through. Next time.
On the ride home, it seemed both Trevor and Barkley were struggling to keep their eyes open. Trevor wondered out loud if he would ever see his friend again – I didn’t have the heart to tell him probably not, but you never know. As the Silversun Pickups buzzed in the background, I reflected on our first official family camping trip with hope that it is the first of many, and further hope that even if Trevor never sees his friend again, this past weekend will be a memory etched in his mind for a lifetime.