We completed our 2nd camping trip of the season! Still hoping we can do once a month…. This one was much better than last month too! We had all sorts of struggles trying to figure out when and where we were going because the weather kept going crazy. We knew we definitely wanted to tent camp this time, but we also wanted the weather to be such that we could actually do some hiking. I had gotten permission from the judge (to take baby girl out of state) for some dates and then we ended up not being able to go at that time due to tons of rain chances. We knew we could just up and go to Backbone, since it’s in-state, so we were kind of banking on that working out eventually. Long story (sort of) short, we did find a time and got it done! The weather actually turned out to be incredible too, which was so fun! And all the kids were still in school, so the place was deadsville. So great! Also, *drum roll,* our friend Callie came with us which continues to be a highlight of conversation among our children.
We had been looking forward to and planning for this day for a while, so of course the day started out by Evie having a stomachache. I tried to poo-poo it, and told her she probably just needed breakfast. That went well. I got to see her glass of kef and half eaten breakfast twice that morning….. followed by two more throw up episodes. She seemed quite perky in spite of it, and it’s no joke trying to prepare and pack for a 2 night camping trip with 5 small children so we went ahead and decided to continue as planned. Callie came a little early and helped me finish up packing. Finally Cabz got home from work and we were off!
It took about 2 hours to get there, with only one road side pull over for Elly to use the can. Since we waited for Cabz to finish a full day of work, we didn’t get to the campsite until it was already somewhat late for supper. Cabz started working on getting the fire started right away, (always our problem area haha) and between him and Callie’s twigs, we eventually had success! The kids were super helpful as always. THANKS, GUYS!!
Callie and I, again with the children’s help, managed to set up the two tents. Callie’s was like a 5 second set up and we figured our giant 8 person one out pretty quickly too. I should have it down by now since I’ve helped set it up a few times, but I’m always the listener and helper, not the director, sooooo…. that’s my excuse.
Evie putting in the bent tent stake was pretty useful obviously.
Callie helped me get the four older kids smiling. It did blur a little since our new camera focus isn’t set up yet, BUT I still call this a pretty big win. 🙂
We have fire! Yay! Cabz was cooking up the kielbasa, potato, green bean foil packs we assembled earlier. They’re really pretty tasty camp fare, but they were a little slower to cook up then brats. Yes, this turned into quite the late night for the kids. They all held it together really well considering. I’m going to attribute that to Callie being there. Always easier to hold onto self-control when someone’s watching. hahaha
Abby’s photography skills are hit and miss. This was kind of a miss, followed by a miss, followed by a miss. She was trying to get a pic of us eating, but was so excited she was struggling to hold the camera still. As a result, this is the best we got. haha You get the “picture” though. 😉
Toddlers and baby were sent to bed while the two big girls got to down a s’more. Sticky fingers and faces for the win!
It was so late by the time the kids were sleeping. haha Rough. The good news is, there was very minimal crying and goofing around. YES! After the kids were all settled in the tent, we went to enjoy some rummy and root beer. Callie turned 21 yesterday, soooo, major partying was in order. I had some pretty great ideas planned to celebrate, but Cabz shut me down. The root beer was Callie’s idea though and although I’m not generally a fan of pop, it was pretty tasty!
I just feel the urge to remind everyone I’m pregnant so that’s the reason for the belly. Also, Cabz and I were totally twinning rustic run shirts (actually on accident, although I had mine on first – he says he had his on last night prior to work clothes, but whatever).
We were really struggling to get a group selfie in the dark, but Cabz finally got this one done for us. I can’t stop laughing at it.
I figured the kids would rise with the sun, but that was just me. I woke up thinking it must be really late and it was 5 something in the morning. I tried to go back to sleep until I figured it surely was late enough to get everyone up – nope. 6:30. Finally it was close enough to 7 and Elly was up, sooo, everyone got to wake up.
Both nights we stayed it was perfect tent weather! Started out a little warm, but got cool enough that we were happy to cover up. I think Cabz was even a tad bit chilly the first night. The 2nd night I made sure we had a second blanket for him. haha Baby Girl stayed warm in her little snuggie, although she was so confused the first morning she just laid there staring at me with big eyes for about ten minutes. ha!
Baby Girl was in one pack ‘n’ play, and Elly was in the other one. Obie slept on a blanket in between them, we were on our air mattress (the high life), and the big girls were in their sleeping bags on the other end of the tent. After pulling an incredibly late night, not everyone was super perky upon being roused up.
Obie stayed up the latest and I think it showed. hahaha SOoooooooooo dead tired.
Breakfast time, come on, let’s eat! At least the adults half heartedly humored my picture taking.
Which trail to start on?! I was so pumped to get out and HIKE! WOO!! We decided to start with the cave hike. It was at one end of the park, so we figured it made sense to work our way around a little. We thought it’d be fun to surprise the kids with a cave at the end (of the super brief hike), so I was all, “Oooooh!! What do you think we’re going to find at the end of this trail?!” Trying to be super suspenseful and get them really into it. It was working until Abby saw the trail sign. Ya…. forgot temporarily that she can read. Abby, “CAVE! It says ‘cave!’ I bet there’s gonna be a cave at the end then!” Well, there went that. haha
It was a quick walk, but a fun one!
The rock stairs up to the cave were especially fun (although Obie might disagree with that…..)
Cave entrance!! I was told it went back a decent ways, but I can’t say I was an eye witness. Cabz was holding Babykins and my belly is the size of the moon, so there was no way we were waddling back in there. Good thing Callie was nice enough to explore with the 2 big girls and their flashlights. She said it was squatting fun the entire way. haha! I was extra glad I didn’t attempt it upon hearing that.
Evie looks cranky here, but she was loving it. She was just in a ‘I’m not going to be obliging with any camera stuff this entire trip” kinda mood. Poor kid was sick though. ❤
Elly thought about following after the explorers, but decided against it. She and Obie enjoyed climbing around the more open crevices outside the cave instead. 🙂
Toddlers and Daddy doing some low key caving.
The explorers made it back alive!
Time to keep moving! Elly had other plans though….. Ya, not chasing after you in my current condition. Get with it, girl. haha
Callie did some high climbing fun before heading down. I pointed her out since she’s hard to see. lol
After our cave hike, we needed something a little more strenuous. Everyone was still full of energy, so we decided to try out Six Pines Trail, labeled as “difficult.” It started out with a super steep hill climb. Obie decided to demonstrate his moaning capabilities at this point. No sooner did we make it to the top when Elly and Evie both realized they needed to poop. Really, guys? Normally, I pack a little baggie of wipes, but of course I left it down at the start of the trail in the van. Cabz handed Baby off to us and ran back to grab some for us, because he’s the best. ❤ Meanwhile, the kids were getting the job done. Good thing the park was quiet. hahaha
Back on the move!
This first large part of this trail was really exciting and pretty! It was lots of climbing and we’re pretty sure it was right along the Maquoketa River which was pretty fun. 🙂
So much pretty scenery and we never used bug spray. Other than the gnats being a little annoying at the campsite a few times, they really weren’t bad at all!
After the first part, we got a little “lost.” We weren’t unsure how to get back, but we’re pretty sure we took the wrong way. At that point it got much more dull as we were mostly walking on a small dirt path through weeds. We kept it up for a while, because we wanted to reach the end, but eventually caved and turned around. The trail was supposed to be 6/10 of a mile out and we probably did at least that and then back again, so around 1.2 miles. The toddlers walked the entire time, in spite of Obie voicing some complaints. He was clapping and cheering that we were “done” now. Haha…. not quite, babe.
Next up, we headed to the main attraction of the park, Backbone Trail. It’s a one mile trail loop, which we were excited about since loops are always more fun than out and backs.
This was a fun, rocky hike, and if I remember right it was labeled “moderate.” It was definitely way easier than the previous trail and again we had the toddlers hike it up the whole way. So nice to wear the kids out! 🙂
Elly loved climbing up the rocks. I loved her climbing too until a little further on…..
We forced Miss Evie into smiling for a picture finally. 🙂
This was shortly before freak out session.
I think Abby was the one who came across this (that ended her leading the way for a while…. AHH!). I don’t know what you think, but this beast is definitely poisonous! Look at that creepy thing!!! OH MY WORD! I tried to throw rocks at its head and kill it, but my aim wasn’t very good in the moment of fright. haha Nasty thing got away. Grrrrr…… I can hardly even post this here, but….. here it is in all its nasty glory.
Cabz claiming his favorite tree of the trip!
Abby’s (and apparently Obie’s too – he has a thing for trying to be in every photo op ever haha) favorite tree, or what was left of it. haha Also, Elly’s favorite tree after seeing how great it was.
Peanut’s favorite “tree” was one of her beloved sticks. She was carrying one about 95% of the entire trip of course.
Callie even picked a favorite tree! haha
We discovered a cool fort someone had been building along the trail and of course needed a pic!
Babes is in a stage where although she desperately needs her two naps a day, will do everything she can to avoid them if we are doing something out of the ordinary. She proceeded to start whining, and didn’t stop, for almost this entire hike. She finally crashed here (for like 2 minutes before waking up and whining again), which we were pretty excited about.
We made it to the end!!
Toddlers were still plugging right along!
We were all pretty pooped at this point, so we headed back to camp to eat some grub and to try and get naps out of a couple kids before the next fun. It’s a rough life, guys.
Elly was obsessed with hoarding and guzzling the water bottle at all times.
Obie and Baby were the only two that actually ended up napping. We tried to get Elly to nap, but that was a fail. She was exhausted, but too wound up at the same time. Oh well. Better sleep tonight, right?! After a bit, we got the two sleepers up and headed to the creek to do some splashing in the afternoon heat! That was a major hit! Obie was infatuated with picking through the rocks.
I can never keep Cabz out of the water for long. Such a water rat…..
Abby thought Callie’s grass patch sitting spot was a pretty great find.
Trying, and failing, to get Evie smiling cute. There was just too much sand she had to dump out, and then repeat because her foot went back in the sand when she was dumping it. It was challenging!
Abs just loves the water. I think this had to have been her favorite part. haha She was splashing and living it up the entire time! ❤
Washing up to head back to camp. It was a virtual bath!
We gave ourselves plenty of time to get that stubborn fire going for supper this time. haha
Fire masters doing their thing.
Abby was sweetly trying to teach Elly how to play velcro ball catch. It was pretty cute. “Here, honey! Hold your hand like this!!” Followed by a (called it!) completely failed catch. haha ❤
Followed by having her move right in front of her face, so she could make it happen. Whatever works.
Obes was loving hanging out with Baby Girl. “My hand!! Awwww!!” She was holding his hand, guys! ❤
Hanging out with the babes while the fire was getting started.
Tonight was lots of fun. The kids all got to bed at a nice early time and they all passed out within like 2 minutes. The adults hung out and played some Suishi Go – we each won a round and then Cabz had to win the tie breaker. He just reminded me that he also won at rummy the night before, so….. there ya go. *sarcastic face while slow clapping*
Sometime in the middle of last night, I was checking on the kids and poor Evie was just burning up with fever. She hadn’t had a fever the day before, but was sooooo hot. Awww…. ❤ I didn’t wake her up since I hadn’t brought medicine anyway and sleep was probably the best thing she could be doing.
The kids always enjoy their sugar cereal (special camping treat) on camping mornings.
Evie was still feverish in the morning, but felt much better than in the night. She ate a decent amount for breakfast, but lost her appetite as the day went on – poor girl barely touched her lunch.
The kids were being especially cute while we were packing up camp.
Peanut’s fever didn’t stop her from being an adorable big sister. She was feeling soooo big marching around holding the toddlers’ hands. hahaha ❤
Getting the tent to squish back in the bag is always a bit of a trick.
Our last morning of hiking! We decided to head out on the East Lake Trail. It was an excellent choice!
The trail was fairly easy to navigate, but had lots of ups and downs and the scenery was beautiful!
Is any hiking trip complete without at least one group selfie?! haha Callie’s got some skills.
This fella gave me quite the workout while hiking (holding his hand and keeping him moving can be a bit of a task, to put it nicely), but it was good for him! 🙂
The bluffs along the hike were so much fun!
Abby found a feather and thought it was the coolest, but Cabz said it could be an eagle feather so she had to drop it. Pictures before the goodbye were necessary.
Uh-oh! We came upon a lame way around or a difficult shortcut. Shortcut for all!! haha
My favorite tree (mostly, I just thought it was unique), until Cabz pointed out it looked like a bunch of snakes hanging down. Ugh. Thanks, babe!
The east lake trail followed water almost the entire way and it was of course quite exciting when we noticed geese with their babies!
We made it to where East Lake Trail and Bluebird Trail met up and turned onto Bluebird. It looped back to where we came and we always go for loops when we can!
The kids were trying to stall the hike with some dirt fun, but we got them up and moving. To the top of the first hill and then we’ll take a snack break! That first hill proved to be a bit longer than we thought, but we did eventually make it! haha
Abby demonstrating how “tired” she was when we finally stopped. Spare me. haha You should see the endless energy these kids have 24/7.
Applesauce squeezers for the win.
There were a few little offshoot trails that looped back to the trail we were on and Cabz and Abby finally decided to go for one of them. I think Cabz was happy to hand babykins off to Callie for a little reprieve. Those carriers get tiresome (I can testify, even though this time I was carrier free! haha) They jogged/ran the whole thing, but it was such a long out and back compared to the distance we went that we were standing around waiting for them for a bit. Good thing Obes decided to do a stinky, while midwalk nontheless. *sigh* His potty training has been a bit slow compared to my norm. Callie has a knack for catching these great moment on film. Enjoy.
We took care of that smelly business, waited a bit, and spotted our cute duo! It was actually really cute. Abby was SO thrilled about her adventure with Daddy (“we saw over TEN deer!!!”) and talked about it for the rest of the hike with so much excitement it was hard not to laugh. You would have thought she had been on a week long trip with him at least. It was precious. haha ❤
Toodlebug with her walnut treasures.
Photo op on a random observation look-out place. Almost made it back!
I can’t remember how far we hiked between the two trails, but I want to say it was about 2.5 miles? Toddlers did it all on their own again! Thataway! Time to head out of Backbone. We decided to try stopping at Bixby State Preserve on the way home, since it was only about 15 minutes from Backbone. It sounded like Bixby’s main attraction was the ice cave, so we hoped to find that at least. We got there and there was a random guy fishing there who pointed us in the right direction of the cave. It was a cute hike, but extremely short. The first part involved a fun little creek crossing!
Callie made it safely across and videoed the rest of the gang. haha
We gathered the trail was going to be short, so we stopped for a little creek playing, because that is always the best.
Abby was bent out of shape to catch a fish. I think she realized the guy we saw was going fishing and hello, it is her lifelong dream to be a fisherwoman so she figured this was her big moment to shine! Callie tried to help her out, but those little guppies were just too stinking fast!
We finally drug an unwilling Abby away from the water and finished our hike to the ice cave.
It was gated off (as we knew from reading online) but still chilly and kind of interesting. Callie took a few of the kids up to stand on top of it too, because why not? ha
On the way back, Abby was again furiously trying to catch a fish. She was actually pretty riled up about it, grouching at me that I didn’t bring her net and she was a bit feisty when we forced her to give it up and head back for lunch. I mean, I wanted the girl to catch a fish, but it just wasn’t happening! lol
Humoring me for a picture quick. ha Eating lunch at Bixby before ending our fun trip.
Pulling into the driveway – we made it!!
All the kids were dead tired and passed out on the way home. Peanut slept off and on in the van, but once we got home she went inside and completely crashed on the couch. Her fever came back in full force (103.7) and I was pushing to get her to drink and eat a little applesauce over the course of the afternoon/evening. She slept pretty poorly that night (due to all the sleeping right beforehand), but was doing better the next day. Always sad to have a little tot sick. ❤ All in all, it was a great trip and other than Peanut lagging a bit the last day, she was really such a trooper and enjoyed it all a bunch! I can’t wait for next time! 🙂