Take a Hike with the Claytons

Take a Hike with the Claytons

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Topsail Preserve State Park #2 SB18

What a great trip!  Each year we’ve had a camper we have ventured out for a Spring Break trip, and this year was just as good and fun as ever!  Great memories for sure.

We headed out on Sunday morning around 8:15, somewhere an hour later than I wanted to leave but oh well.  I had already decided that I was going to loosen up and just enjoy everything this trip. I was going to say “yes” instead of “no” when the kids asked or when Kelly had an idea.  It was a new me … a “Vacation Donald.” Yea … it didn’t last very long. I was a happy dude but I wasn’t quite as carefree as I was hoping for. Regardless, we were loaded up and on the road … headed for a good time.  

The trip there was normal beach-destination driving for us.  Fair amount of traffic, do-we-go-this-way-or-that-way discussions (Kelly is always right ;) … ), movies on the DVD, snacks, and anticipation.  Since this was our second trip to Topsail we knew what to expect and were very much looking forward to getting there. We landed about 1:30 or so and got everything set up.  This back-in was difficult because there was a tree and a palm-like bush I had to maneuver through. Not fun at all. The site was also right next to the shuffleboard court and the swimming pool, so that was an added bonus.  At first I didn’t think we would like that but it ended up being a total plus. Once we were settled in, the kids changed into their swimsuits and we drove down to the beach for a bit. As is now the case, Kelly and I usually think it will be a quick trip that just involves playing in the sand, but it really includes a long trip where everyone gets wet.  The kids ran and ran and ran from the waves. Cora loves the sand so she made herself at home with some sand toys. Carter and Caroline had a blast together and allowed Kelly and me to stand off to the side with that pleased parent look on our face. It was one of those times where your kids are being kids and having a blast doing so … and you realize it.  Good stuff.

Of all the camping nights we’ve had, this was without question the best night of sleep ever.  No one moved in the camper until 7:24am. Amazing. Caroline managed to sleep all the way til 8:30.  I am pretty sure she’ll be our teenage that sleeps til noon each weekend (but not if I can help it). We had a lazy morning of playing cards, riding the shuttle around the park just to take a tour, and "scootering" around. This particular day was slated to be cloudy and only about 70 degrees.  They were correct on both fronts so we did not spend as much time on the shore.

We ventured to Santa Rosa for lunch and ate at Pizza by the Sea... we haven't been there since we went with Carter when he was 2 and we have fond memories of him getting to "sing" karaoke. The pizza was great, the kids behavior was ok:) Afterwards we let them run off that energy on the quad, playing frisbee and football and ventured to a fun dog boutique.

After Cora's nap we ventured to the beach again that afternoon when the sun came out (and then hid again). Of course the kids had just as much fun, even if Kelly and I were getting close to being cold. We came home to wash up and settle into watching Zootopia that happened to be on tv. Once again, the kids slept great all night.  They had an earlier rise but we did not complain.

Tuesday was set for great weather and it actually got even better than we thought!  We had a simple breakfast of champions of donuts and bananas. Kelly was dying to take someone on a bike ride, Cora was so excited and as soon as they took off she was screaming in fear. So then she made Caroline jump on and even though she said she felt like a baby in the bike seat, she thoroughly enjoyed it! They got off the bike and explored the boardwalk, looking for deer like we saw last year but no luck this time.

Shuttle ride, Shuffle board and some corn hole

We decided to work extra hard in the morning to make it to the shuttle by 10:00am. We got there and caught a free ride to the beach.  The kids did more playing and Carter went on a shell hunt. It was pretty much perfect out. The water was a little cold for me but it did not bother the kids.  After missing the noon shuttle we were roped into another hour, and that wore us all day to where some camper time was a good remedy. Cora got in about two hours while Carter and Caroline went to the pool.  Yes, it was cold but they stayed in and had a blast! More kids showed up and it was even more fun for them. By this point Kelly and I had decided we would be heading to Seaside for the evening, so we were swapping out getting ready to go out.  Seaside was great as always. The kids played on the green and also listened to a cool kids band play. We ate at the food trucks and then walked around a little while. We rolled back into the camper and had a great night’s sleep
Carter decided to play photographer... he said now kiss and then lets change it to black and white:)  

Thank you Aunt Blair for our Happy Camper cups! We love them!

Seaside: fun kids band and the kids had fun on the stage.  It never gets old watching Cora dance to the music!  The kids highlight was getting to each pick out two animals from the bookstore.  

Our final day is always a mixture of do something fun and get packed to go.  This trip was no different. Kelly and I even talked about staying another day but the park didn’t have any openings.  Before we decided on the day’s events, Kelly and I made breakfast over the fire with our new dutch oven and pie iron (or “pie-rn” as Kelly says in her half-pirate half-country girl voice).  These two little beauties worked great and we cannot wait to test out some more recipes in the future.

The kids decided we needed to head to the pool so we got them dressed and properly greased with sunscreen, only to find out it was closed for maintenance.  They then agreed to go back to the beach but we told them we didn’t have much time since checkout was 1:00 and we had a lot to pack. We got to the beach and started walking around, and started seeing jellyfish about every 10-15 steps. Carter was excited at first because this meant he would get to see the purple “marine life” flag.  He then began to panic because he was so afraid he was gonna step on one. It didn’t happen but everyone decided we better head back before it does. I had a fun idea to do an Easter egg hunt at the campground and that closed us down for our activities before packing up. Then Kelly and I went into turbo mode and knocked everything out. The ride home was great, just like the whole trip. Spring Break 2018 forever.
They loved the camper Easter egg hunt!   And the chocolate inside:)
This trip I happened to notice how there are times Carter acts so much more mature and Caroline starts talking and makes everyone laugh.  She has a unique mind and I felt like it came out more on this trip. Cora continued to do great and just loves camping! We’ve got a lot of trips scheduled over the next six months so it should be a blast!

Monday, February 19, 2018

Lakepoint Resort State Park, Eufaula, AL

It’s February and the weather is actually nice, so why not head out on a camping trip!  We have camped in January before, but this is our first February adventure.  We checked the 10-day forecast and most of the state was covered in rain for this weekend, but we managed to find Lakepoint State Park in Eufaula.  It was a park we had considered a few times before and the three days full of upper 70s/low 80s had us hooked.

As is typical these days, we choose not to fight the stress and madness of Friday night pack-n-go and instead pulled out Saturday morning.  For some reason this particular packing process was very easy.  Kelly and I kept looking at each other skeptically and wondering why our blood pressures were normal.  In fact, Kelly said to me on two occasions, “Either we are forgetting a lot of stuff or this is much easier this time.”  However you slice it, we had an easier morning than normal.  

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We pulled out about 8:15am and made good time on our way to Eufaula.  The kids did great in the car and managed to watch a movie.  Once we arrived, we found our spot without issue and proceeded to have an easy setup process.  The spot was great and had plenty of room for the kids to run around.  It even sat on a loop where the kids could ride their scooters around and around and around!  As we were setting up, Kelly was also checking in periodically with the Powells, friends of ours who had accepted our invitation to come along to Take a Hike With The Claytons! We have gotten to know them as we adopted our littles two months apart. When they moved here from Memphis last year, Kelly and Tiffani became instant friends. Their oldest is also in kindergarten and middle is 4- all six kiddos have a blast together and it's so fun to watch!

They were in a different loop of the campground so Kelly took Carter and Caroline over for a visit while I stayed with Cora for her nap.  Truthfully, I was napping around the firepit as well so it wasn’t just me waiting for Cora to wake up.  Eventually she woke and we went over to the Powell’s tent to hang out for a bit.  After a while everyone got hungry so we traveled back to our camper to grill out.  The kids had a blast playing together while the adults hung out around the fire.  The night just went really well and we were all thankful.

Bubbles, Mr. Cool with his rootbeer, and great conversation!

Sunday morning was great because we all met up at the state park’s lodge where there was a breakfast buffet!  Everyone ate well and had energy for a run to the playground.  On the way we were lucky enough to see a gator in the lake, which really excited the kids (and Kelly).  Next we headed out to the Eufaula Wildlife Refuge where we were able to drive the nature trail and look for wildlife.  Unfortunately we did not see anything at all but Carter especially enjoyed the adventure! A person we ran into mentioned "evidence of boar hunting". Though we debated what this actually meant, it still got our hopes up to see something exciting, but still nothing. We did have great conversation about the Lord being our Refuge though, so that was memorable:)

Amazing buffet and fun times at the playground

We found a couple gators!  But not as successful on the Refuge drive.  
After returning to the campsite, we all hung out and played for a few hours before heading into downtown Eufaula for dinner.  We landed at The Cajun Corner right in the heart of town and had a very nice meal.  The night ended with some s’mores and wild play, which drove the Clayton children into full-on fatigue and zero ability to cope with anything.  We did get them to sleep pretty easily and managed to have a good night.

I made them each make a camping pose.  I love how each of their personalities show through what they are doing... or wearing:)

Family selfies!

So much fun at our campsites

Carter and Noah had a BLAST together!
Cajun Corner- so many looks when we walked in so we opted for outside!  I don't blame people for trying to figure out the dynamics- haha!

 The last morning went well also.  The kids enjoyed more play time as well as some muffins and donuts. They were continuously running laps or riding their scooters around the loop and wore off the sugar.  Kelly and I balanced playing, relaxing, and packing up better than normal, so the morning was all good.  The ride home went great too.

Gotta love some mixed play-do

All in all, we had a great trip to Lakepoint State Park!  The kids did really well and we had a blast welcoming the Powells along for the trip! Someone wasn't the happiest about leaving... or maybe just not getting Carter's toy.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Wind Creek 2017 #3

Wind Creek 2017

It’s Veterans Day weekend, which means the Clayton Crew is for sure heading out on a camping trip.  This particular weekend was also the Auburn-Georgia game so we decided to camp close to Auburn so Carter and I could go to the game.  We first looked at Roosevelt State Park in Georgia, but then settled on a return trip to Wind Creek.  This campground is a great place with lots of waterfront sites, so we didn’t hesitate to head back here for a third time.  (if the pictures are scattered, I give up. Blogs are not user friendly for me! -Kelly)
4 for her age, 1 for being the first born:)

Instead of leaving late Thursday evening and being stressed for setup, we decided to stay in our own beds and leave Friday morning.  Fortunately, Kelly and I determined it would be best if we didn’t wake too early and make the day stressful, so we left about 10:30am and made it to Alexander City around noon.  We set up the camper easily and looked around at what was possibly one of the prettiest days of the year.  It was 65 and sunny … not a cloud in the sky.  The yellow leaves were on the ground and the overall Fall feel was just right.  For the rest of the day, we basically explored and played.  We took a pretty long walk to find playgrounds, and the big kids got to go up on the silo with the scary staircase.  Carter wanted to throw the football while we walked so we did a lot of that.  Eventually the kids ended up in the sand and Kelly and I were not too happy about it.  They did not do too much damage so that was a plus.  To end the night, we made a fire, ate hot dogs, and the kids played with their toys.  Surprisingly the kids went down very easily and were essentially settled about 7:40.  Kelly and I sat by the fire for another hour and then retired ourselves.


"No you have to do this way mommy, put your hand here and bend your legs."

She loves her daddy!

Friday was beautiful, Saturday not so much.

Saturday morning got off to a fast (and loud…) start.  The kids woke up at 6:00am and all three hopped in the bed with us.  We tried to keep them quiet but there was really no chance.  They were up and they were ready to go, which means Kelly and I were also.  Much to our surprise there was significant cloud cover and a lot of wind this particular morning, so it was much much colder than we had hoped.  I took the kids for a walk out to a peninsula and we enjoyed throwing some rocks in the water.  Kelly met up with us shortly and we found a few more playgrounds to hang out at. 

Eventually we headed to Wal-Mart for supplies and then back to a new playground. 
Guess who's who?!
This park wins the most playgrounds!
Things are tough for this one sometimes!

Carter and I then met my dad at a nearby gas station so we could go to the Auburn-Georgia game.  While we were gone, the girls had a great time, took naps, played lots of play-do and coloring, and made their own fire after their dance party!  Carter and I returned from the game about 8:00 and everyone went straight to bed.  
Carter and his buddy Ty were able to hang out!
Girls day/night was a blast!

Caroline wore these at 18m, Cora is 3!
Zaxbys cheers us all up after the boys leave!

The next morning Kelly and I put on a morning movie so things didn’t start as fast paced this time.  We basically took it easy, picked up intermittently, complained that things were colder than we thought, and eventually headed home about noon.  All in all, we can’t say it was the best trip ever because it was so cold, but we did have lots of fun!