Take a Hike with the Claytons

Take a Hike with the Claytons

Monday, September 3, 2018

Stone Mountain, Georgia

It’s Labor Day weekend and we have a full three days off to go camping!  We have historically taken great trips over this long weekend and this year was no different.  The actual camping part of the trip was less than normal because we were busy climbing all over the mountain, but it was fun nonetheless.

It is pretty much routine now for us to leave in the morning if at all possible.  It just works so much better for us to pack in the evening and then leave early in the morning.  However, for this trip we purchased a vacation package that gave us three nights of camping and two days worth of park passes for all of the attractions they have.  Since we got three full nights we decided to get our money’s worth and head on over after work on Friday. Unfortunately for our happiness, we were all tired and moody, and everyone else seemed to be on the road at the same time.  It took us forever to get there because of traffic and when we did finally make it we were into the 10:00 hour (eastern). Setup went fine even if it was dark.

All of that evening pain paid off the next morning.  The crew slept really well, giving us a nice slow start to the day.  We decided not to waste much time at the campground and instead headed over to the main area to catch the shuttle to Stone Mountain. 

As soon as we got there Carter took off for the Geyser Tower and climbed all over the place, as well as got soaking wet.

We then went into their dinosaur exhibit and looked around a good bit. 

The kids were still drying off from the Geyser so we headed on over to the Skylift and rode up to the top of the mountain. The kids really enjoyed the ride up and then seemed to have a good time on top of the rock. 

Once we came down we went into the Dinotorium, which is essentially four floors of a McWane/Let’s Play combo. The kids played and played until they found the 4th floor slide! They then rode down over and over again until they were worn out... and mom and dad were a little bruised up from the slides!

We caught the shuttle back around 2:00, had lunch, and then set up for the Auburn vs. Washington game. These kids LOVE the shuttle!
Look at those sisters holding hands!  Lots of time waiting for and riding the shuttle, then Carter drove us home one night!

Cora took a nap while Kelly took Carter and Caroline for a dip in the campground swimming pool. They made it back, Auburn finally won, and we went on with our evening.  Before heading back to the park we explored the playground. While doing so, a random kid came up and invited (rather, begged) us to come to he and his grandparents’ camper for s’mores. We were at first hesitant but then joined in the fun. They were a super nice family.

That night we rode back over to the park and caught the Laser Show and Fireworks!  It was pretty awesome and the kids really enjoyed it (except Caroline who can't stand fireworks and made us miss the amazing ending!). It was definitely a sight to see and there were thousands of people out there with us.  One pretty cool event happened as Cora was sitting in my lap. A surprise firework or two went off and she was completely unsuspecting. She jumped out of my lap, turned around real quick, and gave Kelly and me a look like something big was going on.  It was likely the first surprise/scared sound event she has ever had. Pretty cool.

We once again got back to the camper pretty late.  For the most part we all made it through the night (Carter fell out of the bed, Kelly picked him up, and he still tells us he doesn’t remember it at all).  The morning came, Cora climbed in our bed, begged to watch Peppa Pig, and got her wish as the rest of us slept in a little while. We then loaded everyone up and booked it to the pavillion for the campground worship service.  It was good to attend the service and meet a few new people.

For the rest of the day we decided to explore the other parts of the park. We were able to see a cool 4D Dino movie, watch a ventriloquist and his talking dog, visit a few shops, ride the scenic railway, get ripped off for lunch, and then finish up with some mini golf.  It was hot and tiring but it was a fun day (if you can't tell by Donald's reaction!).

We thought Carter would be scared but he basically ran up the wall!

We landed back at the camper around 6:00-6:30 and essentially relaxed for a while. The kids got to bed and we all slept hard for the night … except Carter who was not feeling well and seemed to be awake all evening.
A fun game of Nukem!  A morning swim and some playground time.  

The last day was a lot of nothing around the campsite.  Eventually Kelly took the girls to the pool while Carter and I finished up the loading process. We picked them up around noon and had an easy ride home.  It was a great trip with a lot of good memories!

Monday, June 4, 2018

Meaher State Park

Hottest camping trip ever!  It was scorching the whole time we were there and our campsite did not have much tree coverage.  We kept looking for water to jump into but unfortunately the waters around this campsite likely have gators as well.  What do you do? I guess you just have fun anyway!

This trip to Spanish Fort is something we hope is an annual trip for us.  Children of the World (the agency we used to assist in adopting Cora) hosts a picnic the first of June for families who have adopted from India or who are considering it.  Since we want to stay connected to the agency and also help anyone in the process, we’ve committed to making the trip each year. Meaher State Park (pronounced like “mayor”) happened to be directly across the street from the picnic this year, so that was a win for us.  

So, we started pretty early Friday morning (I took a vacation day at work) because we did nothing the night before.  I woke about 6:10 and started the loading process. Even though Kelly and I were not really motivated this time around, it went really smoothly and I managed to keep my “we’re taking too much stuff!” comments to myself.  We ended up getting the kids in the car around 8:20 and we were off. The ride down was fine … the kids could probably have been better, but who’s keeping score when they are packed in the back of the truck like that. The highlight of the ride to Spanish Fort was stopping for lunch, at Shoney’s!  What?! Yes, we exited and were heading to Zaxby’s but happened to see a newly renovated Shoney’s advertising a $5.99 lunch buffet. We jokingly brought it up and Kelly had me run in to scope it out and we decided to go for it and it went really well, especially since all three kids ate for free!

We rolled into Meaher around 2:00 and got everything set up without too much issue.  The kids then convinced us to go to the playground for a bit, but Kelly and I were itching for something a little more fun.  We considered mini-golf but there was nothing close. Fortunately, we happened upon a pretty cool animal exhibit center and then a sweet little splash pad area with a nice playground and ended with some live music.  The animal exhibit was a lot of fun and kept the kids entertained for a while. The best part was when Kelly was holding her camera up an to aquarium that housed a small alligator. He was not a happy little guy and so he snapped at Kelly.  It scared her so much that she jumped and gave out a little yelp. As she was basically running away from the aquarium she tripped over Caroline and ended up splattered against the wall, where she almost knocked off the prize bass that was mounted.  It was a classic moment and I really needed a laugh like that! The kids haven't stopped talking about it and we overheard Carter telling one of his new friends about it!

The kids had a blast at the splash pad and we stayed pretty late, even though no one had figured out dinner yet.  Well, if you know us you know we are always going to make food happen. I saw someone sitting at the splash pad with some pretty good-looking seafood, so I inquired and learned about David’s Catfish.  Yum. We headed that way with our eyes wide and fired up about some catfish! For some reason they decided to put us in the back room all by ourselves. Wise move in their part because our crew is never very tame at restaurants.  Ironically, tonight they were and we feasted on slaw, catfish, chicken fingers, fries, and cheese grits. It was so good. After this, we made our way back to the camper and went to bed. Kelly and I sat outside and soaked up the bay breeze for a bit before retiring.  The night wasn’t too great … Kelly ended up awake several times due to various kid issues, but we did make it.

The next morning started out very hot.  Cora and I went to the grocery store to find donuts and other miscellaneous items.  Eventually, we got everyone ready and headed over to the picnic. When we got there it was very hot and when we left it was even hotter.  In between we had a lot of fun with the Children of the World families. The kids seemed to have a blast meeting new friends, playing yard games, and getting henna tattoos.  It was wonderful meeting new families and of course catching up with Pat and Terri who both had integral parts in bringing Cora home!


Once we left the picnic we went back to the camper long enough for Cora to nap and everyone to put on their swim gear. We loaded everyone up, got some Chick-fil-a, and landed at the Fairhope public beach area.  This was just what we all needed. Some water to cool off in and some good just-let-it-all-out fun. Cora was absolutely crazy in the water … I mean floating around and getting plastered by the waves. Carter and Caroline did their normal thing with the waves, and we all managed to just relax for a bit.  We ended the evening by watching a beautiful sunset and walking to the end of the pier. On that walk, we met a nice lady who had just caught a catfish. Kelly and I were ushering the kids away before she cleaned the fish, but they were curious. Caroline was the most interested in seeing what was about to happen and Kelly continuously cautioned her, all the way to “Caroline!  She is about to jab that knife into the fish.” We thought for sure this was scare her away, but nope … she was all about it. Cora and Carter made it back to the scene and we all got a lesson in catfish dissection.

After this long day, the kids would surely fall asleep on the way home, right?  Negative. They seemed to have even more energy. They finally went to bed around 9:00-9:30 and once again the night didn’t go the best for Kelly.  I managed to sleep through most all of it, like always, while Kelly did the work. She’s just too good.

The next morning we basically began loading up around 8:30 and hit the road at 10:00, the earliest we’ve ever departed.  Overall, the trip was great and we seemed to have a really good time. Maybe next time it won’t be so hot...

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Oak Mountain State Park #5

We love the Busenitz Fam!

This trip was supposed to take place in mid-April but there was just too much going on so we moved it ahead to mid-May instead.  Still lots going on but definitely a good choice because this turned out really well for us.

Whenever we book at OMSP we like to set it up with some friends to come along for the fun.  This time we were so fortunate to have the Busenitz family join in the fun! They were able to find a tent site right near our trailer site so we had the chance to spend a lot of time together.  We all rolled in sometime Friday evening and set up camp, with the Busenitz crew showing up early enough to enjoy some beach time at the day-use area. The Claytons landed at 6:30 and set up decently quick.  We all made a fire and cooked hot dogs and s’mores. The kids played and played and played … scootering, chase, Legos, and anything they could think of. Eventually all the kids got tired so the Busenitz kids headed to the tent while the Clayton kiddos climbed into the camper.  After all of the young ones were settled in the adults stayed around the campfire til 12:30am. You read that correctly! Great conversation for sure but hard to stay up that late and live a normal life the next day!

Morning #1 started off just fine.  Carter, Caroline, and Cora all had soccer games we had to attend first thing in the morning.  Those went really well and then we headed to our house to grab the kayaks. Once we got back to the campsite, we met the Busenitz crew for lunch and then hit the beach.  The campground now has two pretty good beaches really close to the campground and we took full advantage. The kids swam and kayaked for close to three hours. They loved every minute of it and wore themselves out.  Once everyone finished swimming we headed back to the campsite for dinner and a well-deserved slumber. The kids slept very well and woke up ready to go for another day.

For this final morning, we decided to head over to The Grille for a Mother’s Day breakfast.  It was fun and also relaxing, at least until the kids got restless. We then swung by the Petting Zoo before heading back to the campsite to pack up.  We decided that even though check-out was 11:00am we still wanted to play before heading home. So, Kelly took the crew to the beach and I took the camper back to the house. I then met them at the beach and we played for another three hours before heading home.  It was tiring and so much!
Mothers Day Breakfast:)
Love seeing Taylor the donkey

Sweet Mothers Day Morning!
New shirt:)
Lots of creatures- frogs, tadpoles, fish, snakes!

All fun and games until the snake comes through!

As always, we had a great time at OMSP!