The Rollercoaster of Our Not-So-Carefully Planned Vacation

We needed to get away, but that getaway came at a lot of costs. We had two kids who were upset about lost time saying goodbye to friends. We were trying to negotiate a house purchase and sale while fighting with spotty service and wifi. I was trying to communicate with my new school and my husband was still doing his own work. My determination to support local state parks meant that we were often staying FAR away from the places that we wanted to visit, which meant a lot of driving. I had an idea of what I wanted to do with my family but no real plans, which meant a lot of time and miles were wasted along the way. And everything just kept breaking.

An Overnight Stop at Martin Creek Lake State Park

Martin Creek Lake is the perfect example of the pleasant surprises that wait for us when we make visiting state parks over private campgrounds a priority. While it may be easier to look for one of many parking spots along the highway or interstate, the state parks that are often just a little bit off our planned routes can give our families affordable escapes from the busy world and force us to commune with nature, even if it is only for an 18-hour stay.

Visiting the Past at Fort Richardson

It was our halfway point on the way to Palo Duro Canyon. Established in 1867, Fort Richardson was a major outpost in the complicated history of the relationship between Plains indigenous tribes and the U.S. Calvary. The fort was in full use for 11 years, serving as base camp for many of the conflicts between the U.S. government and native tribes who refused to be forced into giving up their land or lifestyle. Today, visitors can see several of the outbuildings in addition to hiking or biking the many trails throughout the state park, including the nine-mile Lost Creek Reservoir State Trailway.

Campsgiving In the Time of Corona

After a year of anxiety and constantly shifting “norms,” our Campsgiving trip was probably one of the most “normal” things we did in 2020. We didn’t have to change our Thanksgiving traditions because our traditions took us where we were safest, especially if we kept our masks handy whenever we were going to be meeting people. And while there was still anxiety about meeting up with family, the small size of our group and the consistent outdoor activity made for as safe of a gathering as we could have hoped.