Thank God for Camping!!! Our trip took place on the weekend of December 8th/9th 2012 in Mineral Wells, TX. I had never been camping before in my whole life. This experience turned out to be very blessed because it was a guided tour. Without the help of your North Texas Kids Outside project, and coaching, our crew would not have participated. Now having done so, I realize it’s really great time spent together!!!
After getting somewhat lost around the whole Camp Grounds area Saturday morning, we finally arrived and parked in camping area #63 at Plateau Camping Area. Time now to gather with all other families for meet and greet! Then we received initial instructions from Ranger Cassie, Lisa and Philip, as to how to build and secure your tent, even for rain. The instructions were exciting for me being a first-time camper, I listened intently. Other instructions included how to use your stove, and how to properly clean all pots, pans and other cooking utensils.
Next it was time to gather our tent, lantern and large kit containing the stove and cooking items; now on to set-up our Campsite!!! No problem there, my crew was more than ready to get going. Set-up seemed to be a breeze. My daughter and sons were having too much fun; I must admit I simply looked on.
After lunch we headed to Penitentiary Hollow, a hiking trail. Due to a slipping hip, banged-up knees and an ankle that sometimes gives me fits, I deep-heartily thought I should not go. I even became somewhat paranoid when approaching the hollow. I almost backed out and wanted to say, “I’ll remain here in the picnic area, see you when you get back.” But my crew and Ranger Philip attended me all the way. While others went on ahead, they stayed back with me, and in my estimation it only turned out to be about 10 minutes that we were behind. The trail down was quite jagged to me, but oh so beautiful and the sand, magic sand as we called it, was awesome! I had never seen sand like that on a walking trail. It sparkled, what a beautiful beaten path!!! Now that we were all-the-way down the walking trail, it was time for Rock-Climbing!!! Oh not for me, but for everyone who did, exhilarating!!! And again I looked on. I found a rock perfect for sitting and watching. Even with so many of us squeezed in and moving about within such a jagged and somewhat dangerous area, for me, resting on my big rock, it was cozy and very relaxing. I took in the view and enjoyed all the activity around me. And oh yes, my daughter, son, and our special little guy guest: Marcus, they all climbed and repelled!!!
Next group adventure: geocaching, we gathered near the Amphitheater for instructions. Never did this before either. My daughter and I were searching together, and of course, she found all the treasure. I would get close, but no Cigar. Geocaching proved interesting to me; but I would really have to learn the tricks of the trade, and I’m sure I would get hooked! On the way back to our camp, we spotted four fawns crossing the road in two different locations, passing directly in front of us.
One last evening activity to go: A Cowboy Christmas, back at the Amphitheater! Hot Chocolate and Monkey Bread was served by the Rangers. “Go Rangers!” On Stage we listened to many Carols and some songs were originals with a story or two to boot! Yes we were out in the open cold, but all turned out to be warm and relaxing, quite a nice way to end the day.
“Saturday Night Lights” from the moon, and back at our camp we have a burger or two before retiring to our tent. Others stay out a little longer for toasted marshmallows and s’mores. Somewhat of a cold night, but the tent/sleeping bags/mats was warm enough for the five of us. Resting in the tent was really kind of neat for me. Listening to creature sounds throughout the night reminded me of when I was very small. My folks lived in a rural area, not on a farm, but we had dirt roads and clay paths until I was about twelve and our area was annexed into the town. I remembered how well we could see the Moon and Stars, especially when travelling at night on a two-lane highway. I even remembered about how some of my Grandfather’s land was cleared. My Mother and others – sometimes me too – they cleared the ground by chopping down trees and burning limbs and leaves. Yes, Saturday turned out to be really fun and brought back good memories.
Sunday opened to early morning fishing, we all cheered in amazement for the little girl who caught the biggest fish! After breakfast, time to gather together for instructions on how to clear the camp and not leave a trace! No problem for my crew to take down our tent and return all gear. Things were moving a bit too fast for me now, as it was time to get out of there. Group pictures taken, certificates received, we said our goodbyes – Super Thanks Rangers and Friends!!! Don’t think I’ll ever forget our First Family Camping Trip – Mineral Wells, TX – Good Fun – Great Time – Well Spent!!!
-K. Y. Holloway
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