We planned this trip to the Lake of the Ozarks before I was pregnant and briefly thought about a tent but there is no way I would have been up for that so I'm very glad we ended up reserving one of their yurts. It made 3 nights of camping perfectly do-able. We went with the dog friendly one of the two which had me a bit worried it would be dirty but I really wanted to be closer to the playground and the bathroom (another really good decision since I am now at the stage where I use that a lot!) and it was fine.
I guess I didn't get any pictures of the area but it was great. We had room for our stuff inside, I certainly appreciated the beds, even if they were futon style, and the light inside made bedtime much easier. The kids could play at the playground within my sight but far enough away that they had some independence while we cooked or just sat around the fire. I think this was one of the few state parks that have yurts but if we go on an extended camping trip again, we'll look for yurts or cabins for sure. One night in a tent at a time is plenty for me!
But we didn't just go for the campsite of course. We went to have fun! First up was Lucy's first trail ride. I thought she might be nervous but she didn't hesitate for a second!
Jonah and I took a little hike while that was going on and the stable cat came with us. Jonah thought that hiking with a cat was the funniest thing ever. Then we all took a hike together in what will now be refered to as the tick hike. It was a cooler day so we didn't apply bugspray and for some reason, ticks didn't cross my mind. I guess I've become lax now the our chickens have taken care of our backyard for the most part. Craig, Jonah and I each had 2 but Lucy ended up with probably 15-20. And of course, she is the most dramatic about the whole thing. But it wasn't the bugs or the removal process that had her upset, she just wanted to put on her beautiful purple princess pajamas and we weren't letting her!
The weather ended up being cooler than we expected (seriously, this was the first week of June! Could we get a bit of sun?) but that didn't stop the kids from having fun playing next to, if not in, the water.
And USDA recommendations be darned, we ate s'mores!
The second day our "big event" was a day trip to Ha Ha Tonka Park to visit the castle ruins. I think this might be my favorite picture of the trip. Because as every parent of small children knows, no matter the circumstances, the emotional tide will turn in a before you can blink an eye. One minute everyone is happy, the next Jonah is crying because he didn't like the options of finishing the (1/4 mi) hike to the ruins himself or letting Daddy carry him (He wanted me to and I said no) and Lucy is upset because Craig read the sign saying the castle burned. I had warned her several times before we got there that this was castle ruins, ruins - not a full castle. But the burning part was too much for her sensitive castle-loving soul I guess.
Cheering up a bit
Craig explaining the science behind arches.
Now she is upset that we have to leave the castle behind and it will be lonely. Luckily, the second hike we went on at the park was steep and interesting. The kids called it an up and down hike and it seemed to distract them from their earlier woes.
Another day, another hike. And could they be cuter holding hands like that? This was also the hike that proved to me that California Baby bug spray works well as a tick repellent I've always liked it as a mosquito repellent but its harder to test on ticks since those are much more sporadic). After that first hike, we used it everyday and no ticks, even on this hike which had a special tick warning sign at the beginning. Craig did get one more the last day but he wasn't wearing any bug spray then. So if you've ever wondered if it is worth it, I say yes.
Visiting a cave. Lucy wasn't so sure about the safety of this place and alternated between finding it fascinating and declaring she wanted to leave right now and not come back. But later on she said it was one of her favorite parts of the trip. Kids!
Our last day was spent loading up and heading to the capital city.
Craig knew a guy and got us a private tour and since they were between sessions, we got to go down to the house floor and explore a bit. I showed the kids the voting buttons and Jonah said he would vote "present."
Just testing their future seats out?
Then we went up even higher! Lucy did not like this part because the fanciness was gone. It definitely was not fancy. Just an arduous hike up steep metal stairs through the inner workings of the dome. And Jonah insisted I carry him. By time we got to the very tip top, I wasn't quite sure why I had originally told our guide I could handle "a few" stairs. And luckily our guide has a toddler himself so he didn't seem to mind when Jonah wanted to walk down the stairs back to the ground floor himself - at his very slow speed. I was glad of the slow speed. Keep in mind that I've spent a good portion of the last few months in bed so its not like I'm a crossfit guru right now. Four days later and my legs are still aching. But I'm glad we did it. The view was great and once we got back down again, it was pretty impressive to look up and see just how high we had gone.
Resting our legs and filling our bellies before finally heading home, ready to relax after our fun, but tiring summer vacation.