I grew up in a family that liked to go camping a few times every year. We would usually camp in October with our best friends (the Desmonds!) but we’d typically go on a few other trips in the fall or spring with our neighborhood friends or our church group/youth group. I have so many happy memories of pulling into a Texas state park on Friday evening, helping my dad build the tent, and sitting around the fireplace with my family while we ate my mom’s homemade chili. Mr. Desmond would usually strum a guitar and we’d all sing songs and roast s’mores before hunkering down in our sleeping bags for the night.
And so I was elated when my dad texted me and asked if the last weekend in October would work for my family to go camping! Yes!!!
He was so thoughtful to pick Pedernales Falls State Park, which is only a 45-minute drive from me here in Austin so I didn’t have to do a massive road trip with the boys. (It was a 4-hour drive from the Dallas crew so everyone else was making a sacrifice!) Add to that the fact that my parents packed the tents, ground pads, sleeping bags, camp kitchen, food, and birthday celebration stuff for Milo…and this was pretty much the easiest camping trip I could have imagined. Here’s a little peek, if you’d like to see.
I had a solo weekend with the boys (Nate had an out-of-town work commitment), and I was very excited not only to go camping…but also to have 5 more adults to help me care for these two wild boys! Haha. ^ We packed up the car with our bags and bikes and frisbees and lots of extra shoes that were ready to get muddy because of the rain in the forecast, and drove out to Johnson City. When we pulled up to the camp check-in the boys saw my parents getting out of the car in front of us, and they were so excited to see Ama and Grandpa. I mean, Milo’s face says it all!
We got there pretty late on Friday evening and had a lot to do, so I didn’t snap any pictures. So I’ll have to practice my story telling instead of relying on a bunch of photos. Bear with me!
My mom, dad, and sister Cara were all there with me, Dayton, and Milo. The boys were just next level excited! They were running around and exploring while we set up camp. Milo was especially excited to help Grandpa set up the tents. And both boys went crazy when they saw the inside of the tent! (I remember that feeling as a child, too. Why is the inside of a tent so exciting? It just feels like your own secret world that’s so far removed from everything else…even though it’s just a thin piece of nylon between you and the rest of the campsite.) Anyway…the energy was high!
(I stumbled on this picture of the boys inside a play tent that their aunt CC got for them in winter 2021. My babies!)
It was also pretty hot for this camping weekend – 80 degrees and humid and no breeze, and since it was already dark while my mom was trying to get dinner ready and we had a lot to do to get settled in, we opted not to spend the time making a campfire.
(My mom did have the boys walk to our neighbors’ site and ask to borrow their campfire to roast a marshmallow. They were just so eager to make s’mores that night!)
We enjoyed a delicious dinner of soup, homemade salad, and my dad’s famous snickerdoodles. Around 9:30 we made the quick walk to the bathrooms and I helped the boys brush teeth, kind of wiped them down (haha…I can’t begin to tell you about the amount of sweat and dirt on these boys from just a few hours at the campsite!) and got in the tent to change into jammies and settle down.
Now, 9:45 is a very late bedtime for Milo and Dayton. It was pretty hot and stuffy in the tent, even with all the windows open, so I just let the boys go to sleep in their diaper/pull-up and no PJs. Milo laid down on his sleeping bag and immediately wanted to fall asleep…
…and Dayton? He went CRAZY. I mean, I’m pretty sure he thought I had just brought him to a bounce house and it was his cue to start play time. He was running in circles, smashing into the walls of the tent, falling down on the floor, yelling “YOU SEE THAT? SEE THAT, MOMMY?!” and doing it all over again. Haha.
I brought an air mattress for myself (because I’m an adult and I can camp however I want to) and he was climbing on it, jumping off…repeat.
And grabbing his Yeti water bottle and throwing it around the tent.
And jumping on his aunt CC (who was also very ready to go to sleep.)
Y’all…this continued for two hours. I’m not exaggerating here!! I was just like WHAT IS HAPPENING AND WHY WON’T THIS CHILD CALM DOWN? Also, I was kicking myself for not bringing the pack-n-play. I figured Dayton would understand the concept of a sleeping bag and he would stay in his space and lie down, especially since we were getting to bed so late. I figured he’d be exhausted!
But joke was on me, because he wouldn’t stop moving.
Finally, around 11:45 pm, I picked him up, brought him to the car, strapped him into his carseat, and started driving…
…and drove all the way home. Haha.
I tucked him into his crib around 12:30 am, collapsed in bed, and slept until 7 the next morning!
And we returned to the campsite for breakfast on Saturday morning…with a pack-n-play this time. 😉
Sadly, this meant I didn’t get to wake up in the tent with this 4-year-old birthday boy, but my Cara texted me this picture! Happy 4th birthday, Milo! (We had already celebrated as a family with Nate earlier in the week…but we were all ready to celebrate him again!)
Since it was a warm weekend, the boys loved playing at the water spigot!
We ate pancakes and sausage (my mom makes the best camping food!!), drank coffee, and sat around and talked and played. Milo opened his birthday presents. His new camera from his aunties was a huge hit! He went around the campsite taking lots of fun pictures and printing them for everyone to enjoy.
Kylee and her boyfriend Tyler also arrived on Saturday morning, and they helped Milo figure out his new game from Ama and Grandpa: Scatch! (I remember playing this on camping trips as a child, too!)
I’m not sure how, but with every photo of Dayton he’s wearing something different (or nothing at all) on his feet. His shoes, someone else’s shoes, just socks, one shoe, no shoes OR socks…he was always switching things up.
We went on a pretty little afternoon hike. Pedernales Falls has some great hiking! We did a very short loop (because we were hiking with two little boys) but it had some nice hills and pretty views. Btw, that’s Milo’s new camera I’m wearing around my neck ^ because he was adamant that he bring it on the hike.
Addie and my dad…best buds.
Dayton wanted to do all the steep hills by himself! He did a great job climbing on all the rocks.
It was a bit hot and humid but we were having a great time!
“Dayton, say hi!”
One picture of the whole group. (Milo said “no thanks” to getting in this photo.)
No one was surprised that Dayton’s favorite part of the lookout was throwing rocks into the river.
Post-hike and the boys found that water spigot really fast so they could cool off! Dayton stuck his entire head under it..ha.
We had a nourishing and delicious lunch…seriously, my mom knocked it out of the park with meals on this camping trip! She made a bunch of turkey and cheese paninis on the camp stove, and she had a big batch of this hearty kale salad with turkey.
After lunch, I stated my request that I have an hour of alone time to read a book and relax in the hammock. Tyler was running around with the boys and keeping them entertained (thank you!) and even brought me a beer to enjoy while I was reading. Bliss!
I’ve been on an Austin Beerworks Floaty kick for the last few months. It’s their session IPA, which is my favorite hoppy beer style. It’s 4.5% ABV, which is perfect for me.
Haha. Tyler created this thing for Milo where he would tie a rope to various trucks, and for about 30 minutes straight Milo was just pushing this yellow truck around the campsite.
It reminds me of him when he was a chunky baby and he would push this giant yellow Tonk truck all over this neighborhood. It was his favorite toy!
My dad created a special scavenger hunt for Milo. He would also create these for me and my sisters every single Valentines Day when we were growing up, and it’s fun to see Milo enjoy them now!
Aww! Look at Milo’s grin. My dad reads the clue, and then Milo sprints off to find the next clue.
This particular scavenger hunt ended in the tent…and the treasure was a giant cookie cake!
Happy birthday, Milo!
He’s pointing to this piece of cake he wants me to cut for him. (The one with the most frosting!)
Happy birthday to my favorite 4-year-old in the world!
It was warm enough to swim, so we all trekked down to the swimming spot in the Pedernales River.
I packed swimsuits for the boys, but I wasn’t sure how much swimming we’d actually be doing so I didn’t bring one for myself. But since the afternoon sun was so warm and the water felt nice and cool, we all decided to wade in the water…and then ended up swimming! We just kind of shed our t-shirts and swam in shorts + sports bras and made the best of it!
Dayton was a bit hesitant of the flowing water + rocky terrain at first, but then he LOVED it.
The mastermind behind this entire camping trip. I’m so glad my dad decided to organize this!
If you look way in the background, my brother Will is helping Dayton throw rocks in a smaller pond of water. Dayton was throwing rocks all over the place and nearly hitting everyone with them, and Will was like “soooooo let’s go this way, Dayton.” Haha.
We dried off in the sun and headed back to the campsite!
The evening consisted of riding bikes, playing games, making a campfire, and eating a delicious meal of hobo packs that we tossed in the fire. They were SO good!
Cara captured this one of Milo. He is a whole vibe and and a half.
Snickerdoodles! My dad stayed up really late the night before the trip making these. They’re his signature cookies!
Tyler gave Milo these cool bricks for his birthday that you throw in the fire to change the color of the flames. So fun! It was pretty fun to watch the fire turn blue and green right before our eyes.
Dayton learned how to say “marshmallow” on this trip. A very important word for a 2-year-old to know.
Phew! And thankfully the pack-n-play did the trick and Dayton passed out in the tent around 8:30 pm. I’m not sure what I was thinking with not bringing this thing the first night…lesson learned!
Good morning! Milo was busy taking lots of photos on Sunday morning.
Ok, Sunday’s weather was insane! We woke up and had some delicious breakfast tacos (thank you, mom!) and sat around and talked by the fire while the boys played nearby. And around 11 am when we were starting to pack up, a gust of wind came and the temperature started rapidly dropping. I went into the tent to change Dayton, and when I stepped out it was about 10 degrees colder…and kept dropping!
We got home that afternoon, and I got the boys scrubbed in the tub, put them down for naps, unloaded the car, started a load of laundry, showered, and then…turned on the fireplace in the living room and curled up with a book. 🙂
Milo and Dayton’s first camping trip was so much fun! We all agreed to make this an annual occurrence (I’m so excited for Nate to be able to join next year) and continue visiting state parks around Texas.
Thanks for stopping by today! Xo.