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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

High winds, an armadillo and raccoon noises.

This past weekend J and I went on our Life Group's 2nd annual camping trip. We intended to go back to Huntsville State Park, but it was booked up so we ended up at Martin Dies Jr. State Park.

We arrived with Dana on Friday and got our tents set up in time to relax with the rest of our group. The kids were all excited to be outside and sleeping in tents for the weekend. Can you blame them? It is fun. That's why J and I go camping or backpacking as much as we can.

We had a campfire that night, saw our new friend Mr. Armadillo by the bathroom, and a few of us stayed up talking for a little while. It wasn't late by any means. When you're outdoors all day, once it gets dark at 8:30 or 9:00 pm it seems to feel like it's already 10:30 or 11:00 pm. The wind picked up and it started to sprinkle, so we put all the camp chairs under a central concrete picnic table, and cleaned up anything that wouldn't withstand the rain.

J and I, along with Kira got into our tent and hit the hay for the night – or so we thought. The wind was making the tree limbs creak and sway, the rain fly was whipping the sides of our tent, and then I started to hear the oddest noise. J had dozed off, but was alert enough for me to ask if he could also hear the noise. At first it sounded like one person in our group was zipping and then unzipping their tent door. It happened about 5 or 6 times in a row. By that point I realized that it couldn't be a zipper. If it had been a child playing around their parent would have stopped them, and if it was an adult they would have stopped after the 2nd or 3rd time.

J listened and we both decided that it sounded like a raccoon in the Magnolia tree above us.


We heard what we thought were chirps, and distress calls.

Yes, the noises were very much like that.

They lasted for a good part of the night, all the while a storm brewed and passed over us. We didn't get much rain, but the wind was really strong. It caused sand/dirt to blow into our tent from under the rain fly and through the screens. Not fun. I had grit on my pillow and face, until I pulled a sheet completely over my head.

I'm not sure how much sleep I got, and the same goes for Kira. Whenever I'd open my eyes to look around, she'd be sitting up. At some point in the early morning, I was able to fall asleep and rest until we got up for breakfast.

We all had breakfast burritos. Yum!

Saturday afternoon J and I realized that the same Magnolia tree we had thought was home to a raccoon making noise all night, was really two branches rubbing together. How did we find this out? The branches swayed and rubbed together at lunch, and we heard the same "raccoon noises" that were being made in the middle of the night on Friday.

The rest of Saturday was spent relaxing, playing with the kids in our group, watching them swim, swinging with the other ladies on the playground swings, chatting, and enjoying the sunny weather.

The whole time it was still windy. Wouldn't you know it? I got windburn on my chin and lower lip. I'm still trying to figure that one out. Why didn't my cheeks or forehead get windburned? Strange.

That evening we joined back up as a group and made "hobo packets" and had cornbread muffins with them. The packets contained ground beef/turkey, with sliced potatoes, carrots and seasonings wrapped in foil. Then we placed them on hot coals in the fire. Yum! They were delicious. Later on we made s'mores and "banana boats". Take a banana, slit the peel lengthwise, cut the fruit inside the peel into slices, stuff in some mini marshmallows and a few chocolate pieces. Then close the peel and wrap the banana in foil and place in the coals for a few minutes. Best camp dessert ever, besides s'mores and "hobo pies".

We saw Mr. Armadillo again too. He used the light from the bathrooms to catch and root around for insects.

That night there was only a light breeze, so J, Kira and I slept very well. We woke up the next morning looking up at the canopy above us with the sunlight peeking through the leaves. Ahh, that is one reason why we enjoy camping so much. Getting to be outside, having a natural alarm clock of birds, and light filtering through the trees, walking trails, looking at wildlife...

J and I got up and made steel cut oats for breakfast (which I had soaked on Saturday night). After that we packed up our things and had a devotional with our group. We were even able to have communion, except with tortillas instead of matzoh and grape juice. After the nice devo, we finished packing up and everyone made their way home.

I've got to say it was nice to get cleaned up and wash Kira. She was dirrrty!

J and I didn't manage to take any pictures this time. I don't really think too many people did, other than one or two that I know of. That's okay. We have the memories and can make a trip next year and in the years to come.

Thanks everyone for such a fun time!

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