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Lake life

Grand Camping – Part 2

Second of a four-part series

Life is not the same after you have grandkids, indoors or outdoors! If you are there, you know what I’m talking about. And that’s a good thing.

In case you don’t know, I live on the lake, my outdoor gear carefully stored in a fairly organized manner. The boats are in the boat house, just a 20 second lowering and turn of the engine key to be out on the water. But did I mention grandkids? For my neighbors who would otherwise think I’m crazy, this explains why I’d spend a week recently packing a truckload of fishing, camping and cooking gear; scrubbing down a 24-foot pontoon boat and putting it on the trailer; and making a two page “to do list” to make sure that we didn’t forget anything (except the bath mat…). It was all for a good cause – the family.

By the way, if you’ve never pulled a 24-foot pontoon boat down winding, hilly La. Hwy. 146, you should try it. The wheels of the trailer fit nicely between the yellow center stripe and the white stripe on the shoulder with a good half inch to spare on both sides!

It all started with, “Let’s go camping!”, the answer to the question, “Where would ya’ll like to go spend a few days on vacation?” posed this spring to the family. Sounded good to me. I wanted image-26them to experience mosquitos and sunburn and meat charcoaled on a state park grill and the fun of identifying strange spider species from outer space. We found the perfect place not far from home — perfect because there was a huge playground right beside our cabin. That is a requirement for camping with five, four and two year olds! We were headed for a four-day Grand Camping trip at Lake Claiborne State Park!

I know, I know. We have a great State Park on D’Arbonne and we use it regularly. But if you are going to imitate Ollie Hopnoodle (see yesterday’s post), you’ve got to do it right. It can’t be easy. So off we go.

image-25I wish I could share all the details with you, but it would get me in trouble with either the family or the park ranger, so I’ll just share a few of the good times. Yes we did stay in a rustic cabin. That was just because of the young kids need for AC and indoor plumbing. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. We did get pop-up tents for the kids. Not those heavy canvas tents that take four people to put up and always have one key pole missing. These were lightweight, had bendable fiberglas poles and just popped up to display pictures of Cinderella, Spiderman and Toy Story. They were very easy to put up, mainly because my son and son-in-law did it. The kids didn’t sleep in them, but played their hearts out in them — as long as it was daylight. For some reason they all three had to be in the same tent at the same time, though. They even had their own new sleeping bags, which they did sleep in — inside the cabin close to D and Poppa!

We timed this trip just right to hit the Peach Festival and parade in nearby Ruston on Saturday morning. We rode in the boat, made sand castles on the beach and floated and swam out in the cove although the kids couldn’t understand why the bottom wasn’t white like the swimming pool. I still don’t think they total believe there were no sharks or alligators out there some where.

Such trips are not without sacrifice. Like when we volunteered to stay inside the AC during the heat of the day and make sure the little kids took a nap while the young adults rode around the 6,000 acre lake trying to empty the contents of the boat’s 30 gallon gas tank.

The one downer of the trip was that the hybrid striped bass had been tearing it up for weeks. They were still schooling, but refused to hit our lures for some reason. Maybe it was like at Ollie’s — the fish bit yesterday. We were just going to catch them and throw them back anyway, but we had to catch them to throw them back. We caught a few. And for the record, yes, my son beat me. My daughter and daughter-in-law fished the hardest, but their guide (me) just let them down.

Whether the fish bite or not, or whether you stay in a cabin, a tent or a camper, camping trips like this make memories that last a lifetime. Tomorrow, Part 3…

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