Monday, July 9, 2012

This is how we camp!! // Gaston's 2012

We have been talking about taking a long weekend to go "camping" for a long time now. I "" camping because we aren't in tents, or not showering, or any of that nonsense... We stay in a cabin, bathe and have all the luxuries of normal life. We are just in a beautiful, quite (sort of with kids!) serene place.

We decided to load up the entire family.. Yep, ENTIRE family--Gaga, Papa, Shane, Lisa, My four peeps, Meme, Sandra, Michelle, Stephen, Alexis, Kelsey and Gayle. Lots of peeps ready for a fun filled weekend at Gaston's. If you don't know about this place, you should. It is wonderful!!!

Before we made it too far down the road Dad decided he needed to stop and fix a part on the motor home. It was a very important part as it holds the lock that pulls the Hummer behind the motor home. Yep, necessary stop. While he was trying to figure out how to get it fixed we perused other motor homes and the store. We made the best of the pit-stop.
With so many people we decided to also take my parent's Honda Ridgeline as well as the motorhome. It is a great little truck and it allowed us to keep Dane in his car seat, resulting in more sleeping and a better trip for everyone.

I rode some in the motor home and some in the Ridgeline. We had a master plan to leave around 10ish and then stop in the tiny town of Alpena for lunch. If you are from NWA you are probably giggling at this and doubting there is anywhere to eat in a town with a population of 392. Well, you are probably right. We packed sandwiches and stopped at the local park. Across the street from the park is the most awesome concrete and wood carving shop ever. Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures. Next time we roll up to Branson I will stop and get some for you. This isn't your average concrete and wood carving shop. I'm not real sure what an average one would be but this isn't it. It has a TON of Razorback pieces and a Sasquatch that is about 9 feet tall. Super cool and a must stop if you are traveling through Alpena, AR. Just don't blink or you will certainly miss it!

Papa is so good with Chaz and Chaz is quite the fan of his Papa. I cherish these memories of my boy driving with his Papa. I used to help my Papa drive his little motor home when I was small. I wish I had a picture to compare. Oh memories! With a little help of Instagram, I get to make them look like they are circa 1977
The trip wasn't crazy long (total 3 1/2 hours) but with a four year-old, you have to find some fun times to let loose! Leave it up to the forward facing camera on the iPhone 4. Good times!!
As soon as we got there the boy headed for the river. Gaston's is on the White River and restricts swimming as it is FREEZING and they want to keep it clean for the fish. Yeah, just try explaining that one to this boy..
Dane was happy as can be as he was outside. This boy really doesn't care what he is doing. He is such a happy baby. Alexis refers to Dane as "her baby" as Chaz tends to flock to Kelsey. Dane LOVES Alexis!
Uncle Gayle catching up on his celebrity gossip. HA!
We split into two cabins. The "old folks" and the "little bits" stayed in a cabin a little bit down from ours. Shane, Lisa, Me, Ryan, Michelle, Stephen, Alexis and Kelsey stayed in this one. We also all spent the days at this one. It was an awesome place. It had a total of four bedrooms (two were detached from the main cabin) four bathrooms, a large kitchen and large living room. It also had this amazing deck on the back. This is the view from the river.
Again, as long as he is outside. He is a happy "camper"
Did I mention this place was beautiful??
My brother loves the outdoors and was ready to catch a fish.
and I was over-the-top-happy when I got to sit back and enjoy this. Mmmmmmmmm.
I am so blessed that I have such a wonderful family. They adore my boys and are always willing to jump in to play, help or anything else that is needed. I love them all so very much!

Kelsey got some one on one time with the boys.
Everyone enjoyed the evening sitting on the back deck. We decided to have dinner at the Gaston's restaurant that night because it was easier. It was really good, just not really fast. But I give them credit as there were a lot of us. When we returned we hung out on the back deck some more. Good times!
The next morning everyone was up early and ready to enjoy the day. Chaz was ready to fish!
Uncle Gayle was down at the river so he quickly found a buddy.
Honestly, I think Lisa may have been the first one out to fish. She loves this kind of stuff!
Dad and Chaz both managed to get their shoes soaking wet. Well, this is how you dry them when you are at the river.
Someone is quite fond of his daddy! I think his daddy thinks he is a keeper as well.
Daddy enjoying the view.
After dad got his first set of shoes wet he retreated to the porch to work on his fishing rods.
 He sat around and watched.
Papa explaining things to Chaz. Yes, Chaz had his own special fishing pole that Papa purchased just for him.
The Reds were nice enough to make breakfast pizza for the crew. This is such a treat as we usually only get it for Christmas.
  Seriously, this deliciousness is only cooked once a year. What a tragedy.

Chaz retreated inside for a little color-time. This kid will be an artist. I just know it. He loves to color, draw, create things, etc. He is very, very artistic!
Brother-in-law love. You really don 't want your bro to get bug bites.
Dad learned from his wet shoes and suited up in his waiters.

Love this picture of Lisa!
Gaga and Chaz went on a bike ride.
I have to admit. I think I missed the best photo opportunity EVER! Before I tell you, remember the water is freezing cold. Literally. Anyways, I was watching Lisa fish, I turned to talk to my Meme and I missed it. She fell. And she fell good. Totally soaked. I love you Lisa but it was hilarious!!
I guess Lisa's dip in the freezing water made us want to go to the pool. I think the temperatures were about the same. They had just opened the pool the day before we got there and it was FREEZING. Actually, I never got in but I took these crazy people's word. This swimming trip lasted roughly 12 minutes. Including arrival, swimming time, clothing change and departure.

He had no clue until he hit the water.. "AHHHHHHH. IT IS FREEZING!!" *Bahahaha the evil momma laughed while sitting in her lounge chair*
Mom was nice enough to put her legs in the water and we were able to con the girls into getting in with the boys.

They are pretending to have a good time all while freezing there little booties off!!
Dane lasted all of 2 minutes, literally. If I would have known it was that cold I probably wouldn't have even put him in but oh well, he survived.  Once he was dressed, I gave him to Meme to warm him up. He loves her so very much. Can you believe this woman is almost 86 years-old?? She wouldn't mind me saying that a bit BTW. She is amazing, youthful and very proud of her 86 years. That she should be!
From the pool to the cabin is a tiny little road that is very slow moving, if any, traffic. It isn't really a road and is just a few blocks. Since we were in the Hummer, I didn't make the kids get in their car seats. Yes, I am that mom. Don't judge. Anyways, when I opened the door to get the baby I happened upon this wonderful sight. MELT.MY.HEART! Are you kidding me?? I couldn't posed them this good if I tried.I think they could have sat there and snuggled all day.

I headed to check on the fishermen/women. Dad was in his full fishing gear..
Kelsey was ready to fish...
Looks like Lisa had dried out from her spill in the river. Sorry, still giggling...And Gayle and Stephen had found great sitting spots on the bank of the river. What a beautiful day!
Michelle had ventured out into the water to see if she could snag a fish. I guess she didn't head the warnings of Lisa. Trust me, I had my camera in hand and pointed the right direction. I was not missing another prime opportunity. But it didn't happen.
Still snuggling.. She is a baby whisperer.
Never ones to sit still too long, Gaga, Papa, the Hubs, the boy and I hopped on our bikes and headed around the grounds. Our main goal was to go see the peacocks they raised across the street. However, when the boy saw the playground he bailed from his bike to go play. Popsicle thought it would be a great idea to prop the boy's bike onto of his and head on over to the playground. Honestly, I wish I would have had the video camera because the photos don't do this 10 seconds justice. It was hilarious!!  I really thought he was going to biff it but we were all too busy laughing to save him.
The playground was like a flashback to 1984. I was on the playground at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School. Metal slides, the swings that make your hands smell like armpits and an old merry-go-round that didn't look anywhere close to code. Yep, we jumped right on each and everyone. First up the not-to-code merry-go-round. Everyone got on. Gaga, Papa, the boy and me. The Hubs was our "runner." If you remember these old school wooden octagon things, you know exactly what I am talking about. I thought I was going to puke. I don't think I have ever been that dizzy in all my life. Seriously.  But the boy loved it. And yes, when we were done we picked him up and sat him in the middle of the playground to see if he could walk a straight like. We are those parents.
Next up, the metal slides. Some of my most vivid memories are these Satan contraptions burning the skin off the back of my legs. They would get hotter than the surface of the sun and it was like everyday we somehow forgot the pain that they would thrust upon the back of our legs. We did it every.stinkin'.day. Luckily, these were in the shade. So although he was going to smell like a metal slide, I wasn't so worried about the back of his legs.

He was pumped. He got to climb the GIANT ladder (his words, not mine) all by himself. 
And then guess who decided to play?!? Are you serious?? My 6'4" dad is going to go down a slide that was probably made in 1976? Ok, whatever. Good luck, Popsicle!
Check the boy's face. If I had to put words to it, it would be "My Papa is AWESOME!!!"

Something very cool about Gaston's is they have a grass runway. All the planes fly into the grassy area to land. it is super cool to watch.
After being totally distracted by the 1984 playground, we made our way across the street to the peacock houses. We quickly noticed that the ground was completely covered with glass pieces. Nobody could figure out why they would do this as it seemed like a big hazard. The Hubs quickly removed his shoes and said "Bucket list, walking on glass.... Check" 
Unfortunately for him, we soon talked to the peacock keeper who quickly explained the recycled glass is put into a special machine that grinds it down to ensure there are no sharp edges. Bucket list, uncheck.

Separately, have you ever seen a white peacock?? I hadn't and I thought it was SO pretty!!
Chaz was telling Papa how long that peacock's tail was.. it was just like he was telling a fishing story.
The boy needed a protector. God love the Papas of the world.
Let me just tell you.. there is no way in creation that either me or the hubs would have been able to get him this close to a peacock...
Nor would he smile about it.. He would be screeching and screaming for his life if we were holding him. Again, God bless all the Papas!
You know what else Papas do?? They teach you to walk like a peacock. Yep, that is what they do!
and then they convince you to go over to said birds at feeding time. Again, with me and the hubs, no freakin' way!
Just sitting, watching, relaxing...
We wanted him to take a picture in front of the cool sign/waterfall. He wasn't having it..
Until we told him to walk like a peacock. It makes it all better. Who knew?
Group picture. This is our been at the river- no shower-don't really care picture!
Then it was time to head back. We had our fearless leader and were on our way back to the cabin.
Just a boy and his Papa.
I haven't a clue why Dad thought this was a good idea but he did. Really, Dad? You really think it is a good idea to ride down stairs on your bike? He later admitted this probably wasn't the best idea.
The get-along-gang.
This picture was taken about 2 seconds before the boy took his first good tumble on his bike. His daddy convinced him to ride on the hill in the grass and he hit a hole. Needless to say, it didn't turn out well. Overall he was fine but he was really mad at his daddy!
He needed a little extra help from his Papa. He told the Hubs to "Stay back!!"
By the time we got back the little bit was awake and ready for his bottle. Gaga stepped in. I think she needed her baby-time.
He was ready to play!
And he was ready for art time. This kid, I swear. He loves to draw/color/paint!
Loves from brother!
And some more from Lisa
I'm pretty sure this is the pole he broken about 10 minutes later. My dad was sweet enough to try and convince him that it was just a piece of crap pole but nobody really believed him.
Then what the boy had been waiting for for months. Mark this off his little bucket list! Going fishing with Papa!
Daddy was just going to stand on the bank but the boy wasn't having it. He had seen everyone else get in the river, why couldn't he?? Daddy decided to carry him out where he could touch and let him try to fish.
He is a great caster. He was so proud of himself!

These are the pictures Popsicle took with his phone while out there with the boy. LOVE!
Notice how he is holding his pocket. After the "incident' of mom dropping her phone in the potty (we won't go into that one), he wasn't about to get his new phone wet! HA!
Still playing.. still a cutie!
Another evening of kicking it on the porch. Popsicle grilled and we hung out on the deck. Good times!!
Oh and this is how we dry our drawers. I couldn't pass this one up!
Meme decided to be the resident aloe vera applier. They really seemed to love it. HA!
Still cute. Check out those teeth!! Is there anything cuter than a little grin like that?!?!
well, maybe
Cute couple! Maybe a little burnt but still cute!
The bro and the Popsicle
Me and the bro. Look we actually like each other!!
Lisa and Shane. Such the cute couple!

Lisa fishing on the bank. This girl just couldn't get enough. She looked so relaxed. How could you not be in such a peaceful setting.
Stephen and Alexis still trying to get one to bite. Please note: At this point nobody had caught ANYTHING!!
The boy got a little restless so we put a flyswatter in his hand and put him to work!
He decided to try his own way of fishing.... off the deck... into the grass... Good luck with that buddy!
I told him if he didn't look at me I was going to take a picture of his pj booty. Check!
Still fishin'
We thought the boy had gone to bed but then we saw this. Would you like to know what words are coming out of his mouth? "Are you guys making s'mores without me??!?!" Ummmmm...
No buddy. We were just warming up the fire for you Come on over. He took one bite and he was done. Yeah, not much of the sweets eater this kid.
The next morning everyone, well almost everyone (Ryan, Shane, Lisa, Stephen, Michelle, Alexis and Gayle) headed out on the guided fishing boat to catch some fish. It began to rain so Shane, Lisa and Ryan's boat came in early. The other two boats stayed out longer and from what I understand, Alexis put everyone to shame and caught over 30 fish. Who knows if this is the truth or a "fishtale" but either way everyone had a blast.

Shane and Lisa also had to head home to meet her son who was in for a visit. The Hubs decided to go to the bank to fish one last time. Before I knew what was happening, I heard "T, grab Chaz and the camera. I caught a fish!" Chaz went running down to the bank to help his daddy real in a fish. When I got down there I was amazed. He really did catch a fish and it was big!
One last beautiful shot before we head out. What a beautiful place. What a fantastic weekend!

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