End of summer camping trip

We had a great camping trip this week...one last fling before the beginning of school. The weather was perfect, we had lots of fun...all that was missing was YOU. :) The great thing about going during the week was that the campground and the parks we visited were virtually empty. And the parks...if you've never been to Johnson's Shut-Ins or Elephant Rocks, the best way to explain them is to say that they're the kind of playground that only God could build...because everyone else would be too afraid of being sued! :)

These parks are the kind of thing people did more of before everyone was afraid for their kids to get a scratch. (And we got plenty!) In fact, I can remember going to both parks as a kid, and it makes me really happy to be able to take my own children there.

We stayed at Twin Rivers Landing, a private campground in Lesterville, MO. We were about 1/2 hour away from both parks. The campground has very roomy sites and is surrounded on three sides by the Black River. It was a short walk to the rock beach from our campsite.

Our "home away from home"

We bought a pop-up camper the year after Jacob was born, and it definitely makes camping easier.

102_1845From the outside...

When you come in the door and look to the left, you see Jacob's bed (Lion King blankets), which can serve as a dinette-style table with two benches, and beyond that is our "king-sized" bed.


Across from Jacob's bed is the sink area. The water pump is broken, and it's never been worth it for us to replace it. We use the area under the sink to store towels, washcloths, and assorted camping needs.


To the right of the sink area (and directly across from the door) is another storage area and the refrigerator. The fridge is pretty cool in that it can be powered by the battery while connected to the car and by either propane or electricity when camping. It's nice to have a place to put things that would be ruined if they fell into the water in the cooler...which they invariably do. :) And, yes, that's a TV above the fridge....and it's the most wonderful thing ever for those mornings when Jacob wakes up at 6:30!!


The couch on which Jacob is sitting has storage underneath all three sides. It also can fold out into another bed. Behind him is the bunk where the boys usually sleep.


Johnson's Shut-Ins

A couple of winters ago, much of the park infrastructure was wiped out by a flood resulting from the breach of the Taum Sauk resevoir on nearby Proffitt Mountain. The bare area beyond the white truck is where the water came down from the resevoir. The park had some amazing arial pictures showing the path torn through the trees from the top of the mountain.


The yellow band on the tree between the two cars shows how high the water was as it came though the park. The superintendent's house was swept away, though thank goodness his family all survived. It's truly a blessing that the accident happened in the early morning in winter rather than in the summer or many campers and park visitors would have been killed.


Here's where they're rebuilding the campground.


Here's our group at the Shut-Ins. The five of us, Jan and her three youngest, and Bill.


Some pictures of the Shut-Ins...

The Shut-Ins from above. The water rushing through the rock in hundreds of small and larger waterfalls. You can climb and slide through and around them. The water depth ranges from ankle deep to over my head.







After the Shut-Ins area, the river continues to a really deep, really clear pool. Lots of crazy people ignore the fear of death and $500 fines to jump off the rocks. Here's one of them (not with our group).


We opted for the bunny slopes. :)

102_1991Jan's Megan...


We made it through the day with just some bumps, bruises, and scratches...and lots of great memories!

Elephant Rocks

The enormous rocks here are neat to look at, but it's the climbing around on them that's really fun. It's a little like Garden of the Gods in Illinois, if you've ever been there. I do my best not to watch Daniel and Nathan, or I'd have a heart attack every 2 minutes of so. Jacob and Alex, on the other hand, we had to hold onto constantly...they're born climbers and have NO fear! Haha.

102_2292Group photo (except Jeff)


102_2294Sibling rivalry. haha

102_2309Helping hand


"Just a little further back...a little more...splash!!"


102_2348Alex and Jacob



Camping fun

We also had fun hanging around the campsite. Playing in the river...


Hillbilly golf...


Noodle wars...


Reading (I know, me reading...who'd have imagined? haha)


Playing with the dog...


And, the boys' favorite...building the campfire. While they got along surprisingly well all weekend, they definitely were at their best when working together. They'll be dangerous if they can get along well enough to do so on a regular basis!!


The upside to the fire was that you could see our campsite from Mars. The downside? Cooking smores was no fun!! (But pretty quick)


I mentioned how Daniel and Nathan got along pretty well? So did Josh and Megan. I wish I could say the same for Alex and Jacob, and unfortunately it's our crabby child who gets most of the blame for that. He's definitely one strong-willed boy (I attribute that to the Geisen/Greenwell side of him. haha ha) There were plenty of times when we wanted to do this to him...


Obviously he's terrified, lol.

In desperation, we put him to work...and, while doing dishes, he wasn't fighting. Whew.


And, since the boys were taking care of the dishes, I got to relax. (Hey, I cooked dinner!)

What a trip! We're hoping to go again next year, and we'd love to have even more company. Look at it this way...actually going on the trip might take less time that reading about it! :)


  1. Your pop-up makes me completely envious! I sure could have used that while camping in 100 degree heat in Florida! The pics are great--we would LOVE to go to a campground like that!

  2. Fantastic…. I really enjoyed those pictures from your camping trip.


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