Our kids on vacation remind me very much of our kids on Christmas Day – you’re doing good to sleep in past six thirty, due to a combination of them (1) trying to wake you up and (2) making an equivalent amount of noise admonishing each other to NOT try to wake you up. Fortunately (?), our bed at Lakeview Lodge was entirely too soft for my taste, meaning that I had to keep changing positions (and repositioning a pillow under or between my knees) – meaning that I woke up every half hour on the half hour. So, when I decided that I could keep the kids waiting no longer (which decision coincided with the decision that I would be doing my back good to reposition myself upright, and remain in said position for the rest of the day), I got out of bed, threw a sweater over the tee and yoga pants I had worn to bed, added some Jackie O sunglasses and tennis shoes to my ensemble, and headed out to greet the just-past-dawn.
Wow. Beautiful lake, complete with island and cool-as-heck early morning steam/fog effect.
You might notice that I picked up a couple of extra kids. Meet Maddie and Michael . . . from Weatherford, Texas. Yup, our next-door neighbors at the Lodge were, basically, our next-door neighbors back home. Proving my theory that Fort Worth is the biggest small town in the world . . . even when you are traveling.
The shoreline was a surreally beautiful combination of slate and quartz deposits. The kids wasted no time demonstrating why we opted for a slate-look kitchen tile as opposed to the real thing. All of the slate chips that they kicked off were quickly put into play as skipping stones.
In addition to the rocks, we took note of this snakeskin and this spider
and spent a lot of time arranging mussel shells in order of size. You know, it’s the little things.
The little kids found a number of “caves” along the shoreline – some consisting of crevasses in the rock that were so small that only a little kid would consider them cavelike, and one formed by a fallen log spanning a cutout in the cliff face.
Parker and Michael were instantly on each other like white on rice. Connor took a shine to just-turned-eleven year-old Maddie . . . who is sort of bundled-up in this picture, but under the parka hood and stocking cap, let me assure you, is a pretty cute little brown-haired, brown-eyed girl. Not sure what he found more attractive – the fact that she was, in fact, attractive, or the fact that she was game for scrambling across log bridges and skipping stones. Either way, she got my seal of approval – not that anyone asked.
Parker found rock-climbing utterly fascinating and declared the entire area his “kingdom.”
After we parted ways with Michael and Maddie, we had breakfast al fresco. The crow in the picture carried off Connor’s cinnamon roll . . . which, no doubt, is why Parker looks a trifle suspicious in his pic.
We did a little more exploring around the Lodge grounds and located a playground with, among other “amenities,” this tetherball pole minus a tetherball. Some people hike through the woods to locate a Christmas tree; the McGlincheys go exploring and find themselves a Festivus pole.
Here are two more pictures of the steaming lake for the road, taken from the deck off of the Lodge's great room:
Next on the agenda: exploring the other side of the lake. Mom took to rock collecting in earnest, while Parker fixated on mussel shells and pinecones. (Another great feature of The Minivan: Stow and Go compartments! Imagine the surprise and irritation of the carjacker who drives off in the McGlinchey Family Truckster and, in lieu of valuables, uncovers four cubic feet of NATURE under the floormat.)
Before heading to our next destination (Beavers Bend Depot, home to a miniature train and horses), we stopped in Stephens Gap for lunch. Mom had scouted out the restaurant online and declared it worthy of a stop, because the menu reminded her of the menu at Ol’ South Pancake House, complete with ad sales in the margins. The down-home food and atmosphere did not disappoint, and – added bonus – THERE WAS A GUY CARVING CHAINSAW ANIMALS OUT FRONT!
If you are a frequent visitor to this blog, you are aware of my spouse’s somewhat inexplicable collection of carved wooden bears, which – until this trip – featured a single chainsaw bear. After a finger-licking lunch, our chainsaw bear population grew to two.
We weren’t far down the road before we ran into another chainsaw animal carver, one Mr. J. W. Gravitt of Fort Towson, Oklahoma. (Remember that name; there will be a test later.)
Mr. Gravitt was set up in front of the Speedy Beaver Raceway, a Go Kart track that, along with the adjacent mini-golf facility, had “major time- and cash-sucking potential” written all over it. Somehow we were able to distract the little ones (“Hey, look – chainsaw beavers!”), and after a family caucus, we decided that, given that we were in Beavers Bend, it would not be entirely inappropriate to, in fact, acquire a chainsaw beaver of our very own. So now, I guess, we have two collections going – “wooden bears” and “chainsaw animals,” and if you plotted them on a Venn diagram the fellow on the left in this photo would be in the overlapping part:
Image is of the wooden critters chilling in the cargo hold behind the third seat of the Family Truckster – where they remained for the rest of the trip.
From the Speedy Beaver Raceway and environs we proceeded to Beavers Bend Depot, where we took a tour of the park on a reproduction CP Huntington:
Note the forced smile on big brother’s face. Train trip was entirely for the amusement of little brother but proved a decent time waster while we waited for the trail ride to begin. Mom did not partake in the trail ride, given her unfortunate, and unfortunately severe, allergy to horse dander, but she took pictures while the boys saddled up:
From left to right: Parker James on Portia, Daddy on Roy and Connor Scott on Socks. PJ actually led the trail ride, following just behind the “boss,” and he and Connor both found it amusing that their horses were bigger than Daddy’s.
Before and after the big ride, we had fun exploring the woods around the Depot. Mom even managed to get in a picture:
Actually, I was in two pics – but Parker closed his eyes in the other one.
On the way out of the Park, we did some recon at the bait and tackle shop, in preparation for the Sunday’s much-anticipated fishing outing, and we also checked out the “Wood Museum.” That is not its actual name, but I did not take note of the actual name, and, if you take a gander at some of the exhibits shown here, I think that you will find that my description comes awfully darned close:
My favorite exhibit: “The Beautiful Grain Texture of Veneer and Plywood.” Yup, it’s a thrill a minute when you travel with the McGlincheys.
I also think you will find me entirely justified in spending the next hour or so singing the same line from Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi” over and over:
They took all the trees,
And put ‘em in a tree museum.
And they charged all the people
A dollar and a half just to see ‘em.
For the record, there is no admission charged at the Wood Museum.
By Saturday’s end, the boys had acquired slingshots and rubber band guns, posed with a giant totem pole dude and altogether had a rip-roarin’ time . . . .