In The Middle

Life, Family, Yoga, Stuff

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Imagine That

Five weeks.  That’s how long my daughter got to spend away from home on vacation.  She is lucky to be 13 and to have the awesome grandparents that she has.  She actually flew to Florida with me on June 22.  That’s where my folks live.  They’re a skip to the beach and have a decent pool at the house.  I flew home on July 8, back to reality and a big project which involved a complete room revamp.  More on that later.

On July 7, my kid took off with my mom and dad in their camper and headed to Titusville to view the last take off of Atlantis.  The weather was looking pretty iffy and we just knew it would be delayed.  But nope.  It took off right on schedule.  It was quite the site for her to see.  The next day she met my sister, brother-in-law and niece in Orlando for her first trip to Sea World.  She loved it.

My folks even spent some time at this cool reptile farm.  They said all of the animals were well cared for and looked very healthy.  The alligators were obviously well fed.  I don’t think this dude would be wading in this water if the gators weren’t fed well.  What do you think?  Lauren also held a large snake and a tarantula while she was there.

After they left the state of Florida, they were heading to Duluth, MN to visit some relatives.  They stopped in a small town in Georgia at a campground as they were pulling their camper and it was time to rest.  It turned out that Billy Bob Thornton was at the campground with quite the crew working on a film called Jayne Mansfield’s Car. 

This is the imagine that part of the story.  Lauren loves Billy Bob Thornton.  And since my family had video stores for 20 plus years (I had one for 12) they had several Billy Bob movies at the house.  We’d spent the last week cueing Lauren in on all of his films and letting her see the ones she hadn’t seen yet.  She totally loves Billy Bob and well, I’m just going to go with it.  I have to be in the mood for some of his stuff, but I think he’s pretty damn funny most of the time.  I know what you’re thinking.  I let my kid watch Bad Santa, Bad News Bears and Mr. Woodcock.  And yes, yes I did – all in one day.  But first I hooked her up with some weed and a bottle of Jack just to get her in the mood for the raunchy sarcasm.  Just kidding about the weed and the Jack. 

From Georgia she sent me a text to tell me that Billy Bob was at their campground and I was all like, whatever sure he is.  Not only was he there, so was Robert DuVall, Kevin Bacon and Patrick Sherman and someone else that I can’t remember.  The next day Lauren got to meet Billy Bob and told me that this was the best vacation with grandma ever.  I know, imagine that.  She got her autograph and went back the next day to ask if she could have the pen that he used as well.  They gave it to her.  She said everyone was very nice.

My mom with Robert DuVall.  It was hot, check out his sweaty back.

I’m sure she’s met him before at one of the VSDA Conventions that we used to go to.  I know she wouldn’t want this posted but too bad.  I think it’s a good photo.  After all, she’s camping.  No maintenance allowed.  She also said they had to wait for 4 hours for the crews to come back up the hill after they were done filming. 

I think they stayed an extra day at this campground due to all the excitement.  Then it was onward to the north.  They enjoyed a great visit in Duluth and arrived here in Springfield on Monday, July 25. 

It’s great to have her back home.

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Ritter Springs is Yoga

The WOLF School (conservation based 5th grade) that my daughter attends held their camping trip this weekend at Ritter Springs Park.  We had great weather with the exception of lots of wind Friday night!  We rented a tent which was missing some poles and heck, I don’t even think the rain cover went with it, but you make do with what you have and it’s all good.  Check out our weekend pad.  Stellar.  Actually, it was great!  More room than we really needed that’s for sure.  

100_37521Fast forward to that same evening.  We were scheduled for a Night Hike.  I had no idea where we’d be hiking, or what we’d be looking for and neither did anyone else.  We hiked to the mouth of a cave and checked out the bat flight.   We all stood around the mouth of this cave (like a huge sinkhole actually) and watched around 3,000 bats (not kidding) come and go.  They flew over our heads and side swiped our cheeks.  It was cool. 

Sleeping that night was cool as well.  The breeze was a little bit too much at times and it really kept whipping at our tent.  In turn that kept me awake, being the light sleeper that I am.  I didn’t think a bottle of wine was appropriate for this trip so I dealt with the wind.  I sat outside for awhile and checked out the stars and felt the wind on my face, I went to the bathroom (which was a hike) and watched my kid sleep like a baby.   





I was up at 6 a.m. and took a jaunt down to the creek and meditated for half an hour.  I had originally planned to be in STL this same weekend with one of my favorite yoga teachers, but this trip was yoga in itself.  The grass around this creek was so lush and green.  I truly felt like Frodo might pop out from behind one of those trees any second.  I took advantage of the early morning sun to capture some of the beauty. 




There were several activities we could sign up for and I let Lauren pick them all.  So on Saturday morning I found myself signed up for Trail Running.  Uh oh.  I’m no runner.  It was obvious that our guides were serious runners but they weren’t intimidating one bit.  In fact, a few of us found ourselves connected by some other time or place and I always enjoy reconnecting with people under different circumstances.  We learned about trail running do’s and don’ts.  We then headed to the lake and creek for a short little run.  Here’s a photo of our trail running team.  Go WOLF School!








After lunch (all the food was provided) we met up with our cave guides and headed to Junction Cave.  This cave is up high, steep high above the river.   We stopped at an outbuilding and grabbed flashlights, hard hats and gloves and onward we went.  Actually, 3 people from Nebraska just happened to be walking by and the guides asked them to join us.  They’re probably thinking that the parks here in Springfield, Missouri totally rock right about now!  We had great guides and we were amongst another fun group of people.  When we arrived at the cave, we did a little cleaning.  This cave is open to the public and people like to leave lots of marks in the way of graffiti, candles and broken glass.  You remove graffiti with water (preferably cave water) and a wire brush.  How simple is that? 








After a bit of cleaning, it was our turn to enter.  We were able to go in about 150 feet or so.  At one time, we all turned off our flashlights.  I have never, ever experienced darkness like that in my life.  You literally could not see your hand in front of your face.  It was awesome!  I shot a great photo of a cave salamander and a bat.  Below is my daughter Lauren, her friend Sierra and Sierra’s aunt, Jeri100_37592


We slid on out of the cave and down the hill back to camp!  We played some  games, challenges and puzzles with groups that were fun, but I will say by the time we got to that event, I was spent! 


I’m hoping for a smooth transition from this very cool 5th grade, to 6th grade when we re-enter civilian school.   And, if you have a 4th grader that likes being outdoors, applying for WOLF school is a great idea as well.

Go camping, it’s so worth it.