This year's Cooper Family Reunion was really fun. I had hoped that this camping trip would be quite simple, but it turned out to be more complicated than I had planned. The kids were supposed to be at their dad's, so packing and cooking for two is much easier. However, their dad never called, so I had to pack for all five of us. It takes a lot to entertain the three kids. And much more to feed them. And my husband decided he didn't want to live on hotdogs and hamburgers for the weekend either, so he devised all sorts of meals, which made packing food and supplies a little more difficult. And I had forgotten about our dog Jesse. So, we decided to rent a U-Haul trailer to haul all of our stuff out there.
Scott had gotten his vacation time during Labor Day weekend, so we took the children out of school and headed down to Oklahoma on Thursday. We left later than we had planned to (which is always the case). It is a five hour drive from Kansas City to Heyburn Lake. As we got nearer to our destination, we saw lightning and dark clouds. We arrived just before dark and began to set up our campsite. Our rented site was next to the nice bathrooms/shower house, in front of the swimming beach, but the bathrooms were locked, which made us angry since that was the whole reason we rented that spot. We were clear on the other side of the camp from my family and quite a way from the other, smaller bathrooms. Kimmy and Billy had both been throwing up prior to our coming to the reunion. As we were furiously putting up our campsite, my mom and my Aunt Janie drove over and Janie offered us her campsite since they had played musical campsites. We hurriedly took down what we'd done and drove over to the other side and put everything up by them. It was dark by then, but we had help from my cousins Jill and Jimmy. There was lightning on both sides of us, but still no rain. We got everything set up and got the kids in their tent and in bed. We finished up and went to bed ourselves. We had been in our tent about five minutes when the storm started. The thunder and rain was deafening. My mom texted that if the kids were scared, they could come over and stay in the camper they were in, but I said we would get soaked just going the few feet from our tent to theirs, let alone across the street to their camper and that I hoped the kids were asleep. Somehow through the roar, Scott heard one of the kids say "mom". We tried to look through the window and saw flashlights on in their tent, but couldn't hear anything. I yelled, "I can't hear you! Lay down and go to sleep!" The seams on our tent were leaking a little and we had a couple of puddles and my blanket got a little damp.
The next day, we visited with family and Scott, Janie, and I went to the store to get groceries and supplies for the family reunion, while my mom stayed with the kids. The kids swam in the blow up pool we had at the campsite. I liked being on the family side of the camp this time because the kids could run around and visit and play and not get into too much trouble. Everyone watched out for everyone else. My great-uncle Gary and great-aunt Bessie came and brought their grand-daughter Courtney and she and Arrena really hit it off. After that, those girls were off on bikes around the camp the rest of the weekend. The problem started when the kids' dad's mom called me and said she was coming to pick up the kids. Chris and I had discussed this weekend the last time we talked and he said he would call me and arrange picking up the kids. He had not called and now here they were, looking forward to the weekend with us. They had hoped that he wouldn't call because they wanted to go to the family reunion. They were furious when their grandma called and they thought they would have to leave. They called their grandma back and asked to talk to their dad. He called them back and Arrena told him that they didn't want to go. He asked to speak to me and I told him that they had thought they were staying at the family reunion since he hadn't called like he said he would and hadn't shown up for his last weekend like he was supposed to. He backed off and said they could stay and the kids were happy. Janie and us combined forces and made up hamburgers and hotdogs to feed everyone that was coming in and setting up camp that night. We sat around a campfire and made s'mores.
Saturday was the family reunion. After breakfast and the morning visits, playtime, etc., we went up to the pavilion and started setting up. Family that hadn't camped started trickling in. It was nice to see lots of cousins I haven't seen in a couple of years. First we had lunch, then the kids got their toys. Then the annual auction started. We brought home a horse clock for the girls' room and some blue champagne glasses that my aunt is etching our names on. After that, the guys had their horseshoe tournament and the women did their "cake" walk. I thought Scott was going to win the horseshoe tournament for a minute--he made it to the final round and was ahead for a while, but my cousin Tammy's husband Randy beat him in the end. I won the second cake walk and got a kitchen prize basket. My mom and my brother left before I knew it. I thought I had longer with them and was disappointed that they had to leave so soon. I had brought an angel food cake and watermelon for my mama and hadn't gotten it out yet! Family started to leave and we started to head back to our campsites.
Sunday, we hung around, visiting. The kids went to pet a horse. They are putting in an equestrian trail behind where we were camping and we talked to a lady that is a part of it quite a bit, so she let the kids pet her horse. We learned from her that the bathroom problems we have had for years were because of the old caretakers and there is a new caretaker that just came in about six weeks ago and has already started changing things around there. He would have had the bathrooms fixed, but the plumber that came out to do didn't have the right licensing and had to come back later. I got my baby "fix", holding a cousin's baby girl named Eland. Then we took the kids down the the lake to swim. Arrena and Courtney were broken-hearted when Courtney had to go home. They had become good chums in three short days. We had another combined dinner with tacos and chicken chili and more fussing over Eland. Then we had an unwelcome visitor. A tarantula walked into my aunt's campsite. Not a good camp to visit, as she is deathly afraid of spiders of any sort. I have to admit that I am not too fond of spiders after that one unknown spider bit me and made me very unwell several years back. A large fuzzy tarantula doesn't appeal to me either. My great-aunt Ruthann said, "Jill, look out." My cousin Jill stood up from the picnic table she had been sitting at and I looked and there was a tarantula on the ground crawling towards her. Jill shrieked and jumped up on the bench of the table. She said that she would have run or jumped up on the table, but she was holding her dog Alexis, who was on a chain, hooked to something and she couldn't go far. In her hurry to get away from the tarantula, she nearly wrung Alexis' neck off! Janie jumped up and stood at a distance, I think trying to judge which was was the best direction to run. I laughed because she had been trying to convince me to look for one out on the road to poke with a stick because she had heard that they jump ten feet. I said, "Hey, don't you want to see if they jump ten feet?" Well, when someone started poking at it, it ceased being funny and I decided that was my cue to leave my chair, in case they DO jump ten feet. The poking was meant to get it to go back the other way and leave, but the stupid thing went the wrong way and came TOWARD us. It ran under the picnic table, causing a wave of panic and then went up the picnic table. That caused Jill to bolt. Somehow she got Alexis loose and managed to get away. Scott asked her later if she would have sacrificed her dog to the tarantula and she said most definitely. Janie, in the meanwhile, hightailed it into the trailer and stood peering out of the window. Jennifer and Jimmy managed to corral and scoop up the tarantula and took him out to the street and released him. I wish I had thought sooner and gotten the whole episode on video. Whether it was the same one or a different one, I don't know, but about an hour or so later, a tarantula returned to Janie's campsite and was again scooped up by my cousin Jimmy and taken back to the street and released. In the twenty-three years we have been out there, we have never seen a tarantula out there before.
Monday, we spent the morning visiting and packing up our campsite. Everyone was leaving, so we were all saying our good-byes. We finally left around lunch time and got home about dinner time. The weather was so beautiful the whole time we were there. The high temperatures were only in the 80s and with the breeze off the lake, it was lovely. It was even chilly early in the morning and in the evenings. I wish I had checked the forecast for the lows and packed the kids some jackets at least. We couldn't have asked for better weather. It was getting a little warm on Monday, I think in the 90s, but the wind was so strong, we hardly noticed.
I am beginning to think that I am allergic to camping at Heyburn Lake...or my family. I have camped down there twice and both times ended up with a migraine. The last one I got while I was down there, this one I got two days after I got back and has lasted five days so far. Wonder if I got bit by a migraine bug. Is there a repellent for that?
I am 40 years old and the mother of three children: two girls, ages fourteen and sixteen; and one autistic/bipolar boy, age twelve. I remarried seven years ago. Scott was the first boy I ever dated in high school, but we went our separate ways. Sixteen years later, God brought us together again through Facebook. I majored in Bible at Tennessee Temple University, with a concentration in Women's Ministries. Someday I would like to complete my degree. I used to work as a newborn photographer in a local hospital, but I had to quit and be a stay-at-home mom for my special needs' son. So, I am finding creative ways to spend my time. I am an avid crafter and dabble in all kinds of medium. I especially love to crochet and paint. I recently taught myself how to sew. I also write books and am a hobbyist photographer.
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