Friday, June 2, 2017

Sand Dunes camping: Gator Farm and last day

The third day is always the hardest for me. By this time we are so dirty and tired that I just want to pack up and go home. Everyone in the group was going home that day so it was especially tempting to leave with them. We spent the morning cleaning up the campsite and cooking a tasty breakfast in the dutch oven. 



The kids were filthy head to toe


After a late breakfast, we headed out to the Gator farm. We stopped to get ice cream just outside the Sand Dunes

The gator farm was in the middle of nowhere. At first we were a little nervous that it would be a waste of time


The signs were pretty hilarious


But it turned out to be the highlight of the trip for most of the kids! First, they got to hold all sorts of snakes and other reptiles






Then they all took turns holding an alligator






They each even got a certificate "stamped" by a gator for their bravery


Josie loved the big tortoises that were walking around



The kids got a kick out of this life lesson

There was also a playground with random cats and chickens running around


And tons of gators. Everywhere!


There was an indoor aquaponics area

You are also able to fish on the property and if you catch anything you are able to feed it to the alligators. Jack was thrilled when he caught this big guy!

After feeding the fish to the gator, Luke and Jack got to watch them feed sausage to other gators



That night everyone left and we had the big campsite to ourselves. We packed up our tent and all slept in the truck. It was the best night of sleep I had on the trip!



The next morning we finished cleaning and packing up, then we headed to the visitor center and to the Sand Dunes for a few hours






The drive home was much longer than the drive there since we hit a good amount of traffic. We passed the time by taking funny pictures with the phone







Coming home reminded me how much I hate camping. It took a few days to finally clean all the camping stuff and get it all put away again. All in all it was probably 1 month of work (planning, packing & cleaning) for four days of camping. But we did make some good memories. 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Sand Dunes Camping: Zapata Falls

Tuesday morning I finally got to enjoy the group-work plan as I didn't have to cook. Luke and Arnaud were on breakfast duty. Pancakes are always a huge hit!



Our excursion for the day was to hike the Zapata Falls. It was supposed to be an "easy" half mile hike. The drive up there was an adventure in itself. It was several miles on a crazy off-roading path. We weren't even sure that all the cars would make it. 

It probably took 45 minutes just to get to the trailhead. The kids were excited to start the hike

It wasn't long before we found the river. We knew that we'd be hiking through the water so most of the kids had on water shoes. They were super excited to start hiking through the river




 

It wasn't long before everyone realized how cold the water was. It wasn't just cold... it was FREEZING. Soon our feet began to go numb and everyone was trying hard to stay out of the water


The waterfall was inside a cave so we had to hike inside the cave a little while to see it. The cave was loud and freezing and some of the kids were scared to go in. This is as far as I made it. I didn't realize that this wasn't the actual falls. Apparently you had to hike up and look around the corner behind this small waterfall to see the large one. 
 

But my feet were painfully numb and the kids were all crying by this point so I just snapped a quick pic and started heading back


Every single child was crying by the time we got to dry land. I have to admit my feet were hurting so bad so i could understand their pain. But to have all the kids crying was pretty funny and we couldn't help but laugh.


We snapped this quick pic showing who enjoyed the hike and who didn't...


The hike back was much slower as none of the kids wanted to touch the freezing water. It was difficult to navigate the edges of the water and we had to pass many of the kids from adult to adult


Back at the trail head all the kids were able to warm up and re-group again. It was also a great picture spot, you can see the sand dunes in the background











After the freezing waterfalls, we headed out to the hot sand dunes!



The river was flowing and the water here was comfortable... no where near as freezing as the falls




That night we enjoyed another group meal around the campfire


And more apple cider

At sunset we walked down the campground a ways to watch the sun set behind the dunes

Then it was time for campfire pies!

And more scary stories
This was turning out to be a great trip!