October 10-22, 2000

This is the story of our family campout. We are (from left to right) Joshua (age 9), Shawna (age 7), Shalom (age 11), Adam (age 13) Christine (aka: Mom, age 51), Daniel (aka: Dad, age 61), and Midnight Patrol.

We arrived to glorious weather and found the camp in acceptable condition. It appeared that everything was exactly as we had left it as of our last visit -- including the long to-do list of untended odds and ends that had been accumulating ever since we first started camping here over a decade ago. 

Our campsite, for those of you who are new to our saga, is located on a remote tract of 30 acres nestled into the pristine Ozark mountains. It is a lovely setting, snuggled alongside a spring-fed creek, sheltered by a towering rock bluff and immersed in native vegetation. 

Below: Midnight explores the creek at the base of the towering bluff.

Over the years our visits have been less frequent than we'd have liked, postponed by such things as childbirth and heart surgery. But our plans have remained consistent: This is the place we have chosen to build our permanent home. 

This year, finally, we came camping with a viable plan to make this happen. And that plan goes something like this...

During this visit -- which was to be the longest span of time we had ever spent on our selected homesite -- we would prepare everything as best we could for our return in the springtime when, God willing, we will begin building our new house. And wow, did we have a lot to do....

Below and at right: Shawna, Josh and Adam take their turns cleaning our tiny habitat. 

Also under ''necessities,'' we had to fashion a latrine... 

In fact, the list of chores we faced seemed endless. Below left:  Shalom and Shawna (with mom sitting by the campfire in the background) plant flower seeds and bulbs in the decorative rock-garden they've prepared alongside the driveway to our future home.  Below right: Shawna ''churns'' our wash-bucket full of window curtains with a bent-wood stick. Some clean curtains hang on the line in the background. 

Below: The Porcelain Angel we got at the Dollar Store to be the centerpiece of the rock- garden being created above.

Of course when you work as hard as this, you've gotta eat! And, being as our campsite and trailer-abode are presently sans such pleasant amenities as electricity, plumbed water, and other ''modern convenience'' stuff, all our cooking was done at an open hearth. All the water we used for cleaning was toted up from the creek and heated in the tea kettle over the open fire. And, all our drinking and cooking water came from jugs we'd filled and brought from our regular home.

At right: Lifting the cooking grate with a forked stick in one hand and holding a tea-pot in the other, Josh makes the hearth ready for cooking.  Note the blue jeans and socks drying on the fireside rack in the background. It's a far cry from an electric clothes dryer --- but it works!!!

And as everyone who's ever been camping surely knows, all that fresh air and constructive work builds a hearty appetite. 

At left: Shalom samples a bite of deep-fried catfish. Our dream is to one day have caught our catfish in our on-site catfish pond instead of having purchased it from WalMart. 

Other campfire main-courses during our stay included: Grilled Bratwurst, Red-bean & Cheese Fajitas with Rice, Deep-fried Chicken Strips, Grilled Italian Sausage, Cheeseburgers, Grilled Cubed Steaks, and Ham & Cheese Burritos. 

Breakfast was usually some style of eggs, with Mom's personal favorite being ''Egg On A Raft.''  Lunch was sandwiches, hot dogs, or left-overs. Snacks, beverages and desserts included pears, oranges, apples, fruit juice, soda pop, fresh perked coffee (laced with Irish Cream), a couple of beers, cheese & crackers, peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, milk chocolates & candy bars, cookies, cereal & milk. 

Inexcusably, we forgot to bring a bottle of wine. 

As our gathering was multipurpose -- being a homeschool excursion into various  participatory learning experiences mixed with a sampling of the traditional Hebrew holiday called ''Sukkot'' on top of our construction reconnoitering plans -- we were blessed with the good company of invited visitors from time to time. 

At left: Shown with Daniel, Shawna and Adam are five of the seventeen guests who visited with us over the course of our 13-day stay. 

While we visited, we watched the campfire (can you see the ''fire breathing dragon'' in the old stump, below?) and played in the woods...

Personally, I wish I had this much energy!!! I'd sure get a lot more done!!!


When we felt like taking a break from it all, we'd crowd around the ''dining room table'' and play games. Other favorite pastimes included reading aloud. Shalom and Adam took turns reading to all of us from Huckleberry Finn and from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. 

Midnight (pictured below, savoring a treat) found her own favorite way to relax.



And all too soon, before we were really ready for it, the time for this year's campout had come to an end. With great reluctance, sincere feelings of thankfulness and a bit of modest pride for what we had been able to accomplish, we closed the ''gate'' to our campsite...


...and are now busily making preparations for the Springtime of 2001when we will do this whole thing and more all over again.








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