Because Olivia and I had other commitments, we only had a short window in which we could go, so we decided to set up camp Sunday evening and have Monday and Tuesday to go hiking and relax. However, the weather Sunday did not co-operate. Sunday dawned cold, wet, and windy with a projected high of 47 degrees. We determined it would be better to leave Monday morning and come back Tuesday.
We set off Monday with good temperatures, mild winds, and a sunny forecast. We had an easy drive down and decided to camp at Doris Campground at the Wichita Wildlife Refuge. We got there in time for a picnic lunch at the Visitor's Center, and I warned the girls I would be taking lots of pictures and I expected them to cooperate. I also promised I'd clear it with them before posting pictures on our blog, so you can rest assured that all pictures are approved by both Kelsey and Olivia.
A great place for a picnic lunch!
Some people were too busy climbing to eat.
Others did their climbing after they ate their lunch.
"Look, Mom, I'm the Statue of Liberty!"
Did you know boulders are really comfortable?
After lunch, we headed in to pick out our campsite and pitch the tent. Maddox got really good at putting his shoes off and on all by himself while were camping.
After camp was set up, the boys decided they were ready for lunch.
Apparently they both eat with their eyes closed.
With the campsite settled, we were ready for a little adventure, so we decided to take a short hike to this tower we saw near the Holy City. On the way there, we noticed these little fellas. Did you know that it is physically impossible to talk in a normal voice while watching prairie dogs? Your voice naturally goes up about 2 octaves.
"Oh, they're so cute!"
"Look at that one running!"
"That one is just poking it's head out of the hole!"
"It's digging a burrow!"
"I wish I could hold one!"
I admit it, though; they are pretty adorable. It was one of our favorite things to see on this trip.
The Holy City is the site of one of the longest running Passion plays. We didn't stop and walk around, but we did drive by and take some pictures.
Then we were off to our true destination. The Jed Johnson Tower.
It's a short hike that's only about a half-mile long.
Most of it was pretty easy, but there was a little uphill near the end.
We passed a rock cairn that someone had built in the middle of the path, and Connor promptly knocked it over. The kids tried to fix it, but couldn't get the top rock to balance.
I took care of it. Because I'm awesome, that's why.
We finally made it to the tower.
It had a lovely view.
Olivia even gave up the camera for a few minutes to get a picture her hair blowing in the wind.
And Kelsey... I love that girl. I promise she has never seen the Titanic movie, but she sure loves to pose like this.
Did you know that boulders are comfortable?
There wasn't much to climb, but the boys got "to the top".
And then it was back to the campsite for a dinner of roasted hot dogs and s'mores. While we were at the tower, the camera had a small accident. (See #3 of this post.) I won't mention who was carrying it at the time, but Olivia is okay after her tumble. With the help of some superglue we were able to get it working well enough to finish the trip, but it's time to purchase a new camera.
Maddox had his own idea about what to do with marshmallows.
By then, Olivia was sick of me taking pictures of her. She was a good sport about it, though.
We finished off the day with a gorgeous sunset and after some time around the campfire, we headed for bed.
Despite it's promising beginning, the night we spent at the camp left much to be desired. Without going on and on about it, let me just say that it was The Longest Night of My Life. Temperatures dropped to well below 40 degrees, and we all froze and got very little sleep. In desperation, I got up and started another campfire around 4:30 in the morning. Olivia discovered that if she draped her blanket over her face, it kept the smoke off and she could sleep in a camping chair. Eventually I decided that we were going to forego breakfast at the campsite and head into Lawton for a hot breakfast in a warm restaurant. There wasn't much to choose from, so we ended up at Chick-Fil-A. At least it had an indoor playground and free butter mints, right?
By the time we finished breakfast, the sun was shining and the day was rapidly warming up. We decided to take a hike before breaking camp. We headed for the Lost Lake picnic area to try to find the place we hiked several years ago. On the way there, we finally got to see some of the bison herd. Unfortunately, the camera wouldn't cooperate and I didn't get any pictures. But I did get a good shot of this cutie before the hike:
This hike was a little more challenging than our last one.
There was a lot more hills and rocks to climb.
Kelsey also found a sign that spring was indeed on it's way.
The river was pretty low, so Olivia suggested we go down and climb on the rocks and cross to the other side.
It was a great spot for a rest.
Except that not all of us were ready to rest. Maddox kept climbing and climbing and climbing all over the rocks. I swear that boy is part mountain goat. After a few minutes my nerves couldn't take it any more and we started back.
On the way back we stopped to enjoy a good view of the dam.
Did you know that rocks are comfortable?
With the exception of the hours we spent between 10pm and 7am, it was a wonderful trip. We learned a lot about what we will and won't do the next time, and can't wait to go back and camp again.