Last weekend we joined our friends the Andersons and several other families at their rural Austin home in Hill Country for a night of camping. The temps had finally cooled off enough to where one could comfortably sleep outdoors. It was to be Johnny’s first ever camping experience, and it got off to a rousing start. I bought a new family tent (which dwarfed the other families’ tents… perhaps 8-person was overkill) and we set it up just before dark. The campfire was soon roaring, dogs were running around the countryside, and the adults were enjoying a round of Irish car bombs!

Johnny was quite cautious with his first campfire, warning me of the dangers of standing too close! But he soon “warmed up” to it and was roasting hot dogs and marshmallows. As per our rotating schedule, it was a Mama bedtime, so Lauren headed to the tent to attempt to get Johnny to sleep. Perhaps it was the sugar or just the fun of being outside, but Johnny would not go to sleep. Lauren wound up having to spend the whole night trying to get him down, and finally moved indoors to the Andersons’ guest bedroom as a last resort. I got to enjoy the night, at least. The Andersons have a hot tub and in-ground pool, and everyone piled on in while consuming more beverages.

It was no doubt the greatest day of Baxter’s life, as he was allowed to run free through the Andersons’ many acres of property, hunting down deer.

Tonight, Johnny and I embark on a father-son Thanksgiving journey to rural South Dakota. By my estimation, this would be the first time I’ve been home for Thanksgiving since 2010. No, there will be no eating competition vs. Alex this year. It’s a late night arrival in Sioux Falls, so it ought to be an interesting day of travel. Johnny has his sights set on riding in tractors, trucks, and combines on the farm, as well as playing on the Rocket Slide in Huron, and seeing Humpty Dumpty. I told him there was a big Humpty at the Huron Library in the kids’ section when I was little, but Mom informed me that has been gone for 30 years. Now I have to find a Humpty Dumpty somewhere in the area, even if it means drawing a smiley face on an egg.

Johnny covered/rubbed his eyes during his school’s Thanksgiving program.
A view of the camping situation at the Andersons’ yard in Hill Country.
A pool with a view!
Johnny helps get the fire going.