Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Summer Staycation: Willow River State Park

Hello!  I'm taking a break from posting about my Spring Vacation which I took way back in April (yeah, when you only do one travel post a week, it takes a long time to get through a week's vacation of photos and stories to share), to share pictures and stories of our Staycation.   Have you ever heard of the term Staycation before?  It's when you take a vacation from work, but you stay home and do things locally.  Well last year we took three long distance vacations:  Missouri, New Hampshire/Vermont, and Florida;  then we just took a road trip to Tennessee in April, and we are currently planning a big trip to New Mexico in the fall,  Soooooo, when my daughter and son-in-law came home for a visit this week, we decided to take time off of work, but just stay home and have some fun locally:  a Staycation!

We have a week of activity planned, but we started our Staycation with a two day camping trip to a local state park.  The name of the park is Willow River State Park, and it is less than two hours from our house.  It has a beautiful river and waterfall in the park.

The falls have a 200 foot drop into a gorgeous gorge with a bridge right in front of it for easy viewing.  It's not a falls you can swim in, especially this time of year when it is very strong and swelling due to too much rainfall, but you can walk on the rocks and feel the cool mist and also find a shallow spot here and there to dip your feet in.

 There are some really neat rock formations on the sides of the falls.  We found a couple of creepy small caves and pathways like this one that were fun to explore.

 There has been so much rain in our area, that water is everywhere!  We saw lots of of water seeping and dripping from rocks like this one:
 There are many nice hiking trails in the park.  Hiking in the woods is one my favorite leisure activities to do.  On one of our hikes we saw this ENORMOUS tree.  Notice how the water from the lake is flooding into the area?
 After some of our more adventurous hikes in New Hampshire National Parks, we really enjoyed hiking on a level paved surface again.  Here is picture of my son-in-law and daughter enjoying a beautiful morning stroll:

 There is a lovely lake in the park to swim and boat in.  Surrounding the lake is a play area for children and lots of picnic tables to rest in the shade and eat lunch.  We took a brief stop at this one to rest from one of our hiking adventures.

 The park also has a dam that you can walk across and view the rapids below.

 This is the pretty lake in the park.  There were canoes you could rent and we saw many people on the lake while we were there.
 How's this for a Fashion Over Fifty photo?  LOL!  I was the photographer all weekend, so I didn't get any pictures of me, but my husband snapped this one of me as I exited a bathroom.  I thought you'd like to see what I looked like when I'm not glamed up in nice clothes with my make up and hair done.

 We saw lots of wildlife in the woods:  the deer seemed so use to being around people, they didn't even move when you got close to them;  one large deer even came into our campground.   We saw at least a half a dozen deer, turkeys, turtles, frogs, birds, and lots of beautiful dragonflies like this one.
 The sounds of the forest were so amazing and beautiful to listen too.  We loved waking up to birds singing each morning, and hearing frogs croak as we walked through the forest.

We camped three days and two nights.  We had really nice weather except for one night when it started to rain at 6:00 p.m.  We brought ponchos and Jason bought an umbrella with him, but other than our two sleeping tents, we had no other protection from the rain.  So we sat in our lawn chairs, in the pouring rain, in front of the fire:  which, for some reason, still burned and did not go out.
 This is my husband acting silly and my daughter wearing my Maid of the Mist poncho.  My husband is holding an A & W root beer;  he is mocking all the people he sees on FB who hold bottles of beer up or glasses of wine in their photos.  He always thinks that is so silly.  He told me to put this pic on FB, but I didn't, because I thought his A & W looked way too much like a bottle of beer and he looked a little tipsy.  LOL!  He's such a goof ball!  Do you like his trash bag poncho and hat?
We ate a lot of great meals on our trip:  other than the usual hot dogs and hamburgers, we also baked potatoes, then cut them up and had fried potatoes for breakfast with bacon, leftover steak from a night before, and eggs.  We had a lot of fun cooking over a campfire, and everything tasted better than if we cooked them at home on the stove.  We even bought a camp fire coffee pot and we made coffee!  It was the best coffee I ever had!  Sorry Starbucks!  We laughed at how excited we got when the coffee started percolating. Yeah!  It works, it works…we screamed.

After three hours of sitting in the rain, we started to get a bit cold and the rain seemed to be getting heavier so we called it a night and went into our tents.    Believe it or not, but I still had internet access on my I Phone, so I played with my phone for about an hour, while we talked and sang hymns.  The wind's really started to pick up and our tent started to 'suck in and out', and then water started dripping in, and we started to hear eerie sounds like branches breaking, and things flying about, and I started to get scared.  So I decided to just put some ear plugs in and fall asleep (because you know if you can't hear anything and the covers are over your head…your perfectly safe…right?  LOL!) , and right when I was just getting comfy the Park Rangers drove by with their loud speaker on screaming 'Strong wind advisory warning!  Everyone evacuate to the restrooms!'.  So out we climbed out of our warm tent and we made the hike to public restrooms only to find one other couple there. Out of all the campers, only two families were obedient to the Park Rangers.

 I had my I Phone with me so I checked the weather and it said it was going to storm all night.  We all looked at each other and said 'I don't want to stand inside the bathroom all night!', so we just decided to go back to our campground and go back to bed'.   The winds eventually died down, and we fell asleep.  The next morning it was beautiful and sunny, the bird's were singing, but of course, everything was soaking wet.  Our tent even leaked a little and one sleeping bag got very wet.  The roads were littered with the flying debris from the night before.  But we managed to get a fire going with the wet wood and some charcoal we brought along, and we had another delicious breakfast with hot coffee and chuckled about the night before and how we 'made memories' camping in the rain.

How about you?  Our you having any Staycations this summer, or are you taking a traditional vacation away from home?  I'd love to hear about your vacations.

Have a great day!  Amy


  1. It looks beautiful there Amy. Love those waterfalls! You are all so adventurous, I am sure me and hubby would have packed up the tent and left because I would have been too scared to stay in the storm. Loved the photos of your rainy day, so much fun!
    We wanted to go to Germany this year for vacation to visit my family, but the tickets were once again way too much, so instead we will be going to visit Madison, WI and then go to Wisconsin Dells for a few days. I am sure the kids will have a blast at Noah's Arc waterpark.

  2. Thanks for sharing these photos, wonderful park ! Haha and funny shots too !

  3. Looks like a fun time even in the rain! Lovely pics and the you look great even without the glam!


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