After two pretty challenging travel days we were thrilled to start settling into our campsite in America’s first national river, the Buffalo. The Buffalo also happens to be where I grew up camping and, so to be back for the first time with Jason and the boys was really something special.

We arrived a day before the rest of our fourth of July companions and got right to work creating one of the cooler outdoor setups to date, complete with our Big Agnes tent. We love this tent and we were thrilled that my parents wanted to tent camp so we could all be on the same site together. That was a huge decision for my mom to make, because my mom is not a tent camper. Even before the trip had begun she’d won the “top camper” award.

As we setup camp, I was reliving a lot of my own childhood memories at the Buffalo River with my mom’s family. All of us bundled together with tents and RVs on a few sites near one another, big family meals, roasting marshmallows, canoeing down the river and swimming at the big water hole. All things I was so excited to share with my little family, and to share again with Mom, Dad, my brother Jordan and his fiance Mai (who was also experiencing a Buffalo camping trip for the first time).

We knew there was a possibility of rain during our four day stay, and Jason wisely prepped for it, using our Kelty Noah’s tarp to create an area over much of our campsite so we could still function outdoors during a rain shower, but man, nothing could have prepared us for what was to come.

It didn’t just rain during our trip, it downright poured. It was unrelenting and our fourth of July was an absolute wash, literally and figuratively. Our campsite was a big puddle of water, we never made a fire or spent any real time in the hammock, because everything was soaked. When we did get a break in the rain it was still cloudy and everything was damp, but, and this is a big BUT, we still managed to have a really great time.

We spent fourth of July very water logged

While many adventures we’d hoped to take didn’t happen, we were able to make memories in other ways. When there were breaks in the weather we headed down to the river and the kids played, it was short lived play, but we still skipped rocks, and built towers, and explored and laughed.

We skipped the big fourth of July dinner we had planned and headed to a restaurant located inside the Buffalo National River. Solid choice. Plus, the view from the top of the cliff just couldn’t be beat, and as we made our way out from a very filling dinner, the sky opened up a bit and provided us with a spectacular view of the river below.

Gorgeous post dinner view of the Buffalo River


Just the two of us

On our last day and were able to get in a canoe trip, an event that marked a first for Jason and I, and also allowed us to spend a really wonderful afternoon with my brother Jordan and his fiancé Mai. A big shout out to Mom and Dad for keeping the kids and allowing Jason and I a break to enjoy the peaceful silence of floating down the river. Our time together rates really high on the list of my favorite “just us” adventures. Doesn’t topple 2009’s Disney trip, but it comes close.

Canoeing the Buffalo is an amazing experience. The river was high, but it wasn’t moving nearly as fast as we thought it would. We did a 10 miles trip that took us about 5 hours to complete and we made sure to enjoy plenty of stops and a few off the beaten path adventures. The views are breathtaking and vast. It was a needed rejuvination after so much rain. But, sunshine was short lived and only within a few mins of being in the car and heading back to camp, it started to rain — no not rain, it was another downpour.

Mai and the kids. They think she’s amazing (and she is).

Camping can’t always be sunshine and perfect weather, and we completely understand that, but I’d be lying to you if I said there wasn’t a level of disappointment. There was, and we were all pretty water logged by the time the four-day camping trip came to an end. But, through it all we did our best to enjoy being together, to find humor and fun in situations out of our control. I was really proud of my family and the way we handled our time together.

However, we were ready to get back on the road to dryer climates, and a hotel room. Yes, from the Buffalo we were headed to Branson, MO to enjoy a long weekend with Mom and Dad. I was so excited to stay in a hotel room. Don’t get me wrong, I love Wander Bus, but I also love hotel rooms, especially when they come on the heels of four hot, humid and muggy days.

Will we camp at the Buffalo again? You better believe we will. There’s so much left unexplored! Will my Mom stay in a tent again? Absolutely not, but I think it’s safe to say, she’s earned that cabin and she deserves it.