Five Favorite Moments: Vacationing While Growing Up

The other night, my family got to talking about family memories, specifically vacations on a frugal budget. While the stories were mostly memories about how my Grandma made vacations (and life) special on essentially one income to raise seven kids, I have to say that my Mom and Dad made some amazing memory magic of their own, too. You see, my dad is a pastor. Not sure if you know, but that’s not up there with the income of a doctor or lawyer…or most other folks. We had some amazing times, though, and I figured I’d share five of my favorite moments vacationing while growing up.

1. Disney World – Other than the fact that my dad was gifted a week at a parishoner’s timeshare in Orlando, I have no idea how we swung this trip. The four of us (plus Aunt Wink’s family) flew to Florida to enjoy not only Disney but also Kennedy Space Center. I remember that we packed our snacks and lunches, and returned to the condo to eat dinner at home. We visited all three parks (at the time, that was Disney World, MGM, and Epcot) on a hopper pass, and the parents split us all up to do the things we wanted to do. Dad and I went off to Epcot to feed my inner nerd in the “Worlds” (just look at me, if you can’t tell, I am on the left). Jack and Russ enjoyed fast rides, and Sally, always the ‘lil one getting left behind by the big kids, got to enjoy time on smaller rides. We even got “the hats”–mine was the Minnie head–and I still have it (and, as a frugal mom, plan on giving it to Arianna when we go next year).

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Us in Disney ~ 1995 (I think)

 

2. African Safari Wildlife Park – During one (of many) conferences that my dad attended, we took a trip to Port Clinton, Ohio’s drive-thru safari. Although I don’t have a photo of this, I would be willing to bet that somewhere there’s a video of it. As a kid who loved animals, it was pretty cool to drive through an area where giraffes and zebras roamed. A bit scary, a bit crazy, but 100% fun. I look at the prices, and again, I am not sure how we did it, but we did.

3. Camping at Pymatuming Lake – My family has had lots of experiences camping, but the best has to be when my family took a weekend and (most of us) headed up to Pymatuming Lake. Uncle Matt was still alive, and he and mom spearheaded tent setup. Monica and I rode our bikes all over that park, and even taunted our (older) teenage cousin who was there with her boyfriend. Stale bread was bought, carps and ducks were fed. We rented two (what I recall rickety) plontoon boats. One was for fishers, the other for those who wanted sun. Hilarious stories were shared around the campfire. As we cleaned up the campsite, I recall lightning tearing through the park and Jack and I hitting the floor in the laundry room for fear of being struck. I vote for another family camping outing, stat. 

4. Myrtle Beach – My heart belongs in Myrtle, I tell you. Since Grandma and Pappy lived there, there was no cost for staying. For the most part, my family vacationed there in December, just after Christmas. My memories are not of going to the beach to swim or enjoying the water parks or eating at one of the many restaurants there. They are of late nights playing scrabble, waking up to the smell of coffee and danishes, reading the Sun News (perhaps including articles written by my future father-in-law), playing Bingo at the Oceanside Village clubhouse,  and peering in at Pappy watching sports. These trips pretty much just cost my parents gas and some food, if I were to guess.

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My family, last year, in Myrtle Beach

5. Christmas Cabins – When we were not traveling to Myrtle Beach, we were renting a state park cabin the week after Christmas. Again, a simple yet memorable trip. (One stands out because Jack had just fallen down the stairs and had a black eye the entire week.) We would sled ride, play Pass the Pigs, enjoy fireside chats. There is something magical about spending Christmas in a cabin, surrounded by pines and eating holiday leftovers.

These are just five of my favorite vacation memories while growing up. Now it’s your turn!  Comment below — What is your favorite childhood vacation memory? 

Cook Forest Fire Tower

For my final post on our camping trip, I bring you the Cook Forest Fire Tower.

This tower, no longer in use, gives climbers a gorgeous view of the forest. We cannot wait to experience it (hopefully with the kids) this fall.

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There are a ton more pictures of our adventures over on my Flickr page, including photos of “Ranger Greg” catching a snake, eek!

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Hey kids! Wondering why you weren’t involved in this trip? Well, if you know anything about your mom and dad, you’ll know that one of us is uptight, the other super laid back. (Can you guess who is who?) Because of this, we decided we had to survive a trip camping by ourselves, first. You’ll go soon, promise.

Camping Must: Campfire Biscuits

(*articles may contain affiliate links*) When I was a kid, one of the parishioners at my dad’s church made AMAZING biscuit rolls over the campfire. These were canned biscuits wrapped around a dowel rod, held over the fire, and then filled with squeeze butter, cinnamon, and sugar. I was in love with them, and really wanted to make them when we went camping. Ah, campfire biscuits.

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Problem? I didn’t take dowel rods. Not that it mattered anyways. I tried to make them the right way last weekend and ended up with a gooey, burnt mess. Sorry that I cannot remember the right way to do it, but glad that I found an amazing work around that I will now share with you. Your MOUNTAIN PIE IRON works wonders for this. If you’re going camping and don’t have one, why not!??! Head over to Amazon now and get yourself a mountain pie iron so you’re ready for camping // fire season.

Campfire Biscuits

Ingredients

Canned biscuits
Squeeze Butter (Healthy Option: I grabbed one that’s 5 calories a serving!)
Cinnamon
Sugar (Healthy Option: Splenda)
Mountain Pie Iron
Olive Oil Cooking Spray
optional…cream cheese icing

Instructions

1. Heat your mountain pie iron (pudgie pie works best!) in hot coals.
2. Once heated, spray the inside of both iron sides generously with cooking spray.
3. Spread two canned biscuits into the iron, one on each side.
4. Sprinkle a mix of cinnamon and sugar on your biscuits (one side).
5. Close up the iron, return to coals for about 3 minutes per side. Check, remove from fire when golden brown.
6. Plate, squeeze some butter (or cream cheese icing) over the top. Enjoy!

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Delicious campfire breakfast or snack option. Think of it as a cinnamon roll! Yum.

Campfire Quesadillas

When we went camping, I wanted to be sure that I stayed true to my meal plans as best as possible. Sure, I let myself enjoy a s’more and a mountain pie, but I didn’t get out of control. One of the reasons was that I planned a few good meals throughout the weekend, including campfire quesadillas.

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Campfire Quesadillas

(a semi-original recipe by me)

Ingredients

1 soft shell tortilla per quesadilla (Healthy Option: Whole Wheat)
1 can of chicken breast in water
1 tbsp. taco seasoning
1/8 c. cheese per quesadilla
Sliced Peppers and Onions
Foil
Olive Oil cooking spray
Salsa, Sour Cream (for dipping)

Instructions

1. Set out foil squares for each quesadilla. Spray generously with cooking spray.
2. Lay the tortilla on the foil.
3. Mix the taco seasoning into the (drained) can of chicken breast. Scoop the amount you desire onto the shell.
4. Add cheese and veggies if you desire.
5. Fold the foil around the quesadilla. Sit the packet on the grill over the campfire.
6. Turn after 2 minutes. Check for crispiness (and lack of burn) after the second side has been on the fire. Cook to your desired heat/color.
7. Enjoy! I suggest dipping in salsa, others prefer sour cream.

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What do YOU like to eat when camping?


Tubing (Our Camping Experience)

There are several places you can go tubing when camping at Cook Forest State Park. We didn’t really plan ahead, and ended up checking out three places before we actually hit the river.

Take our word for it, make yourself a reservation if you’re skeptical. Or, figure out a way to take your own tubes and get dropped off and picked up. Our first choice would probably be the best place, but we opted out due to long lines and our own impatience. 😉

We ended up renting tubes from Pine Crest, but it’s not one of their main attractions. It ended up being the best choice for us because the whole day led to some fun(ny) experiences that we would not have gotten from any other place in the Forest.

Like the discovery of the tubes back behind a shed, and learning that the woman running the desk worked with me at Pizza Hut when I worked there in college. Or the van ride there (and back). I mean, how could you not enjoy this?

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I joke, a ‘lil.

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We set out in our tubes, only thing really missing on them was a cupholder or a way to secure our cooler (thanks to Tom for taking care of it for us).

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The river was beautiful, but a bit shallow. We took our time (maybe too much–we were over an hour late for our pickup, but “no watch!”) and enjoyed the views, some laughs (like making sure the trail mix was saved over all else), and jumped off a rock. (Ok, one of us jumped off a rock, bet you can’t guess who.)

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As if our first post about tubing wasn’t enough to convince you to let things go and enjoy a day on the river, hopefully this one will.

Eggs in a Bag

(*articles may contain affiliate links*) As I hinted in the first camping memory post, Missy wowed us with Eggs in a Bag. I know, it sounds really gross and I am sure you are skeptical that this would result in runny eggs and food poisoning, something you don’t want while camping, right? Greg will eat anything, so he supported Missy’s efforts; Tom and I were willing to try, but had back up plans just in case. Oh, thank goodness we trusted her.

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You see, “Eggs in a Bag” became our breakfast both days. It was that good.

Missy found a recipe online and we set out to make our own versions (once we fought with the fire and pan to get water boiling–note, this takes forever while camping, so maybe next time we’ll try this kettle).

Eggs in a Bag

Ingredients: 
Eggs
Veggies, Meat, and Cheese (as desired)
Milk (if you like it in your eggs)
Seasonings (such as salt and pepper, the ‘lil Burghers LOVE paprika and red pepper flakes)

Tools:
Pot with Boiling Water
Sealable Plastic Bags – we used Quart Size
Tongs

Step One: Put your eggs and a tablespoon of milk per egg in a ziploc bag. You can do up to three eggs in a bag. I opted for egg whites (from the carton) and skim milk for a healthy twist.

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Step Two: Add any add-ons you’d like. We opted for variations of ham, veggies, and shredded cheese (I’d suggest getting ham cubes and pre-chopped veggies if camping).

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Step Three: Seal your bag very tight. I am BAD at this. Once sealed, squish everything around real good. This was kind of fun!

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(Here’s what they all look like, ready to go in the pot.)

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Step Four: Place the bags in the boiling water and put on the fire. We had to leave ours on for almost ten minutes. (BTW, best tip ever with sausage, get the pre-cooked, it’s much faster and safer if you’re worried!)

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Step Five: Slip out of the bag and enjoy. Just trust us, okay? (Our other name for these is “egg loaf”, they are like omelettes, but in a loaf form.)

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Eggs in a Bag will definitely be on our camping must list every time from now on. So glad we trusted you, Missy!

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Pro Tip: One other thing we learned while camping? Don’t get eggs in cardboard containers. Instead, put them in a plastic container like this before putting them in your cooler. Otherwise, this is what happens:

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You’re welcome.

City Mouse and Country Mouse Go Camping

If you have never gone camping, do it. If you have never gone camping with your best friend, do it. A few weeks ago, the City Mouse (me) and Country Mouse (my best friend, Missy) decided to go camping. We’d been camping before as kids with our parents for church camping weekends, but neither of us had ever gone camping “by ourselves” as adults.

We’d played with the idea of two years. Our husbands (Greg and Tom) had been on board from the get go, but when meeting up with Missy and Tom for their birthday dinner, it was clear that we needed to make it happen this year. They were campaigning for us to purchase a three room tent “for only $139”, but it wasn’t in the budget books for this summer. Instead, Missy and I started to search for campground pricing.

Our hearts were set on Clear Creek State Park, but God had other plans. The park was flooded in early summer, closing the main road into it and the swimming area. We decided to ditch our childhood park of memory and give Cook Forest State Park a go instead.

The City Mouse really didn’t plan for much other than some meals. This is where the Country Mouse had the upper hand–she was so prepared with everything we’d need. (We brought a lot of stuff, but there wasn’t anything we took that we didn’t use.) She even secured her dad’s pop up camper to borrow so we wouldn’t have to sleep on the ground in a tent. This was probably what sealed us to loving camping and wanting to be back again sooner rather than later. The City Mouse’s mom offered up a cover for our table, something we totally didn’t think about and ended up being a life saver, too.

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When we first set out, we thought the odds that the Country Mouse and her husband were going to be scoring all the “points” this weekend and the City Mouse and her husband would give up the camping quicker than you could say the alphabet. Turns out, we were wrong. Each one of the four of us brought a beautiful chemistry to the camping weekend, and we found a great balance in taking on the tasks of camping. Note: Those of you who can set up a site like we did with only two people? Send us your stories. It took all four of us to figure that configuration out!

Tom was great at tending the fire and adapting it to our needs (like hot coals for mountain pies, warmth for boiling water, and just a general fire).

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Greg was great at fending off zombies, killer squirrels, and keeping us connected to the real world with his radio. (Tom, Missy, and I have smart phones and none of them had much service…admittedly, being disconnected felt amazing.)

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Missy was great at everything, as usual, but she really stunned us with her ability to make food that didn’t sound like it would be amazing (i.e. eggs in a bag, which will be a separate post), amazing!

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And me, the City Mouse, was good at the “mom stuff” like having hand sanitizer, bug spray, and sunscreen at hand, but also in capturing the memories (including this silly selfie).

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Our camping weekend was everything we’d hoped it would be and more, too much to share in one post. Since it’s Labor Day Weekend and we’d rather be camping (okay, not all of us, someone has a big game to watch tonight, ahem), I figure I’ll keep sharing our memories with you to live vicariously along with us. Enjoy!

Bucket List #82: Complete!

Mama Burgher’s Bucket List #82: Go to my high school reunion and turn heads with my success…or my fab hubby. CHECK!

Last weekend was my 10 year High School Reunion. Time really flew by when you stop to think about it. But the most important part of seeing old friends and reminscing is that I checked an item off my bucket list.


My friend Eric and I

Nope, not with my success (although I did get a “Smartie” award for having 3 degrees including HS AND the “Mover Award” for most moves, 12, since HS), but with my FAB HUBBY! Mr. Burgher was like the kickball ninja. He was so pumped to play, and he was showing of redic moves on the field. Now I see why he was so excited.

Ok, I was pretty fab, too. We played a game that my dear ‘lil Burghers better not know how to play until they are 30 *ahem* and kicked some butt. Poor Mr. Burgher was out “ponged” by his wife. 🙂

The not so fab moment was late into the night when I decided to make Mr. Burgher his first Mountain Pie.

He looks excited, but they burnt and it wasn’t that great (I guess…I didn’t dare try one).

Thanks to my dear cousin, we also got to have our first campout together.

All in all, a wonderful time. I really hope we do all stay in touch, maybe have that annual “I Juiced Before Kickball” tournament, and camp. Really. 10 years is too long to be apart.