do: dallas – road trip to tyler state park

Newly fiancée-d  (affianced?) and wanting to get Brent something really special for his birthday this year but not being able to think of one single good idea, I broke down and asked him for options.

I hate asking people what they want for their birthday because I feel like it makes it five million times less special. I would rather be that thoughtful friend who picks up on accidental hints throughout the year, but for some reason, Brent is really hard to shop for. Maybe it’s got something to do with his not being materialistic at all (unlike me); maybe it’s because he is selfless and always thinking of what other people might need/want (unlike me); or, maybe, it’s because he [infuriatingly] refuses to give out a list (unlike me). Or a combination of all of the above. Whatever the reason may be, it’s a fact that shopping for him is extra difficult.

So, desperate and running out of time, I asked him. His response was not the cool, new toy answer that I was expecting. At all. He shocked me with, “let’s get a group together and go camping!” (Please note, the author has never been camping and is not especially fond of peeing in the woods from bad experiences hiking with her family in Arkansas as a child.) Of course, in true good fiancée style, I said yes.

While the group thing didn’t work out, Brent and I did pack the car as if we were going away for a six month cross-country tour and headed to Tyler for our one day camping extravaganza on the afternoon of his birthday. We packed steaks and potatoes, some incredible Kerrygold garlic herb butter, eggs, sausage, cheese and crackers, s’mores supplies…the works. Seriously, you’d think we were going to be away for weeks with all of our food.3
(Just look at that professional Jeep outdoorsy picture!) Tyler State Park was the perfect place for a first-time camper. We got there early enough to pick a prime spot right next to the water and there were two really big families on either side of us so I felt safe. We hiked around the lake, spent hours tending to and sitting around the fire, ate more than necessary, and fought off the bravest raccoons I think have ever existed. (Seriously, these raccoons took full advantage of the pitch darkness of the forest. We would be sitting there chit-chatting and all of a sudden there would be a rustling three feet away and sure enough it was a sneaky raccoon thinking it was going to join our party! I was not very chill about this at all – don’t be fooled by the cool way I tell the tale like it was no biggie.).5

All in all, it was one of the best birthdays I have ever spent with anyone. I can’t believe how fun and relaxing getting away from the city it, despite the lack of potties and running water with yummy smelling soap. Away from our normal routines, we didn’t spend our usual hours reading (me) or watching F1 races (him) or finding something to do that night with someone else – we talked and walked and built fires and cooked and had so much fun together. Furthermore, we reinvented the s’more. Have you ever tried them with Mr Goodbar instead of plain Hershey’s?!? It’s the bomb.1

(Still rocking the PBP Fire Dance pullover, 5 years post college.) Best part, hands down? No makeup all day and no one cares! (That’s also my favorite party about the lake house so I think there’s a pattern going on here…) I can’t wait to get a group together for our next camping adventure!

and so it goes,


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