Weekend Recap {Aug. 14-16} - Smith Falls State Park Camping Adventure/Disaster

Posted August 17, 2015 in camping, Smith Falls State Park, Niobrara River, summer, healthy living, adventure, Nebraska

Happy Monday! I hope you're having a great start to your week.

I'm actually feeling pretty rough after my weekend camping adventure. The BF and I went to Smith Falls State Park near Valentine, NE with our friends Russanne, Justin, Beth and Mark. The adventure/disaster included our GPS not working, a heat advisory, a broken tent, an insane amount of bugs, a thunderstorm, near heat exhaustion and more.

I really wanted to have one last summer adventure, and it was definitely an adventure.

Friday, Aug. 14

After work, the BF and I finished packing for our trip. We left for Valentine around 4 p.m. The GPS said we would arrive around 9 p.m. We were confused because we had planned it so we would get there before dark to set up everyone's tents. The rest of our group was set to arrive after 10 p.m.

Finally, about 60 miles away from Valentine we realized that the arrival time on the GPS was wrong. We would get there around 8 p.m. It was a huge relief.

Then we got lost. The GPS directed us down a gravel road into the Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge. Luckily, we found a campground, and I asked for directions.

We arrived at the campsite at 8:15 p.m., and we immediately began setting up the tents. We were attacked by bugs and it was crazy humid. I was also trying to text Russanne to tell her not to follow the GPS and give her the real directions, but there was no service and my texts weren't going through. She kept trying to call, but every call would drop.

We got the tents and our enclosed awning set up just as the sun was setting, and we took refuge from the bugs inside our awning. Our friends finally arrived around 10:30 p.m. (after they got lost also).

Saturday, Aug. 15

At 2:20 a.m., our tent collapsed. We had borrowed my brother's huge three-room tent to share with Beth and Mark, since the BF and I just have a two-person tent. We all tried to get the tent set up again, but we quickly realized one of the broken poles meant that the tent was not going back up.

We took all of our stuff out of the tent, and put it under the awning. We ended up sleeping in the grass under our awning. It took me a long time to fall asleep because the crickets, frogs, bats and other creatures were so loud. I kept thinking about all the bugs and critters that were going to crawl into my sleeping bag.

In the morning, I felt like our camping adventure could only get better.

We finally had time to look around our campsite, and it was so beautiful. We were right by the Niobrara River.

The BF heated up breakfast burritos on his grill and made coffee in our French press.

I had a green juice, fruit and some energy balls along with my burrito.

We hiked to Smith Falls.

It was really beautiful, and didn't feel like Nebraska.

And the falls were really close to our campsite.

The view of the Niobrara River from the bridge near our campsite.

I ate a quick snack before our tubing adventure. I tried to bring food that would be nutritient-rich since it's hard to eat fresh fruits and veggies while camping.

Dryland Aquatics picked us up at our campsite to take us to Berry Bridge where we would begin tubing down the Niobrara River. It was really beautiful. It didn't even look like Nebraska - there were beautiful cliffs and waterfalls along the river.

We floated back to our campsite and stopped for lunch. Russanne and Justin brought chicken salad wraps and quinoa caprese salad, which were delicious. We re-sunscreened, then got back on our tubes.

After lunch, it got hot. Like really hot. We were in a heat advisory, and it got up to 102 degrees. We all started to feel it even though we were drinking tons of water.

We got to Brewers Bridge around 4 p.m., and Dryland Aquatics took us back to our campsite. On the drive, we heard on the radio that there was a chance of scattered thunderstorms.

We were all feeling pretty depleted after tubing, and tried to rehydrate and stay under the shade. But it was so so hot. I had a terrible headache from the heat. We decided to pile into Justin's SUV and take a ride in the air conditioning to cool off. We headed to Valentine to find ice cream and find phone service to check the weather.

After shakes and finding out there was a 50 percent chance of rain, we decided to find hotel rooms. We knew we would be miserable under the awning if it started raining.

We checked into the Motel 8 in Valentine, and headed back to our campsite to break camp. We were still smiling even though our camping adventure wasn't going as planned!

As we were driving back to Valentine after packing up, it started raining.

We grabbed dinner at the Peppermill (and it was pouring rain!), and we all went straight to bed when we got back to the hotel.

Sunday, Aug. 16

After Raisin Bran at Motel 8's terrible breakfast, we packed up and headed home.

The BF and I arrived in Kearney around 1 p.m. I was still battling a headache, so I spent the rest of the day on the couch with an ice pack on my head.

I had plans to meal plan, meal, prep, blog and do laundry, but I was in so much pain I had to scrap my plans.

So our camping trip didn't go exactly as planned. But Smith Falls was beautiful, tubing was fun and we were all still laughing at the end of the trip. So it was a successful camping adventure!

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