A day at the Lake……large family style.

One of the wonderful benefits of living here in Western North Carolina, are all the wonderful places that you get to explore.  One of our very favorite spots is in Pickens, South Carolina.  Table Rock State Park has been our family’s favorite outing, so much that we have gone almost every weekend this past year.

During the cooler months it was more desolate with not as many people.  We enjoyed hiking in the mountain and along the natural springs flowing down the boulders.  We would take our dinners and BBQ while the children enjoyed playing on the play equipment.

Then Memorial Day happened and the lake opened up!  The park became a happening spot for tourists. This never stopped us, we enjoyed going every weekend, among the crowds.  The only thing we did different, was not to rely on getting a grill, because there were so many people and not enough of them to cook on.

Here is a typical day of what we do and how we prepare:

Each person grabs items that they are responsible for, this can be:

Daddy and Evan–fishing gear, fold up wagon, foldable chairs for everyone, umbrella for beach, bucket of sand toys, 10 blow up inner tubes, foot pump, and swimming noodles.

Brooklyn–grabs our reusable shopping bag and gets 11 beach towels.

Jadyn-makes sure to get a pair of clean clothing all rolled up for each child for after swimming.  We may put a rubber band around the clothing to keep it into place.  We place in a tote bag.

Autumn-fills up all of the waters and places them in the smaller cooler along with string cheese and a box of crackers for mid day snack.  I also put small bathroom cups in this cooler to keep all of their snacks contained while eating on the beach.

Lauren and I -take care of the food. Normally I cook chicken breast and chicken drumsticks on low overnight in my oven.  I might marinade it in Italian dressing or cook it with a BBQ sauce.  In the morning we have very tender, pull apart shredded chicken for sandwiches.  We grab pita bread, pickles, mild pepper rings, cheese slices, lettuce, and ranch dressing to make our sandwich complete.  I take a bag of chips and a whole watermelon.  I take along a baggie for the remains of the watermelon as well as a knife and plastic cutting board.  We serve all of this on paper plates for easy cleanup.  Sometimes we take veggies and hummus, depending upon if we have them for the week.


Here is the van all loaded up and ready to go!  We are looking at it being 100 degrees in Pickens this day.  IMG_20150808_123255

Here they are all buckled in ready to go.  We put Madelyn up front, she is the child most likely to get car sick while driving.  We place an empty ice cream bucket under her seat for such cases.  I try and put an older child in each of the rows.  It makes it easier when traveling in case someone needs something.IMG_20150808_133350

If we leave out early on a Saturday, we might stop and pick up $5 pizzas at Little Caesers.  I keep a pair of scissors in the van to be able to cut the slices down smaller for little ones to eat easier in the van.  I brought along paper plates before we left.  This makes for an easy lunch, while driving.  We also will stop and grab a Starbucks for my husband and myself.  An iced hazelnut macchiato with coconut milk—-my favorite little weekend treat!IMG_20150808_133359

Here the girls were being silly while driving.  We only need 3 large pizzas and I grab a Greek salad for myself to eat.  We also get some crazy bread.  Inexpensive and easy.IMG_20150808_144102

As soon as we get to the beach, we spray the little ones down with sunscreen and they jump right in the water.  As I am watching them, Dad sets up the Sport Brella—a wonderful thing he purchased this year and the fun begins.  He originally got this umbrella so that we could have a little place to escape from the sunshine and the little ones love to go and sit under it for awhile during the day.  We have found that it works great for those Carolina storms that seem to just pop up out of nowhere.  Usually it rains for 5-20 minutes every day and then completely clears up.  Something about the way the mountains are situated in the embarkment, well whatever the reason, we have just grown accustomed to the fact that it is going to rain while we are out.  Usually we just sit right through it but hubby got the Sport Brella and now we have protection!  He sits up there and starts blowing up the inner tubes.  All 10 of them!IMG_20150808_144114

Here is our base by the water.  You can’t set up umbrellas in front of the life guards so we have two zones at the lake.  We use the PVC tube stuck into the sand to store our tubes on in case a storm blows up.  It will only last for a few moments but enough to blow our tubes far away!IMG_20150808_144126

The lake is very child and family friendly. It is covered with life guards.  Lots of watching and a great place for my little ones to swim in without me worrying.  IMG_20150808_144159

These tubes are great.  We picked them up at Walmart for $5 and they have been a huge hit all summer long.  We pump these up and deflate them at least 3-4 times per week.   We go to the local lake and use them during the week, Dad will take them tubing with the older ones, and then we use them for the weekend.  We have plenty and usually someone else at the lake asks to use them as well.  Well worth the $5 investment. IMG_20150808_144205

Here is our pile of sand toys.  I use buckets from Sams Club to hold everything in.  Lots of shovels, trucks, boats, and even some water dolls.  IMG_20150808_144416

Here I am taking a selfie for a friend:)  Loving the sunshine!IMG_20150808_163037

The children are enjoying a snow cone treat.  A nice way to cool off.  If you notice they are all wearing matching swimsuits.  It is much easier to scan a crowd and find all of the matching outfits.

They also have a huge diving platform that Evan spends his entire time on.  Lauren and I jumped off it and it was fun, I am just getting too old for stuff like that.  Safe in the water:)  The lake closes at 6 and then it is time to move.  We start deflating tubes around  5:30 and then Dad packs us up.  We head to the van and I start changing children.  Someone holds a towel over the door for privacy and we put them in their dry clothing.  I stack all of their wet suits and towels into a dishpan that I have stored in my van and then when I get home it goes right in the washer.  IMG_20150808_190812

At this point, most of the park vacates, we are left with only a few stray families.  Then it gets quiet.  We set up the chairs and the children start fishing.  IMG_20150808_190826

It is a beautiful view, very calm, and peaceful.   IMG_20150808_191033

Here Brooklyn helps Stephen with his pole.  IMG_20150808_191159

My husband has taught the children the importance of being quiet while fishing.  As soon as I walk over to see how they are doing, they are already in a hushed whisper.  Far from the loudness at the beach!

We then pull out our food and make sandwiches to eat.  Easy and simple.  Clean up is easy and then they go play on the play structure or continue on with fishing.IMG_20150808_191934

Before we go, we find a grill and roast marshmallows.  We miss this as we had a fire pit at our old home and do not here.  This is something the children look forward to doing each weekend. I bought a pack of 100 wooden skewers and that should last us all summer.  IMG_20150808_192232

Here Jentzen is enjoying his Kit Kat candy bar smore.IMG_20150808_192242

Stephen likes the Reeses peanut butter cup ones.  Another simple and easy desert, that the children are making fun memories doing this summer.IMG_20150808_202245As the sun sets, it is time to head back home.  We look forward to driving through the mountain ranges from South Carolina to North Carolina.  It is a sight to behold.  Pictures don’t do it justice, but it is our favorite place here on earth.

Home to unload.  All of the chairs, wagon, and toys get put on the deck.  In the morning we will make sure that the sand is off them and completely dry before putting away.  The tubes we lay over the railing to ensure dryness.  We then stack them back in the baskets and put in our storage area.  The wet bathing suits go directly into the washer.  I hang up the suits when they are finished and put the towels in the dryer.  The coolers get emptied and set out to dry before closing.  The van gets a good sweep and then our weekend is complete.  Baths are given and children tucked into bed.  Everyone should sleep good tonight.

8 responses to “A day at the Lake……large family style.

  1. This is immensely helpful! You are empowering me…I can do this…I can do this…I can do this…

    Thank you so much. I love ALL of the tips. I plan on using the chicken breast overnight tip this weekend, and we WILL get out of this house. We can do this!

    • Yes you can!!!! What I have learned is keep it simple!!! Why have I complicated trips over the years??? It is food, if you have been playing all day, you are hunger, make it simple and it will taste delicious!!! You can do it, now goto the beach before the cool weather rolls in:)

  2. Danielle Anter

    You make it look so easy and fun:)

    • If only, I could do a large family plus large family meets beach series plus open mic on the mountain!Then it would be awesome…oh, miss you soooooooooo much. Looking forward to seeing you!!!!

  3. So good to see you all enjoying the Carolinas. I have lived in WNC most of my life and have no plans of ever leaving. Just a tip for a child suffering from car sickness on these curvy mountain roads, I keep a bottle of peppermint essential oil in our van for my youngest daughter. She just sniffs it and the nausea goes away! If only I had known that years ago with our older children. Have a great end of summer and Fall!

    • Krista—-Wow what an excellent idea!!! I am going to get that. It is almost back to fall time and we will be doing more driving I am certain:) Just saw a billboard on the side of the highway (I-25) I believe:) still new here lol. It says NC and has a picture of the mountains and the ocean. North Carolina Nothing Compares——it made me smile because nothing does compare. I doubt I’ll ever get sick of looking at those mountains when we go outside–so beautiful and feeling very blessed:)

  4. I love that you mentioned LittleCaesar’s for the van! This is something we do, too. Inexpensive and everyone loves it. And, novel–pizza as fast food, lol

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