My "not-quite-mid-40's-but-I-may-as-well-be-since-I-feel-like-it" birthday came in as a silent Mondy morning surrounded by my favorite girls in a single room country cabin with a grumbly stomach and a hankering for a selected dozen of torus shaped confections of deep fried dough.
Say it Homer..."mmmm, donuts."
Unfortunately, after I had clothed and diddled in almost complete silence, carefully sneaking out of the cabin without disturbing my sleeping angels, I found the one and only donut shop in the closest hobbit of civilization to our remote cabin, to be closed.
Now c'mon, who doesn't open a donut shop on a Monday A.M. shift?
Braum's sausage biscuits and breakfast burritos with extra salsa made lackluster fill-ins for my birthday breakfast, but it all turned out just fine as I found three hungry mouths gathered, giggling and hiding behind the big bed upon my return.
After several takes of "surprise Daddy...Happy birthday," from my best girls, we dined, opened presents, dolled out enough hugs and kisses to make me feel 30 again, and plotted out what would be our final day of our "Nearing the end of summer" holiday.
After our drive-thru foodie fast breaking meal had arrived at the pits of our stomachs with all the grace of an anvil on Wile E. Coyote's noggin, we cleaned up, packed up, took our requisite pics of the girls posing and saying goodbye to our cabin and made our day down the dusty gravel drive leading to the main highway.
Turner Falls was our destination, known to locals as the largest waterfall in Oklahoma. In our family circles it's known as the single location that my M-i-L's family went to on their ONE and ONLY family vacation.
Turner Falls Park is wonderfully rustic and wooly, but at same time fully civilized and family oriented, offering natural swimming areas, sandy beaches, caves to explore, castles to climb on, and flume type adventure rides using nothing but your bottom as a flotation device down a wide, meandering river.
The entire area politely shouts out nostalgia as you traverse the clear running creeks and experience the thrill of your short term memory colliding with your long memory as images of heavily clad bathers in Victorian era swim suits frolicking in the icy cold waters beneath the falls and along the travertine creeks, wonderfully fill your mind's eye.
As a family we swam out to the falls, braving the icy cold temps of the natural pool below the 77-foot wall of tumbling water, and found our way to a picnic table where we dined on the final remnants of our turkey bologna roll, spicy mustard, honey wheat bread and a well-worn tube of Pringle's.
Then the clouds rolled in and while the girls were enjoying butt-rubbing flume rides over the slippery smooth rocks of a connecting creek, the sky opened up and dumped it's load directly on top of the final hours of our vacation weekend.
Drying out and getting into warm, moisture-free clothing in the parking lot of a crowded tourist destination proved to not require any modesty at all, since the view of any and all passers-by was totally obscured by the cascading sheets of water covering every square inch of our sedan's glassy areas. We may as well been changing our clothes behind Curtain #1 with Monty Hall squinting to see what was behind it.
Our 2+ hour drive home was a melancholy ride, completely appropriate to the occasion of it being our final family truckster outing of the summer.
Soon, our lives would be abuzz with the trappings of the Back-to-School notices, backpack selection, fall sports, PTO fundraisers, and yet another countdown to the madness that arrives in our household come October (our anniversary trip and two birthdays are crammed into the already hectic holiday season).
The rain fell for awhile, but we arrived home to sunny skies and a house that seemed much bigger and messier than we had left it.
While the girls got reacquainted with their rooms, and Wifey unpacked, I greeted my trusty pair of co-workers in the mud room, and simple said, "hello...we're back, and we've got a ton of laundry to do, so open wide and say -- ahhh."