This is our home away from home. It seems that our lives have grown a bit crazier over the last year and a half with home ownership, a new career and Ash’s business taking off. Busyness and preoccupation with things drive our desire to get away and chase our passion of exploring. These pictures are from a much needed weekend trip we got to take with some of our friends to Robbers Cave State Park and the Ouachita National Forest. Exploring new places always ends up being an adventure to find the absolute best spot to set camp. Ash and I will drive up and down dirt roads and dead end trails until we find exactly what we want. Usually we like these spots to have some kind of water feature, a great view and most importantly, absolutely no one around! There are occasions that we are in a time crunch due to leaving late from work and we just try and make the most of what we can find. 

One of the best parts of dispersed camping is that Frank can be off leash and roam around wherever he wants. The Robbers Cave park attendant informed us that the West portion of the park was closed due to flooding. Ash and I headed straight to this “closed portion” to find the roads open and absolutely no one around! We found the perfect spot tucked back off the road all by itself, and it even had a pond on it!

We backed the truck in between some trees and started setting up camp to get ready for our friends to arrive. Our tent can be fully setup and ready to go in under 10 minutes. We love being elevated off the ground for several reasons, but it really helps on those hot and muggy summer nights because you can actually feel the breeze blowing through the windows.

This is a tree.

For anyone interested, this is a Tepui Autana Sky roof top tent mounted on a Bay Area Metal Fab (B.A.M.F) full bed rack. The Autana Sky has two full sized “sky lights” in the roof (one seen above) that make for an awesome bug-free view of the stars.

As I searched for firewood, Ash got straight into cutting up the veggies for dinner. Obviously, one of the best parts of camping is the campfire cooking! We try and make everything on the fire but we do use our camp stove if we are in a pinch. You can probably tell by now that I am a gear fanatic. Any piece of gear or equipment that allows us to get out and explore more often, or more easily is something I want! Above, you can see my Campmate chuck box which was an incredible gift from Ash’s brother and sister in-law. We keep this chock full of utensils and necessities so we aren’t robbing from our kitchen every time we head out the door. Having ways to organize our gear just makes the experience so much better because it allows us to spend our time enjoying the outdoors rather than searching for the one thing we can’t find!

This is a meal we make every time we go camping because it is super simple, fast and delicious.  Ash can provide you with a better recipe but it is basically any veggies you like + olive oil + seasonings = pure gold.  

It took Frank a little while but he finally discovered the pond, and we couldn’t keep him out of it. Camping is dirty and messy so we recommend wearing old clothes and packing a lot of old towels and wet wipes. Frank makes a mess out of almost anything, but, he’s cute so it’s okay.

After our night at Robbers Cave State Park, we woke up, had our coffee, and headed to the Ouachita National Forest with the Lowe’s. It amazes me that these views are in Eastern Oklahoma! I always felt like you had to live in Colorado or the Pacific Northwest in order to explore awesome new places. Little did I know, I could be inside the Ouachita National Forest within 3 hours of leaving Tulsa.

The Lowe’s are awesome adventure partners and this was Adam’s maiden voyage with his new Tepui RTT. Adam has a really cool adjustable setup with his Thule bed rack that allows him to drop his tent down below the cab for better highway travel. We found this huge open field off of Dead Man’s Trail and figured we would let the dogs run around and burn off some energy.

It was really hot this weekend so we all decided to look for some water to enjoy before finding a spot to camp for the night.

Good rule of thumb is to just drive fast through puddles, it looks cooler.

This river was absolutely perfect because we couldn’t see a soul in sight.  Adam turned right off the road and drove straight across the river in search for a good lunch spot.  We followed and pulled right up on the beach, backing our tailgate down to the water.

Frank was in heaven!

Adam’s speed-to-splash ratio was spot on, ha!

We ended up throwing some lawn chairs in the water and enjoyed lunch right in the river.

We ended up liking the spot we had found earlier in the day so much that we decided to head back and setup camp there.

I found a few ponds that were within a half mile of our camp and decided to take Frank to go check them out. Since Frank is ultra competitive, we had to race on the way back…

I ended up getting a call from my dad later that evening asking if I had looked at the weather. They were getting hit really hard with hail and thunderstorms and he said it was headed our way. Luckily, I had signal to receive the call and check the weather because sure enough, there was a huge storm headed straight for us. We discussed as a group and ultimately decided to go ahead and kill camp. We knew it would be much better to pack-up and head out now before it was too late.

We got out safely and headed home before the storm got too bad.  Even though this trip was cut short, we had an awesome time and are excited to get back out and explore the Ouachitas more!

Until next time,