Father Daughter Adventures in Dublin!

Late into our #GetLivingAdventure Hadley began planning a Father Daughter camping trip. On our trip the kids had purchased a camping tent to sleep outside the RV (why they wanted to sleep outside – I don’t know – but they did and had a blast).

So camping was on her mind and she just loves Father Daughter anything. She knew that because we were on our trip we missed our annual Father Daughter Dance. So I guess I owed her.

As she starting her (incessant) planning I began asking her questions like – “oh yeah, where are we going camping? What do you think we need to bring? How long are we going camping for? How are we going to get there?” If was fun to watch her imagine. Slowly Cortney and I began to realize that this was not a fantasy for her – she and I were actually going to go camping upon our return.

So for Hadley’s 8th birthday I surprised her with that trip she wanted. And you know it was a blast and it is hilarious where she choose to go… back to Dublin, Texas – where our Get Living Adventure began!

Here are the notes from our trip journal:

September 29th 2017

We headed out on the earliest flight (what! we flew? yes, after thinking about doing that drive again all the way down to the center of Texas I checked out what it would be to fly and rent a car. Actually worked out fantastically as it bought us more time in Texas!)

Poor Cortney had to wake very early and drive us the airport. Flight went off without a hitch and we landed in Dallas to some light rain.

We lugged our things; sleeping bags, tent, pot and pan, ice chest, clothing, flashlights and all other good things to have when camping. Hadley was a trooper – helping carry our bags to the rental car counter. (The Hepburn Clan loves Southwest for traveling. Especially with kids. We each got our 2 bags – so total of 4 plus our carry-ons!)

I know this is weird – but we had a wonderful rental car experience with Alamo (“Remember, The Alamo!” – come on we’re in Texas!). We had reserved a mid-size vehicle and I think the gentleman checking us in, after witnessing Hadley & I drag all of our items up to the counter, felt bad and gave us a Mid-Size SUV – no charge! This was a major perk for Hadley, all she could talk about from this day forward was her mid-size SUV.

We were off and ready to go to Dublin!

The drive is about 2 hours from the airport to Proctor Lake Campground. But first we needed to stop for supplies. Our same Get Living Adventure¬†rules applied: There’s always a Walmart! What we could purchase at Walmart we did not need to pack.

So thankful for Cortney’s help in planning our meals, with her help Hadley had created an entire shopping list down to the graham crackers and marshmallows we would need. Upon finishing up our Walmart shopping in Stephenville, TX we went in search of firewood. We struck out at 4 different places in town – including the local ACE Hardware.

We finally found our firewood at the small gas station / convenience store in the tiny town of Proctor. Probably overpaid for the meager bundles of wood – but wood we needed since a few meals depended on campfire – plus we needed S’mores!

(Photo of Hadley on her Happy Meal cellphone looking for wood on Google Maps)

Arrived at the campground mid-afternoon and quickly went to work setting up our site.

Picked a beautiful one with the water nearby. Wonderful campground – just as we remembered it.

taking pictures on her new Happy Meal cellphone

Cooked our dinner with my helper.

Brought some games with us, it didn’t take long to break those out! I decided before we arrived that we would go to bed and wake with the sun. We had no clock, no timeframe and almost no plans.

The only thing on Hadley’s agenda was the Dublin Bottling Works and the Veldhuizen Dairy Farm. Sounded great to me!

September 30th 2017

We woke early with the sun and stayed warm in our sleeping bags for as long as we could.

We ate simple breakfast and I asked Hadley what were we doing today. She said, “Dairy Farm and a picnic!” Okay here we go!

Upon arriving to the farm, we had timed things without even knowing it. The tour was set to begin. We joined the tasting tour and enjoy our samples of cheeses. Hadley and I found many we did not care for, but ultimately found 2 cheeses for our picnic later!

Once the tour of the cheese factory was complete (we saw the milking stations, the cheese storage house – don’t know what you call it) Hadley ran into her old dog friend from February 2017. She had a fun reacquainting herself with the dog and many cats that live on the property.

Leaving the farm we drove back into Stephenville in search of a park. We found on near the downtown area. Enjoyed our picnic lunch we had packed and played on the jungle gym nearby.

When Hadley was done playing there – we were both ready for some relaxing in the hammock, a good ‘ole campfire, dinner and some s’mores.

And then of course some more games! (I love playing games, however I rarely win them. Hadley and I kept track of all the games we played on our trip and who won. She far surpassed me!)

October 1st 2017

Another ‘lazy’ morning of getting ready slowly, enjoying a breakfast at our site.

And then into the town of Dublin for the Bottling Works tour and soda fountain.

Enjoyed the tour of the bottling factory, the museum and of course – the Soda Fountain since we are on vacation. Soda floats! Mine was delicious. Hadley’s a bit too fruity for me!

Back to the campground for another night of games and a beautiful sunset!

October 2nd 2017

So sad! Going home day. We packed up the tent, our belongings and ourselves and began our trek back to Dallas.

Enjoyed a local park in Dallas – where the weather was hot, hot, hot!

Returned the rental and caught our flight home. Goodbye Texas (for now I guess – something about Texas that keeps drawing us back…)

Nolan and Cortney picked us up at the airport, a fun reunion after just a few days away.

What a great time! It is not too often that I get that extended one-on-one time with either child. I am so thankful we did. I feel blessed to have Hadley as a daughter and it has been wonderful watching her over the last year blossom into a young lady. One of the greatest things that came out of our Get Living Adventure was the confidence that sprang up in her. And one of the greatest blessings of living with cancer is learning to live each day – making the most of every opportunity to love this little girl well because she’ll be grown and gone in a blink! Looking forward to many more memories with her in life!

Years ago, I read this book by Dr. Meg Meeker it really impacted my view of parenting and being a better dad, I’d highly recommend it to fathers of any age, it’s never too late to make your little girl feel loved.

Now anticipating a trip with Nolan, not too far off. He says when he turns 8, that Cortney and he are going on trip like Hadley and I. “Oh yeah?” I ask him, “Where are you 2 going?” He says, “You know that island?”, “What, Hawaii?!” I ask. “Yeah, that one – I am going there with Mommy!”

We shall see.

Just Happy To Be Here,

-Blake

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