Friendsgiving - Oak Mountain State Park

Taking a walk after breakfast with our camping friends!

When most of us think of a traditional Thanksgiving, it is wrapped into a single day.  Activities and meals are many different things.  One common thread is that it is gathering day.  We gather as a family, group or friends or even a mixture of both.  My family has even included strangers or acquaintances to ensure someone had a place to go and gather.  This year, we celebrated both at home with family and at the campground.  A campground Friendsgiving is the best way to begin the holiday season!

Last year, we did a short Thanksgiving weekend camping trip using a borrowed tent.  It was a test drive to determine if it would be something that we would want to continue doing as a family.  The answer was yes - in a big way.  A month later, we purchased a pop-up camper.

Peggy Sue, our Jayco Qwest, all set up for camping fun!
We camped with the same group of friends this year.  Also, my cousins and their granddaughter joined us.  While we ended up being a little spread out, it was beautiful weather and so much fun.  We enjoyed the weather in the 60's during the day and into the 30's at night.  Fall camping in the deep south can be the best.

Oak Mountain State Park in Pellham, Alabama is a lovely state park this time of year.  The park has a variety of spacious camping spots with lots of hiking and bike trails.  They even have playgrounds for children.  The staff is friendly and checks on guests often.  My only complaint with this park is the condition of the bathhouses.  They are dire need of updating and repairs.

Oak Mountain State Park's hiking trails are well maintained.
Because of the cool evenings and mornings, we planned meals that were warm and spent plenty of time around the fire.  Our first night, we had enchiladas.  Mexican is a favorite of our friend Christy.  We did both chicken and beef enchiladas.  If you have not tried Dutch Oven Enchiladas, you should.  I used precooked and shredded chicken to make mine.  Our friend Bryan, made a batch of ground beef.  Everyone loved both, and I don't know that we had a favorite.  My cousins also brought a pot of chili which went perfectly with this meal.

Roasting marshmallows after dinner for smores with my cousin and her granddaughter!

I also made a batch of homemade marshmallows and graham crackers.  Both the graham crackers and marshmallows are a less daunting task than it sounds.  The graham crackers are less sweet.  And, the marshmallows have a superior texture and flavor.  If you have never tried making your own, it is a life-changing experience.  I will be doing this again.

Homemade smores were a hit.

Toasty, melty good!

We had plenty of time of walks on the nearby trails.  The children rode bikes and played all day long.  All of the time outdoors is soul soothing.  After this trip, our son has decided that he needs a scooter in his life.  I've let Santa know that he needs to bring him one for Christmas!

Who doesn't love a ride on a scooter?  Joseph loved this!

Thanksgiving weekend is also Iron Bowl Weekend in Alabama.  If you are unfamiliar, this is the Alabama vs. Auburn rivalry game.  There is something special about watching the game outdoors and listening to the cheers of fans throughout the campground as most everyone seemed glued to this game.   Its a tailgate like environment that our family enjoys during football season weekend at our home SEC school - Mississippi State.  Go Dawgs!

Sunday morning, we spent some time in our cozy camper with crockpot oatmeal that was ready for us when we woke up.  I started it the night before as we were going to bed.  I had tried this recipe several weeks ago at home.  It is a crowd pleaser and a snap to make.

Cuddled up inside on a cold fall morning.

Enjoying breakfast in our camper.

We never spend a lot of time in our camper.  Most of our time is always outdoors.  On those rare cold or rainy mornings, I love sitting in our camper spending time with a cup of coffee.  I have created a bright cheery space that makes me want to linger on these days.

The best part of the weekend was the time spent lounging, walking, laughing and sitting around the campfire.  Each one our friends and our family made this weekend one of our favorite camping trips of the year.  We are already making plans for the next year.  This group makes camping effortless and fun.

On our first day, the campers in our spot were late checking out.  Our group of friends pitched in to help us get set up since they had already done so.  This is just one more reason to be thankful for this special group!

Friends, walks, and dogs are what camping is all about!

We enjoyed spending time with our Alabama friends.

Once you have found your camping tribe, hang on to them.  Most of our friends at home don't enjoy camping like we do.  And, I feel fortunate that we have such dear friends that are campers like us.

If you are interested in our Thanksgiving/Fall Camping Meal Guide, you can save a copy of this plan to your Google Drive.  I have created a list of links to each recipe that I used.  This includes links to both our enchilada recipes, the homemade marshmallows and graham crackers along with the crockpot oatmeal.

And, as you are making plans for the holiday season, check out my Christmas Camping Wish List.  You might find some stocking stuffer ideas and unique gifts for yourself or a loved one in your life.  We used several items from this list on our trip.

Camping doesn't have to be far away or in exotic places to enjoy nature's beauty.  Draw a circle on a map 2 hours from home and see where you could camp in that radius.  You might be surprised at how many campsites are right in your backyard.  More time outdoors gives me so much to be thankful for each time we take a trip.  Our Friendsgiving weekend reminded me of why I love this bunch of family and friends so much.

Photo cred to Christy Rogers.  She took several of the pictures featured in this post.