Our Camping Trip to Mammoth Cave

This past weekend, we decided to take a quick little trip to Mammoth Cave National Park .



We got up early Saturday morning, but didn’t leave the house until after lunch because it took us about 4 hours to pack and load our two cars for the short three day trip.  {insert sarcasm}

My husband actually thought all seven of us could fit in one car with all of our luggage and supplies.  He quickly realized as we started packing the car that that was not. going. to happen.

We ended up having to take two cars to hold our 7 pillows, 7 sleeping bags, 1 large 10 man tent, 1 large cooler of food and drinks, 7 folding camping chairs, 7 small duffle bags of clothes and shoes, 3 air mattresses and a pump, 2 large paper bags of food, and a ton of other miscellaneous stuff.  WHEW!

Camping is a lot of fun, but it is also a LOT of work!

We got to Mammoth Cave around 3:00 and checked into our campsite.  It was super busy there this weekend, so we got one of the last camp sites available. 

It took us about an hour to get our tent and campsite set up, and then we walked down to the Visitor Center to buy our tickets for our cave tour the next day.  We also spent some time just exploring the park. 

That night, we grilled some hamburgers and of course, made some s’mores!  Sania Louise loves s’mores, except she can’t have graham crackers because of the gluten.  


Jonathan brought his guitar so we could do some singing around the campfire.  Is there anything better than singing around a campfire?

It was such a precious time of laughter and story telling.  Jonathan led a devotion, and we had a time of prayer.  I was treasuring each moment.  I sat there and looked around the campfire circle at all of my precious children realizing that we will not have a ton more of these moments when we are all together.  Jonathan is 17 going on 30 and is itching to graduate early and move down to Nashville to pursue singing.  Luke is just four years away from college.  Where does the time go?…

And now we have a little girl in our family circle!  And it was so cute to watch her take it all in.  I wondered if she was feeling the indescribable gift of family while we sat around the fire?  And then this happened…

Sania Louise has a tendency to talk over everyone all the time.  Patience is not her strong point. :). She is constantly saying, “Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom!” when I am talking to someone else or when I am busy doing something at home.  I am trying to teach her to wait, or to say “excuse me,” or be patient until it’s her turn.  I will say, “Be patient,” in a sing-song voice.

Well, that night after Jonathan finished singing one of his songs, Cy started telling some “old girlfriend stories” that my boys love and make us all crack up.  We were all jumping in the conversation and talking and laughing, and then I looked over at Sania Louise and noticed something. 

She was sitting on her hands rocking back and forth saying something over and over again.  I listened closely and then realized she was whispering, “Be patient.  Be patient.  Be patient.”

She was trying so hard to wait and get her time in to talk, so I said, “Everyone be quiet.   Sweet Sania Louise has something she is waiting patiently to say.”

We all got quiet and waited for her to talk.  She looked down and then smiled real big and said, “Um.  Um.  I say Jonathan, Mom, Dad, (looking at each of us as she made her way around the campfire circle,) Luke, Adam, Eli…

….dis my family.”

My. heart. melted. 

Yes, baby girl…”dis your family.”

And then she smiled real big and got huge hugs from us all.  

Those moments are glimpses that she is starting to realize what a family is and that she is part of one that loves and adores her.  It was my favorite part of the whole weekend!

I also loved that she wanted to sleep by mommy in the tent.  Whenever we have traveled as a family over the years, the boys have always fought over who gets to sleep by dad.  Now mommy has a sleeping buddy.  :)

On Sunday, we did a lot of hiking on the trails.  

The weather was picture perfect, and we couldn’t have asked for a better time as a family.  


There are all kinds of trails that go through the woods and over bridges…
screen-shot-2016-10-13-at-2-26-13-pm And down by lakes…



My boys love to climb and explore, so this was right down there alley!



Jonathan enjoyed the trails too, but he is definitely growing up!  He is such a “man” now.  He was busy making sure the campsite was clean and organized.  He helped me set everything up and take every down.   He got up before every one else and went running several miles and then found a quiet spot to read his bible and pray.  And he went down to the camp hotel on Sunday night with Cy to watch the presidential debate on tv.  Where did my baby Jonathan go?


Even though it is killing this mama’s heart to see him growing up, I couldn’t be more proud of the man he is becoming!  (And did you know that one year ago this week was when he made Team Pharrell on The Voice?!!  What an amazing adventure THAT was!!)

I still can’t even believe it happened!!

Anywhooo….we also went on one of the cave tours.  We were hundreds of feet below ground, and even though I have been in these caves many times, it never gets old.  I marvel at the handiwork of God every time!



Sunday night, we grilled some hot dogs, spent some more time singing around the campfire, and of course, ate more s’mores.  Sania Louise didn’t like the campfire smoke getting in her eyes, so she wore her sunglasses, hat, and hood to keep it out.  ha!



Since we had blow up mattresses in our tent, I actually slept pretty good each night.  It was cold, but not too cold.  It was the perfect camping weather. 

On Monday, we packed up, drove through McDonalds for breakfast and rode home exhausted and smelling like campfire smoke.  :)

The boys are on fall break this week, so Sania Louise is a happy little girl!  She loves having her brothers home to play with.  

I hope you have a had a good week.  The weekend is here!  

What will  you be doing this weekend?










  1. What a beautiful 3 days with your family! Thank you for sharing your precious memories. My twin boys are freshman in college this year. It went by so fast Traci ! Having them leave this past year has been such an adjustment for my husband, daughter and I. We miss them terribly but we are also so proud of the young men they are. 18 years they were here… and then one day they are gone. But breaks and holidays come quickly. Learning a new normal around here. Glad you are enjoying and appreciating all your family time. God bless 😊

  2. Traci, you wrote such a touching post about your wonderful time at Mammoth Cave, growing up, and cherishing the here-and-now. I’m so happy that Sania Louise is realizing you are her forever family. Each one of you are precious to her, too. When I read about Jonathan, and saw his picture I totally identified with you (with tears in my eyes!). My son is 15, and quickly growing into a young man. We’re realizing that childhood and the daily family experiences are coming quickly to an end in a short amout of time. Not that that is a bad thing, growing up – but remembering to cherish each day we are together as a family under one roof. Thanks Traci, keep writing :)

  3. Traci, It sounds like y’all had a great weekend! I smiled ear to ear reading about Sania Louise and her realization that she is in her forever home. God bless! This is the opening of black powder hunting for deer in GA. I’m looking forward to seeing the deer in our yard as they start moving.

  4. As always, I enjoyed your posts so much. I enjoy learning more about your family. I look forward to these everyday! Thank you for sharing your life, faith, family and talents with us! God Bless!

  5. I love that she was being patient. I’m working with my daughter to put her hand on my wrist when I’m having a conversation and she wants to interrupt. It’s a silent way to get my attention, and when there’s a real in conversation, I pat her hand and turn my attention to her. She is so proud when she remembers to use our secret way of communicating!

  6. What precious time with your family. You are right….time goes sooo quickly. Enjoy it! I sent my baby to college this August! Where did time go ???? The weekend looked beautiful. I enjoy reading about your family and Sania Louise’s adjustment. She is precious xo

  7. What a special memory! Your family has experienced so much in the past year!
    My boys are grown, but they still talk about all the summers we camped in CO and WY – and have already made it a point to continue those expeditions with their wives. During the trips, it was sometimes challenging (we tent camped and were usually so far from home & were gone 2-3 weeks), but I wouldn’t trade those memories for anything – ENjOY ENjOY EnjOY!

  8. Wow! Did this bring back memories from when we went there when I was a kid. So beautiful and amazing! I believe Pamela’s makes GF Graham crackers now and Kinnmkimmick. You can get them online at Vitacost. I had a really good recipe (by Brittany angel) but it used chestnut flour which seems to no longer be sold :(. The kids didn’t care for elsna’s pantry’s recipe but she has one, too. Hope this helps. Great pic of your trip :)

  9. On a totally side note from your entire story….WALMART (at least here in the Midwest) sells gluten free graham crackers (at ours they are on the bottom shelf and I can’t think of the brand at this moment but the packaging is yellow). SO….gluten free smoores are a “can do” hopefully!

  10. That was just so touching Traci. Melted my heart. This weekend we are heading to our cottage in northern MI to close everything up for the winter. We love the fall there, but with grandkids in sports we have a hard time getting there. I would wait a little longer by my hubs is a “better to be safe than sorry” kind of guy. So we will say see ya soon to our cottage and enjoy the Michigan fall from our own backyard. I really enjoy your blog. You are so genuine and it feels like we are just distant friends. Hugs!

  11. Such a dear memory! So sweet. what a joy it must be to see her blossoming, becoming more vulnerable and “getting” that you are her forever family. So exciting to think of a similar spiritual journey she is on as well. Praying for you and your family!

  12. Traci, I love your decorating style and am so happy for your family and new daughter…
    Very random question…do you remember where you got the wire basket, shown in photos of your guest bath? It is holding bath tissue, and I am looking for something similar. Was almost embarrassed to ask this question!
    Hope you are enjoying the fall beauty! Best wishes for your family 😊

    1. Oh my gosh! Don’t be embarrassed at all! We got that basket from IKEA. It is actually in their kitchen department, but I have always used it in my bathroom. Happy Fall! xoxo Traci

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