This is our niece, Emma. What a sweet face! Who wouldn't agree to a post-Christmas campout with these eyes?
Bryan's brother Kevin, his wife Julie, and their little girl had plans to camp at Petit Jean State Park over the holiday break, so we joined them. We had short dayhikes, lazy afternoon naps in camp, and good Dutch oven food. It was a nice break from rougher weekend trips.
Petit Jean is a perfect spot for exploring with short legs. We started with a walk on the wooden trail to see Cedar Falls. It's been rainy, so water was POURING down into the pool below. Emma, who hadn't seen a waterfall before, was fascinated. She wanted to look more closely, so we took the trail to the bottom.
I'm pleased that Hayduke is, for the most part, growing up to be a good kid dog. He played well with Emma and even let her feed him dog food, one kibble at a time. His puppy enthusiasm for his new friend did knock her down once or twice, but Emma was a good sport about it.
We thoroughly explored the Bear Cave area. It's another perfect-for-little-ones spot, with little tunnels and caves to investigate. There are places where it's fairly simple to scramble up to the top of the rocks, and though little Emma's legs were too short to handle it, Kevin carried her up to the top.
Rock House Cave is really a giant cliff shelter, with rocks to scramble on and some remaining native American art. Wintertime is perfect for exploring this kind of thing, because even on pretty days most people stay indoors. We had the cave area all to ourselves.
The Petit Jean map shows "turtle rocks" to be sort of in the middle of the Seven Hollows Trail. It's a great trail, but too long for Emma. We visited the very similar rocks between the car and the cave. They really do look like the backs of sleeping turtles.
Kevin and Julie are off now to visit family in Oklahoma, and we're back home building a doghouse. Friends will be here for supper tonight. Busy lives are off in different directions again. But camping trips with little people don't happen often enough. We're glad we got to spend some time with Emma at Petit Jean.