Monday, August 26, 2013

Three Girls and A Campsite: A Night That Proves I'm Not As Tough As I Think I Am

We did it, guys! We packed up the car, pitched a tent, chopped some wood and crossed something off my list--all in one night!

A few months ago, I mentioned to my roommate, friend and neighbor (who loves to camp) that I may by up for a little outdoorsy adventure. How about a night of beach camping, I suggested.

My roommate, Dre, made the reservations and borrowed an incredible amount of camping gear from her family. We practiced setting up the tent in our backyard last week. I was able to attach my side of the tent poles before she could and I declared, several times: "I'm so good at camping!" (She was not amused.)

The last time I went camping, I was a Girl Scout. I was about 9-years old and joined the troop because of my love for standing outside of the grocery store selling cookies (seriously). When we went camping in O'Neill Park, I was so terrified (of attacks: both man and mountain lion) that I slept in the back of a minivan instead of in a tent. Needless to say, I was only a Girl Scout for the one year.

Aside from that evening and many, many summer and winter camps--and a few Mexico trips--I've never really been camping.

That is, until last night.

We went to San Onofre Campgrounds (which is not exactly beach-side camping--it's more freeway-adjacent than beach-side) and began to set-up for our adventure. 

Dre and I quickly set-up the tent and hammered in spikes

While Dre inflated air mattresses and unrolled sleeping bags, I broke up a few wooden pallets for kindling. (see photos below)

Our campsite was ready to what?

Check out the view from the beach paths, of course.

We sat and read our books, waiting for Cathi to arrive (with McDonald's.) After eating our mid-afternoon snacks and chatting for a few minutes, we decided to make a run for more snacks. (So far, we're not so good at this whole camping thing.)

With more snacks, we sat around and laughed while we waited for it to get dark. There was an incident with a stinkbug, which began our interaction with the neighbors (a family of five--three daughters) and, later, a, not-so-shockingly, we screamed more than those three girls did.

At some point, it was cold enough to require some jackets. And, with nothing else to do, we decided it must be time to light the fire. (By the way, we packed a salad for dinner, so there was no need to do any grilling...this is what happens when you camp with a vegetarian--and a rookie.)

Our lighter didn't work, so we had to borrow one from the neighbors. (Again, we're really good at this.) Dre got the fire going!

We celebrated by walking away from our lit fire to check out the sunset.

 We returned to find long pieces of burning wood on the ground near our pit.
Sorry, Smokey.

Since we burned through my initial pallet-smash stash really quickly, we had to work together to add to it. (We also needed way more wood than we had, with our decision to start our fire before the sun had fully set.)

The girls tried for a bit, but couldn't break any pieces.

So I jumped back in. But, at the rate I was going--we were racing the sunset--and with the amount of fire-required time remaining, we decided to give up and just go buy a bundle of firewood from the front gate.

But not before asking the neighboring mom to take a photo of us.
(If it's not on Instagram, it didn't happen, right?)

Check it out! A roaring fire.
Perfect for some Bailey's S'mores.

Dre's sister let us borrow an amazing lantern which breaks apart in to four separate flashlights. We unintentionally set them up on the table, so it looked like an LED light show. (I made a Catalyst joke, obviously.)

Around 9:30, we moved in to our tent to read for a little while. I'm reading the new Pessl book (which is really good so far). By 10, both the girls were asleep and I kept reading until my book was too scary to read in a dark campground. (It's worth noting that I brought both a whistle and mace in case of attacks during mid-night restroom imagination is still as wild as it was when I was nine.)

We slept off-and-on, depending on how loud the traffic was (and, of course, the Amtrak schedule), but had a great (and totally safe--attack-free) night!

This morning we listened as the neighbor girls ran back and forth with bowls of cereal, shut one another out of the tent (alternating fights and tears--classic sisters) and squealed about the jumping dolphins they could see from the mound behind our campsites. They were adorable.

We packed up and headed out. Stopping for some breakfast burritos and huge coffees. Came home for long warm showers and some naps.

All-in-all, camping was fun...but a lot of work...

I suppose a lot of that work was due to our lack of experience. If we brought some pre-chopped wood, a working lighter, and some evening activities, I'd imagine it would only be more enjoyable. I think I'd be willing to give it a try!


Julie Hibbard said...

I laughed out loud at the selling Girl Scout cookies line...I remember you were so good--our garage was full of them!
Didn't you take your small group camping one time? I remember a story about a tarantula that you saved with a paper plate...
LOVE that you did so much prep work and set up and then weren't sure what to do. I think that's why I was never too fond of camping myself.
I prefer a good, weather-proof hotel room where we can snuggle under the blankets and call room service.

Trevor Harrison said...

I was camping on the Oregon coast a couple weeks back. Camping can be a lot of work, but when you go for longer than a night the work isn't as bad.
I love sleeping under the stars and listening to the sounds of the night. And for some reason, reading always seems more focused on camping trips.
Glad you had a good experience. On your next outing hopefully you'll be somewhere a little more remote, away from the Amtrak and city lights. There are places where the darkness is the loudness noise and the stars shine much more bright.


As I was reading this I remembered my friend Dustin and his wife and three daughters were camping right there, I bet they were your neighbors!
I bet it was them!

Sounds like FUN!

martin said...

Thanks a lot for sharing your memories with all.Its really like a thrilling and exciting experience.I always go for picnic with my friends and colleagues to have lots of fun.
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