Growing up, camping for me meant a tent most of the time. We loved it! Packing a sleeping bag, lantern, and our favorite camping toys like our hand-powered flashights and dogs, Pepper and Spot, into the bed of my Dad’s 4-wheel drive Jeep! (Yeah, “back in the day”, it was legal to transport people in the back of a pickup in California.) We didn’t even have a camper shell! My dad would put the air mattress in and cover it with joined sleeping bags into which went the animals, me and my brother, Kurtis. It was a great way to travel for all. Once, we even took our cat, Bug, because he was just a kitten and too young to leave behind.
We camped a lot! It was the most affordable way for us to escape the suburbs and enjoy nature. The adults got to party and relax and we were pretty much free to explore, swim and meet other kids that were camping. Things were a lot different back then. Simpler. More carefree for a kid.
This was our most common destination. More officially know as Upper Oso Campground in the Los Padres National Forest just above Santa Barbara in California. Not sure why we called it Red Rock. Dad? Were there red rocks? I never paid that much attention to it,
There was a stream behind the campsite and I remember it always having a good flow of water back then. When we ventured there as adults with our girlz, it was barely a trickle 🙁 We also had a favorite waterhole to which we had to take a tricky hike, but that’s not there anymore either. Heavy rain pretty much flattened out that part of the river and left it all shallow at that area. Still pretty but not the same.
MCGRATH STATE BEACH
Camped there in elementery school with a very cool teacher who started our city’s first Open Classroom. It was a combination class of the 3 upper elementery grades, 4, 5, 6. He not only taught us in-class but took us on experiences & adventures! We spent a couple of school nights at McGrath State Beach in Ventura. It may be closed now. A fierce winter storm flooded it years back and it has been closed ever since.
A BEACH IN SAN FELIP, MEXICO
As a teenager, my Dad had a dune buggy. It was candy apple red with sparkles and a white racing stripe. When I was about 13 or 14, we took it to Mexico. No, we didn’t tow the dune buggy, that was how we got to Mexico! All the way from Ventura, CA to San Felipe, Mexico. It was a rough ride but on the way there, it seemed more like a fun drive.
Palm Springs at night fascinated me for some reason. I’d never been before, and not since actually, and I had heard it was a place for the wealthy and famous at that time. But at night there was no one out and it was lit by the moon that night. And being out in the open where you can almost touch it was pretty cool. We spent the first night at a home of a friend in the desert. I think it was the first night. it may have been in Mexico, because I remember that the wife spoke Spanish. When we arrived, it was dark, of course. The sky there was full, I mean full, of stars and the moon shown on the landscape of cactus and joshua trees. You wouldn’t think a teenage girl would notice that kind of stuff, but then you don’t really know me. I was always a nerdy kind of kid that way. I hid that side of me from most because it wasn’t worth getting harrassed about at school. LOL.
For whatever reason, we ended up having to spend the night on the beach in San Felipe. At that time, it was just an open beach. I know my Mom wasn’t happy about it, neither was my Dad, but it ended up being one of the most favorite memories I have of the four of us together. Funny how the challenging moments can be a most memorable event, right? I have a couple other stories of that nature, I just realized. Hmmm.
Anyway, we had an ice chest with some food and a local loaned us a cast iron skillet and we had dinner and breakfast on that beach over a fire that my Dad had put together and all I remember is that Mom cooked us bacon. My brother Kurtis and I ran up and down the beach that night. When the sun rose, the tide had receded very far out and the two of us ran al over the newly revealed sand to find sand dollars everywhere! We spent a long time collecting them and I still have them somewhere. I have always planned on displaying them with photos of that trip.
I recently told my Dad how much fun we actually had that night because it has always been a sort of sore spot for us. We tease him relentlessly for having the idea because of that night and the horrible trip home.
We were all dirty and cranky and tired when we arrived in Mexicali. I was an insecure, vain teenager girl wearing a brown an orange beanie to cover my greasy hair and all I wanted was a shower and maybe a car that I could hide in the rest of the way home. But no! What did everyone else want to do? Get tacos at the local taco stand. There are pictures of me pouting in the back of the DB because I refused to get out. And I LOVE tacos! And, of course, in our family that’s when the camera comes out to document the proud moment. Haha! I laugh at it now. As soon as we are able to find it again, I will post it. For now, here’s a different photo of my Mom, Kurtis and me in the infamous dune buggy near the beach.
It’s a little dark but if you look closely, you can see me in that damn beanie in the back seat. But look at that ocean view!
These days, I’m strictly a glamper 🙂
Once we took our first family lake trip in a class A, I couldn’t go back to a tent. I love nature but I also a love a comfy bed, clean floors, water, electricity and modern cooking amenities. Nature is just outside and it’s perfect.
I know that once, as a kid, we camped in the rain and still had fun playing cards in the tent. But now when we glamp in the rain, listening to the rain on the roof and being warm and dry inside, is a my preferred option.
Now it’s your turn to share!
Show us your photos, tell your stories and remember to share with your kids, grandkids or whomever may get a chuckle listening. For our kids, it’s hard for them to imagine us as kids ourselves, so they just laugh at us!