Sunday, October 2, 2011

Camping Adventures Part I - Leo Carrillo State Beach

What an adventure this was.... Leo Carrillo is located in Malibu and about 40 miles away from where we live.  Our family friends Jack, Sadie, Molly and J provided us their camping reservations for a weekend in September, reservations that require you to book six months in advance.  Their calendar no longer allowed them to go, so instead of forfeiting the site, I stepped up like any good friend would and offered to take the reservations off their hands. 

I took the work week to prepare for our first family camping adventure since Hazel's birth.  Laundry on Monday and Tuesday, Trader Joe's on Wednesday, packing Thursday and Friday.  Andrew had his list of to dos and to buys and so did I.  At 4pm on Friday with the car fully packed and strapped, we headed down the road to pick up Tatum from preschool and make the drive to Malibu.   We hit the 101 with a ton of enthusiasm, but not a ton of speed.  Andrew mapped our directions on the way and we opted to take Route 23 over the Santa Monica Mountains to Malibu.   We followed our exits, and this state route road turned into a curvy, undeveloped, two-line mountain road that we figured would take FOREVER to drive.  In a passion of frustration at myself and the road, we opted to turn around and drive back down the highway three miles to the Kanan Dune Road and cross over to camp that way.   This road is four lanes with three tunnel passes and definitely the way to roll to Malibu.  As we ascended the mountain passes and descended into the Pacific Coast Highway, our anger and anxiety that had ascended descended away and we were rolling content and happy into Leo Carrillo State Beach. 

We checked in only to find out that our friends had booked a handicap camping site, which requires a valid handicap placard to stay.  Being that we are not handicap, and the entire campground was fully booked, we had two choices: 1) go home or 2) pay for a day-use pass and hand out on the beach for the evening.   Since we had already gone through an anger-inducing frustrating experience just to drive here, we had no more anger and frustration in us.  We laughed, "Of course! Of course it's a handicap site and we can't stay the night."   The only carrot getting Tatum through the whole drive was the reward of having cheetos at the campsite.  So we bought the day pass, opened two beers and a juice box, and headed to the beach with the bag of cheetos.  Tatum had the best dinner of the summer season that night.  And all things considered, it was an awesome night for Andrew and I as well.  We rejoiced in the rare oddity that our dear friend Sara was in possession of a valid handicap placard and she was willing to share it with us for the weekend.  We resolved to return in the morning.

We polished off the cheetos, and returned back over the mountains to swing by Sara's and get the placard, and return home to grill out for the night.  On the return Tatum amused us by singing a new song "I am special, I am special, take a look, you will see, someone very special, someone very special, and it's me, and it's me!"  She didn't care that we were camping that night, she had her cheetoes and was super cheery as a result.  When I took her to bed she said, "tomorrow we will go back to the beach, and then we'll say 'bye beach we have to go camping now' and then we'll go camping."  That was the plan.

In the morning we returned to Malibu and had camp set-up by 9:30am.  There was a light rain, but it didn't matter because we were so happy to finally be camping.   Our camp was the best site we've had to date, no neighbors, totally spacious, and near the beach access.  It wasn't until I went to get water at 5pm that I realized we were totally camped in the wrong spot.  When we checked in that morning the ranger told us site #116, take your first right, then right again.  When we entered the park, we took a right, and the immediate next right was a handicap spot, so I just automatically assumed it was us.  Turns out it was site #2, not #116.  For fear of being kicked out of our site, I went and checked in with the Ranger and explained my confusion.  At first he stated that we needed to move, so I begged that we not given the roller coaster we've been on the past day with even trying to get to our site.  So due to a Junior Ranger making a mistake on another person's reservations, we were able to stay put.  Geez Louise!

So enough saga, we loved our time camping.  Tatum got a new purple sleeping bag for the trip and slept on a sleeping pad, which was new for her.  Hazel took Tatum's old spot, which is the pack and play.  Andrew and I treated ourselves to an air mattress, and we are super excited to have made this car camping upgrade.   We walked around the campground, played at our site, read books, watched a thunder & lightening storm come & go, and played in the ocean.  Memories were made and Hazel had her first camp experience.

1 comment:

  1. I so totally understand the joy of camping as a family...the unexpected challenges are part of the magical story.