From Glamping to Camping
Those who know me really well know that I am usually not the “Camping Type.” I prefer sleeping in a room with four walls, a comfortable bed, and a running shower. But for my girlfriend’s birthday, I made an exception. I am aware that this sounds like total diva behavior, but I went on a camping trip back in 2010 and it was brutal. But more to that in another article. This week I want to give my girlfriend’s birthday trip the attention it deserves, because it ended up being freaking awesome!
The idea arose about a month before Laura’s (name changed due to privacy) actual birthday. She is well-known for celebrating her birthday in style. Last year, we all went to Catalina for the day, which was a lot of fun. So I wasn’t very surprised when she told me her plans for this year. Even though I was not a camping admirer, I was excited to spend a weekend with a group of fun people out in the woods of Santa Barbara.
So when the actual weekend finally arrived, I left my house all packed up at 6 a.m. to make my way up to Santa Barbara. This was literally the first time I didn’t run into any traffic driving through LA, something that usually never happens. With only two-and-a-half hours of driving I made my way into the woods, meeting up with my friends who had already resided at the campsite since the night before.
I arrived at the perfect time. Eggs were already broiling on the camping cooker, and everyone just started gathering around the picnic table. The campground was really great structured. Each site was spread out so nobody ended up being crammed to a strange neighbor. It was also equipped with a big table and grill, even though at this time of the year campers weren’t allowed to BBQ with charcoal or firewood due to the fire danger. Thankfully we had planned ahead and brought small portable grills that ran on propane.
Since I had decided to sleep in my car through the duration of the trip, I didn’t end up taking space from my other friends who brought three tents they had to set up. Even though with two small tents and a five person one we still had plenty of room to spread out, which we used for setting up an additional camping table and a game of corn hole.
We cleaned up breakfast right on time before a bunch of nasty flies invaded the campsite, buzzing around our ears for almost an hour before it became too hot and they disappeared. That was when we decided to explore the nature hood around us by going on a hike. That was not a very smart move. With two cars filled with six people and one tiny French bulldog called Stout, we drove a couple minutes toward an open hiking trail.
While on route, we witnessed firsthand the damages the severe dryness of the mountains had caused: the forest on one side was half burned down. What used to be a sandy walking trail was now only black ashes. Once we arrived at the open trail and stepped out of the car, a wave of pure heat blew right into our faces.
We had left camp way too late and didn’t manage to avoid the massive hot temperatures. Trying to keep up a positive attitude, our group made its way up the mountain, only to decide that five of us would be going back to camp ten minutes after we started our hike. One of our friends, also known as the daredevil, withstood the severe heat and continued to climb up the mountain.
Back at camp all of us searched for shade and didn’t move out of it for a while. After three hours, our one hiking survivor made it back to the campsite and joined us for an afternoon filled with a corn hole tournament, barbecuing, and playing games before it turned dark. As every camper knows, that is the time you start telling scary stories, which we did.
Once it was time to hit the sheets I really tried to make myself comfortable in my car. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to put the seats all the way down, nor did I fit onto the back bench. What can I say, it was more of a sleepless night than I would have imagined, and I would rather sleep in a tent in the future than re-positioning myself the whole night.
The next day we had breakfast and then started packing our belongings together. While four of the group decided to part ways early and head home, four of us wanted to explore the surrounding area a little more. We drove to a nearby lake, or at least to what was left of it. While we thought we would be greeted by deep blue waters, in reality the lake looked more like a puddle. A big portion of it was dried out, showcasing big cracks on the ground. It was very saddening to see how far the drought has actually come by now. This experience was definitely an eye opener.
All in all this entire trip changed my perception of camping in general. One point that contributed tremendously to the shift of my emotions toward it was the fact that we actually had a flushable toilet. This really made a difference to the whole camping experience, let me tell you.
But what really made this trip amazing was the particular group I went with. When you are going with the right people, everything else becomes kind of less important. I didn’t care I was wearing the exact same dirty clothes the next day or that I wasn’t able to take a shower. I just enjoyed the great company and rather focused on making my friend’s birthday memorable. I wonder what she will have in store for next year…