December 29, 2009

DoHo Christmas

We just got back from a couple days of beach camping at Doheny State Beach. It was really a commuter-camp because Andy was in a basketball tournament in Rancho Cucamonga so we were commuting the 120 mile roundtrip between the campsite and the games. We were set for another night at camp, but with his Wednesday game starting at 9:00 AM, we decided to come home after the campfire on Tuesday night.

My folks got a room at the Doubletree Resort -- walking distance from the campsite. They just stayed the one night, but they joined us for some hot soup around a cold campfire. I had bought four bundles of firewood at Smart & Final and it just smoldered and never flamed. It was a good thing Sherry knitted my Dad a new hat to keep his melon warm on a cold night at the beach.

This cool photo is from the CSULB geology department. It does a good job of illustrating the things I wanted to write about in this post. At the far left (east) are some condos on the bluff over the campground. Many of those folks have their WiFi unsecured, and it was no problem finding an available network to stream tunes and update the FaceBook page. On the far right (west), is the harbor and there are many fine restaurants within walking distance of the campground (which is located directly under the letters Dohe in the photo). The large building inside the wye adjacent to San Juan Creek is the Doubletree Hotel where my folks stayed.

When the tide was out, Sherry and I walked out onto the tidelands visible directly under the word Beach in the photo. This area is the size of several football fields, and it is all cobbles with lots of sea creatures eking out an existence in this intertidal zone.  The Orange County Harbors, Beaches and Parks department has an interesting Virtual Tidepool where you can learn about some of the cool things we saw there. All of the living things are protected, but non-living items may be collected. Along with a few shells, Sherry found several vertebra from a small animal and a large rib bone from some large aquatic creature.

During our final commute, we decided to bring the dogs back to join us for the day. Digger (in front of Andy's feet) had no problem napping through the new adventure. Scooby was ever vigilant for other dogs and Scooby-snacks. This photo was taken in the green park area, directly under the word State. During the summer, this area is hopping with bike and surfboard rentals. Andy isn't crazy about surfing here because the waves break too close to shore near the campground, and those cobbles we were walking on are weapons of mass destruction during high surf.

As we were breaking camp, I heard one of the Rangers referring to Doheny as DoHo, which I thought might catch on with the family. I wonder if it is DoHo or Dough Ho'?

December 26, 2009

Time to Start Planning

It is that time of year when everyone makes their lists: Best Movies of the Year; Best Sports Plays; Best whatever. Around here our list is where we want to go camping next year. Since we usually can only make reservations six months in advance, the end of the year gets a little fuzzy.

Winter is always a little rough because of the basketball schedule, but at the Frosh level, there are never any weekend games, so it is actually easier this year. In January, Sherry has a ladies’ retreat, so that weekend is a guys’ trip, and we’re looking at either Joshua Tree National Park or maybe another try at Ocotillo Wells.

We’ve got a couple beach trips planned for the rest of the winter. In February, we’ll be in San Mateo Campground, inland from San Onofre State Beach. Our reservations include day use at any State Beach, so we’ll spend daylight hours on the coast and head inland for the night.

March is at San Elijo State Beach which is right on the coast. It is a nice place to camp because some of the sites are on the bluffs and some on the sand – whatever floats your boat. There is also a fantastic taco stand in the campground, so it is easy to let someone else cook any or every meal.

Our long trip this year is at Sequoia National Park in April with lots of friends. We’re hoping the snows clear early so we can explore Crystal Cave, but even if it is still under snow, we’ll be camped next to the Kaweah River in the Sierra Foothills.

May is pretty busy. We might start with a boondock in Death Valley with friends, but the busy month may prevent that trip. We're also planning a trip to the apple orchards at Oak Glen. We’ve never been there before, but have heard from friends it is a great getaway. Even if the apples are gone, there are shops to stroll and waterslides at the campground lake.

Summer brings us back to the mountains. We’re planning a June weekend at Big Bear Lake, staying at Serrano Campground. This wonderful retreat got Sherry’s highest rating ever, and it is the yardstick she uses for every other campground. It is in a Ponderosa Forest, close to where they filmed the Bonanza TV show, and there is a terrific trail to the Discovery Center (and gourmet coffee).

July is where it starts to get fuzzy because we can’t make reservations too far out in the year. Where Sherry uses Serrano as her yardstick, I use Dogwood. The forest there is more reminiscent of the Sierras than the Ponderosa, and the little town of Blue Jay is close by.

In the late summer of August or September, we could head to the beach or to the mountains of Idyllwild. I think Sherry and Andy enjoy the beach more, and working at the Black Mountain Fire Lookout, I get a couple days a month at the top of the forest. It is tough getting beach reservations in the summer, so we could end up camping in the pines and a couple day trips to the beach.

In October, we want to try something new and head out to Mitchell Caverns in the Providence Mountains State Recreation Area. The SRA is surrounded by the Mojave National Preserve, which has been brought before Congress for creation of the Mojave Trails National Monument.

November is a Death Valley boondock, and we might slip another beach trip into November. Doheney is fun for camping, but the surfing isn’t the greatest. San Elijo is close to Legoland, so it might be a trip with our Godson.

December is always a tough month, but we usually try to sneak in a Doheney Beach trip during the holidays. It gives us time to plan our 2011 calendar.

December 19, 2009

Tin Mine Trio

A camping trip with friends this weekend didn't work out, so we enjoyed a day hike in Tin Mine Canyon. This was Andy's first trip to the canyon, and while he had a slow start, he warmed up pretty quickly.

The recent rainfall has greened up the hillsides, and the creek was starting to run. Hopefully, it will see a lot more rain in the coming weeks.

This last photo I took from Skyline, above the canyon. The crisp winter air made for some great visibility, and in this view looking North, you get a good idea of what a great location we live in for camping fun. The Angeles National Forest is just an hour North of us; San Bernardino National Forest is just two hours to the Northeast; Cleveland National Forest is minutes away to the South; Chino Hills State Park is a few minutes to the West; and the beach is just two hours to the Southwest.

December 3, 2009

Sticker Shock

We had a tradition with The Caboose that we put a sticker on the back showing everywhere we hauled it for camping.

We continued that tradition with La Rana, and went a step further by removing some of the factory stickers and replacing them with these custom stickers. These were all made to order for us by Seth at Vinyl Disorder.

These stickers are almost always a conversation starter at campgrounds and even gas stations. They remind me of the window decal passes of the early days of our National Parks, and the passage stickers that were attached to old steamer trunks. We're going to be adding Ocotillo Wells, Joshua Tree and Sequoia National Park this spring.

December 1, 2009

Knott Camping

Jake hates when I do this, but this post has absolutely nothing to do with camping. On Sunday we headed over to Knott's Berry Farm with Sherry's Dad, Art. We had a terrific afternoon without any crowds. We did Ghostrider and the Silver Bullet roller coasters, but one of the most fun is Sidewinder. This is really a mash-up of the classic Tilt-a-Whirl and a rollercoaster. For $15 they sell you a DVD with video taken from an in-car camera. We got one of Sherry and Art, and another with me and the Boy. I did my own mash-up, combining the two videos into two minutes of funny faces (Check out Andy at 1:08!). Enjoy.