Summer's almost here, which for me means camping time! I know the weather's always gorgeous here in California, but I'm a baby and think I'm going to get pneumonia at the slightest hint of a breeze so I like to reserve my camping trips for the hottest, sunniest, most mosquito-ridden months. With our hectic schedules lately, all Nate and I have planned for camping this summer is a tentative trip with friends to Catalina. We actually celebrated our two-year anniversary in Catalina a few summers ago, where Nate showed off his snorkeling skills and I clung angrily to a nearby life raft.
What? It was cold. I do NOT like being cold. And yes, that yellow thing on my head is my hair. I lived in LA and platinum was the thing to do. Both my hairdresser and I have learned from the experience. For those of you who live in California and haven't been to Catalina Island, you should absolutely go. It's a great place to camp and spend a few days doing family-friendly activities like parasailing, scuba diving and mini-golfing. You should definitely take a bus tour to the interior of the island, where you'll see gorgeous canyon views and probably spot some wild buffalo and deer.
The last camping trip we took was to the Grand Canyon, where we slept in the truck bed. Literally. We blew up a bed and stuck it in there under the stars. It was beautiful.
And last but definitely not least, our very first camping trip together was spent on Anini Beach in Kauai. Having lived in Maui and been to every single island, I'd say Kauai is the most beautiful island in Hawaii. There's numerous waterfalls to visit (Kipu falls is the local favorite), the Hanakapi'ai trail with astounding views (many seasoned travelers have called it the most gorgeous place in the world), Waimea Canyon, kayaking on the Wailua River, and snorkeling in Queen's Bath. Of all the picturesque spots, my favorite photo we captured was this one:
Where was I? Oh yes, this post does actually have a point. First, if you've been thinking about camping this summer but haven't made reservations yet, do it! A lot of campgrounds fill up months ahead of time and good spots are going fast. Check out Reserve America to find interesting campsites near you. Second, if you're interested in going camping but haven't been and are afraid you'll have no idea what you're doing…just go! I recommend staying at a campsite near a town so you can buy anything you may need last-minute. Don't try to go backpacking deep into the woods your first time around. Reserve America lists each campsite's amenities such as showers, restrooms, visitor center, as well as local attractions. The activities you plan to do (hiking, swimming, etc.) will dictate what you need to bring, but the only real essentials are flashlights, sleeping bags, water, toilet paper (in case the campground doesn't provide it!), and something to eat. Tarps come in handy, as does a tent, and matches or a lighter if there's a fire pit. Bug spray, sunscreen, and hand sanitizer are nice to have. For food, some people bring a cooler with meat and hot dogs to roast over a fire or grill, whereas others bring camping stoves (available at REI or other outdoor supply stores) and small pots with pasta packets. I've been known to just grab some bread with peanut butter and jelly if it's a last-minute trip. In my opinion, the best way to start camping is to just get out there and learn as you go.
I'll leave you all with a recipe for my favorite camping meal: three or four potatoes + an onion + two bell peppers + two or three chicken breasts + several dashes of Lawry's Seasoning. Chop it all up and wrap it securely with tin foil to take along camping (it's best to transport it in a cooler, especially if you include the meat). Throw it on the grill or directly onto the coals for half hour to an hour and you've got dinner for the whole family, without having to fuss with pots or pans in the wilderness. Just be sure to bring some tongs to pick it up out of the fire.
We actually make this camping meal at home on occasion almost weekly as it requires little effort and even fewer dishes. Nate has dubbed it “Potato Log,” and we often make it as a side dish with the meat left out.