Westy Country – San Simeon State Beach

We know of two places where Westy’s are pretty prevalent.  The Pacific Northwest and the California Central Coast.  We like to call these areas “Westy Country.”  For our eleven year anniversary we decided to make a trip to Westy Country.  Our plan was to stay in Santa Cruz, visit our newest niece, and hike in the redwoods.  We quickly realized weekend reservation were not going to happen.  We (of course) had no foresight to plan ahead. The Missus instead found us a Wednesday night spot at Henry Cowell Redwood State Park and three nights down the coast at San Simeon State Park.

11 Year Anniversary

We left after work Wednesday and headed to Santa Cruz.  We made great time and pulled into the park at 10:00 pm only to realize we were at the wrong place.  The campground and the day use park are in completely different places.  We had horrible cell coverage and no GPS.  Forty minutes later and a stop at a hotel for directions, we finally found the campground.  Boy do they need better signs!  A few lights might help, too.  We made a quick stay and were back on the road by 8:15 am.  We were excited to meet our new niece and start our adventure.

Henry Cowell SP

One quick night at Henry Cowell SP.

We had to take the Westy on Highway One on our way to San Simeon.  Talk about epic views.  We really enjoyed the drive, the smell of the coast, and our Westy.

PCH

After we dumped some gear at San Simeon State Park, we jumped back in The Westy and headed to San Luis Obispo.  This is a special spot for us.  We met here in college and have fond memories of Thursday night market.  We met the Mister’s parents for dinner (they were also visiting but staying in SLO).  The kids loved the market, the music, and the great people watching.  It was a bit crowded so we ducked into The Natural Cafe (one of The Missus’s favorite restaurants) and had dinner.

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We lucked out with our campsite.  We ended up at the primitive Washburn camp.  It was a bit further away from the beach than we had wanted to be, but the site was large and had great climbing trees.  We woke up Friday to incoming fog, cool air, and that amazing ocean smell.  Absolutely gorgeous.  We spent the day at the beach.  The Mister’s brother popped in from Santa Cruz with his son.  The cousins were so happy to play in the ocean.

Cousins

Back at camp we had tacos for dinner.  We invited, Sebastian, our kind camp neighbor over.  He contributed some amazing cherries to the meal.  The kids were more than happy and had the fingers to prove it!  Turns out he is an author.  He gave us a copy of his book on our last day at camp.

Taco Night

Saturday was spent visiting the elephant seals just north of San Simeon.  The kids thought they were really cool and spent a lot of time looking at them, asking question, and walking along the 1/2 mile observation boardwalk that runs along the coast.  We had a picnic near Moonstone Beach.  The kids were stoked to pop up the table in the Westy for lunch.  As we were leaving, we noticed The Westy was having a hard time starting.  The engine would turn over, but it took a couple of turns on the starter to get it going.  The Mister and I both commented on it and thought it might be time for a check in with our mechanic.

Elephan tSeals

Saturday afternoon we walked from our campsite down to the beach.  It was a short walk on a nice trail.  We played at the beach until dinner time.  We made dairy free/gluten free spaghetti for dinner with Adele’s sausage.  I think we were hungry because it was gone in record time.

Pasta Night

We packed up early on Sunday with plans to stay at the beach for as long as possible before heading home.  When we went to start The Westy nothing happened.  Oye.  We just knew this was going to happen.  Rick, our Westy loving neighbor who was camped across from us, came to the rescue.  The nicest guy.  He quickly took down his awning and broke up his camp site to offer us a jump start.  Who does that…? He didn’t even think twice about helping.  Too bad it didn’t work. We were pretty sure it was an issue with the starter.  After looking at engine and the wiring under the steering wheel like we knew what we were doing, we decided to try push starting it.  Rick and The Mister pushed The Westy up the hill (because if course we were camped at the bottom), and the neighbors helped, too.  As soon as we got a little speed we were able to start it in second.  Yahoo!  We could get home.

Work Westy

We decided to skip the beach and just head straight home.  We left The Westy our local auto shop to get checked out.  So sad.  The kids cried when we said goodbye.

Auto Shop

So is there a “Westy Country” where you live?

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Flying Solo – Antelope Lake

The Missus took the kids and The Westy up to her parents house for a summer time visit.  The plan was to spend a day or two there and then head to Antelope Lake to camp.  The Mister would come up late Friday night for the weekend and The Missus’s parents would bring their cab over camper and boat.  It was The Missus’s first solo trip with the kids and she was a bit nervous. There were a few windy, steep mountain roads but she survived her first solo drive!

The Westy

Antelope Lake is located off Highway 395 in the northern part of California.  It is an agriculture reservoir and is known for pretty good fishing.  Due to the drought in California, water levels were low, the water temperature was in the 70’s, and the fishing wasn’t too great.  That didn’t take away from the gorgeous views and the great swimming.  We were able to score a campsite right on the lake in Long Point Campground.

Lake Front Campsite

Setup

One of the best parts of the trip was the weather.  The mornings were clear and warm.  By early afternoon the thunder clouds would start to roll in and then the thunder and lightning would begin.  On Thursday and Friday we just had big boomers and light rain.  Saturday was a different story.  The thunder started early and we actually saw two lightning bolts touch down on the ridge on the southern side of the lake.  One touchdown sparked a forest fire.  We watched the helicopters scoop water from the lake and dump it on the fire.  Just as the firefighters were putting the last of the fire out, the sky opened up and it started to hail.  Boy the rain came down.  We were lucky though.  It rained enough to knock down the dust and help put out the fire out, but not so much that it became muddy.

Clouds

Hail

FireHeli

The kids had a great time on their Papa’s boat.  We were lucky enough to see an osprey catch a fish (of course the camera was stowed away) and a bald eagle.  The kids enjoyed swimming and playing on the many beaches that surround the lake.

Bald Eagle

The Boy napping on the boat.

The Boy napping on the boat.

The food was pretty amazing, too.  The Missus’s mom made ratatouille on Friday night from farm fresh veggies.  We ate it with BBQ chicken.  On Saturday night we had the most amazing Sweet Potato Salad (you can find the recipe here) and tri tip.

Ratatouille

Sweet Potato Salad

The kids were sad to see their daddy head back to work on Sunday night.  Papa was able to distract them with an early birthday present for The Boy.  But boy where there tears.

Four Wheeler

The drive back to the Missus’s parents house was an adventure.  The rain returned just as we were heading out and it sure did come down.  The Westy handled it well, The Missus wasn’t too stressed out driving alone with the kids, and all were happy to take a shower after five days of dirt and pit toilets.

So how do you handle the rain when camping?  Ever seen a forest fire start from a lightning strike?

Fourth of July – The Mountains

The Girl’s 5th birthday fell on Sunday of the big holiday weekend. We decided to take a short trip to The Mountains so we could be home for her birthday. We spent Friday and Saturday camping. We even have a friend come with us. Our first guest in the Westy. He slept upstairs. First trip camping in ten years. We were honored he spent it with us.

Flag

Lots of swimming, playing, and celebrations. We made rockets and hung them in a pine tree.

Rockets

The kids dressed for the holiday. The Girl insisted on a dress.

Fourth of July Clothes

There was a golf cart parade. Decorations and all.

GolfCartParade

And we tried out some new games. The kids are ages two and a brand new five. They want to play games but still have trouble with anything complicated. Go Fish was getting old for the adults (you can read about that here), so The Missus picked up two new games. Don’t Spill the Beans was hit.

Don't Spill the Beans

We also really like Rory’s Story Cubes.

Rory's Story Cubes

It was a great get away.  Just the right amount of time and a nice way to celebrate July 4th.

Do you have a favorite place you go to for a quick trip?  What are your favorite camping games?

Ed Z’berg Sugar Pine Point State Park – Lake Tahoe

We were so ready to get back out there. Three weeks off was too long. The Mister left for work Friday morning. The kids and The Missus were going to have everything ready to go for a five pm departure. The kids were literally packed and ready to go by 8:00 am. The Boy kept saying, “We go now.” Not yet Buddy. We have to wait for Daddy.

We took off right at five. It was a two hour drive to Ed Z’berg Sugar Pine Point State Park at Lake Tahoe. The park was amazing. Big, flat campsites. A huge ranger presence. Those pesky bears like to show up for dinner, so we had a lot of reminders to keep thing secured in the bear box. No bears for us though. It was a pretty calm weekend.

Westy Life

Saturday started off with a breakfast of pumpkin granola, eggs, and bacon. We missed our bacon on the last trip (you can read about that here) so there was no way we were forgetting it this time.

Bacon for Breakfast

We loved the easy bike and hiking trails at this park. Easy for the kids to maneuver around on. We took a bike ride/walk to Erhman Mansion. It is a beautiful old home overlooking Lake Tahoe. We met a nice, older couple on our walk who gave us a few tips on Tahoe.

Bike Ride

Erham Mansion

After the walk, we relaxed at camp. Lunch and a short nap for The Boy. It was off to the beach after that. We walked down to Sugar Pine Point and enjoyed the sand and sun. The water was chilly and I don’t think any if us made it deeper than our waists.

Sugar Pine Point SB

Beach Bunny

The Missus had never been to Lake Tahoe to camp or swim in the lake. She was surprised by how clear the water was and how beautiful the lake was as a whole.

Lake Tahoe

Back at camp we did dinner right. BBQ chicken, salad, and heirloom tomatoes from our garden at home.

BBQ Dinner

We had a major camping fail with our campfire. When we visited Fort Bragg (you can read about that trip here), we were not able to bring in any wood. Campground rules. We assumed that would be the case for this trip, too. Well – you know what happens when you assume things. The campground was out of wood by the time we got around to buying some. We were super bummed. Don’t worry. That doesn’t mean we didn’t have s’mores.

Camping Fail

We were too excited to try out these ridiculous marshmallows we found at the store. We tweaked enough life out of the BBQ coals to make the kids some gigantic sugary goodness. This was all thanks to The Mister. The Missus was convinced he was going to burn down the forest. She is a little paranoid about camp fires.

Giant Marshmallow

The Boy and His Smore

Smore Goodness

Sunday lent itself to a leisurely breakfast, a few games of Go Fish, and a random meeting with the nice couple we had met the day before. The Mister and I need new game ideas though. You can only play Go Fish so many times!

Cardshark

We spent the rest off the day at Baldwin Beach State Park. It had great sand – not too many rocks. There wasn’t much shade but the kids didn’t seem to mind. We had a picnic and played for hours in the sand. We even made it into the water for awhile.

Picnic at Baldwin SB

The Missus in Lake Tahoe

We weren’t ready to head home. We had to bribe the kids with In n Out for dinner just to get them into The Westy for the return trip. Gotta love it.

Daddy Love

So what games do you play with your kids? How do you get you kids back in the car to head home?