Sunday, September 2, 2012

To Pack for Camping...

This morning I opened my dryer and a redwood cone fell out. 

I thought that was awesome.

We returned last night from our annual week in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Campground, and first order of business is to wash at least eight loads of laundry, all of which is very dusty and smells of woodsmoke. Last night, I killed two spiders that came crawling out of our clothes. I can only imagine how many more were drowned in my front-load washer. 

I love this time my family spends together at the end of the summer, just the four of us, in the redwood forest of the Central Coast. It changes our whole year. It changes our family. For months I look forward to the moment when my husband has blown up my rubber raft, and I have dragged it out to the shallow river where I lay in dappled sunshine and just float, sometimes with a book and a beer, sometimes just looking up at the trees.

And it was yet again a success. I always come back wanting to hold on to the simplicity and connection to nature. Our cell phones have little reception in the canyon, and on day three our batteries gave out, so we were totally unplugged. After the initial panic, it was bliss. I want you all to try it.

Which is why I am on my computer first thing in the morning, so I can tell all my online friends what to pack for a good camp-out before I forget. 

Here's what to bring: 

a rubber raft or two
a Coleman stove-top percolator to make "camping coffee"
cash for when the grounds in the camping coffee give you indigestion, so you can drive to the lodge and buy "real" coffee
hiking boots and warm socks
water shoes
citronella candles
brie or syrah-soaked cheese from Trader Joe's, and crackers
lots of fresh fruit
beer and cold white wine (if you can find a bottle of Happy Camper California Chardonnay, that's especially appropriate)
a novel that you have read already and love. Something that makes you see nature and the world a little differently is preferable (I chose The Secret Life of Bees).
a piece of thought-provoking nonfiction so you have something stimulating to discuss with your spouse around the campfire every night (I chose The Next Christians: Seven Ways You Can Live the Gospel and Restore the World by Gabe Lyons)
a camera
anti-gravity folding chairs, plus extra smaller camping chairs for friends you meet in the campground
classic s'more ingredients, plus Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and Kit Kats to change things up when you get bored

And then, here's what to bring home: 
river rocks
pine cones
a tan
chapped lips
new souvenier patches for your camoflouge camping jacket (if you happen to have one, as I do)
used books bought at thrift stores on the way home
a central coast Chardonnay to replenish the ones you drank on the trip
a new disdain for spending evenings in front of the television
a new lease on life

More thoughts inspired while drifting on the rive soon to follow. 

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