Ever have something come up and you didn’t realize how badly you needed it until it did? Yeah, that happened. Glamping wasn’t part of the plan. Actually it was, but Covid-19 wasn’t… I mean, glamping during Covid wasn’t. Let me back up.
I booked a camping trip as a Christmas present as a way of pushing us out of the nest into the camping world. My family isn’t super versed in camping. It’s something we want to get more into with our family now that we have kiddos of our own but neither my husband nor I was raised in camping families. I knew moving our babes out of cribs was the plan for the New Year and could almost taste the next stage of freedom moving to beds would allow. I was thinking spring wildflowers as far as the eye could see sounded amazing. In my previous life I was a travel junkie and a girl can only live in domestication for so long before the call of the wild breaks down the damn door.
I may be starting a trend here because I chose a cabin-version glamping trip for my April birthday last year: Glamping With Toddlers: The Easy Button At El Capitan Canyon. This year’s trip could have been considered the next step in the direction of camping, with a whole lot less neighbors.
As the scheduled date approached, I hemmed and hawed about the appropriateness of going through with the one nighter outside Paso Robles, just a couple hours away. I booked the campsite through Hipcamp, which is like VRBO for camping on private land. They have options from basic campsites and open land all the way up to little cabins with all the touches (for the record, I’m not getting any compensation for recommending them). I was envisioning a glamorous teepee with all the perks. Before cancelling due to the pandemic I reached out to my site host to express my concerns about protecting my family. He completely understood and shared details as to what extra precaution he was taking to keep his guests safe.
This additional reassurance tipped the scales. Plus, we could use a break from the increased screen time deployed in times of insanity. We could stay home in isolation festering with crazy cabin fever or we could spend a night in isolation in nature. Honestly, if it went to hell in a handbag we could load up the car and head home at any time. Oh my goodness, I am so thankful we went.
After our 2-ish hour drive up the 101, we pulled off the beaten path to Enney’s Ranch and drove up the gravel drive to the Blue Bonnet Ridge campsite complete with semi-permanent tent, fire ring, picnic table with cooktop, utensils. pans and plates, wash station, shower/tub with hot water and a 5-star outhouse. Knox jetted inside the tent and under the covers so fast that I knew we were onto something good.
Our first course of action was to get dinner going. We had a hunch it would be a chilly night and no one wants cook in the dark and cold. Camilla and Knox were content doing their own thing while we threw down dinner. Sometimes toddler picky eating can be a bummer but this meal had everyone’s approval: Campfire Nachos, jarred salads, mini pizzas and sliced veges. Really, what’s not to like?
For the record, I care about food. Specifically good food. If camping is my future this mama is going to put in the planning to guarantee we are well fed with the least amount of prep and fuss. I also try to plan for ingredients that can be incorporated into breakfast for minimal packing and waste. Here is my ingredient list for our awesome Campfire Nachos.
I’m a big fan of using mason jars for storage and they work perfectly for transporting your pre-made salad as well as the sliced carrots and cucumbers for the kids’ meal. Just remember to bring the dressing on the side and apply it right before eating, otherwise you might end up with a soggy salad. The single serving pizzas were from Costco and they went straight from freezer to cooler to cook top.
*Don’t forget to bring aluminum foil, a can opener, storage containers and skewers for what comes next.
- Tortilla Chips
- Canned Cuban Style Black Beans
- Pre-Cooked Shredded BBQ Chicken (I like Trader Joe’s)
- Canned Sliced Black Olives
- Shredded Cheese Blend
- Pre-Made Guacamole
- Sour Cream (or Greek Yogurt)
- Other options include: Canned Corn, Canned Ortega Chilies, Jalapenos
And of course, what camping trip would be complete without a campfire, S’mores, wine, a stunning sunset and a lot of wholesome family time? After putting the babes to bed in sleeping bags for the very first time (on cots thanks to the generosity of our host), Ty and I sat by the fire and soaked up the goodness of our experience and the simple pleasure of cuddling with your partner in crime amid a crowd of stars. When the time came for us to turn in I was eternally grateful for other pleasures afforded by the more glamorous part of our glamping experience: a queen bed with fresh linens and a HEATER.
Come morning, with the air fresh and the birds singing, Ty brought me coffee in bed. Oh, that priceless feeling of peeking your head out of your tent into the crisp morning air and taking in the stupendous, unobstructed sunrise. Something inevitably clicks within your soul that says, “Yep, I needed that.” This is the very best type of therapy.
My rugged husband extraordinaire got right to breakfast and, with tummies full, the babes begged to jump into the cheery yellow horse trough bathtub (upgraded with hot water and lace curtains). We had skipped the nightly bath-time routine and this served as entertainment and practicality rolled into one!
Prior to packing up, we set out for a short hike around the property. Other than the greeting by our host we still had yet to encounter a single other person, which is more isolation that even could have been achieved had we stayed at home. Overall, nothing out of the norm had passed during this 24-hour retreat: a few meals, a few giggly memories with my family, a few prized moments snuggling with my husband under the stars, a restful night, a bath, a walk, a sunset, a sunrise. Really, nothing out of the norm yet somehow worlds away from unexceptional. This was special, this was restorative, this was a desperately needed infusion of fresh air.
This time is hard on all of us. If you feel like you’re going to lose it, if you have cabin fever, if you need to run away- try running out here.