June 2016 Camping

June 4, 2016 3:33 pm

Heather and I were supposed to go camping a couple of weeks ago.  I had made a campsite reservation back in May.  The weekend of our trip had cool and comfortable weather--and we were all sick with hand-foot-and-mouth disease.  So we had to reschedule.

I booked the same site for this weekend (June 3-4) and we had roasting 99F weather all week leading in to our trip.  We camped at Joseph Grant County Park in Santa Clara County at the base of Mount Hamilton.  Luckily, after we climbed up into the hills where the campground is, the temperature was at least 10 degrees cooler and there was good shade (I scouted out likely shady sites using Google Maps beforehand, shade is key).


We got to the site around 6:30 and got the tent all set up.  Not wanting to need to get a fire going to cook or eat something hot, I opted for Subway sandwiches for dinner.  We ate those and took a little walk up to an observation hill as the sun set.

After the sun set and things cooled down a bit we got the fire going to prepare for s'mores.  Heather was pretty fascinated by the concept of arranging the wood to allow oxygen flow to help the fire.  After a few false starts she was able to muster up the courage to add a couple of sticks after the fire was going.  She also tried roasting her own marshmallow; it caught on fire in about 5 seconds.

Heather particularly liked the way the fire made everything "look all glowy."  Like this:

IMG_20160603_204514as IMG_20160603_205754as

Heather fell asleep around 10:15 (usual bedtime ~7:30) and I stayed up a bit longer to enjoy the quiet and let the fire die out.  Then she was up with the sun around 5:45am, declaring it "not night time anymore."  So....we're both a bit sleep-deprived today.

Breakfast was Fruity Dyno Bites (Heather requested a cereal breakfast and it's hard to argue with simplicity).  This brought us to about 6:30am so I figured I would break camp while it was still cool and overcast as the forecast was for another hot day.


Due to really annoying flies, Heather asked if she could just sit in the car, so she did (somewhat surprisingly, I guess she was kind of tired).  I was taking the tent down and noticed a oddly worn-out spot on the floor underneath one of our sleeping pads (this tent floor is the same nylon material as the sides, not a tarp bottom).  I figured there must have been a pointy rock under the spot, but it actually felt like a little hollow space.  I thought it odd that a hollow spot would cause that much wear on the material.  Then I folded up the tent and saw the tent footprint underneath.  It had a hole clean through it (picture taken after getting home).


When I folded back the footprint there was a nasty looking creature lurking in a thumb-size hole under the spot!  A creature that apparently ate or tore a hole through the footprint and tried to get in the tent!  I didn't get a good look at it though and, after moving the tent and footprint elsewhere, it was gone when I got back.  I think it may have been a wolf spider though:

DSC_0017bbGah!  I have no idea what we would have done if that thing had cut into our tent floor and started climbing around inside.  Might have had to just burn it all down and go home.

So, now I have to repair the tent and footprint.

Anyway, we got packed up and home around 9:00am.  Which was fine with me since it was only going to get hot and unpleasant out.  Our next camping adventure is scheduled in July.  We're going to try Heather's first multi-night camping trip.


June 13, 2015 8:29 pm

Heather has been asking to go camping for several weeks, but while I was still in class there was no way it was going to happen.  So once that wrapped up I decided to stop putting it off and pick a date.  So I took the afternoon off on Friday, and Heather and I packed up the car, and then sat in traffic... (Jess and Corinne stayed home.)

I wanted to get on the road by 1:00-1:30, but inevitably it took longer.  We were driving by 2:30 which I thought would still be alright, but no.  It was stop-and-go, bumper-to-bumper traffic from Livermore out the other side of Stockton.  That drive should normally take like 40 minutes, but it was over an hour and a half.  Then we had another hour of driving to do on top of that.  Heather fell asleep, which was good given the amount of sleep she was likely to get in the tent.


We drove out to Indian Grinding Rock State Historic Park.  I liked it when I was there last year--quiet, secluded, trees, and shade.  Presumably there are comparable locations closer to home, but I couldn't figure out how to find them.

We got to the campground, picked out a spot and got our stuff unpacked.  Then we wandered about looking at the bark houses and grinding rocks.  The high for the day was in the upper 90's and we probably should have rescheduled, but that's tough to do with a 3-year-old whose heart is set on the adventure.  Once it cooled down a bit we got our fire going and roasted our hotdogs for dinner.


Once dinner was cleaned up it was time for s'mores.  I had neglected to put the chocolate bars in the cooler.  But it wasn't a total loss, I bought the "fun size" chocolate bars which are still salvageable after becoming bags of liquid chocolate.

After Heather was asleep I played with the camera for a bit.  Couldn't get any usable pictures of the stars, but I got this really fun picture of one of the neighboring campsites:

IMGP3086asI really like the light hitting the trees.  And a picture of the fire:


In the morning we had breakfast of Silly Circles (off-brand Fruit Loops) at like 5:30 AM since that's when Heather decided that it was too light out to sleep.  Then we went for a hike and back to the bark houses and grinding rocks while it was still cool and shady.  After that it was time to pack up and head home.

Heather fell asleep, but I woke her up for lunch at A&W.  She was excited to discover they have mini corndogs and milk, her favorite meal.  Then we stopped at the Ghirardelli chocolate outlet and ice-cream shop in Lathrop for an ice-cream sundae.


Heather declared it, "The best camping trip ever," so I guess it was a success.  I think we avoided sunburn and heatstroke with only mild sleep deprivation.

It occurred to me that I could set up the camera on the tripod to take pictures automatically so we'd have some pictures of the both of us camping.  Then I thought about turning them into a little video.  So enjoy the 4-minute abridged version of the trip with more music and less heat (sadly, I didn't take the camera with us hiking or to the historical sites).

If your browser doesn't want to play the video you can download it here: Camping June 12-13 2015 (small)

Audio credits, in order of use:
"The end of the last adventure" by soundtrackmusic.org - Creative Commons Licensed
"Chimney Fire" by reinsamba - Creative Commons Licensed
"Calm Sky" by [SMJ] Music - Creative Commons Licensed
"Ocarina - Sun's Song" by ZREO - Creative Commons Licensed
"Call to Adventure" by KevinMacLeod - Creative Commons Licensed