Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Coldbrook campground

December is the busiest time of the year leaving us with limited weekends and opportunities to camp. With Buses By the Bridge approaching quickly, we wanted to test out a dry camping site while using our Mr. Buddy heater during the cool nights. We had already visited Coldbrook campground earlier in the year and decided it would be the perfect test for the night time sleeping arrangements and heater use. Only an hour's drive from home, the campground has a 3,300 ft. elevation as well as a scenic creek running through which feeds the North fork of the San Gabriel river.

Here are some pictures of our set-up including hammock and playpen.

We returned to Coldbrook as it truly is a beautiful area worth a second visit.

Brooke had some success maintaining her napping schedule.
Then we were able to warm up by the fire at night and yes, we're both sporting socks and sandals!
It turned out to be quite chilly at night but the Mr. Buddy heater did a great job of keeping it nice and warm for us all. We lucked out to have a full moon which was beautiful to watch and fall asleep to in the upper bunk. Here's a 30 second exposure shot of the moon and clouds, it was quite spectacular!

 After a good night's sleep, mom had some quality snuggle time with Brooke downstairs.
I wanted to take some video of the scenic drive we encountered so here is a short clip driving up the mountain.

Also a silly clip I made.
This will most likely be the last camping trip of 2014 and we're looking forward to a great 2015!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Rancho Jurupa

There are many reasons why we go camping; whether it be to explore or simply because it's a great means of escape to the outdoors and be close to the one's you love most. This trip however had a bit of a different goal....

We went to our first big VW camping event back in January (Buses By the Bridge) and wanted to make sure we were prepared for the same event in 2015. Not having camped for well over a month, we needed to find a new place for Brooke to sleep safely now that she has outgrown her infant crib we used previously.

Rancho Jurupa Park is more suited to larger RV's but we decided to visit after discovering it was only a one hour drive for a $25 spot by the lake including electricity. Visitors to Rancho Jurupa Park enjoy a semi-rural setting with two 3-acre lakes. Activities include a splash pad for water play, a rock climbing playground, a very nice miniature golf course, and a disc golf course.

Westfalias are known for their "Pop-Top" functionality so here's a short video of it in action when we arrived.
I also wanted to post up a time-lapse video highlighting another part of our camping set-up which is our BusDepot side awning. Now that we are familiar with this awning and all the parts, it goes up easily in less than 10 minutes.

We were glad to have the awning up as it not only protects from the sun but also the rain we encountered.
While it wasn't raining we took advantage of the many features offered in this park.
A little picnic by the lake.
Brooke made some new friends but cried when it was time to say goodbye.
The disc golf course was a lot of fun but I sadly shot 4 over par.
The miniature golf course was well executed and picturesque.

Brooke even tried out a big slide. She looks a bit traumatized but was smiling shortly after.
The rest of our time was mainly spent inside due to the rain but that didn't mean we didn't enjoy it.
Movie time.
Meal time.
Play time.
Oh and to get back to the main reason for our trip. We purchased a child gate that was placed behind the rear seat so Brooke could sleep safely in the back without fear of her climbing out. We ended up sleeping in the top bunk. With that said....bring on Buses By the Bridge in just over a month (hopefully we will get in another trip or two before then).

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Lake Piru

Lake Piru is an artificial lake located in the Los Padres National Forest in Ventura County. Created in 1955, it is downstream from Pyramid lake with an elevation of 1,043 ft. We were going to visit this campground earlier but realized they had a "winter" discount rate starting October 1st, and at $22 with electric hook-up, we decided to check things out.

Arriving at night we were able to meet up with our Vanagon friend Ric and enjoy a delicious home (camp) cooked meal.
Our friend had arrived early and was able to scope out what turned out to be one of the best sites there.  We woke up and enjoyed a great breakfast overlooking the lake and here are some pictures of our Vanagon meet-up!

With so many new things to see and do, it was difficult to get Brooke down for her nap but after several failed attempts she finally gave in.

It turned out to be very hot during the day so Brooke (and family) were able to cool down a bit and enjoy some water action.

Of course I again had to share one of the best kept Vanagon secrets.....Bottle Opener!
The area had an abundance of wildlife that we have not witnessed before with plenty of deer spotted during the day. The cool evening air also brought out even more wildlife as animal cries could be heard throughout the night. Here is a shot of one of the several deer in the area when we woke next morning.
With our weekend complete and everything packed away, we had to take a few shots by the lake before leaving.

Another shot of our awesome VW by the water on the way home.
This will be our last camping entry for a while as we will be heading back to Canada to visit family shortly. It marks yet another great family outing close to our home in beautiful California!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

San Clemente and Dana Point

As Summer is officially over, we decided to take advantage of the remaining warm weather and head to a beach campsite. Wanting to stay close to home, we made our way to Doheny State Beach in the city of Dana Point only to find out it was fully booked so we continued on 10 minutes further south to San Clemente State Beach.
Our late night arrival luckily had at us one of the best ocean-front sites and let us begin another weekend of adventure.
Brooke was super happy to wake up in her new sleeping area downstairs and start her next day of adventure.
Although $35 per night is a bit expensive, I think it's worth it when you get views like these...

A short but steep walk down to the ocean did not seem to impress Brooke.

We eventually got a smile....sort of.
After all the ocean excitement, it was time for a nap.
Then time to enjoy the views.

Followed by a beautiful sunset.

The next morning, I wanted to get a shot of the vanagon closer to the ocean before we left.
Another weekend complete until of course the next weekend where we attempted Doheny State Beach once again! Arriving at 11:30am we were told to come back at 12:00 so we could compete in a lottery for the available spots for the night. Crazy as this might seem, there are days where this lottery applies to those without reservations and thankfully we were able to "win" our spot close to the ocean.

Being at the ocean allowed my awesome wifey to do what she loves.
Checking out the waves.
Finally catching a nice one.
Brooke was impressed.
But was later distracted with my Flip Flops.
Brooke was then able to check out the action herself.

After a fun-filled day, Brooke got to hang out in her "crib" while we had our dinner in the Vanagon. We usually do eat healthier but this meal consisted of you guessed it....Dino Chicken Nuggets.

Followed by some evening ocean watching on the beach.
With the Vanagon nicely lit up in the background.
There happens to be a rail line that has a curve very close to this campground which woke us up a few times during the night. The noise was more of a rumble, which in my sleeping state had me imagining it was the sound of a huge tsunami coming to sweep us away. We of course survived the night in our new upstairs accommodations waking up to this beautiful view.
After one more morning of body boarding for my wife, we did a little sight seeing of the area and came upon this stunning spectacle overlooking Dana Point.

Another successful weekend in the books left my wife refreshed and ready to take on the week. At only 65 miles from home, we plan on returning to the area in the future.