Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day Camping!

No cellphone signals, no Internet, no television... no electricity, no showers, no flush toilets... no walls or ceilings, no smog, no agenda!

Jon and I had an exciting-yet-relaxing time in the woods for Memorial Day weekend. Scrambling to get a campsite reservation two weeks proved to be worth the money!

We left as soon as I got home from work on Friday evening and drove 3 1/2 hours north of L.A. into the Giant Sequoia National Monument. (We didn't know how high and winding the roads are to get there, but I guess our first clue should've been that we were camping 4500 feet higher than the Pasadena elevation.) When we arrived around 9:30pm, there was another group already in our campsite! Our reservations were clearly posted, however, so we had to break the news to them and wait for them to move elsewhere. (We felt bad because they already had set up a tent and started a fire, and yet, they were apparently there without paying, so we weren't very apologetic.) We had been forewarned about bears in the area, so we took every precaution - no scents in our tent, our cooler hidden in our trunk, our dry foods sealed in odor-proof bags... The biggest mammal we saw the whole weekend, though, was a golden retriever.

On Saturday, Jon and I explored the surrounding camp areas (Camp Nelson, Belknap, etc.) and cabins. It's crazy that people would pay half a million dollars to live in a tiny cabin with no grocery store within an 1 1/2-hour drive! I like the view, but I also like convenience, I suppose. :) We also noticed a small chapel in the Camp Nelson area that held its services at 11am on Sunday morning, so we decided to check it out the next day. In the afternoon we hiked to the Stagg Tree (the 6th most "voluminous" tree in the world), played several card games**, picnicked in a grassy vista along the mountain road, built a fire to cook our soup and s'mores, and went to bed early. It was lovely. :)

Sunday began with some commentary on how gross we were beginning to smell...

We went to the fireman's pancake breakfast near the chapel. While I thought it was free, Jon had guessed correctly... when the fireman greeted us with the cost, we wheeled back around to our car.

The chapel service was very small and very patriotic. We sang every song in the hymnal that mentions America, and listened to Pastor Freda talk about heroes and sacrifice. Throughout the short service, she repeatedly mentioned the "free refreshments" following, so of course we took her up on it. As we ate, we chatted with an older couple who live in a cabin there during the summers. The food was quite a spread - it saved us from eating our own sandwich ingredients that day.

When we got back to our campsite, Jonathan and Kierstin Schupack (some Fuller friends) had arrived! We all set up their new tent and went off to hike a 6 mile trail (with a 1600-foot elevation gain) through groves of Giant Sequoias. It was such a pretty hike - complete with crossing a river on a log and snapping pictures under several large tree trunks. We returned to the camp sore-legged and hungry. We had hot dogs and some more s'mores (get it?) that evening, though the fire didn't really catch hold on the large logs until we were ready to go to bed, so we huddled around until the glowing embers subsided.

On Monday we "struck camp" and then explored a nearby tract of land for sale. Anyone want to buy two plots with a cascading stream and high overlook? We thought it was beautiful!

On the way home, we stopped in Springville (population 1109 - yes they're that precise!) after passing through Pierpoint Springs (population 50), to explore a little and grab some lunch. Since it was Memorial Day, most of the shops were closed, but we were able to peer into the window of a wellness gallery where the proprietor sells Thomas Kinkade paintings and performs hypnotherapy. We then grabbed lunch with the Schupacks at the town's hoppin' burger joint and headed back to Pasadena!

The weather was perfect for the whole weekend - warm during the days and chilly when the sun set - and it was so refreshing to feel like we could breathe without inhaling car exhaust and smoggy dust in the air.

I didn't realize how much I value not being stinky, but after going three days without showering, the running water in our apartment's pink (i.e. retro/really old) tub was heaven!

**Anyone know of any 2-player card games besides Casino, Speed, Go Fish, and Egyptian Rat "Dance"? I need some more options, so Jon doesn't win as frequently. :)


db said...

Sounds like a great weekend! Try Rummy or cribbage...there is a way to play the latter without a game board.

Dan & Nancy Erickson said...

how fun! can't wait to take our little one camping this summer. smile.

we're hooked on split. hasbro makes it but you can use a regular deck.

RC said...

what an awesome trip!

i've always wanted to go there (although you know me, i'd only camp if there was a camping chaperon...i'm not going to trailblaze on my own).

kim & i play a lot of skip-bo! (although you need skip-bo cards to play the game (although I'm sure you could convert it over with regular cards, you'd just need more).

it sounds like an awesome weekend!!

Anonymous said...

We missed you at Audrey's 1st B-day Luau, but glad you were able to get away together. Brian and I use to play Canasta every Tuesday night before Timothy was born. We have our complete Hoyle's game book so you are always welcome to come over and borrow it. Other than that we play Uno, Rook, Go Fish, and Memory! LOL!

Grete said...

Yay! I knew the card games question would produce some good ideas! I've been printing off online instructions for how to play some of them...

Kimberly Ann said...

sweet pictures! looks like an awesome time!

yea, we play a lot of Skip Bo... you could also play Golf, which is another Eloe-family fav (using Skip Bo cards...see a trend :-)

Anonymous said...

The Fireman's pancake breakfast is one of our two fund raisers.
They were serving two pancakes, but you could go back for seconds or thirds. Which in included coffee, sausage and fresh squeezed orange juice. YES, I am one of the volunteers, and this is how we get funds to operate for medical and
fire emergencies.

Grete said...

Anonymous - Sorry if it sounded like we didn't think the pancake breakfast was beneficial to the fire department - that wasn't my intention. We just thought it was free (or for donations) and don't have much money to spare!