Category Archives: camping

California Yurt Alert

Poppy Yurt

My daughter and I were looking for a relaxing, waterfront retreat for a few days when I’m out visiting her in Santa Barbara, CA. Look what we found.

We just reserved a yurt at Cachuma Lake Recreation Area, a park owned by the County of Santa Barbara. The cost is $60 a night, plus a $20 non-refundable reservation fee.

I don’t think this qualifies as “glamping” (is that an annoying word, or what?) because the bathrooms are a bit of a walk and the accommodations are pretty basic. But you have to love the view. I grew up on tent camping vacations and it looks comfortable enough to me.

I’ll let you know how it works out.


Travel Gear Comes In Handy At Home

There will be coffee.

I was struck, as I was preparing for the arrival of Hurricane Irene. by how useful some of my travel gear (especially the camping gear) turns out to be in the face of a potential natural disaster at home.

Said gear includes:

– The battery-powered travel alarm clock, because I still need to get up and check the roof for leaks (don’t ask) if the power goes out.

– The rubber sink stopper from my travel laundry kit, which helps keep the tub full of water. (We’re on well water here. So if there’s no power, there’s no well pump and therefore no water.)

– The travel flashlight — best size for the bedside.

– The propane camp stove. Because I don’t get up if there’s no coffee. (But windows must be open for ventilation.)

– The candle lantern, for when the batteries run out.

– The suitcase. Packed for a quick departure, should that become necessary.

– The rechargeable DVD player, for a little entertainment if power failures drag on — as they tend to do around here.

Camping: The Unsung Vacation Choice

Fish Creek Ponds campsite

My campsite at Fish Creek Ponds.

I’m spending a couple of days in the Adirondacks among hundreds of families who are vacationing in a way that seldom gets any attention in the media.

We’re camping at Fish Creek Ponds, where the state of New York maintains hundreds of campsites, most of them directly on one of several beautiful ponds and creeks. The price of a cabin or hotel room with an equivalent view would be astronomical, yet these sites cost only $22 a night.

The campground has a beach with lifeguards, a basketball court,  a volleyball net, flush toilets and showers. Every day, vendors come through selling firewood and ice cream. A nearby marina delivers canoes, kayaks and rowboats directly to campsites. Last night there was a free folk concert.

The campers come from all over the Northeast with equipment that runs the gamut from the most luxurious Winnebagos to tiny backpacking tents.

I grew up camping, but this was my first trip in a couple of years. It reminds me that many American families vacation this way, without staying in hotels, flying in commercial airliners or even eating in restaurants.

Yet travel magazines and the travel sections of newspapers publish very little about this mode of vacationing. I plead guilty, as well. I haven’t written much about camping. But I’m going to try to do better in the future.

Short-Sighted Connecticut Doubles Park Fees

I live in a town along the beautiful Farmington River, and just about every summer, people drown in it. Sometimes I’m out walking on the rail trail along the river and I see families with children playing in the  river currents and I worry that they’ll be next.

So why don’t those people go to state parks, where lifeguards watch the ponds and lakes?

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Getting Back To Nature, Vacations And Our Families

Your faithful blogger wades in the Tenaya River.

Your faithful blogger wades in Tenaya Creek.

My husband and I spent part of last Tuesday afternoon splashing around Tenaya Creek in Yosemite National Park under the looming splendor of  Half Dome.

Our only company was a young French family, the parents in swimsuits floating lazily with a naked toddler boy and a little girl stripped down to her underwear. It reminded me of nothing more than the idyllic summer camping trips I took as a child with my large family, although being American I guess we probably wore more clothes.

Throughout the park I saw families that reminded me, in attitude if not in size, of my own family in the 1960s and the 70s. And those families were almost all European. Everywhere we went, we heard Italian, French, German and languages I couldn’t identify, as well as British and Australian accents.

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