A Trip to the Beach and a Trip Across the U.S.

It’s 9:56 p.m. as I begin to write this and I finally got the kids to sleep about 30 minutes ago—solo. Yes, I’m on my own with these little scruffers until Sunday. More on that later. It seems to make more sense to step back to look at that trip to the beach…

Taking the R-Pod Out, Round II

In my last post, I mentioned our new travel trailer and what it affords us vs. just sticking with the tried-and-true tent. Over this last Christmas break, we put that to the test with our first winter camping trip. (Side note: Can you still call it camping if you’re in a trailer? Since we were at a campground, I’m going with it.) We got hitched up and headed to San Simeon for a few days.

Since it is a campground there were limited facilities, which is what we were hoping for. We wanted something more rustic than an RV park, but of course, not all campgrounds let trailers in. Because of the drought, all the water had been shut off there, so we hoped that would deter people as well. So we filled up our fresh water tank (35 gal), loaded up our little fridge, and headed out.

To San Simeon!

There are two campgrounds in the park and the lower one is paved, closer to the highway, and was more crowded, so we drove up a dirt road a little ways to the upper “Washburn” campground. It had a more rustic feel to it with more space between sites. We found a nice site (#242) that butted up against a hill, so at least there was no one in front or behind us and good room on either side. Plus, the kids had a great hill to climb around and we got a better view of the hills and ocean.

As you’ll see from the photos below, overall, we had a great trip. Our first full day there we hit the beach and it was pretty amazing weather for late December (warm enough for shorts and t-shirts!). There was one incident where Keana and Aliya took off on a trail without us knowing their direction because they thought the rest of us were ahead of them. Pretty scary not knowing where your kids are in the wilderness, even within a fairly tame park. Luckily, they had the sense to come back to camp after about 15 minutes, but I had to really fight the urge to yell at them. I admitted I was scared and that was making me upset, and of course we went over the “outdoor” rules again. I’m sure it was a lesson well-learned and I hope I never have to go through it again.

But all’s well that ends well, and we lit a fire each night, roasted marshmallows, and were very appreciative of our luxurious accommodations, especially around meal prep and when it got into the 30s at night. After that first day there was crazy wind, mostly at night, so we were also quite thankful for solid walls and beds up off the ground. In fact, it was so windy on our last night, that a pretty large tree on our hill blew over (photo below)!

All-in-all, it was really good to take the trailer out for round II and try something new with it. We definitely enjoyed the more “rustic” campground and got a feel for how long we can last without additional water or electricity. People around us were using generators on and off—which was super annoying—but we made it with just our battery for those three days (though I’ll admit, we did do two, 15-minute charging sessions off the car battery and I’m sure all our chatter was plenty annoying for our neighbors, too). Our trailer does have solar hookup though, so that’ll be something to invest in in the future.

And now, fast forward…

I’ve been sitting here, kids asleep, cat at foot, getting this blog post together for the last hour and a half. Sarah is in Orlando for an ItWorks! conference, and for once, I’m the one holding down the fort. And I have to say, so far, it’s super awesome. I took the rest of this week off work so I could be the full-time child technician, so the pressure is off there. For the next four days I get to just focus on the kids and keeping this house liveable.

I’m excited to have some adventures with Maia and Aliya while Keana’s in school, and I’ll be taking this opportunity to try my hand at this unschooling business. Today, while out and about, the kids wanted one of those fake sea turtle eggs that you put in water and watch “hatch” and grow over the course of a couple days. I’m thinking that if they’re interested, as their turtle grows, we’ll learn about real sea turtles and explore the birth/migration process.

Of course, there will be plenty of play time while I do dishes and stuff around the house. I was treated to a few performances of songs tonight that they had created and practiced performing throughout the day. Maia and Aliya really need very little direction. That being said, I want to take this opportunity to get them out and about too, so I think we’ll have a field trip, probably to Sequoia to see the giant redwoods.

That’s the plan for now. We’ll be up in 7 hours and if I’ve learned anything as a parent, it’s that all I know is that I don’t know. Plans are good but subject to change. Flexibility is king and I think I’ll have a lot of opportunities to practice that over the next few days.

(Some photos from the San Simeon trip…)