Sunsets, Hikes, Beaches, and Waterfalls

It’s easy to get caught up in our daily life. Work, school, doctors appointments, grocery shopping, meal prep…it really goes on and on. And the day-to-day of life in America becomes such a routine and feels like such a necessity to maintain, that we lose sight of or miss out on the things that we enjoy or make us happy.

Enter: vacation.

Vacation is really a life-saver. It gives us permission to carve out time for ourselves and each other and let go (at least partially) of the constant stream of responsibilities. That’s why our family enjoys camping. It’s a perfect way to disconnect from the business of everyday life and screen time (email, social media, news, TV, etc.), and reconnect with the essentials. When the focus is shifted solely to spending time together, relaxing, playing, enjoying nature and being outside, eating, and sleeping…life almost becomes easy.

It’s not that all responsibility evaporates on vacation, especially when camping—we’re a family of five with three young kids, so there’s just going to be a lot of needs. But what I really felt on this last camping trip was the ease of life when we simplify and strip away all the competing noise.

We’re also getting better at vacationing. What we like and don’t like as a family is always changing, but also becomes easier to identify each year. We’re more honest with ourselves and each other about what we actually want to do. We make things easy when we can. For instance, last October we bought a travel trailer. We’re not giving up on “tent camping”—and I’m especially looking forward to backpacking when the kids are older—but for now, the trailer is where it’s at for us. It has a mini-fridge that runs on propane so no more messing with keeping food cold in ice chests. It has a toilet and a sink and even a shower hose for those beach days when a good rinse is pretty much essential. Setting up after a long drive to the campground is a breeze now, and so is packing up at the end of the trip. We’ve essentially eliminated two typically stressful events that framed our trip. And one of the biggest benefits now that California has shut off water in many of its campgrounds, is the ability to bring all our water with us.

I think the pictures and video from the trip will say more than I could ever write, but here’s some info you may not be able to see. We camped 5 nights at Kirk Creek Campground which was clean and tame (except for the raccoons, squirrels, and bunnies), with gorgeous views of the Pacific. The one drawback is that the trail to the beach was riddled with poison oak so we didn’t actually make it all the way down. Plus, we heard it was rocky and not that great for playing, so we didn’t feel like that was much of a loss.

We spent two days at Limekiln State Park—where we’ve camped in the past—both times visiting the waterfalls back in the forest and the small, rocky beach. The waves there are kind of unpredictable and can be very strong. The girls got knocked around a bit by a few surprise surges but no major injuries. But the really cool thing is the stream from the waterfalls flows down to the ocean on the beach, so there are pools of fresh water to play in when the ocean gets too rough. We also spent a day at Sand Dollar State Beach which was huge, with soft sand. We had a lot of fun there as well, but there seemed to be an inordinate amount of baby sand crabs swarming the shores which kind of skeeved us out.

Tomorrow, the routine begins again. I’m really glad we came back on Friday so we had the weekend to settle back in and recoup (another trick to vacationing that we’ve learned over the years). Once it all starts back up, I know finding that balance of fulfilling responsibilities and enjoying what matters most will be difficult. I’m thankful we had this week of vacation together to reset and get refreshed, and I’m glad it’s documented here so I can look back and be reminded of what’s important.