For years we have traveled during the summer, often for months at a time if we can. Planning usually begins in early spring, and we spend the remaining months before our trip dreaming of what adventures await us as soon as the weather shows the signs of summer. This year ended up being quite different given everything going on, but we have been figuring out ways to get out of town safely, without having to get in a plane or a car for too long.
Camping is something Ramsey and I did frequently in the years before we had Astrid, and continued to do with her as a baby. We have camped all over the country, from Hawaii to the Southwest, and in our adventure van or in tents. We love to camp because of the flexibility- it never has to be too long of an affair, or too far away from home, but it can be if circumstances allow. Camping can be done at a very low cost, and if you live in proximity to nature, it can be such a beautiful thing to do with your family during this quarantine period.
A couple of weeks ago we decided to go to Lake Casitas for two nights, just outside of Ojai, about an hour and a half from our home. We brought our adventure van, which is outfitted for a camping trip, but we also brought tents. Astrid loves to pitch a tent and is very good at it, and will spend time before we go camping practicing her techniques to be ready for when the time comes. When camping with children, it is always nice to have activities for them that let them help out with the preparation of the trip. Whether it is helping to set up the campsite, or packing up all of the essentials at home, we love to make the experience inclusive for all of us.
When we go car camping, we like to make our getaway really feel like a home away from home. We bring our own linens, and all of our cooking essentials. We’ve included a list here of our favorite things to bring for a short, sweet camping trip.
Our Camping Essentials
A Cast Iron Pan
A French Press, Bialetti, or Chemex
A Coffee Grinder, if you decide not to pre-grind your coffee before your trip
A Tea Kettle
A cooler of Bubbly Wines and Rose, Pellegrinos and Mexican Soda for Astrid and Dimitri, and your favorite creamer for coffee
A basket full of dry goods including:
Oatmeal, Dried Fruit, Beans, Tea, Sugar, Maldon Salt, Black Pepper, all of essential herb and spices, we love Za’atar, Wonder Valley Olive Oil, and anything that could be thrown on a charcuterie plate
Fruits and Vegetables from the local market to our campsite, or our home garden
Eggs for the morning
A Propane Stove, small ones work perfectly
Binoculars, for bird and star gazing
Fishing Rod, Bait and Tackle
Folding Chairs and Cot, for siestas and lounging
An extra cooler full of ice, just in case
On our way into our campsite, we always love to stop into the small, local markets to find the speciality items of the area. Beef jerky, honey, fun potato chips, and little treats are always on our list. Stopping at the local markets is always a great idea when needing to replenish your food and beverage stash as well.
When camping in the summer heat, we like to keep food light and going all day. We love melons, tomatoes sliced and garnished with salt, a nice cheese- anything simple and refreshing to enjoy is always the perfect solution for a mid-afternoon snack. Regardless, no matter what you bring to eat, even something as simple as a peanut butter sandwich, it always tastes so amazing once you’ve taken a bite and realized you’re outdoors, enjoying nature, in the quiet, restful solitude we all crave.
In the evenings and at breakfast, we cooked pork chops and sausages. The children love them, and they’re incredibly easy to put together on the cast iron pan, over a fire or on a small propane stove.
Getting dressed for camping can be as simple as you would like. For our two days, I brought my favorite sleepwear, our Cubano & Guajiro Dresses, and a swimsuit that casually lived under the dresses each day, as well as our sandalias. Layers are always key while camping, that way you don’t have to take up too much space in a bag with clothes you probably won’t get a chance to wear.
During the day at Lake Casitas, we rented a small Pontoon boat to take around the lake. The Pontoons are wonderful because there’s a bit of coverage on the boats, so you’re not out baking in the hot sun the entire time you’re on the lake. We brought a little picnic lunch with us to have on the boat, and our fishing rod, bait and tackle. We found a small cove off the lake to anchor in, so we could enjoy our lunch, wade in the water, and fish around. We only caught seaweed, but our lunch was perfect while basking in the sunshine. We always like to wear little scarves while we’re out in the sun too, that way we can wet them wherever there’s water, and tie them across our heads or necks to cool off.
We loved Lake Casitas for the beautiful nature and exploration it offered surrounding our campsite, the ability to wade in the water whenever we pleased, and proximity and ease that it took to get there. We also loved how quiet it was and how few people we saw our whole trip. Campsites all over the country are currently open, but it is important to note that many in California are not currently booking weekend trips due to concerns of overcrowding. We’re pleased to recommend Lake Casitas for those local to Los Angeles who have some time on their hands to get away and enjoy the beauty that we have so close to home.