big sur camping tents

2014 Camping Season Preview

By Heather

Sometime after the final, ho-hum camping trip of the season (remember Mt. San Jacinto and the mist? I have not forgotten) and sometime before the first trip is officially on the calendar, the itch to camp again hits hard.

Camping bucket list

When we have the urge and nowhere to camp, though, I take my daydreaming to the internet. My search this weekend led me to two more campgrounds to add to the “Must Do as Soon as Humanly Possible” list.

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. This one is legendary for a number of reasons. Sunset magazine has deemed it the best campground in the United States. Campground is used loosely here, because it’s just two sites. And you definitely want site No. 1 because it’s right on the edge of a cliff, overlooking a little bay with a waterfall. Oh. Did I mention you can’t park outside your site and have to hike a half mile in? Worth it, I’m sure.

Montana de Oro State Park. Mountains of gold! While looking at possibly camping in Morro Bay, I found this little gem that seems less crowded but no less beachy.

This year’s agenda

  • Our first camping trip of the season is going to be in Joshua Tree National Park. Can’t wait for that, since we didn’t get to visit last season because of bad timing and first-come, first-served campgrounds.
  • Our favorite campground, Table Mountain, is going to be getting a lot of visits this year. I still haven’t reviewed it, so that will be coming this year when I have more recent photos.
  • In new places, we’re going to Pfeiffer Big Sur (not to be mixed up with Julia Pfeiffer mentioned above). It’s pretty embarrassing to have lived in California for most of my life and have never once set eyes on Big Sur! Can’t wait for this one.
  • I hope we can make it back to Chilao, but many vacation plans are eating up the time we have left to take off work, which you have to do for this place because it’s first come. See why I hate first come?

Not on the agenda this year at all, sadly, is Leo Carrillo State Park. They’re doing a lot of construction at the campground that’s going to last all through summer. It’s baffling that they’d choose the most popular time of year to camp to do this, when they’ve had all winter.

New gear

PARTY IN OUR TENT.  At Costco this weekend, we purchased a new tent similar to this one with our leftover wedding money. The tent in the link is pretty lame, actually, but it was the closest I could find. We also did not pay nearly that much.

What’s awesome about the tent is that:

  • It sleeps 10 people! Not that we have ever wanted to put 10 people in our tent. But half of the tent is your tent, and half can be more tent or it can be a screened-in shelter. This means if we go camping with friends who have no tent, we can share it with them.
  • This also means that screened-in shelter we’ve been needing for desert or shadeless camping? Don’t need it anymore! Two in one, baby!
  • This also means if space is tight on any particular trip, our tent will double as sleeping space and a shelter!
  • You can stand up in it! No more awkwardly getting dressed while bent at a 90-degree angle!
  • The tent goes up instantly. Less work at setup!

Will we love this tent as much once we’ve actually used it? I’ll let you know in a review, but our first camping trip is not for a few more weeks.

WE’LL BRING THE ICE FOR THE TENT PARTY, TOO. I am happy to report that we schlepped our old coolers out to the trash bins last weekend, where they were snatched up and taken to a loving new home within an hour. Enjoy watching your ice melt, new family!

We replaced the coolers with one just like this, only it’s eight quarts smaller than the size here. Steve and Regina already have one and it works like a dream and holds ice for days, not minutes. Also, if your drive a coupe like I do, then you have no rear passenger doors and it’s a pain to get large objects into the back seat. Our new cooler slides right in for a total of 125 percent less swearing than usual!

I’ll probably write a review  based on our use of it once I have more to say than that.

Camping 2014. We’re ready!