Dinky Creek Camping Trip: Part 3

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This is my last installment of blogging about our Dinky Creek camping trip. After this it’s back to garden news and dog walks. I know, gripping. But we do what we can, right? Pandemic life surely has its challenges.

Starting up where I left off, back we went to the creek. We pretty much lived at the creek that day.

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The water was sooooo nice. I realized that Payam is the most happy when he’s floating around in the water. One of his favorite outings when we are back home is visiting Raging Waters at Knott’s Berry Farm and just floating down the Lazy River all day. I’m not as fond of Raging Waters, as it is usually quite crowded and germy (in my mind at least. I know there is a ton of chlorine but still…) so finding our own lazy river in the wild is a dream come true for all of us.

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We found a nice big swimming hole and the kids and Payam played around in it with Cody for hours. Whisky and I enjoyed the shade nearby.

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Poor Cody, he swam so hard he really tired himself out.

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Summer + dogs + water = happiness.

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I wish we lived here permanently.

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And yes, I swam too. But I much preferred to sit along the sidelines and take pictures.

This is probably one of very few times I will ever post a photo of myself in a bathing suit. Look at those thighs. Red beans and rice didn’t miss her. But I actually like this photo of me. I feel happy in my own skin and my bangs that are growing out. Payam took it and you can see that he makes me feel great about my body. I wish I could go back to my twenty-year-old self and give her a hug and tell her that somebody is going to love every part of me someday. I probably wouldn’t have believed me. I’m glad to be here instead of there.

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Finally we got our fill of swimming and headed back to camp to cook dinner and chill.

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Everyone relaxed and Cody probably slept for an hour or two. He was wiped.

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Here I am in my sexy camp outfit.

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You know what’s great about getting older? You stop caring so much what other people think about how you look. I love not having mirrors and just wearing what feels good. Sure, this isn’t my proudest moment in fashion but I was comfortable and happy. Camping is dirty and full of weird things like bugs (ew!) but once you get over that  and desensitize yourself, it is really wonderful to just embrace nature and and enjoy the beauty.

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The best part is watching my kids detach from their virtual worlds and connect back with us in the present. They are really quite pleasant to be around when they don’t have their noses stuck to their phones. They have lively conversations and they don’t hate our company. Go figure!

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As the sun began to set Payam made a roaring fire and we settled into our camp chairs around it.

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Each crackle of the fire seemed to erase another wrinkle of stress from our foreheads. We almost forgot there was a pandemic going on. Well, until we had to go back into the main campground for water or to use the restrooms. But we stayed away as much as we could and were never happier to find a tree to pee behind than this trip. I never thought I’d say that but my recently acquired pandemic-related germ phobia has made me re-think everything.

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You know you are winning at camping when your daughter is bored enough to braid your dogs hair.

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We sat around and relaxed. I finally broke down and had a glass of wine. It was nice but nothing I want to continue. At least not until I’m really comfortable my drinking habits. I am feeling much better about it though. I haven’t had anything else to drink since that campfire and it feels good. I love my new non-drinking self. I feel much better in my own skin.

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Then we tucked in for the night. The girls had battery-operated lights on their tent which is a cozy addition to our camping list. The first night Joon had a really hard time sleeping with all the new noises but the second night she was out like a light because she was so tired from sun exposure and swimming all day.

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The next morning we woke up early and started breaking camp. We all had mixed emotions about leaving. While we couldn’t wait to get home and shower off the gritty layers of sweat and dirt, we were also sad to leave our lovely campsite. It felt like home.

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The girls took the dogs on one last walk and then we were off.

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“Make a face like you hate camping.” I said as I took our last selfie.

I think you can tell by their faces that nobody hates camping. Until next year, Dinky Creek! Hopefully by then we’ll be pandemic free.

Le sigh.

Dinky Creek Camping Trip: Part 2

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I left off yesterday talking about the sunset but actually before that happened I cooked these zucchinis and Payam cooked hamburgers for dinner. Sadly, I didn’t take any other photos of camp-cooking but I wanted to include something about it here because cooking outdoors is one of my favorite parts of camping. I think its because my mom is a great camp cook. I have many fond memories of spaghetti, pancakes, hot dogs and potato salad etc… Sometimes we’d have those tinfoil packs with chunks of sausage, potatoes and carrots roasted over a fire. It was the best.

I’ve figured out that using a camp stove is the easiest. Fires are fun and great for atmosphere but cooking on them is a little to tricky for me. I love our little camp stove. It runs on tiny propane tanks and it’s just the right size for one pot or kettle of water boiling and one pan of food cooking. It works great.

Food though…. that was mistake number three. We packed a cooler full of ice, deli meat, hamburgers, sausage and hot dogs and loaded it onto the rack that Payam installed on the back of his truck via the hitch. The problem is: the rack is in back of the truck’s exhaust pipe. It sits about 5 inches away from it in fact. Neither of us thought about what happens when something is directly in line with exhaust. It MELTS!! We literally melted the bottom off of our cooler. I kid you not. When we got to the campsite and started to unload we couldn’t get our ice chest off of the rack because it had melted plastic stuck to the metal rack!

Amazingly, the inside of the cooler was still intact and still relatively cold. Can you believe it? What luck. Of course this was a bit upsetting to us and we were a bit leery  of eating any of the raw meat that was now no longer frozen. We sniffed it and hemmed and hawed and ended up cooking the hamburgers anyway and guess what? We didn’t get sick! So I guess the inside of a cooler is made of pretty tough stuff if the outside can get melted and the meat inside is still good. Crazy, right?

I did end up throwing out the sausage and lunch meat (just because it sat too long without ice) but we ate the hotdogs and nobody got food poisoning. Not a risk I usually like to take though so note to anyone installing a rack to the back of your truck: Get an attachment for your exhaust pipe so the exhaust can be routed elsewhere!

Live and learn. That’s my motto these days.

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The next morning I woke up at the crack of dawn. That’s my usual mode of operation at home too. I’m always up hours before anyone else. I like it that way. I have time with my dogs, I have time to journal and just be quiet with myself. I’ve been such a loner in the mornings for so long, I don’t really like it when other people are up and interrupt my morning time. Funny how that works. I used to complain about it but now I savor it.

The dogs and I went exploring and found a path to the nearby creek pretty quickly. There weren’t any established paths but we wound our way around bushes and rocks and fallen down trees until we made it to the water. I thought I’d just let the dogs get a drink from the stream but Cody took one slurp and decided he’d rather swim. So he waded into the water even though it was still pretty cold and swimming was not part of my plan at all.  What can you do? Water dogs gonna swim!

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After exploring for a bit I made my way back to camp and brewed myself some coffee. I started a painting and journaled. (By the way, the best kind of coffee while camping is VIA. (not an ad) It’s so easy and it tastes just like regular brewed coffee. You just boil some water, empty your little packet into the cup and tah-dah: instant coffee.

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By the time I was done with my painting and my coffee was nearly gone the rest of the crew started waking up.

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We had breakfast (pancakes of course!) and got ready to venture down to the stream as a family. I had spotted a swimming hole and a water slide earlier and I was so excited to go back show them. We all got dressed in our swimsuits and headed off.

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Woo hoo for swimming in the creek! Before we left, my Dad asked me if we were going to go visit Yosemite. (It’s about 90 miles or an hour away from Dinky Creek) My Dad was very keen that I should at least drive up to the entrance of Yosemite and look down but I told him we really didn’t have any other plans than sitting in the creek. And that is exactly what happened. When you are camping for only two days you should only have plans to relax in the creek! Who needs to jam pack your day with anything else? Not me! It was the most relaxing fun time we’ve had in years. I love a good creek swim/sit.

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And so does Cody, obviously.

Cody was really weird this trip though. He loves the water but he was really stressed out and kept whining. I don’t know if it was because he wanted us all to be together and when one family member strayed farther than a few feet away, it stressed him out or if something more serious was going on. I thought maybe he had an ear infection but now that we are home he’s back to his usual happy self. I think we just really wore him out and he was grumpy but in a sweet whiney dog kind of way.

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The dogs are VERY attached to me. Mostly because I spend the most time with them. I walk them everyday, I feed them, I give them treats, I play with them. I’m pretty much Queen Bee when it comes to these dogs. So they kind of stuck to my side most of the time. This was actually pretty great though when we let them off leash. We used to worry about them running off but they don’t do that anymore. They might get distracted and run after a squirrel but they quickly come back and stay by my side.

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After a good long swim we headed back to the campsite for lunch. We figured out we didn’t really need lunch meat for lunches. It was just more headache trying to keep it cold. We had hotdogs for lunch because a lot of sun and swimming makes you hungry! Going forward I’m only going to pack food for two big meals a day and the rest can be snacks. Granola bars, nuts and chips are all anybody really wanted anyway. I might as well make life easier for myself!

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After lunch we chilled in the shade and I finished a watercolor of the girls I had started at the creek. I hate my watercolor paintings when I’m doing them. I feel like I have so much to learn and improve on but years later, I always savor them so I’m not stopping doing them even if I don’t think they are very good. There is something about paintings done in places you love, they always bring back the best memories. I’m doing quite a few this summer and I intend to keep them in a tin for future trips down memory lane. I think my kids will really treasure them someday when I’m gone.

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Bug posed with my Little Hoo Goes Camping book. I’ve been planning this shot for a year now. It’s too bad I don’t have little kids anymore but Bug was happy enough to pose for me.

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Then we decided we were ready to go back to the creek for round two!

I’ll finish that up tomorrow and even include a full body picture of me in a swimsuit! I know! Gasp! Talk about body confidence. Who am I these days?!