Dinky Creek Vacation 2020: Part 1


I’m going to write this camping trip post in sections because I’m trying not to spend A WHOLE day laboring at blogging. (Yes, I am guilty of that.) I do love blogging but if I want to write daily, I have to keep it short and sweetish. So let’s get started on this trip!

It was GREAT! Really great. Just what we needed. It was not without its challenges though. Traveling during a pandemic is nerve-wracking and every step of the way I worried we had made a mistake and should have stayed home. I kept hearing those social media voices from Italy, Just Stay Home. echoing in my head.  But we didn’t. We ventured forward to where we thought we were safe and I hope and pray that we were. It turns out we were in more danger at home (A family friend who we are in relative indirect contact with has been diagnosed. Eeeek!) but we didn’t know that.

First mistake: I over-packed. I thought making a list and checking it twice was the way to go but it turns out being extra prepared allowed me extra time to over-think everything. I packed enough food for a week. We were only gone for three days and one of those was driving and we lived off snacks from the gas station. What’s a road trip without junk food?!!


It was a really long drive. Five hours. I don’t mind long road trips but for some reason in my geographically-challenged brain, I thought it was only three hours. After hitting a bit of construction traffic and sweltering at a few rest stops while the dogs peed, the trip there seemed extra long and laborious. You could say we were pretty tired by the time we finally got to our destination.


That was mistake number two. When I booked our campsite last year it seemed like the sweetest little creekside spot. It wasn’t close to the restrooms or the other campsites, which is what I like. What I didn’t realize AT ALL was that campsite itself was 100 feet away from the car parking spot down a STEEP dusty trail. It was no joke. On the map for some reason I didn’t see the incline. The hundred feet was vertical and only appeared like 50. Or something like that. I’m not really good at topography, obviously.

You saw the three big plastic totes and an ice chest we had strapped to the back of our truck? And the black plastic bladder thing full of sleeping bags and suitcases on top of the truck? I packed for a zombie apocalypse. We could seriously survive forever in the woods with all the gear and food I packed. The problem is, I thought we’d be close to the truck and I’d keep most of our supplies in the truck, only taking out what I needed as I needed. I had no idea I’d have to trek up and down a hill every time I needed a pot, spoon or a bag of pancake mix.

All that gear had to be carried down that hill. Did I mention that Payam recently had neck surgery and isn’t allowed to carry anything over five pounds? Before you gasp in dismay, please know that I am one determined mother work horse and I was not going to let a little sweat and tears ruin this camping trip. I grit my teeth and got to work, skidding down the hill and carrying totes that were way too heavy for me. Hear me roar silently, I am Super Woman.

Meanwhile, Payam, who doesn’t like to let a woman outshine him when it comes to brute strength, was sputtering madly. “What?!!! What kind of stupid #@$%$ campsite is this?!!!” He was so upset and disappointed to find that we had hours more work before we could rest. Not being the connoisseur of camping that I am, he thought we majorly got ripped off. The next campsite down the road had their fire pit and campsite a mere steps from their car!!

I, however, realized the beauty of this spot. It was secluded. It was remote. It was surrounded by trees and we could hear the stream nearby. It was perfect. Not another camper in sight. Actually, I take that back, there was one other campsite in the low meadow we were in but they were a half a football field away.


It was the most beautiful spot I have ever camped on and I have camped a lot in my lifetime. My parents used to take us every summer and Toby and I used to camp a lot as well. Having the perfect remote but not too remote campsite is a unicorn in the wild. They are really hard to find. So if anyone is looking for that perfect spot, book spot number 50 at the Dinky Creek campsite.

That is of course if you don’t mind a little bit of a trek from your car to your campsite. When I made the reservation, I kept wondering why it said zero vehicles when there clearly was a parking spot plainly marked. Now I realize it was a “tent campsite” and the vehicle was not part of the campsite. Live and learn.

I think I could definitely do it again and pack three times lighter. We didn’t need half the food I packed and we took a lot of unnecessary gear. But we didn’t know. Now we do and YES, I have totally typed out a new and improved list with those unneeded items nixed. I’m extra like that. Feel free to email me for a pdf copy.


The kids definitely helped out. That was part of our deal, knowing Payam couldn’t do his usual share of the heavy lifting. The kids carried totes and bags and didn’t even complain. Bug actually assembled their tent with a bit of help from Joon. I am so proud of my her. She might end up being the nature girl she genetically meant to be after all.


When we first got there we didn’t know how the dogs would behave so we leashed them to a big tree. Whiskey took up permanent guard dog status and Cody whined the whole time. He’s gotten to be so attached to me, he suffers if he can’t follow me around everywhere. I do love his dear little co-dependent soul but his whining was obnoxious.


Here’s a better view of both of our tents. Our tent is huge. The girls have their own three-person tent that is much smaller. We keep the dogs in our tent with us which is really nice. It has a divider down the middle that can be opened so the dogs have their space and be close to us while we are little separate from their dirt. Dogs + Camping = A lot of dirt.

We quickly set up camp and settled in just in time to watch the sun set through our own private little forest of trees.


It was perfect. Tomorrow: watercolors, streams and camp-cooking, oh my!


Big Bear 2020


We just got back from the best little mini-vacation in the mountains. Last year we didn’t do anything during winter vacation and even though it was nice to stay home and save money like good little entrepreneurs, we did kind of regret not going up to the snow. You know how it is when you start looking at everybody’s snow pictures on instagram and you start getting jealous… Is that just me? Maybe it’s just us Southern Californians who don’t ever have to deal with mud and slush…anyhow, I LOVE SNOW. I really love it. And I really love taking pictures of it. As you will see.


This year we booked a little cabin. It was pricey but I don’t regret it. I feel like it was worth every penny. Especially as the girls get older and we have less and less face-time with them. It was the best for making memories, even if forced at times.


Our cabin was small but it was super cute. It only had one bathroom, which was a little challenging at times but it was perfect for us and the dogs.  It’s hard to find cabins that are pet-friendly and not completely disgusting so we were really happy with it. It wasn’t on the waterfront but it was close, like really close. You could look out the window through the trees and see a sliver of icy blue and then if you were up for a little slip-sliding-away hike, it was just a hop, skip and a tromp down the hill.

I love the picture of the girls above with Cody. They were looking at the TV when I snapped the shot but as Gingermog said, it could be their next album cover if they ever decide to go on the road together musically. Which by the way, is quite frustrating to me. They are both talented musicians but they refuse to play together. Every once in a while I’ll catch them harmonizing some meme-song or commercial jingle together but they won’t do it in front of me. I’ve got some stubborn kids.


Anyway, super cute cabin, right? There was even a guitar! Not that anyone played it, sadly. AND there were two fireplaces right next to each other. Dueling fireplaces. It was a really weird layout. Maybe it used to be two units that they combined, I don’t know.  The kitchen was decent too and I cooked several meals there, probably saving us hundreds of dollars and quite a few headaches dealing with the town crowd.


Did I mention we brought the dogs? This complicated things quite a bit but it was SO FUN! They love going in the car and they love going wherever we go. They’d never been to the snow before and just liked we hoped, it blew their little furry minds.


I mean, I knew Cody would like the snow. He likes all forms of water but Whiskey? He practically went spastic with joy!


He buried his nose in it and rolled around like he was the happiest puppy in the whole wide world. Dogs in snow is an amazing antidote to the wintertime blues. Not that I’m suffering from them but if I was. I seriously wish I could buy my own cabin and go up there half the year. It was just amazing in so many ways.


Joon and I were the first to really hike around and explore the lake nearby the cabin. Unfortunately Bug got a case of what we thought was altitude sickness but turned into a full-blown chest cold. She was not feeling the snow or the cold weather or the altitude at all. Even walking up a small hill had her out of breath and complaining that her lungs felt like they were collapsed and full of tiny icicles.


So Joon and I made do and took a few zillion photos just the two of us.


It’s so pretty up there!


After a day Bug forced herself to get dressed in snow clothes and we took a few photos in the neighbors yard. She was a good sport even though all she felt like doing was burying herself in her sleeping bag.


As you can see it was really cold. I mean, relatively, for us thin-blooded reptilians.


Snow, snow, snow! Are you tired of looking at pictures of snow yet? And these are just 1/200th of the photos I took.


Payam enjoyed his time too AND he did not fall and break his head open this time like he did that one time at Noon Lodge (omg the girls were so little then!!) He did actually slip on black ice when we were tying up the truck with our luggage but thankfully he was holding onto the rope we were tying and he saved himself. That black ice is treacherous! We had these really cool strap-on ice cleat things but we forgot them at home like the geniuses we are. Man, those would have come in handy. Yes, I am adding them to our packing list for next year.


Speaking of treacherous falls, let me tell you about my fun little snowboarding experience. I’ve snow-boarded before (once about 30 lbs ago when I was in my 20’s) so I thought I’d take Bug’s ticket (since she wasn’t feeling up to it) and take a newbie lesson on the bunny slopes. I mean, how hard could it be, right?

Well, I guess my weight, lack of muscle tone from skipping work-outs for two months and overall anxiety about falling and breaking something has really put me in a bad way. I took two slides down the tiniest slope (with only one foot attached to my board because it was step-two of lessons) and totally wiped out. The board flipped around (swingy scooter style) and almost sliced my left boob off. Yes, I’m not even kidding. If this wasn’t a PC-rated site I would post a photo of my purple and black boob. It hurt so bad I thought I had actually cut my boob off but thankfully my skin was not punctured and I didn’t break any ribs. All I have to show for it is a massive bruise that no-one can see because I’m modest. Just believe me, it is nasty. Thankfully it doesn’t hurt anymore (unless I touch it) but when it happened I almost cried. I think a few tears did leak out actually.

At that point, even though I didn’t want to be a quitter, I did quit. I asked the instructor if I could stay on the mountain sans board and just take photos of Joon and he said I was more than welcome to. I mean we did pay $100 to be there after all. Even though it seems like a big waste of money I’m glad I gave up. In a way I feel like I dodged a serious injury. I saw the medics take two people down the hill in the two hours I was there and one of the girls in our lesson group broke her wrist. So quitter-schmitter, when you are 47, you just count yourself lucky. I think I will try to get in better shape and try it again next year IF I’m feeling really strong.


But I did get this money-shot of Joon snowboarding. A literal money shot since it cost Payam $100 for me to be there. I would have taken more pictures but she went up the chair lift and I couldn’t find her for the rest of the two hours. People look like identical black specks in the white snow when you are staring up at the white slopes.

That day was hard. I was really glad to go back to the cozy cabin and nurse my wounds afterwards.


I think I’ll stick to photographing the snow for now.

In other news, I have made the changes you guys so kindly showed me and the new SAJ Calendar is here!  Thank you so much everybody! Sorry it took me so long to finish, but as you can see I was having some fun in the snow. :P