but enough time had passed since the last time i braved the great outdoors, and so when my cousins sent around the email announcing the date and location for this year's annual shindig i consulted with the old lady and the hub and we decided we were in. the bean was still away at grandma camp, we had that weekend totally free and clear, and nothing was stopping us from joining in the fun. so after digging out the camping gear, hitting up costco and packing up the car, we were on our way.
previous years had taken us up as far north as ventura and santa barbara. this time around, we were near the santa monica mountains, just past malibu at point mugu state park. we'd gotten a later start than we'd originally planned, so the sun was already setting when we arrived.
the group campsite was located across the highway from the beach, which suited us just fine. we'd driven past the beach campgrounds and people had their tents set up really close to the water's edge. i could just imagine waking up and finding us adrift on the ocean somewhere, and that would just not do. it was nice and cool, the site was nice and flat, and the view was pretty sweet.
except that the moment i stepped out of the car to say hello to everyone, the hub took one look at me and smacked me clear across the face. before you freak out, it's because the mosquitoes were in full effect and one had already decided to take a nice big bite on my chin. ugh. damn bugs, man. they were the worst part of the entire weekend.
there were still a bunch of others who hadn't yet arrived, and so we had our pick of where to set up camp. the only tent we had was a giant 10-person deal that was a prize the hub had won at some open house or something, and it was a little trickier to assemble than we remembered.
luckily, we managed to get it done as the sun finally slipped away completely. i unrolled my sleeping bag and stretched out to see how bad the ground was. we'd packed air mattresses, but didn't think of the fact that the pumps were built in and required an electrical outlet. d-oh.
ewwww. this also meant no showering, unless we wanted to brave the chilly water from the giant jug. and so everyone decided to just drink away their troubles...including the old lady, who the group was more than excited to welcome to adulthood with shots of whatever bottle was currently open.
cousin 420 brought leftover sparklers. i hadn't held one of these things since i was about 8 at a 4th of july block party.
and then i let myself get into the bag of marshmallows. this is so dangerous, you guys. it's worse than potato chips - you can't have just one.
about a dozen toasted marshmallows later and several hours of sitting around the campfire shooting the shit with my cousins, we finally went to bed. there were some big ass boulders under that tent, which made for a less than restful night's sleep. and not having a regular toilet was just miserable. there isn't much i hate more than using a port-o-potty, and i ended up copping a squat behind a bush instead. blech.
at least there was some delicious breakfast food to console myself with.
to avoid being eaten alive by the mosquitoes, the three of us decided to hop in the car and drive the 15 minutes to get to the nearest store.
we also drove past the sand dunes, where there were a bunch of folks running up and down the giant hill. i tried to get my crew to pull over and get a workout in, but then they reminded me that we didn't have a shower to get cleaned up. sadness. this looked like it would have been killer.
it took stopping in two or three different stores before we found what we were looking for - none of that sissy organic bug spray for this trip, people. nope. we needed the serious stuff - real DEET. plus these little clip-on fan thingys that promised to help keep the bugs away.
then it was time to head back and join the group as we hung out, relaxed, snacked, read books, what have you.
the fog started rolling in, which also brought us some pretty cool temperatures.
i took this mostly to remind us of how to put the damn thing together again. you know, some day when we decide to do another camping trip. which may very well be never, but still.
dinner time! the hub busted out the carne asada and enjoyed a cigar while he worked at the grill.
the second night was a lot like the first - food, fire, alcohol. rinse and repeat.
the next morning, everyone got up early and started the business of packing up and picking up trash and such.
these are the faces of people who haven't showered in two days and lived to tell about it.
and then finally, we were ready to head home.
one last look at the beach:
and a glance at my favorite house in santa monica:
seriously though...i don't know if i can do the camping thing anymore. it's dirty and dusty and buggy and uncomfortable and i think i'm just getting too old to deal with all of that crap anymore. although i know this weekend was a little extraordinary with the lack of running water/toilets/showers.
actually, as long as we can inflate the air mattress i'd probably be okay with it.
damn. did i really just talk myself out of and then right back into camping? what is wrong with me?