I mean really, sometimes I almost feel bad for living in California while the rest of the United States of America is in the Polar Vortex. Middle of "Winter" camping on the California coast isn't really all that bad. We take any opportunity to head outdoors whether, hiking, camping, backpacking or just a day outdoors.
Over Valentine's Day weekend we extended a Southern California business trip to include a two-night camping trip at
. We were hoping to find a more "Hiking" place to camp but most of my husband's co-workers recommended El Capitan, a place along the coast where they all like to escape to. We were sold on El Capitan because it was by the beach and I really wanted to drive home to San Francisco by the Pacific Ocean.
Location: Goleta, California off of Highway 101- 17 miles North of Santa Barbara
Reservations: Only seasonal on Reserve America, otherwise Walk-up
Daily Price: $35-45 a individual site (depends on the season). Winter Walk-up Rate we paid $35/night
Facilities: Drinking water, Restrooms, Showers, Camp Store, ATM, Picnic Tables and Grills
Campsite Visited: Campsite No. 29 (Shaded, partial Pacific Ocean View)
We arrived at El Capitan shortly before sunset, and set up camp: our large family camping tent, hammock and camp gear. I knew by the time we finished setting up camp it would be dinner time and after my husband working all day, driving a few hours, neither my husband nor I would want to cook, so we planned to head into Goleta for some Mexican Food. We normally don't eat out while camping but it had been a very long day for both my husband at work and as well as me dealing with preparing for our camping trip from our hotel!
Oooh! The Ocean!!
After dinner we headed back to El Capitan and went straight to bed. There was so much excitement during camp setup that the kids (and us) were exhausted, so we all headed into our mansion of a tent for a good nights rest. If you follow my blog, you know that my daughter is a TERRIBLE sleeper but our first night at El Capitan my daughter slept ALL night long and I actually got to sleep very well for once!
My kids knew we were camping near the ocean, but we never had a chance to go down to the beach when we arrived. The second my kids woke up, they heard the ocean and wanted to see it so we just opened our tent window and let them see it. It is awfully nice to camp on the California Coast!
Valentines Day at El Capitan State Beach
The two times we've been camping this "winter",
and El Capitan State Beach have been beach locations. We normally like to hike during our camping trips but we haven't done any hiking in either of these trips because the beach being steps from out tent! I love the ocean and my kids love ANY water source so to incorporate the beach into our camping is wonderful.
There are 10 miles of hiking trails at El Capitan but on this occasion we just walked down to the rocky beach. At first there was actually no beach in sight, just small waves crashing onto the the rocks but we found a tiny sandy spot and as the hours went by the sandy beach grew. The kids splashed and ran away from the waves, my husband sat on the rocks and enjoyed reading his books and I explored the tide pools. We all eventually were splashing in the waves but I LOVE exploring tide pools.
During our little lunch break we had pleasure of seeing dolphins and even brown pelican making amazing dive into the water. There was a large patch of seaweed/kelp floating by so I'm assuming there were fish for the dolphins and pelicans to eat!
We had a great day splashing at the beach but after a "tragedy" struck (a small toy was washed away at sea) it was time to say goodbye to the beach. We retreated back into our giant mansion tent so the kids could play and my husband and I could doze off in our warm tent. After we had recharged a bit, we took a trip into Goleta to get a few more food supplies and ice cream to soften the blow of the lost toy at sea.
After returning to camp, we started preparations for our dinner when all of a sudden we heard helicopters above and a crowd had formed by the cliff. I investigated with my kids and there was a Search and Rescue effort for our kayaking camp neighbors. A couple hours later, our camp neighbors returned obviously with their spirits down....they had shown up midday, quickly setup camp and headed out to sea. Another camper came over a little later and offered them beer and I could see they were definitely "deflated". Worst camping trip ever for them, the "mom side" of me wanted to go console them but then I thought if I were in their position I wouldn't want anyone to ask me ANYTHING, so I let them be. They didn't seem happy.
It was Valentines Day, normally my husband and I go out for Round Table Pizza but since we were camping, I wanted to do something special, ala Jesse and Melissa Style! We love steak, so why not get a heart shaped steak?! It was one of the most delicious steaks I've ever eaten, in addition to mashed potatoes and dutch oven peach cobbler!
Get in my belly you rib eye steak!
After dinner the kids and I laid in the hammock and stared at the almost full moon and stars, while my husband cleaned up. The kids get very clingy when night falls because they are scared of the dark. The only time I like it because I get to cuddle with my babies. The kids fell asleep very quickly and my husband and I enjoyed sitting by the fire and laying in the hammock in peace....silence.
Something I will never forget from this trip is my daughter waking up around 2 or 3 a.m. in the morning on our last night and said "Mommy, those trees are amazing...." in regards to the tree branch shadows on the tent ceiling. Just a random thought she woke up to tell me and then passed out again. That's my girl.
I love my family, I love California and I love camping.
Related Posts and Links:
- Wave Crashing Family Camping & Mavericks at Half Moon Bay
- El Capitán State Beach - California State Park Website
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