Those of you who read this blog know that our family went camping for the very first time last year. We enjoyed the experience so much that we planned to go again. So on Monday we left for three nights of camping. We were joined by some good friends of ours, John and Mary Egan, with their three kids and their niece and nephew. We went back to Lake Casitas, which is near Ojai, Califorinia in Ventura County.
We had a great time! Because we weren’t sharing a lot of camping gear like last year, our family needed to take two cars in order to get all of our food and gear to the site.
We arrived on Monday afternoon around 4 pm. The Egans had arrived a couple of hours earlier and were set up, so they helped us set up our camp. Our kids all pitched in and we got the tents up in no time. Our families took turns sharing the meal prep responsibilities, so the Egans fixed stew and bread. It was tasty!
The second day, the kids explored the site during the morning. Then we went to the small water park in the camp. (Lake Casitas is a drinking water lake so no one is allowed to swim in the lake.) We spent all day floating around the “river” in inner tubes.
The third day, we went exploring around the lake. Because of the extremely dry season this year, the lake was about 6 feet lower than last year. A floating bridge that the kids enjoyed last year was now resting on dry ground. Chris and Kerri got stuck in the mud near the lake shore and had to be extracted by a human chain. We then had to extract their shoes, which got sucked off of their feet by the mud. The whole episode was very funny!
Every night we sat around a campfire, roasting marshmallows. Deb read stories from The Grasshopper Trap, by Patrick McManus, an outdoor humorist. I also played guitar and sang worship songs a couple of the nights. The first night, we had clear skies. It was wonderful to see so many stars. It was absolutely breathtaking.
We were also camping kind of close to the Zaca Fire, which is burning about 12 miles from Ojai. So on the first and second day, we were treated to some cool smoke/cloud formations. By the third day, the sky turned hazy and we experienced a light blanket of ash the remainder of the trip.
We arrived home Thursday afternoon and spent the next several hours washing tents and gear.
Our arrival was also somewhat tragic. Before leaving on Monday, Dani noticed that one of our hamsters, Roxy, was acting funny. We suspected Roxy wouldn’t live through our vacation. So I took pictures and video of Roxy. As soon as we got home, the kids ran in to check on the hamsters. Regrettably, Roxy died while we were on vacation. Dani spent the next couple of hours crying. After cleaning up the camping gear, we had a small burial service for Roxy. And so we said good-bye to another family friend.
I also want to thank Deb’s brother and sister-in-law, Evan and Esther Harris, for letting us borrow a lot of camping gear this year. I also want to thank Maribeth Poole for giving us a lot of camping gear as well. Everyone’s generosity enabled our family to have a great vacation and to build some solid memories.
You can view all of our camping pictures on our MissionalStew family website HERE.