Camping Is Good (Part 1) …How We Go.

~~~~ Updated to take part in Friend Makin’ Mondays. Today’s topic is about vacations. Best? Worst? Top 5 dream destinations? I have had some great vacations, a few that had some crummy elements, and of course there are places I dream of going. However, there will always be a trip to Markleeville, CA on my calendar….~~~~

Camping? Ew. No thank you.
I don’t do dirt.
I don’t pee in the woods.
I won’t eat beans out of a can.

Yeah? Neither do I.

My family and I were on our annual camping trip last week. Some of the comments that came my way before we left were a bit on the negative side.  I wasn’t offended by any means. I just realized that there must be a segment of the population that doesn’t know the proper way to camp.

In other words, if you don’t like to go camping… yer doin’ it wrong.

Now I readily admit (and take into consideration) that my affinity for camping is rather specific. I’m an alpine kind of girl. I don’t do desert camping. I can’t take the heat (or extreme cold). I need trees. (Also, we don’t ride motorcycles or ATVs, so there really isn’t much for us to do in the desert.)

I digress.

I first camped in Markleeville (Grover Hot Springs) in 1969, when I was 2 years old. My family has been going even longer than that.

Markleeville is very personal to me.
It is a beloved tradition; a comfortable pair of shoes.
It is a favorite relative you only get to see once a year.
It is beautiful and special.
It is 500 miles away, yet somehow it feels like home.

While my tale is Markleeville specific, planning, implementation and style are befitting of camping anywhere.

Some of you may have seen the “500 miles away” and done the math in your head… yes that is about a 10 hour car ride. Each way. However, the journey is part of the vacation and should be treated as such. I am fortunate enough to be married to a man who starts his vacation time the minute he locks the door to his office. Attitudes are laid back and we try to roll with it whenever possible. (I am a twisty, anal retentive control freak, so being laid back does not come naturally for me, but I am working on it.)

Once the cargo trailer is packed and we’re ready to go, the traditions begin. We’re big on tradition. Much like Christmas Eve, we all go to bed, but I think the kids may have trouble getting to sleep. (Sometimes I do too…) Up at 3:30 and on the road (hopefully) by 4:00 a.m. This year we got on the road by 4:20 and we considered it a smooth departure.

Music uploaded to the iPod has taken the place of CDs, just like CDs took the place of cassette and (gasp!) 8-track tapes before them. (You whipper-snappers who don’t know what an 8-track tape is, go ask your parents.)

(No, these are not mine….. shut up, shut up.)

We have Markleeville road trip music: Tom Petty, Fleetwood Mac, the Eagles, Blondie… bands and artists I remember my older cousins listening to on our camping trips. They are all on heavy rotation on our driving play list.

About hour 3 we are hitting the low desert. If you have never listened to U2’s Joshua Tree album while the sun rises over Joshua trees in the Mojave Desert, you are missing out.

We eat McDonald’s one time a year.
For breakfast.
In Lone Pine, California.

Lone Pine is the little town at the base of Mt. Whitney, which is the tallest peak in the continental USA.
(Over 14,000 feet, if you care about that stuff.)
(I do.)

Now, I am sure that Devin (and his best buddy, Michael, who came with us) eat McDonald’s all the time, and I just don’t know about it.

However, Grant never does, so when we’re there each year we buy him whatever Happy Meal toy that is available. Last year it was a little red Transformers truck. He played with that thing the whole way up last year, they whole time we were at camp and all the way back home again. He still sleeps with it and it came along on this year’s trip too.

We’re pretty sure this bi-polar T-Rex from the new Ice Age movie will enjoy a similar fate.

In addition to having a traditional breakfast stop, it is very important to have the proper junk food to take on the road.

A road trip without bubble gum and Lemonheads just isn’t a proper road trip.

We have a stop we make in Bishop, CA for gas, potty breaks and to stretch our legs. Who wouldn’t want to stop at a gas station called Giggle Springs?

This year, Handsome Hubby decided we should also stop at the Hot Creek Fish Hatchery. A quarter buys a handful of little pellets the trout like to eat and they swarm all over it like koi. The boys loved it. If we do it again next year, it will qualify as a tradition.

Self portraits.
They only way I am ever in a photograph.

They boys do really well on the ride up.
The scenery is gorgeous.

We travel Highway 395 and pass by Crowley Lake, Mammoth Mountain, June Lake, Mono Lake and Lake Topaz. We drive through picturesque towns and wonder about people who build Dream Homes with a view of the highway.

We use the time to talk to each other. To sing along with music. To eat crap we normally don’t eat and drink beverages we normally don’t drink. We use the time to talk about what we’ll do during the week and what we’ll do right after we set up camp.

We use the 10 hours in the car to try to and enjoy each other as a family. Of course it doesn’t always turn out that way. Of course there are boys fighting over the last root beer or whose turn it is to play which GameBoy. (Oh yeah, did I mention? No DVD player…) Of course we get uncomfortable and antsy. Of course I am a back seat driver and HH and I have moments when we’re sniping at each other. But it is still 10 hours of family time and the good always outweighs the bad.

Once we pull into the campground, this is the first thing you see.

The Meadow.
I love the Meadow. As a child, it was the most exciting moment of my trip. It meant we were finally there! This year, as we pulled into the campground and drove by, I excitedly squealed, “Hi Meadow!!!”
Handsome Hubby lowered his voiced and out of the side of his mouth, ventriloquist style said, “Hello, Vivienne.”
I love that guy.

Stay tuned for Part 2!


  1. says

    Your meadow is breathtaking! and all of those mountain shots aren’t too shabby, either. This looks like an amazing place to camp – looking forward to hearing about the rest of your trip. Getting there’s half the fun, no?

  2. says

    Looks like a great time so far! I can’t wait for part 2! I can’t believe you never go to McDonald’s! We go there 2-3 times a month! Yikes, I know!

    I love camping in Oregon. It must be cool and not dusty, I despise dusty camping. I also prefer flush toilets.

  3. says

    The Meadow…Run Bambi run!

    I’m glad you had a great time and I cannot wait to see the rest of your post, an attempt to “bring some of us to the other side”!

  4. says

    Your pictures are so beautiful! I’m impressed that you eat McDonald’s once a year. Wow! I can’t wait to hear more and how it is that you don’t pee outside.

  5. says

    We love camping too. We just back from a road trip from our home in MN to my parents in CA and we camped as often as we could. However we didn’t expect it to be 35 degrees in Yellowstone. BURR. We tent, How ’bout you?

  6. says

    Ok..I admit I am no longer a camper but I remember family trips and the 8 tracks! But I do LOVE your road trip music: Petty, Fleetwood, Blondie. Old school faves…

  7. says

    yeah? uh-huh. lol. okay. so far I’m reading “road trip.” I love road trips, too… just not camping. I’m waiting for the next installment. 😉

  8. says

    Oh, I’m so glad this is only part 1 cuz I wanna hear more! It feels like we’re with ya on this trip already!
    I LOVE CAMPING. So peaceful. :)
    Beautiful shots, by the way.
    And Grant sleeping with his McDonalds toy? Priceless.

  9. says

    This is so great. I feel like I’m living vicariously through you and I love it! Can’t wait to hear more.

    Wait…there WILL be more, right?

  10. says

    Oh – can I come with you next year? (I won’t fight with anyone and promise to be very very good) You certainly know how to tell a story just right. Can’t wait to hear more!

  11. says

    Oooh, I can’t wait to hear the rest! Your view looks a lot like the Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho where we camped last year for our family reunion.

    We’re going less “rough” this year and heading to Downata Hot Springs which is kinda “cushy” camping…but the kids love the pools and the waterslides.

    I missed you!

  12. says

    You look like you may be getting close to where we live!
    I can’t wait for the next installment.

    BTW great music choices. Just add the sound track to Grease and you have our Roadies!

  13. says

    it sure is gorgeous there, but i worry that there are bears and snakes and murderers waiting to attack.

    btw, you and your family are gorgeous!

    and i hope you bring lots of guns and ammo when you camp.


  14. says

    Hey girl! Sorry I disturbed you with the pic! I took it off because it IS disturbing!! It was such a memorable part of my trip is why I posted it!

    Sounds like you all are having a blast!! I love camping! Some people are just missing out!

  15. says

    Just this past weekend, I was visiting with my parents and we talked about our trips skiing at Mammoth, camping at June Lake, and shopping in Bishop. In fact, I have been to that McDonald’s in Lone Pine before too!!! I lived in Tonopah, NV at the time (find that on a map!) and the closest civilization was Bishop!!

    Sounds like a fun start to your trip…can’t wait to hear more about it!!


  16. says

    Hello Vivienne! What a great trip! You almost make me want to camp. It looks beautiful there. I can see why you love it. What a great family tradition!!!


  17. says

    Okay, okay, I’m not a camper but you’ve got my interest piqued! I’ll read on. I love the idea of traditions too and hope to create some good ones for our little family.

  18. says

    love it. love it. love it. all of it.

    (ha…we do the McDonald’s only on road trips too..haha)
    gosh, I think that’s really funny, don’t I?

    Fish Hatchery’s! The stories I could tell you…

  19. says

    Those pictures are beautiful! It looks like such a fun family tradition.
    You guys were ON THE BALL to get out the door at 4:20! I am impressed! We just can never seem to do so well!

    LOL, if I took pictures of the 8 tracks from my childhood (what we listened to in the car~they were my parents) they wouldn’t have been NEAR as cool as yours! They would have been Neil Diamond and John Denver:)

  20. says

    Great photos!!!! And I can not believe that you put up an 8 track photo!!!!! Good times good times…maybe I should say…old times…old times. That selection is way better than my parents collection of polka tunes and Glen Campbell.

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