Just over two weeks into summer and I'm already two weeks behind on the blog. I'm going to say it must be because we're having so much fun. Although maybe it's because I was a scheduling fiend with this summer and we're so booked, it's just ridiculous.
Just four days after Smunch's last day of school, the mommymobile was packed to the gills for our first trip of this summer. First stop, camping at the beach in Santa Barbara.This was sort of a compromise camping trip. I really wanted to go camping this summer, but we have another big trip planned and we always go to San Diego to visit Aunt Karen and SPENCER! Three trips in one little summer sounded like an awful lot, so I decided to combine the camping trip with our road trip to San Diego instead. Yeah, I know. And you're right.
Summer in California has so far been kind of chilly this year and Santa Barbara was no exception. The day we arrived was lovely and since there's no keeping the kids out of the water, that was a good thing. And, compared to our trip to Burney Falls, the whole thing was really rather balmy. It certainly didn't snow and being outside wasn't unpleasant, even if it wasn't always sunny and beautiful.
As soon as we got our tent set up, we headed down to the beach and the kids had a blast in the water while I looked around for likely spots for tidepooling the next morning. There aren't really tidepools there like there are in Monterey or Carmel, but there were some rocky areas at least. After an hour or so at the beach, it was getting windy and we headed back up the hill for dinner.Fancy dinner with hotdogs, baked beans, salad and corn, followed by s'mores. Yummy. Then, the kids and I headed out to watch the sunset at the beach while Daddy tended the fire. Turns out, you can't really see the sunset from this beach at this time of year. It sets over the little peninsula to the north, but it was still pretty out there and we got to watch groups of pelicans diving for food in the twilight...at least when the kids weren't busy seeing how far they could throw rocks into the ocean.After breakfast the next morning, we did head out to the tidepools, such as they were. And even though there were no real "pools", there was plenty to see. I always consider it a successful tidepool trip if I see a starfish. There were plenty and they were big ones!There were both purplish ones and orange ones. I just didn't post any of my orange starfish photos. There were also plenty of beautiful anemones out there. The kids were thrilled to touch them and feel how their tentacles sucked their fingers. I, on the other hand, went to work trying to capture the beautiful color.On the way back to the campground, we discovered this cool, nasturtium-covered trail off through the trees.We took a quick trip into Goleta and did a little letterboxing around the historic Stow House there. There were some neat birds to see in the fields around the house and we were moderately successful in finding the three boxes. We went back to the campground for lunch and then back out to the now dreary-looking beach for the afternoon. Fortunately, kids don't seem to care what its like out there. They kept themselves busy digging trenches in the sand and watching the tide come in and fill them up.As my mom always said. The amount of dirt on a kid is proportional to the amount of fun they've had. I'd say Mam had a pretty darned good time.The highlight of the trip...well, sorta...actually happened the second night after the kids were all snug in their sleeping bags and Daddy and I were relaxing around the campfire. There was a rustle in the bushes up by the tent. I'd heard something similar the night before, but I'd been inside the tent and didn't get out in time to see what it was. This time, I was armed with a big Maglite and I flipped it on. Just as quickly, I flipped it right back off because I'd clearly seen the critter up there by the tent...at least I'd clearly seen the fabulous plume-like tail...magnificently fluffy and black, with white stripes.
I still can't imagine what we'd have done if a skunk had sprayed our tent. Of course, the skunk wasn't concerned in the least. In fact, it turned out that the skunks in this particular campground are pretty fearless around humans. I suspect it would take stepping on one to make it spray you. And I almost had that opportunity. Because, there wasn't just one skunk. There were several skunks. No sooner had that one ambled off, than two of them appeared on the other side of our campsite, scampering along together, zipping under our picnic table to see what we might have left them, then playfully heading toward our chairs. I froze. I looked at Scott. He wasn't even there. He was already 10 feet away. But I was frozen in my chair and a couple of rambunctious little skunks were having a playful wrestling match around my feet. Yikes.
Oddly, I don't have any photos of these events, so you'll just have to take my word for it. The best I could do was this cute little ground squirrel who posed so handsomely for me the next morning.Cute, huh? And not at all skunky looking.
All-in-all, it was a successful trip. We forgot the dishtowels, but there were plenty of beach towels. We temporarily lost the kids' toothbrushes, but eventually found them. We all slept well, despite the squirrely skunks and ate well, because well, I know that's one thing I can do to make Daddy feel a little less like he's being dragged out into nature with no amenities at all! We brought the kids' scooters, so when they were bored, we could have them take a lap or two...or three...of the campground. Fortunately, there were lots of other kids around too. Assuming they don't go and close our state parks, I think there's a good chance we'll be camping again in the not-too-distant future!