My family has been camping at the Leo Carrillo Campground in Malibu since we were babies. I couldn’t tell you how many times my sisters and I roasted marshmallows around those campfires under the shady sycamore trees. As we grew older we continued to carry on the tradition of our family trips (though sadly these days it’s so popular now we have to book 6 months in advance!) and just this past September we went again – this time with our own children. I love making the memories with them that we cherish so much now as adults from our own childhood.
We load up the car with all the necessities and then some. My Dad always makes fun of my tent – also known by my family as “Tent Mahal” – but I still can’t see how a three-room tent is unreasonable when it must sleep two adults, two dogs, and two kids! He makes fun of the fact that I don’t use sleeping bags, instead, opting for a full mattress topper, several comforters, quilts, and an army of pillows so that it essentially looks identical to my bed at home (I don’t mind roughing it but I need a good night’s sleep for Pete’s sake). I also bring rugs for the floor of my tent and a broom to keep it nice inside. I get funny looks because I bring my glass French press for my morning coffee (it’s my favorite!) while my Dad fishes his crumbled little bags of English tea out of his cargo shorts. I also need 4 tokens and flip flips for the campground showers whereas my Dad just waits until he goes for a swim in the ocean. Needless to say, we camp quite differently but our love of camping at Leo Carrillo is the same. And since the kids are such good campers now (my first camp trip with Vivi didn’t go as smoothly as I had hoped as I was unable to bring her entire crib with us which is what she wanted) we try to go as often as we can.
I also am one of those people who plan all the food down to every little drink and snack. I make a full breakfast/lunch/dinner/drinks/snacks meal plan and keep a very organized camp kitchen. My favorite camp breakfasts are pre-made, foil wrapped breakfast burritos (that way the work and mess is done at home) that we throw straight on the campfire. Another favorite are personal breakfast bowls. You bring a bag of pre-sliced bell peppers and onions and divide them between little disposable trays. Add two eggs, shredded cheese and chives and put on the campfire grill. I let everyone heat and stir their own bowl and tend their accompanying piece of toast or corn tortilla. Top with salsa and avocado to make it extra fancy and serve with hot sauce.
The lunches I made this time were Skillet Nachos, Tuna Melts, and Cheddar-Beer Dip with fresh pretzels and the dinners with things like fish, rice and beans, or pesto pasta with veggies, or occasionally one of us will cruise a short distance up the PCH to a seafood biker joint called Neptune’s Net for some food to go.
To entertain ourselves we play beer pong and scrabble or we head over to Leo Carrillo beach for the afternoon to fly kites. The kids also love just hanging around, playing in the tents and perusing the tiny toy section of the little campground general store.
Every time we have to leave it always comes too soon. I hate breaking down my tent (especially considering it’s three rooms and has a giant bed inside!) and leaving our brief little family commune, the kids are always tearful and I’m left facing a daunting amount of laundry but we have made memories – the best possible kind.