Load up the car and bust out the marshmallows! It's time for the Rudy's Annual Camping Trip!
This year we went back to Ocean Mesa near Santa Barbara for some fabulous, hardly-roughing-it camping. This site is phenomenal - great grounds, fully stocked snack shack under grapevine covered pergolas, pool, massage room, immaculate bathrooms and showers. This place rules.
And the location is kinda perfect, too. Gorgeous beaches just down the road (where Brad literally swam with dolphins!), close enough to charming little towns like Los Olivos and Solvang for day trips, and tons of local wineries to explore. Let the fun begin!
We were meeting my sister's family and our good friends the Dobsons at camp, but we had to make one little stop before we got there - McConnell's ice cream shop. My husband (then boyfriend) and I took our first trip together to Santa Barbara (at an even posher campsite - El Capitan) where we first stopped at McConnell's for a little frozen treat. Brad suggested we take the babe with us on a detour down Memory Lane for a leg stretch and an ice cream break. I like the way this man thinks!
Abby enjoying the tiniest ice cream cone ever.
We checked in and set up camp quickly, even though the winds were stirring up pretty heavy. They kids enjoyed farting around in the dirt, running in and out of all the different tents, and sitting around the old campfire.
But all of this was just a preamble to the main event: S'MORES! Abby'd never roasted a marshmallow before, but she took to it like a pro. Well, I guess technically she didn't roast her own, but she took to eating them like a pro.
"Try it, Daddy!"
I had one of those perfect Hollywood movie moments with the girls at bed time. Both of them were in the tent curled up with me, one under each arm. We were snuggled beneath a mountain of sleeping bags and blankets while I attempted to read Snow White to them. I say attempted because of the countless interruptions, asides and nonsequeters from the peanut gallery. It was all pretty cute and I absolutely ate up the bouts of giggly silliness and subsequent wrestling matches that followed. (My sister has since reported that Kailey is still talking about Snow White in the tent with Angela. Not gonna lie - warms my heart a little bit.)
The second day was hot as hell and we wanted to get out of the shadeless campsite. The Dobsons followed us into town for a delicious lunch in picturesque Los Olivos at the Wine Merchant Cafe.
Now this is camping!
Next stop the ostrich farm. It takes all of five minutes to walk through this rinky dink operation, but I just can't resist the opportunity to feed these prehistoric buzzards.
Sweet Jeebus, are these creatures ugly.
Down the road is the most amazing gardening center ever. Just crawling with funky tin sculptures and garden tchotchkes and fabulous blooms all around. We never buy anything when we go there, but always threaten to return sans child to haul home an SUV-full of plants and a random sheet metal boar or two. One of these days we'll make good on it.
My golden goddess
Shrek, Fiona and Donkey
The rest of the day was spent trying to keep cool at the pool that second afternoon. And after a few rounds of margaritas and another night of ooey-gooey marshmallowy goodness, this camper was ready to hit the sack.
The next morning as we were busy packing up and heading for home, we had an unexpected guest in our campsite. Up the trail, who should come traipsing in but Brent, our next door neighbor from back in Long Beach! It was the most jarring sensation to be away from home and out of your element and then see a character from your "real life" make an entrance. He happened to have a business meeting up this way and thought he'd surprise us. Mission accomplished!
We bid farewell to Ocean Mesa (and Brent) and headed home dirty, tired and totally happy. Can't wait for next year to do it all again.