With both kids home for ten days, I needed a plan and fast. Enter El Capitan Canyon, north of Santa Barbara.
I first tried camping here two years ago with a friend for a writing retreat, but the Santa Barbara fires had turned my fantasy of good air quality into an asthmatic’s nightmare.
Armed with both kids and some food, we made the less than two-hour drive north. The website claimed that the canyon is “car-free”, but that’s hardly the case. In addition to people driving into the campsite to load and unload their cars, there are the service cars that seem to loop around every few minutes. Luckily, it was a chance to reinforce good road-crossing safety.
The sight has multiple lodging options from bare-boned, pitch-your-own-tent camping to platformed, canvass tents (with beds) and then the cabin option that comes with a kitchenette and ½ bathroom. We picked this option since Doodlebop is still too small for a sleeping bag.
Mr. P’s BFF, Mr. G, came along with his mom and two had fun riding bikes, swimming in the pool and playing on the play structure. There was plenty to keep them occupied.
We’d start each morning off with a hike down to the lodge for coffee and a bite to eat. And I finally got to turn my Ergo carrier into a back-pack carrier.
The kids were bundled in their cozy jackets...
They got to see tons of wildlife: bunnies (to which the barely speaking Doodlebop exclaimed, “Wow!”), a mouse, a tick and bats.
Doodle found an empty cabinet that he spent about an hour exploring. Then his brother joined in the fun.
At the beach, a 5 minutes drive from the campground, we saw a pod of dolphins swim by and a seal checking out surfers in the water. (By the way, the photos were taken on my i-phone, using the Hipstamatic app that is SO much fun to play around with!)
At night, we cooked dinner and s'mores (that we now call "shmoe's" thanks to Toy Story) over an open flame...
and although we told the kids it was midnight, we ended up in bed and sleeping by 9 o’clock each night. If only the pull out couch I slept on had been comfortable! I would have gotten so much sleep!!
In the morning, it was time for some serious rock-climbing before exploring the poison-oak infested ravine....
All in all, it was a fun three days, with plenty of outdoor time to wear the boys out and lots of mischievous grins.
I would definitely go back again, with or without kids.