Thank you for the sweet comments on my last post - I really, truly appreciate all your well wishes and my heart goes out to all of you who are negotiating a holiday season in the midst of loss. Getting away for Thanksgiving was the right choice this year. Our campground was far enough out that it had zero cell service, which made it easy to disconnect completely (I usually put keep my phone on airplane mode anyways during camping trips but fully admit I'm guilty of turning it on briefly to upload Instagram pictures). We had a bit of a lazy trip and spent almost all of Friday afternoon napping instead of hiking, but it was a nice change of pace.
We splurged last month and got ourselves a fancy tent. Our old backpacking tent is starting to show its age and we decided that it would be nice to have a bigger one for car camping trips. I have to say, being able to stand up while changing your clothes is pretty amazing. And we had room to put Circe's food and water out at night without kicking it over in our sleep.
Speaking of Circe, we forgot her backpack and tried to make do with this simple drawstring one we happened to have in the car. I wouldn't call it an utter failure, but it definitely curtailed our hiking a bit and we won't make that mistake again.
We're working on streamlining our camping prep so that we'll mostly just have to toss a couple bins of equipment in the car and make a quick stop at the grocery store on the way out of town. Right now we have things sort of organized, but sort of means that we forget something important almost every time.
Campground details: We stayed at Wheeler Gorge campground, about 7 miles outside Ojai. It was beautiful and remote but I'm undecided on whether we'd go back. Our campsite was pretty good (67) and we were able to put our tent on a little bluff above the picnic area, which made it feel more private. The campsites in general are close together and not too well shielded, so you definitely feel like you are hanging out with your neighbors. There are a couple that seem more private (61 in particular looked great). This campground is privately operated, which means it's a little more pricey than some ($20/night). There is no running water, so pack accordingly! The main downside in my opinion is that there aren't many trails that you can easily walk to from the campground, so you will have to drive in order to hike. Not a huge deal, but I really love a campground with more walking access. This one is right off the 33, which is a beautiful, windy highway and very popular with motorcyclists and cars alike (i.e. didn't feel super safe to walk on, even though I did see people doing it). Because we couldn't walk much outside the campground I felt a little claustrophobic. We drove further out to Rose Valley for a bit of hiking but next time I think we'd try the Cozy Dell trail and D really wants to do some backpacking on the Matilija Canyon trail at some point, which I'm excited about in theory, although uncertain about how we would go backpacking with our aging dog (front carrier for her?).