Camping in Bottchers Gap, Big Sur CA

We tent camped last weekend at a smaller less-crowded campground called Bottchers Gap in Big Sur, CA. All of the other campsites were full and when we arrived around 2pm in the afternoon there were still open pull-up campsites and lots of walk-in campsites open as well. It started to fill up as the evening progressed but it seems that this place isn’t usually peoples first choice. The campsite is situated several miles down a long canyon road called; Palo Colorado Canyon Rd that leads you through some of the most beautiful and interesting houses I have ever seen. I felt like we were in some sort of secret land as we drove down the meandering road.


The road dead-ends into the campground so you can’t miss it. There is a camp host who lives on-site and has been doing so for 30 years. He really loves to chat so when you arrive don’t be alarmed when he comes out from his little airstream trailer to say hello right when you arrive. He is also very knowledgeable about the area and the rules, he will make sure to tell you about all these things too. DSCF2293Bottcher’s Gap is used by many as a trailhead for backpacking, which I didn’t know when I arrived but I snapped a picture of the map that they had posted at the campground so I could research coming back for a backpacking trip. DSCF2295 DSCF2305

The view from the back of the campsite is so beautiful!DSCF2324

Here is Duke, looking adorable in the early morning sunlight. DSCF2321


On the way back up the coast we stopped at Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk for Pineapple Dole Whips… SO WORTH IT.DSCF2343 DSCF2353


It was a grand weekend indeed. I think we will be coming back for a backpacking trip when it heats back up a little, maybe early spring?



Nevada Road Trip

I’ve been transferring files from an old hard drive that I suspect is going to quit on me soon and have found an amazing array of old digital files from trips. These are from a trip to the Black Rock Desert and Pyramid lake that I took in 2010._MG_9306

The Playa was vast and beautiful._MG_9291

This is a outtake from a little photo session we did, I thought the smoke looked pretty cool._MG_9232

I still can’t do a hand stand._MG_9122

Pryamid Lake was beautiful and BLM land so we didn’t have to pay to stay here._MG_9077 _MG_9069

We brought a tent and ended up sleeping outside the entire trip.

Hendy Woods State Park camping trip

westfalia vanagon Having all the national parks closed for a couple of weeks wasn’t fun. We skipped camping during the weeks the Natl’ parks were closed to avoid over crowded state parks. Last weekend we went to Hendy Woods State Park to camp in the Westfalia. We brought our friends who camped in our tent. Its always nice to have extra camping stuff so that you can take friends with you camping when you want.

I got to have my most favorite camp snack while we were there. The banana smore!

For anyone who hasn’t had one, here’s how it works.

Take a banana and peel away one side, on the inside of the curve of the banana. Carve out some of the banana (and eat that!) to make a little trough to hold marshmallows and chocolate. I usually use chocolate chips if I happen to have some at home.

Once you’ve filled the hollowed out section of the banana with marshmallows and chocolate you put the flap of skin back over that part of the banana. Then wrap foil around the whole thing and put it by the fire. I usually leave it for 3 minutes and turn it with the other side facing toward the fire for a few more and then pull it out and EAT! SO GOOD!hendy-woods-state-parkWe stopped at lots of places on our drive to and from the campground.

antique-store redwood-logs-wood redwood-logs apple-stand-boxesWe got lots of fruit, apple cider and antique shopping done on our drive.

My friend had been invited to a concert on Mt Tam just off a hiking trail, the views while driving up Mt Tam were amazing!mt-tam-view

I have a few more pictures from the concert to come in a following post!

Gluten Free Backpacking

The last time I went backpacking I had a hard time finding food. After visiting my local REI there were no gluten free offerings in the backpacking food section. I searched all over the internet trying to find other people in my situation and what ideas they had. I could have brought rice or quinoa to make each night with some spices to add, but that’s heavy and more time spent cooking. Adding water to a dehydrated pouch is WAY easier than having to dirty more plates to prepare and cook with.

I started looking at making my own dehydrated meals. Which require a dehydrator and I don’t have one of those.

I found a dehydrated meal in the grocery store. The reason I didn’t find them when I was searching before? They don’t market themselves as an outdoor/backpacking company. These are marketed as a normal meal for at home or work. I’m really glad that I stumbled upon them because I tried the beans and rice pouch and it was good! All I would need to do is bring some tortillas and it makes a perfect meal!

StoreHouse Foods Santa Fe Black Beans

Photo Courtesy:

StoreHouse Foods makes Gluten Free meal pouches. I was surprised to find them while I was visiting my parents at their local Raley’s store. I’m super happy that I found them but since I am Dairy Free and Vegetarian there are only 2 flavors that I can eat. The Santa Fe Black Beans & Rice and Classic Vegetarian Chili there are other flavors for those who can eat meat on the website, which is great for any GF backpackers/campers out there.

From my experience these pouches are a lot smaller than most backpacking meal pouches. I would supplement the rice and beans with some tortillas, not that I was hungry after eating but I think that most people (especially males) would probably need more calories while backpacking than me.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that as this company grows there are other selections that are Dairy Free and Vegetarian. I’m still so excited that I found something that I can bring backpacking that’s easy to make and is gluten free! Sorry for dorking out on this, but ‘common! It’s hard to find backpacking food for me!


Road Tripping: Finding Destinations

Hi! Now that the weekend is over, I’m getting back into a new week. I’ve been planning a major cross country roadtrip for the last month of so and everyone always asks when I mention it, what is my method for planning a route. I thought I would share it here:

I plan trips with stops along the way. A large group of my friends are photographers, and stopping to shoot while on the road is essential. Being in a rushed to get somewhere isn’t ideal. If you would like to have this option to stop and check out cool things while on your trip you’ll want to only schedule 6 to 7 hours of driving time per day. We stop to check out cool looking buildings, interesting rock formations or funny little towns while driving.

Be Realistic. I am the WORST at this. I love planning road trips and once I get started I find way too many cool things to stop and check out within the time provided. If you can’t control yourself find a very realistic friend who can talk you through all the destinations you want to see and remove stops you won’t have time for.

Also, make sure you always run all these ideas by the people you are going with. Sometimes everyone is just along for the ride and they don’t care about the destinations and other people are very concerned about where they are going.

I am going to give you some examples. It’s easiest for me to search via images to find great places to check out.

For an example on my process I will use Valley of Fire in Nevada or also listed as Buena Vista Recreation Area and I will search for it in google maps.Valley of Fire LocationWhen I input from SF to Valley of Fire it says it will take 9 hours and 37 minutes to get there. Now, here is where you would need to make a decision if you want to drive it all in one day or break the driving hours up into more than one day. Now for those of you saying, “Pam it’s only 9 and 1/2 hours, just drive it in one day!” Here is my reasoning for possibly splitting it up.

If the plan for the trip is to only camp in Valley of Fire for one night, after driving for 10 hours it will most likely be late in the evening/night and everyone will be setting up camp in the dark. Also when you get to camp after hours you have to go through figuring out the after hours check in without anyone working at the front booth. If I was planning to stay a few nights at Valley of Fire then maybe setting up camp late at night wouldn’t be a problem because there would be a few days to rest up and explore. If you arrive at camp at 10pm and have to hit the road the next morning at 9 or 10am that gives you no time to check out the amazing rock formations (which I recommend, its beautiful there). Personally, I would break this up into two days, so that I would arrive early in the day and get camp set up and hike around and check out the park. So even if we are leaving the next morning I would get to see a little bit of the park. This was a hard lesson to learn.

Anyway, now that I have chosen to split driving into two days, I need to find a place halfway through that I would stay at. I usually zoom in and check out National and State Parks close to the route. I also look for BLM land. If you find BLM land along your route you can backwoods camp on the land for free. This was an awesome lesson that I learned from my Dad. If I have never been to the park I do an image search and see what it looks like.

So for this route I see Mojave National Dessert, Red Rock Canyon State Park, Kern National Wildlife Refuge and Pinnacles National Park to name a few. Then I route directions from SF to each park and then to Valley of Fire, to see how much time it adds to my driving time. So in this case lets say I chose Pinnacles National Park.Pinnacles Valley of FireStopping in Pinnacles didn’t add time, it subtracted it! Actually in this case I assume that Google is being a little funny, but you get the idea. Now I go even deeper! I turn on images within Google maps along my route to see if i find any cool things along the route that are worth stopping at.

rock a hoola waterparkSo in this case (I’m sort of cheating I’ve been down this stretch of highway several times) I see an abandoned waterpark that I think would be cool to explore.  You can also see what the landscape will look like and if there are going to be any beautiful landscapes on your route. Now this might not be your cup of tea. So if you are more into stopping at cool stores, towns or other things…

I can show you how to look for those things too.

Look closely at your route and based on what you want to check out search it on the web. You want to find outlets? search for them with the town names that are on your route. For example: “Fresno CA outlets” or “i-15 California towns to stop at” or “i-5 California roadside attractions” You want to stop in touristy/cute towns while driving? Cool restaurants? Weird roadside attractions? All of these can be found by using images on the maps or looking up the highway names and cities/towns in google. (It probably sounds like this is an ad for Google, but it isn’t!! Google is what I always use when researching for roadtrips.)

There’s also other cool resources that a paper map can provide. Paper maps often times have campgrounds listed on them, as well as national and state parks. I always look at them as well when I am planning to see if there is anything on there that I am missing on the internet. A tangible map can sometimes put things into perspective. I also have AAA roadside assistance and love going into the AAA office and getting free maps and state books… I really love maps.

Having trouble deciding on a destination?

I have this dilemma too. If you can at least pick a direction you want to go in… lets say I want to drive north. Take a look at a map and see what the major cities are and do a search on the internet. Based on how many days you have to travel something that is realistic to drive to and back from. Check out the destinations or things to see. Then look at the national/state parks on the map.

I really love the research part of a roadtrip and if its something you hate, find a friend to invite and get them to plan it! I love it when friends get a hold of me and say they want to go somewhere and ask me to plan it… I enjoy it.

I hope that this method will assist you with finding your roadtrip destinations!

I took a look around the internet and there are a few websites that you can plan your roadtrip routes with. I’ve never used these but I’ll provide links to them in case you are feeling overwhelmed with the planning:   This one has caught my eye a few times, I think I might try it on one of my trips coming up

Road Trip Planner

Weather Underground  Weather Underground will give you weather conditions on your route THIS could be very helpful. Rain has ruined some destinations for me.