Tuesday, September 20, 2011

To the Yurt!

It’s hard to believe it, but our family had not ever been camping until this past weekend.  I know people are either campers or not, and that those in the ‘not’ camp… uh, camp do not see the allure.  That’s fine.  I don’t really see the allure of spending a vacation inside a hotel, honestly.  Growing up, my mother was very restrictive about what she considered an appropriate accomodations and preferred to never leave the comforts of a hotel with massage, room service, etc.  So, I’d never even been camping until I was 20, maybe 21!  I’d been raised to think if it as dubious at best.  However, I loved it, and have camped around the country for weeks on end.  So much for prejudice.  I’d trade a campsite inches from a deserted beach on a whole Key that is a state park or with javelinas snuffling around our tent as we sleep for a mini kitchen any day.

What I’m saying is if you’re on the ‘not camp’ side of the coin, I hope you’ve done it at least once or twice—with adequate gear (who wouldn’t hate not having what they need??) to have a reason for your opinion.  If so, then, well, hey – it’s not for everyone.  :)

Anyway, this weekend we fixed the not been camping as a family problem.  Though Paul and I were strictly tent campers prekids, I decided we’d pad the numbers a bit by ensuring a little comfort in the sleeping and security departments.  Enter the yurt.

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Inside there were 2 bunk beds and a futon to make for sleeping room for 6, and the real door had a lock and deadbolt, plus a fun screen door to go thwap! every time we went in and out.

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Trust me, they went in and out of that yurt about 250 times in the first half hour.  There is a wrap-around deck, and running wildly in circles was mandatory for the under-10 crowd.

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Even inside… run, run, run.  No clue why.  Oh yeah, they’re kids, that’s why!

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It’s kind of like, why would Carter kick this log by the picnic table for five minutes?  Oh yeah… kids.

Once we set up inside and out, and had kicked all the logs in the vicinity, we were off to explore.  Mt. Madonna was once the summer home of cattle baron Henry Miller, and we wanted to see the ruins and have a little hike.

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It took a lot longer to walk a mile uphill with little legs coming along, but we know to slow down, take breaks, and offer a lot of praise and encouragement about what might be around the next bend.

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Especially for the one with the littlest legs.  He was a real trooper.

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Bunny took this photo of the rest of us as we rested in a shady spot on a pretty steep stretch.

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Once we got ‘there’, the kids were rewarded with the white fallow deer.  Sometime about 100 years ago they were gifted to Miller by none other than WRHearst, and had become invasive.  So, the herd is segregated by gender to prevent breeding.  I’m not sure there is not a better way to deal with this—can’t bucks be neutered??—but the kids really did love ‘em.

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Do not put your finger through the fence.  Do not put your finger through the fence.  Repeat.  Repeat.

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The fence is high because anyone who read The Yearling knows deer can jump.  It’s barbed and electrified on top because deers is good eats for mountain lions.

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Then we continued on to the estate ruins.

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The kids loved scrambling around and on the walls.  Funny how even those who declared themselves too tired of walking a whole mile had reserves…

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It’s also funny how quick the walk ‘home’ was.  Of course, it was all downhill, and everyone knew it was not in fact going to be endless.

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By the time we were back at the yurt it was time to make dinner, even though it was only 5:30.  Gotta make hay—or dinner, as it were—while the sun shines!

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Dinner was simply burgers, hot dogs, salad, chips, and these veggies which included our first two homegrown eggplants.  I cut and seasoned them at home, so cooking them was easy.  Compared to the extended Indian family near us who made very complicated meals, we were practically eating Lunchables.  :)

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After filling our bellies and cleaning up after dinner it was campfire time.  Carter decided to see how dirty feet could get, and insisted on going shoeless.

I wish I could report the kids all slept like logs, but in reality, since there are 3 of them, someone was up every hour or two to pee, report his belief that a pair of shoes was a raccoon (reminding him about the locked door helped), or just seek out a maternal snuggle.  I was up a few times and Paul played musical mattresses, sleeping in 3 beds before finally crashing in the bunk Cole deserted in his usual nightly migration to my side.

The next morning, though, the woods were majestic.

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This was right by our picnic table, looking back up at our ‘home.’

We had breakfast, played a while, and decided to declare victory and head home by about lunch time.  I’m so glad I rallied.


Ally said...

Hi there! My boyfriend and I were thinking of taking his kids to camp at Mt. Madonna in the yurts. Any tips for picking out a yurt location for reservations? I just looked their website and am a bit overwhelmed, as we've never been there before.


Kristianna said...

The yurts closer to the bathrooms are also more secluded from the main hiking path that cuts through camp. Sites more to the south and east of the loop on the map are easily visible from the path. We didn't mind the people walking by as camping family, but when it was only us camping as a couple I did enjoy more seclusion.

I hope that helps! We really love Mt Madonna.

Ally said...

Thanks Kristianna!

Anna, The Lemon Lady said...

I love your photos. We've never been camping, but are considering it. Looks like a local gem. The County site should link to your blog post! :)

Kristianna said...

Mt. Madonna is one of those places that is utterly underrated. I hope you consider a yurt if you're new to camping and not sure how "rough" you're really up for. :)


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