Today I returned from a wonderful weekend camping trip with my family in Clearlake State Park in Northern California. For three days, I've been completely offline — with no internet, no Twitter, and no cell phone service. It has been a nice break honestly.
I was invited by my cousin Ryan to join a group of our cousins and friends for outdoors relaxation in Clearlake. The camping experience has a been a nice balance of getting back to nature and retaining modest access to civilization.
On the nature side, we were surrounded by a lush Pacific coast forest, populated by deer, rabbit, turtles, and many species of bird. Just a short walk from our campsite was Clear Lake, a 20 miles long expanse of freshwater that is home to catfish, blackfish, perch, and bluegill. The night skies were clear and dark, full of thousands of visible stars.
On the civilization side, we had access to drinking water, toilet and shower facilities, ample parking, and even wifi access near the visitor center (which I never used.) For a city slicker like me, these were all welcome creature comforts that made the entire experience more relaxing and enjoyable.
One of my favorite parts of the weekend was being out on the lake on a large motor boat, swimming in the water, preparing and eating sandwiches, sunbathing, and fishing for hours and hours. Cruising around on a boat is one of my favorite activities that I don't get to do enough.
Seeing a star-filled sky was another rare treat for me. The Milky Way was clearly visible, which I have only seen a few times in my life. And using the telescope brought by one of the other campers I got to see Jupiter and four of her moons! Lying on the beach getting lost in the stars was just magical.
Since most of us in our group were Filipino, meals were a very important part of the trip. We feasted on jambalaya, Philly cheesesteak sandwiches, pancakes and sausage for breakfast, and even a cake that someone managed to bake in the firepit! I ate way too many s'mores every night.
I really enjoyed exploring the hiking trail that winds its way around the campsite area, punctuated by pretty views of the valley, farmland and lake. I hiked it twice and found lots to shoot and marvel at along the way.
Falling asleep to the sounds of the crickets and waking to the morning light coming through your tent was really special. That said, I'm getting a bit too old for sleeping on the hard ground.
The small beach area near our camp was a perfect Tai Chi spot. I'm surprised I even remembered most of the movements, it's been so long. But my breathing was not really in sync with my motions, so it felt a bit forced. A good reminder about how important and difficult Tai Chi practice is.
All of these things were really just icing on the cake, since my main goal was just to spend more time with my cousins, who I don't get to see enough during the year. I loved hanging out with my sister Cori and cousins Reena, Mel and Ryan, who are all very near and dear to me.
All-in-all, it was good for me to get away from the tech, re-connect with my family, and commune a bit with nature. It was nearly the perfect quick getaway.
See more of my pictures in my Clearlake Camping Trip photoset.