So we took the kids for their first camping trip July 14th through the 17th. We had looked at many areas, both close by (Del Valle Reservoir in Livermore) to far away. California has so many awesome places to camp. We decided however, the first camping trip be one of my favorite places, Shasta Lake. This place has been the source of so many of my favorite childhood memories, it was very nice to share this place with my family. And it was an awesome trip. This post will recap some of the experiences.
So Shasta Lake has several campgrounds accessible by car at either a resort or by the Shasta National Recreation area. We chose Antlers Campground on the Sacramento Arm of the lake.
The campground is about 1 mile from Lakehead and gives excellent access to most areas on the lake. It is also close to a grocery store and a lot of shore access.
The campground was beautiful. It was very secluded with oak, pine, and manzaninita. Most of the perimeter sites are secluded and huge!! Especially our site. It was separated by trees and poison oak ( now that I have had to deal with the scourge of poison oak this year twice, I know finally what it is and what to stay away from!). There was some nice manzinita trees for the kids to play in.
As you would imagine for July, it was hot at the lake. The day we arrived was the coolest of the days at 99-degrees. The next couple of days averaged between 103 to 107. It did cool down at night to a comfortable 60 degrees. This meant we spent most of the time in the lake. That was way OK. The lake water was about 75 degrees close to the shore and dropped to about 65 degrees about 10 feet from the shore. We have had a lot of rain and snow this year. This, combined with a cooler than normal summer in the rest of California meant that the lake was only 14 feet from the top of the dam!!! To put this into context, the lake level this July was higher than most of the May houseboat trips. So with it being that hot, you can imagine we drank a lot of water, soda, and juice. Oh, yeah, and the campground host also gave away free ice cream sandwiches!!! We got to know the host and his wife very well. Very friendly!
It was a very relaxing trip. Since this is the first time we have camped as a family, we thought it was going to be a bit of a challenge. Far from the truth! It took me about one morning to figure out how to cook breakfast, make coffee over the fire. We should have done this sooner. Of course I brought my griddle so that I could make pancakes and bacon (like my grandfather taught me when we would go on the houseboat). The first morning I also learned the art of finding free firewood. In other words, finding the firewood that previous campers left behind. At the end of the trip, we returned the favor.
When we discussed as a family where we were going to have our first camping trip, the requirements were clear. Sophie wanted to go fishing. Emma want to be able to hike and fish. Myles just wanted to go camping. And for Beth and I, the opportunity to relax. We thought that four days three nights might have been too long; however, it quickly proved not long enough.
So really what do you do camping. Well we played cards with the kids. Ate hot dogs and bratwurst for dinner. The kids became experts in S'more making. And we just relaxed. Every night we had a visit by a couple of Pygmy Owls. Emma and Sophie had never seen so many stars. One thing that has always amazed me about the lake is how you can see the entire Milky Way Galaxy.
That's it for the moment. Overall it was a very relaxing trip. The next post will be more about the activities we did on the lake.