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The digital ink has barely dried on my last travel blog post, & I am already writing about my next travel plans. It does seem like our little family unit travels a ton, but to be honest, we don’t travel as often as we used to…& by used to I mean in the pre-pandemic days. Leading up to 2019, we traveled a ton, just Jian & I. Sometimes we’d travel overseas twice in one year. Nowadays, we really want to go to a cuss ton of places, especially with our little bean who loves to travel, but we’re so reluctant to travel outside of our California bubble (especially because of all the headlines we see/read in the national news). Even though all three of us are fully immunized, we are still highly cautious about traveling & plan our travels very carefully & thoughtfully.

This year for Jian’s birthday, we have decided to go camping. It was Jian’s idea to travel for his birthday, & we have been itching to go camping again. We were supposed to go camping back in 2020, but our statewide COVID-19 lockdown pretty much cancelled that plan. Plus, I miraculously got pregnant that year, so camping has been out of the picture since then.

Jian has been wanting to go ‘glamping‘ for a long time. He found this great glamping campground semi-near us, & this year we decided would be the perfect time for us to try this glamping experience. Both of us have been talking about when we would introduce our little bean to the whole camping experience, & we thought that glamping would be a good way to test the waters (so to speak), & introduce our little bean to the general idea of camping & also see if she is okay with sleeping outdoors.

In case you’re wondering, ‘glamping‘ is just like the word describes. It’s glamorous camping, where instead of pitching your own tent, cooking food on a self-made fire pit, & peeing behind a tree, you get to sleep in a bespoke camper or a luxury canvas tent kitted out with full-size furniture & take a shower in a locker-room style private bathroom. The campsite is an all-luxury-amenities-included area, that kind of feels like a grown-up, luxurious hotel-esque version of a kids sleep away summer camp.

Jian found an awesome glamping company called Autocamp, with several U.S locations that was just perfect for a first-time glamping experience, especially with a wee little bean in tow. We both have been tinkering with the idea of one day introducing our little bean to actual camping, but right now she’s too young, in our opinion to be roughing it in the woods (or in our case, a state run camping reserve). Glamping at a moderately sized campground with modern amenities will be a good “toe dip” into the waters, so to speak, for our wee little one.

On this glamping trip, we will be celebrating Jian’s birthday in style. Yes, staying in a fully framed-out canvas tent with a comfy bed & sofa lounge area would be fun, but Jian wanted a few more creature comforts, so we initially tried to book a modular tiny cabin, but they were all booked. We ended up booking our next favorite option which was a deluxe Airstream camper, which comes complete with a private bathroom, private bedroom area, & kitchenette/seating area. See photos below for reference.

What makes this experience feel more like camping: cooking your own food over a campfire

We are super excited to try out this Airstream glam-camping experience for Jian’s birthday. We are planning on celebrating in style in the great outdoors. We would love to introduce our wee little bean to full-on camping complete with sleeping bags, a tent & mosquito bites, but for now this will be a good beginner’s introduction to camping to test out if she likes it at all. I don’t know if I will upload any photos here on this blog (I probably will forget to take photos anyway), but I will at least report back here & give my full review of this glamping experience. Until the next adventure cheers!

Today’s song of the day:

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This past summer I was extremely excited that I got to relive a favorite childhood experience with Jian. When I was growing up, my dad would take our whole family to go camping at Lake Tahoe. We always went camping with my dad’s childhood friends & their respective families. My dad would plan everything down to the last detail.

My dad would always book a camping site at one of the fancy-schmancy state-run campgrounds in Lake Tahoe, & when I say “fancy”, I mean the campground had public water spigots (for washing your cookout utensils, etc.) as well as proper locker room style showers & toilet stalls. Most outdoorsmen/women & true adventurists would say that’s considered cheating or glamping, but it was one modern comfort we had to have in order for all the moms to agree to go camping with our group.

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My dad & me at Lake Tahoe

My mom hated camping, but my dad loved it, ever since he learned to camp while being in the Eagle Scouts. When my dad was growing up in Japan, he joined one of the first International Boy Scouts troops, & his troop would often times hike up Mount Fuji & learn how to do outdoorsy survivalist things at the base camp there. That’s where my dad built up his passion for nature, camping, & the great outdoors. My mom, on the other hand, grew up in the heart of the big city in Taiwan & never developed a fondness for the wild outdoors. So in order for my dad to convince my mom to go camping every year, he’d have to find a campground with a few extra creature comforts (like proper toilets & coin-operated showers) so my mom wouldn’t be completely “roughing it”.

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My dad even took my cousins camping with our family friends.

In the very beginning when my dad first started taking our whole family camping, I hated it. I was too little (a.k.a. young) to do any of the things the older kids were doing, so I had to stay back at the campsite with my mom. On top of that, I was scared of getting bitten by bugs, & I hated being/getting dirty. Then, once I joined the Girl Scouts, I learned how to take care of myself & how to do lots of fun camping things with my Girl Scout troop. That’s when I truly started appreciating how much fun camping could be. Every summer after that I looked forward to my dad’s pre-planned camping trips.

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We always camped with the same family. All 3 dads were in the same Boy Scouts troop back in Japan.

Years later, after all of us kids had grown up & gone off to college, my parents stopped camping. Little-by-little my mom donated & gave away all of our deluxe camping gear (which have now become trendy collector’s items), & our yearly camping excursion became a long ago memory. My dad was disappointed that we stopped this yearly summer tradition, but everyone else lost interest in camping, even going to Lake Tahoe where we used to own a vacation cabin in the South Lake Tahoe area. We have since sold our vacation property, since it had become to difficult & complicated for my mom to manage after my dad had passed.

From the first time I had met Jian, I had been mentioning wanting to go on a camping trip, possibly with a big group of friends, or even going with just him. I annoyed regaled him with colorful stories about vacationing in Lake Tahoe & going camping in the great outdoors (managed by park rangers & run by the state of California’s Recs & Parks department). We occasionally talked about going camping with our friends, but we never actually planned it.

I would bring up the subject with Jian every so often during our conversations in our relationship, & we would often talk about making plans but never actually follow through. It wasn’t until this year when I finally was able to convince Jian to go camping with me. Jian was originally born in Canton, China & eventually immigrated to Midtown Manhattan in New York City before ultimately settling down in the California Bay Area. Needless to say he never had any opportunity to explore & camp in the great outdoors.

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One of the biggest mistakes we made was booking our campsite so late in the camping season, but we were still able to grab a sweet spot at the Tahoe State Recreation Area in Lake Tahoe. Ok, once you hear where this state-run campground is located, you’re going to laugh & call us “cheaters” & not authentic campers because our campground was located about a couple of hundred feet away from a shopping strip mall with a grocery store & a CVS Pharmacy as well as local shops & restaurants. Basically, we were located right on the outskirts of the city center, but hey, at least our campground was also right next to the lake with its own dock access.

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Despite not being at a real rugged campground, we both had a great time. The campground we stayed at was a perfect starter campsite for a beginner like Jian. I had the best time teaching Jian all about the ways of camping. I helped him pitch our tent & set up our camping gear. (To this day, Jian still doesn’t know hot to fold up our outdoor lawn chairs.) During the day, we took long hikes around the trails & had a relaxing time hanging out by the lake. In the evenings, we would have simple cookouts, though I wouldn’t call oxtail stew simple. We ate, explored the surrounding trails & popular attractions like Vikingsholm at the Emerald Bay State Park. We even tried our hand at making a campfire, though it didn’t turn out well because our logs kept smoking too much, & I am severely allergic to any kind of smoke (eg. cigarettes, fire, cigars, marijuana, etc.).

 

Overall, we had such an amazing time at our modest little campsite. Jian had such a wonderful first-time experience that he wished we could have stayed at least one more day. He vowed that when we go camping again next year, we will definitely plan much earlier in advance & book more days at the campground. My only gripe about camping this year was that I got mosquito bites all over my arms despite practically drenching myself in extra strength bug repellent. Jian barely sprayed any bug repellent on himself, & he didn’t get any mosquito bites whatsoever. (So unfair!) Then again, a few bug bites won’t deter me from camping again. Next time I hope we can go camping with our friends. It turns out a lot of our friends have never been camping before, & they are eager for me to show them the ropes. How exciting! Until next time, cheers…& I shall leave you with some photos of our camping excursion down below.


Today’s song of the day:

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