Anna Maria Locke

life in the woods

So I spent the last two months camping in the woods on the west shore of Lake Tahoe in a tent, and it was awesome.  California is definitely THE place to be if you are living outside for extended periods of time... dry weather, endless sunshine, minimal bugs, giant trees, hiking galore.  Coming back to the steambath of Illinois in full swing summer has been quite the shock to my poor abused body. 

I am still not sick of camping, although I am glad to be finished with shoving all food and toiletries into a small steel bear box.
le bear box
[this was taken as we were packing to leave. now imagine box chock full of a week's worth of groceries for 4 guys/2 girls. a stressful organizational nightmare]

The importance of the bear box was impressed upon us our very first night, as we woke up to find our neighbor's car windows smashed in from a curious bear investigating her empty toiletry bag on the passenger seat.  In the midwest, we have campground and park racoons. In the Tahoe basin they have campground black bears. Harmless if unprovoked, but very very annoying.  We had a running tally of about a bear a week passing through our campsite. 

I will admit that it is also nice to have unlimited showers and access to a full kitchen again. 

We woke up every day with the first light and caws of the divebombing motorcycle gang-like shrub jays and went to bed with the sun, and spent all day in remnant old growth forest on the sides of mountains measuring giant pine and fir trees like these

I ate mass quantities of delicacies such as granola bars, bagels, Nutella, m&m trailmix, mac n cheese, and chili.  The only things from that list that still sound edible are granola bars and Nutella. Ok mayyybe just Nutella.

Except for one weekend in which we vacationed from hiking and camping by driving to Yosemite to (what else??) hike and camp, we did all our work in areas around the lake, which sits right in the vertex of the angle between California and Nevada.  It is ridiculously gorgeous, blue, ice cold and completely empty in June, but full of speedboats, sailboats and yachts during the (much warmer) vacation season in July.

  Beaches+Mountains in one location=happyhappy Anna
It's almost too good to be true, except that you can really only own decent property if you are a multimillionaire.  Luckily there are several really nice lakeside state parks to camp in.  We stayed in Sugar Pine Point State Park, which used to be the vacation home of rich Victorians. The historic mansion and beach are now open to the public.  If by chance you are ever planning a camping trip to Tahoe, I would definitely recommend this park, as well as D.L. Bliss and Emerald Bay which are down the road. 

My number one tip for long-term camping: Invest in a quality air mattress. It makes all the difference.