Blissfully Unplugged: Camping in Lopez Lake

Hello everyone! This weekend, I went camping for my third annual grad school girls camping trip (here are the posts from 2012 and 2013). I met these ladies in grad school, and we quickly bonded over an insatiable need for caffeine, the horrors of mass communication theories, and how many times we cried each week. I jest (kind of. grad school aint for sissies). We drove north from Los Angeles to Lopez Lake near Arroyo Grande, which is about an hour south of San Luis Obispo. Our campsite was “Buck 12” and was on a shady hill looking over the madmade Lopez Lake, surrounded by oak trees. Isn’t this beautiful?

LopezLake_Sunshine_Buck12_Campsite

We set up our tent on Friday night and made a fancy gourmet dinner of fire-roasted hot dogs and chili cheese fritos, in addition to s’mores. In typical Alyssa fashion I enjoyed the indulgence at the time, but later paid for it when I woke up at 1 a.m. in a swirly nauseous junk food haze. I was really excited this camping trip to try out my new Klymit Static V Camping Mattress because for the past two years I’ve relied on a yoga mat or towel to shield my soft body from the unforgiving rocks. This year I splurged a little and got this camping mattress, which comes to you the size of a Nalgene water bottle, you blow it up with 15-20 breaths, and BOOM! Instant mattress. I was really happy and surprised with how durable and comfy this thing is… and it totally doubles as a fashionable skirt. See?

Klymit_SleepingPad_Camping_DoubleChinDiary

We woke up the next morning and headed out on what was supposed to be a 1.1 mile hike, but ended up being about four miles because we got lost several times trying to actually find the trail. It was all good training for the 3-Day, especially because it was in hills, in the middle of the day, in the sun. While we tried to find the trail, we enjoyed seeing the numerous deer at the campground who were totally unafraid of humans.

Deer_LopezLake

We finally made our way to Blackberry Trail and were so excited we had to take a picture with the sign. The hike was beautiful, with lots of fluttery butterflies, shady fern groves, and brambles of berries. Because we’re awesome, we actually got on to another trail after some other hikers had told us they had seen a bear on it (Yes, we wanted to see a bear!). Sadly, we did not run into any California Black Bears, though I did hear one huffing and puffing around our tent later that night (bears have a very distinct huff n’ puff style breathing. See?)

Hiking_BlackberryTrail

Training for the 3-Day has really shown me how important the right shoes are, and I was happy for this hike to be wearing my Ahnu Women’s Sugarpine Air Mesh Hiking Shoe. I actually won these on Facebook (and so did my friend Julie – see? She’s wearing hers, too!), and I have to say I’m loving this shoe for hikes. They have plenty of support around the arch and toe box, and the grip was great as we scaled up loose dirt and tip-toed down shale-covered ravines. Plus they come in cute colors in a size 11, which is actually a big deal because most shoe manufacturers stop making cute things past a size 10 (thanks, Ahnu!).

SugarPine_AirMesh_HikingShoes_DoubleChinDiary

After our hike, we schlepped back down the mountain to the Marine store, treated ourselves to a well deserved cheese burger, and then hiked all over the campground again to go lay on the lake beach for a few hours. Sprawling in the sun felt SO GOOD. Then, it was back to our campsite for dinner for night 2 – ceasar salad and JIFFY POP! Jiffy Pop is kind of the best thing ever when you’re camping, just because it’s so fun to make over a fire. You basically shake it like crazy and then watch the foil on top turn into this huge martian head filled with delicious buttery corn.  It’s worth the $2. Do it!

JiffyPop_DoubleChinDiary

I think I so badly needed this camping trip because early Saturday morning, my phone ran out of battery and I was able to super unplug for the whole weekend. As much as I love tweeting and instagramming, there’s nothing like taking a break from being “on” and spending time really being present, like the amazing colors in this sunset, or the tiny tomato plant growing in the camp water fountain — or, even better, laughing with my friends!

LopezLake_Sunset_DoubleChinDiary

When was the last time you went camping? Are you a fan of camping or is it not for you? I definitely love camping but have learned over the years it’s better to go a little closer to “glamping” and splurge on things like a sleeping pad, bringing a table cloth for the camp, and choosing a campground with showers. Those little things can make a big difference in your comfort level! What did you do this weekend?

GradSchoolGirls

*I was not compensated in any way to write about the sleeping pad or Ahnu shoes, just wanted to share two things that made my trip less campy and more glampy. There are affiliate links in here which will earn me a few pennies if you end up deciding to check either item out 🙂

Weekend Get-Away: Big Bear Lake

Hello, Double Chinners! Sorry things were quiet around here for a few days. My hubby and I were in Big Bear Lake celebrating our one year anniversary of our wedding!

Score! We're Married!

While I’m not proud of it, I didn’t track a single thing through out the weekend. This was not wise, as it lead to copious indulging in things like creme brulee and NY strips… BUT… it was my first wedding anniversary, I splurged, and I had a great time! (Happy to report: back on the WW tracking train today!) It’s not really related to weight loss, but pix are fun – so let’s take a little pictorial recap of Big Bear, shall we?

Here we are at Juniper Point:

Exploring Big Bear Lake

And here’s Matt in our creepy haunted B&B (I’ll save that for another post… but let’s just say – 5 year old little girl ghosts? SCARY)

Matt looks for Casper

Here’s an amazing hand-made marshmallow from a great cafe called the Copper-Q where we had hand squeezed lemonades and iced coffees after sunny afternoons outside:

Stay-Puft, you got nothin' on this!

Here I am eating an awesome turkey sandwich on squaw bread from the “Big Bear Belly Deli”. It was a really tasty sandwich but almost had too much cheese. Or maybe I’m just not a fan of cheddar with turkey. *shrug*

I <3 sprouts

Here I am at a really haunted restaurant we ate at called The Log Cabin. (Over 100 years old – the waitress said apparitions of women in blue aprons (which was part of the original uniform) walk back and forth throughout the kitchen) I had some AMAZING biscuits and gravy with fried eggs. I should have had a heart attack on the spot from all the fat and salt, but they were incredible and brought back major memories of my grandma’s southern soul food cooking.

Is there a ghost behind me?!

Here we are at the Moonridge Zoo, which was full of rehabilitated animals. Their three grizzlies were there after raiding a campground three times too many. Can you see the big bear in back of our heads? It was fun hearing these guys snort and huff and puff as they lumbered around their enclosure. We also got to make the coyotes howl. That was cool.

Da Bears

Then, we had a fancy dinner at a place called the Peppercorn Grill. I had a NY Strip and Matt had the porterhouse. It was good – but couldn’t top their Artichokes Romano appetizer. It was baked artichoke hearts covered in balsamic vinegar, garlic, and parmesan bread crumbs. The creme brulee we shared for dessert was perfect – a nice crispy shell and cool, sweet custard underneath. So good. So, so good. So worth the few pounds I probably puffed up.

Before we pigged out at the Peppercorn

We drove home yesterday morning and had to pull over to capture some of the sheer scenic gorgeousness. Big Bear is absolutely stunning and a super friendly little town – and it only took two hours to get there from Los Angeles. We’ll definitely be going back!