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!).

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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 🙂

Big Bear Getaway Part 2

After we set up the tent and swam in the lake, it was time to EAT!!! We had originally planned on cooking dinner at the camp site, but once 4:00 creeped around, we knew it would take forever to get supplies, set up the stove and fire, and hunt and skin small woodland creatures. Ah, you WERE paying attention. Just kidding about that last part.

Happiness is a warm plate

We went to the Log Cabin restaurant, built in 1908. I had previously been here with Matt and fell in love with the friendly servers, family feel and amazing comfort food. Since all I had eaten all day was a small bag of Funyuns and a Greek yogurt, I had the calories to splurge a little bit, so I opted for a biscuit and gravy and pancakes. Carby, greasy, salty goodness. Mmmmm delicious. It was amazing. Every bite tantalized my taste buds and I thanked the breakfast gods and whatever southern granny decided to smother a biscuit with gravy. I imagine said Granny standing in the kitchen saying – “Nah, this biscuit smeared with butter just isn’t fattening enough. Let’s drench it in pork drippings, cream and sausage, too!”

Smores!

All was well and we proceeded to head back to the campsite, stuffed and happy, ready for roasting marshmallows, ghost stories, and a few adult beverages. After one pear cider, I had one s’more and a little bit of chimichurri – an amazing Argentinian concoction made by Virginia’s dad of parsley, red peppers, garlic and spices. I was full but not uncomfortable – and miraculously was somehow only over by 240 calories in MyFitnessPal. (Tip: S’mores are actually fairly low in calories if you use reduced fat graham crackers, one marshmallow, and one chocolate square. Average calories: 120)

My gnome pajamas rock my world.

We then went to sleep (I know you’re jealous of my gnome pajama pants) and I spent the night imagining raccoons circling around our tent and trying to pretend the cold, hard ground was really just my gigantic, plush cal-king bed – you know – just a harder version. Yeah, it didn’t work. This was all well and good until I woke up at 6:40 AM to the smell of campfire and the sound of chirping birds with an agonizing stomach ache. I don’t get stomach aches often, and when I do, sorry to be blunt, it’s usually because I’ve been like a rabbit and have been consuming lots n lots of veggies. But this stomach ache was something else. This stomach ache felt like a pack of wolves tearing through my large intestine. I rushed to the camp bathroom (thank you, Hanna Flat, for respecting the modern day innovations of toilets) and regretted every fattening bite I took the day before.

Sorry to be TMI, but that’s kind of what comes with the territory with this kind of blog. I have NO IDEA how all of a sudden my body is like “Yay, healthy food!” and then “OH DEAR GOD NO WHY DID YOU EAT THAT?! PAIN! SUFFERING! BLOATING!”. I really didn’t think I’d made that drastic of a change in my eating habits, but as I’ve discussed with my lovely RD, sometimes the little tickly nerve fibers in your tummy really can sensitize quickly, and react drastically to sudden changes in diet and nutrition. The stomach ache put a damper on the rest of my day, as I’d get nice little twinges of pain to remind me not to eat crap (didn’t work – I had some french fries at lunch). It lasted into Monday, and caused me to miss my nutrition appointment and get a late start to work. So now I know – just say no. Just say no, because while it feels awesome in the moment, like a kid getting his first buck from the tooth fairy, the joy and excitement wears off as soon as the moment is over (in tooth fairy kid’s case, when he spends it on a cheap toy that breaks 4 minutes after he gets it.).

The good news is, my newly acquired “aversion therapy” has kept me on track this week so far, and MyFitnessPal and I have been good friends. It wasn’t the perfect end to my Big Bear weekend, but this isn’t Hollywood, so, ya know, I’ll get over it. Are you like me in that you tend to need sweeping, grandiose physical reminders not to do something, or are you a little more tuned in to the mind/body connection? Discuss!