My name is Joyce and I had the opportunity of experiencing my FIRST camping trip with Dirty Gourmet. I am more of an indoor activity gal myself and never really thought of taking a camping trip or going out for runs along the beach. Recently I got off the treadmill and started taking advantage of the outdoors. Soon after I started to sign up for marathons and take my daily jogs to the next level for training. After a few marathons, I started to look into my next challenge. I wanted to get into trail running, so I started my search and found that first I need to be more in experienced with nature and take a camping trip. Luckily my close friendship with Mai-Yan brought me to this opportunity.
I started off by packing three large bags with clothes, food and snacks. I then threw in the tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mat and a chair. Taking advice from about 10 different experienced campers, I did not hesitate to throw in a few extra items, such as a first aid kit, a pocket knife, a few extra blankets, and more food and drinks. By the time I was done, my bags were stuffed and heavy. My alarm went off at 4:30 AM and by 6 AM, I was ready to go.
We ran into a few minor set backs while heading out; filling up the car with gas, slight traffic, oh yeah and me forgetting my wallet and having to go back for it. By 7 AM we were on our way to Ventura to catch our boat out to Santa Cruz Island. Once we arrived at the dock, Mai-Yan jumped out of the car and ran towards her friends full of excitement. I, on the other hand, was scared, nervous, shy and excited all at once. I didn’t know what to expect. Everyone I met was really nice. I had to make mental notes to myself to remember everyone’s name like, birthday Tony and Tony, John with the tattoo on his calf, and the Dads: James and Danny. This worked for me.
The boat ride was amazing. Poor Mai-Yan was trying really hard to focus on the distant mountains in order to avoid sea sickness. I tried to help by starting random conversations to help her forget all about the boat ride. It was a bumpy ride with 8-10 foot swells, but I was simply too excited to feel any kind of motion sickness. In fact, I believe only Emily got sick and fed the fishes. Everyone else held it in. Once we could see the island, I immediately went back to being scared and nervous again. Unloading was quick and painless with the bucket brigade technique. I was amazed at how much stuff other campers were bringing in. We then had to hike 0.75 of a mile with three heavy bags and boy it did not feel too good. I kept my cool and kept walking and offered help once I dropped off my stuff. I knew that camping included some work, so I was ready for it. Everyone set up their tents, laid out their sleeping bags, had lunch and immediately followed with a nap; but I still had too much energy in me. I decided to go out for a quick hike to get the nerves out and check out the island.
My intention was to hike for no more than a half hour, but 2 hours later, I found myself still walking. I wasn’t lost, I was just curious. I walked along cliff sides looking out onto the ocean and made a few stops to take in the view and the experience. I was all by myself and I was tired but I couldn’t believe how awesome everything was. Soon I found a sign that led me back to the beach. Arriving at the beach I laid down and finally took my nap. I was at such peace laying there and listening to the ocean waves. I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to be there. And to think, I still had a day and a half left to explore more of the island. I couldn’t wait!
Dinner each night was amazing! First off, who needs to worry about not being able to cook out in nature, NO ONE. I couldn’t believe how many camping accessories there were in order to make camping easy. There were coffee makers, stoves, pots and pans, Platypus bags filled with wine, a dishwasher- you name it and it popped up. It was a whole new world for me. Then came the food. The dinners were set up to be potluck style. I provided grilled Asparagus with a hint of lemon as well as English cucumbers. Our first night Dirty Gourmet provided Indian Yellow Curry with rice. The second night was Tempeh Tacos with Mango Guacamole and sliced Radish and Carrot Salsa. Dirty Gourmet food is amazing! Our dessert was a huge birthday cake made for Tony made out of home made Rice Krispy Treats and Vegan Rice Krispy Treats for those of us who preferred it. Other members in our party brought in couscous and pasta with artichokes. I must say that it was perfect food for my best weekend ever.
On my second day I went out for 2 hikes. Once again I experienced the feeling of serenity and contentment. I had nowhere I had to be and I could go at my own pace. It was great. The next day I woke up at 5 AM and decided to go for a run. It was among the best parts of the whole camping experience. I was on my own, running, fresh air hitting my face and all I had in my sight was the trail and the ocean over the cliffs up on a mountain top. Behind me the sun was rising and lighting my way. Midway I stared out to the ocean and really took in what I was feeling. It was the best experience ever. It was that peace you see in the trail running magazines of someone running a trail. I could finally understand the emotion in the photos. When I came back, Mai-Yan was waiting for me wide awake to have breakfast. She talked about her kayaking trip the day before and I talked about the run that same morning. Kayaking did sound like fun, but I wanted this trip to be more focused on camping and hiking. I figured that would be my next adventure.
Now that I’ve experienced camping, I can definitely expect to jump out of the car and run towards the dock full of excitement. Now I know what’s out there and what peace and serenity really feel like. That’s what Mai-Yan was so excited about when she went flying out when we arrived. I understand it now. Everyone I met was very kind and helpful. They inspired me with their tales of other camping trips and outdoor activities they love to do. I want to try everything they shared with me. I want to see what else nature has to offer, from year long cycling trips to trying out overnight adventure runs. I will take advantage of the opportunities that nature gives me, one adventure at a time.