The Professor Goes West//Day 12//Setting Up Camp

Day 12—Thursday, May 31, 2018

We woke up early to say goodbye to our friends. We then headed north stopping at missions along the way.

We arrived first at Santa Barbara Mission. It was packed with tourists, so we just slipped into the back of the church behind the barrier to pray. We renewed our Marian consecration in the back of the dark church to the sound of the tour guide in the front. The chapel for adoration was locked, though there was a beautiful view of the California landscape out the front door.

Our second mission of the day was Santa Inès—Saint Agnes—where my friend Gina met us with her two little boys. We prayed for our home parish, and the kids enjoyed the cemetery and the fountain. There was a remnant of the first seminary of the missions there as well.

We then drove quickly north to get to our campsite before dark. We slowed down to see the San Miguel Mission and then stopped to get gas and ice in the town. It was an old crumbly looking mission from the outside and was situated in the middle of a dry, golden valley. We headed further into the wilderness of central California. The San Antonio de Padua Mission was situated beside Ft. Hunter Liggett in the middle of a dry field. We drove up and took a quick look at the mission which was closed. From there we took a 13-mile winding road over a mountain. The road was narrow and super curvy going first through a dry savanna and then into a forest. It was 6 miles up and then the landscape suddenly changed from forest to dry, wavy grass with the endless sea at the base of the mountains. The drive down was terrifyingly beautiful as we navigated around sharp rocky curves with oncoming traffic. At the bottom we found the Big Sur Coast of steep cliffs ending in a cerulean blue ocean.

At last we arrived at Limekiln State Park where we drove into our campsite beneath the timeless Redwoods. The professor put up the tent while I made a supper of macaroni and cheese with summer sausage and salad. When we had things washed up, we walked down to the beach for the sunset. The repetition of the waves on the jagged rocks was peaceful and lovely. After a roaring campfire, we all when to sleep to the sound of a bubbling brook.

By the end of our trip, the professor had the campsite set up down to a science. The first order of business was planning where the tent would go. Some campsites had a designated tent spot, raised with fine rocks underneath—others left us up to our own judgment. When we picked a large enough, level enough spot the children would clear away any sticks, pinecones, and/or rocks. We then gave them the job of setting up chairs around the fire pit and staying out of the way. We usually had one of the girls keeping the toddler boy out of trouble while we worked.

We always stored the tent at the bottom of the trunk with suitcases above them and the lighter bedding on top. He would throw all of the pillows and sleeping bags into the back seat, stick suitcases on the picnic table. Then he would lay the tarp on the tent site and begin to set up the tent. When the tent was up, he asked a child or two to help him carry sleeping bags, pillows, and pads into the tent and lay them out in the right spots. We also brought our suitcases into the tent since we had a lot of space. He then used his Eagle Scout knot skills to hang a rope line between trees for wet towels and rags.

If we were eating a meal at the campsite, we would get out the materials I needed and I would work on the table and dinner while the professor pitched the tent. For the table I always clipped on our vinyl tablecloth on the whole table except for about 18 inches at the end where we used the propane stove. If it was buggy out, we would light a citronella candle to keep the bugs away from our meal prep. I often had the girls help me set the table, heat up food, and fetch water for dinner. After we ate, we would boil water on the stove and wash the dishes in soapy water in one tub and rinse them in the next. We put the kids in charge of the rinsing and drying. Then we could relax and and enjoy the campgrounds!