How It All Began…

A few weeks ago, I got that notice from WordPress. The one that everyone who blogs using WordPress has gotten or will get once they reach their one year mark (“Happy Anniversary with WordPress.com!”). A bloggiversary as some call it, a great reminder to reflect on your year of blogging and be appreciative of your experience. I AM truly grateful for all the people, amazingly not just family members, who took the time to read my posts and even comment on them. Meeting like-minded, kind and encouraging people through blogging has meant so much to me. The community of WordPress bloggers is an incredibly talented and positive bunch! I, myself, through blogging, have found many blogs that I enjoy reading and learn so much from, keep those posts coming!

Although the bloggiversary triggered my nostalgia about the last year, it made me think back on how and why I even started this blog. There are so many experiences and people that have shaped my life and interests. I could go back far, like how my parents’ love of National Parks rubbed off on me, but let’s keep this post somewhat manageable and skip ahead to how my hubby and I developed our mutual love for the outdoors. I met my hubby in college and one of our interests besides playing volleyball was being active and doing our best to not be stuck inside. Going to school in Santa Cruz, CA with the beach and mountains right there, it was a wonder how we graduated. Like most college students, we didn’t have a lot of money, so hiking became one of our favorite pastimes, which eventually led to our interest in camping after seeing all the gorgeous campgrounds during our park visits. We borrowed my parents’ old camping “equipment” at first, but soon realized that we needed basic comfort and would need to invest in our own gear. The loftless Coleman sleeping bags which sucked up all your body heat and the tent with the 30 sticks you had to put together to set up, just wasn’t going to cut it. It was especially evident when we camped in cold weather – you have to have the right gear! So now we know, we’ve had a million other learning experiences, and we feel fortunate to have a ton of fun stories about our misadventures 🙂 (you have to be able to laugh at yourself, that’s something we learned early on).

Our first camping trips were, um, “unique and interesting,” but eventually we learned from experience and started to get the hang of things. Our birthday/Christmas presents to each other were usually some kind of camping gear. My hubby got flak from our friends when I joked that all I got for my birthday was a flashlight and batteries (it was actually a very nice flashlight and a sweet gesture, it sure did come in handy on the next camping trip). We introduced our friends to camping and hiking and helped them overcome any trepidation that prevented them from experiencing the outdoors. We used the phrase, “learn from our mistakes,”…a…lot. Through it all, I realized that I loved that feeling you get when something you did helped someone else have an experience that they might not have had. I love being able to plant an idea in someone’s head and then am overjoyed when they tell me they actually used that idea to create a life experience/memory. I think this is my drive, the reason why I blog. It gives me a purpose to my writing.

My background is in microbiology and have spent many years working in a laboratory and publishing papers in scientific journals. Science writing is so different, so regimented. I don’t think it can be any other way, though, when you write about your experimental results. On the plus side, I’ve never had to use any kind of sleep aid because I always have a scientific article around to help me doze off. Until I started this blog, I forgot how much I liked to just write. I felt free with my words finally. I had the creative power and it felt so good. Then to be able to add my own photographs to my writing, well, it was just heaven. I know I have a ways to go with my writing, but I am having fun practicing and it is my hope that it at least comes across as earnest.

When my daughter was born, we stopped camping altogether. It just seemed like too much work and we were ok with that decision because life got a bit crazy. However, when she turned two, we started getting that itch to widen our world a bit more. We gingerly made a reservation at Memorial County Park in San Mateo County thinking that we could drive home at any moment if we needed to (believe me we were ready, I think I slept in my day clothes). This park was pretty small and one of the lesser known parks in the area, but it was exactly what we needed for our first camping trip with a toddler. A large private campsite, a creek right behind the site and plenty of nature to be amazed by. Our first camping experience consisted of setting up camp, playing in the creek, making a campfire and going to sleep. There was nothing extraordinary about it, but it was a perfect introduction to camping for a two-year old. My daughter loved camping, she was enamored with all of it. I admit, I could have used a bit more relaxing, but I wanted to be prepared for anything… just in case. She was mesmorized with the campfire, and how magical it was that it made these puffy, white, melted-goodness on a stick. My hubby and I saw camping and nature through her eyes and experienced everything for the first time again. This modest camping adventure started it all. Fast forward many years later and we are still in love with exploring the outdoors. It has almost become a necessity, a time we use to get away from it all and just breathe. A time we reconnect as a family and put everything in perspective, to remember what is important in life. It is also a time when we let loose and just have fun, life needs that too. 🙂

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First family campsite at Memorial County Park
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The creek in the back of the campsite, perfect for entertaining kids (for hours!)
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Setting up camp
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Getting her chair ready in the prime spot to roast marshmallows
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Everything was so interesting, even this rock
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…and this stick
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She wasn’t too sure about banana slugs at first, but was blowing kisses at them by the time we left
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We came back year after year, I’m not sure why I always dressed her in a skirt for camping
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Our daughter thought our “campsite roof” was so pretty

Memorial County Park is a small (673 acre), but beautiful park with plenty of old-growth redwoods in San Mateo county. The park can be found 15 minutes from the coast on Pescadero Creek Rd. The campground never felt crowded and the creekside campsites are just perfect for families with kids. I posted about hiking in this park before (here), but I think better hiking can be had if you continue further east on Pescadero Creek Rd to Portola Redwoods State Park. For us with a young kid back then, we were very happy playing in the creek and hanging out around the campsite.

Since we passed by numerous state beaches on our way home from camping at Memorial County Park, we usually included beach time. Beach time after camping was like icing on the cake for my daughter. Pure joy! One annoying thing did happen as a result of camping, she would NOT stop asking us if we could go camping again. Talk about harassment!

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Tidepools at Bean Hollow
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Beach time!

Looking at these pictures reminds me how much my daughter has grown since then, she will be starting high school in the fall (gulp) and life will probably get even busier for her. We have to make a real effort now to fit in our family outings, but it’s nice to know that she still looks forward to them and is a willing and active participant. We have a few camping trips, as well as number of day trips and hikes planned for the coming year in between school, sports and work, so hopefully there’ll be things to blog about. Favorite recipes and previous travel will fill in as well.

This past year of blogging has been a great learning experience, and I’ve really enjoyed it. There were definitely times when I just didn’t have time to blog or have anything to blog about, but I liked that there were no deadlines, it was purely up to me to write… or not. I was grateful for the sense of accomplishment I felt after finishing a post (then not so grateful for the nervousness I felt before I pressed the ‘Publish’ button to put your post out there in the world). And of course, I am grateful for YOU for taking the time to read my posts! Thank you so much!


19 thoughts on “How It All Began…

  1. What a wonderful reflection on your one year blogging anniversary! Congrats! I loved reading about your reason for blogging (your story is very similar to mine…hubby and I met and hiked throughout college), and your passion for the parks and camping really shines in all your posts and photos you take. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy your blog so much! I really adore the photos of your daughter and love that you have inspired her love for nature and are such a good role model for her! I hope she realizes how lucky she is! 🙂 Keep up the good work and congrats again! 🙂

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  2. Happy Blogiversary, my friend! I loved everything about this post, especially your reflection on blogging and how your outdoors experiences evolved with your hubby and daughter. Oh my goodness, how little and CUTE is your daughter in those photos?! Killing me with the cuteness–blowing kisses at banana slugs. 😀 I’m so, so grateful to have gotten to know you through your blog over the past year; your inspiring posts have planted more seeds in my head than I can count. It’s been wonderful connecting with someone so like-minded, kind, and inspiring– congrats on a truly stellar year, and please keep those posts coming!

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    1. Thank you! I am soooo glad to have met YOU through blogging!Your posts have been such an inspiration to me and I always look forward to them. Your encouragement has meant the world! It was fun to reflect, but phew the time flew by so fast. I know you get that too, especially when we measure it with how much our kids grow! Thanks for everything blogging sistah!

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  3. I really enjoyed reading this. It makes me think back to how we got started too. We started small with tent camping, and when the boys were really little we tested it out at a state park only 20 minutes from home so we could bail if necessary, like you said. 😉 And actually we did once when we had lots of rain and whiney kids we just packed it up and went home. The time sure has flown since then! I love that you still get out on camping trips with your daughter. Hopefully when she’s in high school you’ll still have time to get away sometimes.

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    1. See, you totally get me with the first time camping! “Ready to bail,” that’s a real thing! So glad to have gotten to know you through blogging!! Love your posts from all over the US and your full-time RV life choice. So true about time flying by! It’s seeing the kids from year to year that makes it so real. Thanks always for you kind words and encouragement, they’ve meant so much!

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      1. Thank you for your kind words also! I’m glad to have gotten to know you through your blog. Btw, we’re at Grand Canyon right now and it’s freezing! I’m hoping we’ll get to do some bike riding while we’re here if it warms up.

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  4. What a beautiful and eventful journey down memory lane. Thank you for sharing it with us. What a great journal this is for your daughter and others to see the blessings you have. Keep sharing and we are so excited about what 2017 is going to be for you!!!

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  5. What a touching and well written trip down memory lane!! I was in love all over again as I saw “little one” enjoying each and every experience from beach, to rocks, to all of nature. Oh yes, marshmellows too. Your writing and pics are excellent but the flow and personal sharing bring me along with you..from early simple learning experiences together to your smooth and organized style today. Thank you, thank you. Since I too was a nature girl in my youth(no real camping), I can put my imagination in gear and share travel experiences. Just the best…..

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    1. Thank you for your encouragement! I truly appreciate your comments and kind words. Not exactly smooth and organized today, but trying and learning as we go 🙂 Glad you liked the pics of little one, who is not so little anymore.

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  6. I was filled with nostalgia after reading your post. My family never did any kind of camping or hiking but I vowed, when I was old enough, I would wander the world. I’ve camped in amazing parks, and wandered countless landscapes with my husband (and son, when he was younger). Now that my son is grown and has a new family of his own, I’m hoping that the hiking/camping bug has bitten him too.
    I have so many memories of amazing adventures, that I wanted to capture them to share with family and friends. Just like you, blogging was a perfect way to do it!
    My husband and I are currently on a train bound for Rome from Venice, Italy. I’m hoping to be blogging about this adventure in no time at all!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sounds like you’ve had an amazing time traveling with your family and have so many more adventures ahead of you. It’s fun to plan and dream, but it’s also fun to look back and reflect on all the wonderful experiences. Thanks for commenting and have a wonderful time in Italy!! Looking forward to your posts 🙂

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