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. 🙂
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!
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!