Lower Lake Camping: Blue Oaks, Bull Frogs, Stars

We took a two night camping trip with the next door neighbors to a Hipcamp an hour north of Napa in a town called Lower Lake. It was HOT HOT HOT — peaking in the mid-90s mid-day.

The Hipcamp boasted a 22-acre spread of native California landscape complete with a outhouse and water spigot. Phil and I set up tent under a grove of Oak trees.

Where we live — our backyard has many beautiful Live Interior Oak trees. I noticed that the drive to the campsite had Oak trees with blue green leaves. The campsite had so many Oak trees — I later found out we were in the company of Blue Oaks (Quercus Douglasii) and Manzanitas.

The two boys next door had brought their screens — and had to slowly get used to camping as their iPad batteries were on borrowed time. Soon they embraced the different pace of life and settled into seeing stars and began identifying the strange sound by the swampy pond — a bullfrog. “See the big dipper!” — said Mikey.

There was an attempt to hike to a winery about 1.5 miles away — which gave us a chance to take in the immediate area which was mostly flat farmland. Half way into the warm hike (with kids and little shade) — we realized that though the winery was technically 1.5 miles away — the actual visitor’s center could be deep into the estate. We turned back. We ended up driving and there low and behold the visitor center was more than 1 mile into the start of the property. We got a moment of relief and the boys got some wifi time.

At one point, Mikey (7 year old) and I got to talking. I asked him old he thought everyone was. He said thought I was in my 20s (Holler!) I told him I probably didn’t want kids — he said he didn’t want kids either because they are brats. The boys attempted to teach me a card game called “exploding kittens” — Mikey was extra nice and gave me an “diffuse card” — which is basically a “life”card to save one from explosions. Love this kid.

We ate luxury meals with dry aged steak, pork belly, and thin crust pizzas made from tortillas. Yojimbo went from “ball dog” to “ball/frisbee dog”. I learned to make due without showering. Our cots fit (just barely) into our tent.

Things I’ve learned from this camping trip (mostly about surviving warm weather):

  1. Bring around a spray bottle — you will thank yourself and make many friends.
  2. Bring a handkerchief so you can dip it into cool water.
  3. Mosquito spray is important — wear socks to prevent critters from feasting on your feet.
  4. You can dine nicely on nice bread and nice canned goods. Move over cheese and bread — you’ve got some competition.

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