Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Beach Camping Revisited

This is a reposting from my first week of blogging last May, you remember that first week don't you? That week when you wonder if anyone will ever leave a comment or if someone will sign up to follow you. I had decided I wanted to write about what I love the most and anything to do with the beach or the tropics fits that bill. The cold snap here in Florida in recent weeks, that I wrote about yesterday, has left me longing for those carefree days spent on the beach with the palm trees swaying and the sound of the waves gently waking me in the morning, so today I'm going to revisit some old memories and I invite you all along. Grab a towel and some sunscreen and

let's head for the beach!

I have loved the beach my whole life. Except for a short stint on a river, I've never lived more than about thirty minutes away from the shore. Well, the first couple of years of my life don't count do they? By the time I was three my life as a beach girl had begun. I was very fortunate to be raised by parents who passed on their love of the beach to me. Here's a picture of me and my dad on a beach in Southern California in 1954. This would have been around the Santa Monica/Malibu area in California.

We lived in the San Fernando Valley, but at some point every month we headed to the beach.

We bought a travel trailer when I was quite young and our favorite trips were, of course, to the beach. This picture was taken in the dining area of our first trailer in June 1956, shortly before my fifth birthday.

One of our favorite places for years was Hobson Park in Ventura County, California. Located about eight miles north of the city of Ventura, Hobson is a very small campground with about thirty campsites. There is no room for it to grow, but there are now homes located to the north. Most everything I remember as a child is hard to recognize now, but Hobson does not fall into this category. Sure, the road is now paved and I understand they have RV hook-ups, but the size and charm is still present. This is Hobson as it looks today:

And this is an aerial shot:

We knew everyone who camped there and became one big family. Those friendships carried on for many years and the memories are among my favorites. You can see from the pictures above that Hobson had a very rocky coastline. We scrambled over those rocks with no fear and when the tide was low we were rewarded with amazing tide pools! We'd find baby octopuses and let them slither on our arms, we'd stick our toes in anemones and scream when their tentacles wrapped around us. We found starfish and crabs, and tried in vain to catch the little fish that would dart in and out of the rocks. We cut our feet on barnacles and slipped on algae, but this didn't slow us down and we never grew bored with exploring our hidden treasures.

Back at camp, the adults relaxed, worked on their tans and planned the next party:

One of the annual favorites was the Hard Times Party. They dressed in old clothes — reminiscent of the Depression Era, so on the left in this picture from 1963 we have what must have been a flapper style dress worn by the older women of that generation and on the right we have a classic hobo look. In the middle is my mom wearing a potato sack dress! Now Hawaii did not become a state until 1959, but my mom went for the tropical look to dress up her sack, adding leis around her ankle and leg, shell jewelry, a light pink wig, and flip flops to complete her ensemble. Don't ask me why — this is my mom's interpretation of hard times. She was a hoot and everyone loved her.

Here are the ladies in color. My mom is wearing her favorite outfit here — a bathing suit, but then mom had the figure for it along with great legs!

The parties at Hobson always included a pot luck dinner. While the women cooked, the men put all the tables together end-to-end, started the campfire for the fish, clams and mussels, and the feast ensued. We ate, we danced, we laughed, we sang and we enjoyed the camaraderie of good friends.

We then moved on to Carpenteria and eventually bought a mobilehome at Paradise Cove in Malibu. By this time I had reached my teenage years and spending weekends and most of the summer in Malibu was a dream come true! Paradise Cove was home to middle-class folks like us and Hollywood stars. We bought our trailer from Lana Turner and our beach neighbors included many popular TV stars of the time.

I have to include a family photo taken at the Cove in 1964. I was 13-years old and loved surfing and surfers! Don't you love my mother's hat?

I'm pictured here with my parents, my brother Gerald and my baby sister Sandy. I loved the Cove and will be writing about it more in future posts.

I still love camping at the beach, but I have gone from a trailer back to a tent. Keep your trailers and RV's, I love tent camping! Here is a pic of my campsite at McGrath Beach in Ventura taken in 1995. I don't rough it by any stretch of the imagination! I have a three room tent and an espresso maker for the fire pit. I camp where there are showers and I don't do hot dogs and hamburgers! Food tastes better cooked over a campfire after a day at the beach and I'm all about the food! In the future I'll share with you my recipe and technique for a clambake, it is what I always serve the first night after setting up camp.

So, there you have a brief look at forty years of beach camping for me from 1956–1995. The last time I was at McGrath was 1999, now I live in Florida and the camping is different here. The heat and humidity make it impossible to camp during the summer, but Spring and Fall is usually perfect. I'm planning a camping trip to the beach at Fort DeSoto in February and will be sharing all my tips and techniques for a real girlie camping experience.

I'm linking this post over at Susan's @ A Southern Daydreamer. Be sure to stop by for links to other Outdoor Wednesday participants. Hope your dreams are full of sunshine and that each of you get to experience the sound of the waves waking you at some point in your lives.

24 Thoughtful Comments:

SmilingSally said...

I've never camped on the beach; I'm sure it's fun.

Although I like to look at the beach and the water, I've never been one to go there. I burn quite easily.

Country Wings in Phoenix said...

Oh Shellbelle Sweetie...
I want to come camping with you. I too, have never camped on the beach, and how fun would that be. I bet it is nice and cool of an evening. Not hot so why not have a tent. I love your campsite, it looks so nice and cozy.

I can't wait for you to share your recipes.

Country hugs sweetie. Thanks for taking me along today. I so enjoyed myself. Sherry

Light and Voices said...

Smile. Smiling. Still smiling. Adore those pictures at the beach. Everyone looks so relaxed and seems to be having a ball! You have some nice memories.
Joyce M

Hootin Anni said...

Beautifully done...such fond memories, and may I say awesome photos!!

Mine is sunshine on my shoulder...a pelican's shoulder that is. come see, mine too is beautiful. At least I think.


Sue said...

That was fun! I've never lived near the beach, but always wanted to. I have however spent countless days, weeks etc. in Florida. My parents started taking me there when I was 2 and I've been every year since. Now, I go a few times a year. I also love the beaches in Michigan, the Carolinas...pretty much give me a beach and I'm relaxed and happy.

Thanks for the memories!


Anonymous said...

Rhonda how wonderful!!!! I was so pleased to see the title of this post, and you know why!!!
I can't wait to read about your girlie camping experience, because honestly....I don't think I'll be roughing it too hard this summer either, lol!!!

Maya @ Completely Coastal said...

So fun! When I was a kid, we went camping in Spain, and later in South France every summer (I probably said that before!).

eileeninmd said...

Wonderful photos, and you have wonderful memories too. I've never camped on the beach, it looks like a lot of fun.

Bill said...

Thank you for sharing your delightful family photographs and your wonderful memories of times spent at the beach. It's making me "hungry" for a trip to the coast!


Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

What a wonderful post Rhonda! My beach experiences as a child were Coney Island, and also a little local beach near our home where I would sit in a beached abdandoned boat all day with my friends. We would pretend it was our house and named it "Sea Shell."
When I was older I was able to take the bus to Riis Park beach on the shores of the Rockaway inlet --it is now a National Park! So the beach has also always been a part of my life

Kat said...

Love, love, love this post Rhonda! Your happy memories come through loud and clear. Your mom was quite the fashionista - I adore that hat! And I like your idea of camping - an expresso maker for the firepit, you are a gal after my own heart. Thanks so much for sharing these wonderful photos! Kathy

Sierra said...

I loved learning about your beach adventures and your mom's outfits are great! I hope you are able to come back to CA soon to revisit these amazing memories and journeys!

Anonymous said...

What treasures! I loved your photos!

I remember seeing a documentary about a group of women who always wanted to be cowgirls. They pack their outfits and lariats, hook up the old Airstreams, and meet in different areas in the southwest. With all your camping experience, you'd be a natural. Got any old cowgirl boots you've had a hankerin' to wear?

Vicki ~ FL said...

What a great post Rhonda and so much fun you and your family must have head camping at the beach all the time. At least in CA you didn't run into the no-see-ums like you would here!

Crystal said...

Wow, it looks like you have some great memories to cherish. How great to have so many photos to go with the stories.
Thanks for stopping by, becoming a follower and leaving your nice comment.

Lillian Robinson said...

I started camping with just a sleeping bag in a friend's backyard. We tent camped when I was a kid, then had a camper. As an adult I went back to the tent, then a pop-up, and finally ended up with a houseboat. That's my kind of camping!

I did camp on the beach once in a van. Love the sound.

Jane said...

Love the old photos. What a great party idea...hard times. Your mom was definitely styling with that pink hat.

Camping on the beach...or anywhere something I can't get too excited about. Perhaps it's because of the bears who visited our campsite at Cades Cove when I was 5, or the pranks pulled on me when I was in Girl Scouts. Camping for me is Holiday Inn...

That being said, my brother and his wife spent most of their college weekends camping at Ft DeSoto...a great place to get out of their tiny apt., study, and relax. They still love it...and it's been 40 years! Can't wait to read about your experiences...Just watch out for the "clothing optional" beach.
Jane (artfully graced)

The Little Red Shop said...

What wonderful moments! Thank you for sharing your family photos and your sweet memories with us!

: )

Julie M.

Loui♥ said...

thanks for the sweet note..
bury your toes in the sand for me..
in return..
i'll make a snowball for you!
enjoy the sunshiny warmth..
snow is forecast for me..yuk!
(i'm working on flights to FL as we speak! ;~)!!!)
warm hugs, laughing smiles..

bunny, The Paris House Designs said...

Shellbelle, OMG..Wow your Mom was some fashionista, I love her hat and what great legs!! Your happy memories come through your post and bring smiles to all your readers faces :). I use to love to go camping in upstate NY when I was young. What fun times. I took my boys about 7 years ago with my girlfriends and we had a blast. I don't think I have ever camped at the beach..I'm sure I would remember that..only had picnics. You have been so blessed to have been brought up in such a loving and happy family.
ps, I will be doing a post on my great new t-shirt sometime over the next week or so when I get back home.

Kristen said...

I think perhaps someday I must live near a beach... and these pictures are delightful!!! I just love the older photos... I spent hours over Christmas going through old photos. The stories they tell without a single word amaze me... Love this post!

Julie@beingRUBY said...

HI Rhonda
Well I'm not much for camping but always love these post of yours with your fab family photos!! I think if I had legs like your mum I would be constantly in bathers too!!! .. Love the family shot and the one of your dad buried in sand.. haha so cute.. wonderful memories.. Have a great weekend.. xx Julie

gayle said...

Sounds like so much fun!! When I lived in CA I don't remember much about the beach..I know we went but I can't bring it to my memory..we lived about 2o minutes or so away from the beach..We never camp there...we always camped in the mountains.

Laura @ the shorehouse. said...

Your momma was a total hotty! :-) And how much fun you must have had growing looks like a hoot and a half. I also love that you have so many great photos. We weren't great about taking photos or saving the photos we did take and I wish we had been. And I love that you have an espresso machine to use over a campfire! Now THAT'S my kind of camping. :-)

I love the beach and everything that goes with it! I love the waves lapping at my feet. I love the feel of the sand between my toes. I love the roar of the Pacific and the gentle waves of the Gulf of Mexico in Florida. Let's talk about beaches around the world, bonfires, building sandcastles, swaying palm trees, flamingos, clambakes, sunrises and sunsets. If it's tropical, it fits this blog!


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