Ever since I was little, my family never really traveled too much. People are usually surprised to hear that I have not been to Taiwan before, where my dad was born and where most of his family still resides. My parents never took us on any big vacation. I have never been to Hawaii, Alaska, boarded any type of cruise, or been part of one of those big Asian tours in Europe.
But growing up, one thing our family did share together was our family camping trips. When my sister and I were younger, my dad would pitch a tent up in our backyard for us to play in and we would think it was the funnest thing ever. When we were older, my dad started collecting gear and booking reservations for campsites in Yosemite. One year, he even invested in a big inflatable raft so my mom, my sister, and I could float down the rivers at Yosemite. (I actually have a funny story about this: Once I got out of the raft midway to play on an island and totally got left behind, because the river currents were so strong they just carried my mom and sister away as the raft continued to flow forward...That's how I came to learn that rivers flow one direction :P) Anyway, whether it was Yosemite or Lake Tahoe, my dad would always plan everything - the reservations, the food for the meals, and the packing of camping essentials. It was unfortunate that it got to a point where I took these small family camping trips for granted. I didn't acknowledge all the hard work being put into the planning and the physical work my parents exerted over the long hours spent driving and hiking, just so my sister and I could get a taste of the great outdoors...or simply so we could all share time together as a family. I don't think I had the chance to realize what these trips truly meant to me until recently, after Clay and I started this camping-once-a-month project.
That's why this past weekend was a very special camping trip for me. It was the first trip that I planned (with Clay) for my family. Clay booked the campsite at Butano and I told them that we would do all the meal planning, take care of the usual logistics, and that all they had to bring was themselves! It ended up being an amazing time for all of us. Both of my parents were so excited, it was so cute. They enjoyed all the meals we cooked (including the caramelized pork belly pasta pictured above) and I super enjoyed spoiling them. They got to try out Clay's new parachute hammock and loved it. The state park itself treated us first-time visitors so well. Right beside our campsite was this small lake with a huge log floating in the middle of it. Clay named it 酱油湖 (Soy Sauce Lake), because the water was so dark that it gave a perfect reflection! We only had time to hike the Six Bridges Trail, but it was so gorgeous with its breath-taking redwoods. The trail brought us to a little wooden amphitheater and then lead us down to Butano Creek. The whole camp, tucked away in a canyon, was very family-friendly. It was the perfect place for me to continue our family tradition and express a small token of my appreciation to my parents for all the past camping trips I've been blessed to have growing up.
Just capturing as I go.