Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve - Campfire Chic

 

I got up early on Friday and asked Alex to drop me off at the trains station so I could head up to meet Amy for a visit to the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve. The poppy reserve is a beautiful grassland habitat that is super alive and vibrant in the spring when the California Poppies (our state flower) bloom. I used to take the train from San Diego to Orange County on the weekends while I was in grad school, but going on a two hour train ride with a transfer at Union Station in Los Angeles was a little worrisome for me…I haven’t made a transfer like that before (I made a transfer to the subway from the train once, but I don’t really remember the whole process) on my own but I figured there were plenty of signs and people to ask…and after coming home from New York City, I figured it would be cake once I got on the train!

Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve Hills - Campfire Chic

There are 10 miles of dirt trails at the reserve, an interpretive center, picnic tables, both vault and flush toilets, and a parking lot. It is $10 to get into the reserve (which is a California State Park) but please note that they only accept cash. As you drive from the freeway to the reserve, you’ll pass plenty of places where you can pull off on the side of the road for some quick photos, but please be careful as people drive very quickly on these roads to and from the prison. The picnic tables are covered, and have the only shade to be found in the park — Amy and I forgot sunscreen and are both sporting some very impressive sunburns now.

In addition to the trails to explore the hills, there is an ADA-approved walkway from the parking lot to the visitor center and a short way into the preserve. You can read about all of the other facilities and accommodations available at the reserve here.

The flowers were so beautiful and seeing people out in the fields enjoying the beauty and fresh air was great. It was very windy out and the fields looked extra pretty rippling in the breeze. I’m glad I wore a long sleeve to keep me warm while the wind was blowing and help keep the sun off of my arms — I highly suggest finding long and light layers to wear when you’re in desert regions. In addition to minding the sun, if you go to the poppy fields, please be aware that you are in rattlesnake country and stepping off of the trail may lead to danger. Heck, there were rattlesnake warning signs posted as soon as I stepped off of the train! Other critters you may run into: scorpions, coyotes, kangaroo mice, lizards, butterflies, badgers, jackrabbits, bobcats, and other snakes.

Jerky Dynasty Snack Pack

Amy packed an awesome lunch for us — giant salads with a ton of veggies, turkey, cheese, and great dressing…and enough to keep us fed for a few days! We retreated from the sun and pulled the food out of her car and set up at one of the many picnic tables available. I brought some fun things to try, too: a selection of exotic jerky from the fine folks at Jerky Dynasty! I tried some of the jerky while on the SoCal Hiker Tweetup Campout (thanks, Josh, for sharing!) so when I was sent a package filled with these treats, I was excited to try a few more of the stranger varieties. My favorites from the group are the spicy pepper Buffalo and the barbecue-flavored alligator jerky. With so many options available from the Jerky Dynasty website, I bet the other meat-eaters reading this will find flavors they’d love. I told my dad about trying the different flavors over breakfast on Saturday and well, I think I figured out this year’s Father’s Day gift. Get 15% off snack packs from Jerky Dynasty with code KAMROCKS through May 15, 2014.

California Poppy Fields in Southern California - Campfire Chic

Amy and I spent the day talking about blogging, business, marketing, gear testing, getting feedback, and future partnerships. I love that we get together at least twice a year face-to-face to hash things out that we can talk about over Skype because it means so much more to do the work in person. We didn’t have any cell reception so we weren’t focused on answering emails, updating our social media statuses to share the views, or anything like that. We had a few things with us, our ideas, and got down to business as soon as I got into her car and it didn’t stop until I crashed into my bed later that night. We chatted about her love of travel and travel scrapbooking, how I want to spend more time focusing on micro-adventures instead of devoting so much time to larger trips this year, and we threw around ideas about a possible new collaboration.

If you’re in Southern California and are able to make it out to the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve, I highly suggest making that trip happen. There is a festival coming up April 26 – 27th in Lancaster to celebrate the poppy season, find out more information here.

Are there festivals focused on your state flower?

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Fit for Adventure - Campfire Chic

I was invited to a Honda Press Event in San Diego, CA to learn about and test drive the 2015 Honda Fit a few weeks ago (I didn’t share this earlier due to an embargo) and I have to say…it was quite the experience!

When I was first invited it sounded too good to be true: a few days in San Diego to learn about a car and then drive it around for a while…for free. I agreed to join in on the fun and was super excited to find out that some of my internet friends were invited, too. While I’ve met Jeff (@TheSoCalHiker) before, Casey (@modernhiker) and Katie (@themorningfresh) were still internet-only friends.

Let me give you some background on me and my experience with cars: I drive BIG cars. I have a Chevy Equinox but also drive a Toyota Tundra, raised Chevy Silverado, Chevy Astro Van, Toyota Highlander…and my first car was an El Camino. I feel super claustrophobic in little cars like the Honda Civic and Ellipse Spyder I learned to drive in is one of my personal circles of hell.

I like BIG. I was really nervous about test driving the car and stressed about being so terrible that Honda would just send me home. What made me change my mind? First, somebody at Honda placed a blue Honda Fit in front of a sign that said “Bigger on the Inside” — obviously there was a Whovian in the crowd so I knew I was in good company. Second, the fine people at Honda were super cool with us climbing into the car (yes, even with glasses of wine) and laying down in the back, moving the seats around however we wanted, and encouraged us to really test each car.

Cargo Room for 2015 Honda Fit - Campfire Chic

We had a long day of learning about the all new 2015 Honda Fit and driving the car (I paired up with Jeff to do the driving portion of the event) and what I liked about the whole thing was that there was a competition involved. I’m super competitive. We were sent out into San Diego with our car and a list of categories to guide our social sharing for the day…essentially, they wanted us to go out and take photos of the car to show off the technology, the car in the city, how it fits into our lives, and more. Can I say how excited I was when it was announced that one of my photos won for “Fit for Technology”?? Honda will be donating $500 to the Special Olympics of San Diego in my name. Casey & Katie paired up for their test drive and each won for Fuel Economy (Casey managed to get 42 miles to the gallon, while the car is toted as getting 40 mpg!) and Fit for Duty, respectively.

2015 Honda Fit Test Drive in San Diego - Campfire Chic

2015 Honda Fit Press Event - Campfire Chic

Jeff and I managed to get a local outfitter shop to let us borrow some luggage to throw into the back of the Fit so we could see what would actually fit in the car. During the official presentations, a professional organizer (yes, it’s a real job) stuffed a bunch of bean bag chairs into the car but I don’t usually find myself trying to fit squishy dorm furniture into my car. I am more concerned with fitting my car camping supplies into the back of this thing, which it looks like it’ll totally hold, I just can’t bring anybody other than Alex with me (not a problem at all! I like my space).

While the car is great (I would very strongly consider getting one should Alex and I need a smaller car any time soon), the best part of the experience was hanging out with my Internet friends. Casey’s hiking blog was one of the first I came upon when I was looking for hikes in the LA/OC area, Katie is a fierce lady-adventurer who I totally admire for her bravery when it comes to traveling alone, and  Jeff (and his wife Joan!) is super knowledgeable about longer hikes and makes me want to tackle the John Muir Trail ASAP. I even carpooled down to San Diego with Jeff and Joan, how’s that for Internet-friends-becoming-IRL-friends? Our group of four (five including Joan) ate most of our meals together, chatted about blogging and being outdoors, and cheered each other on during our competitions. It was nice to be with people who understand what blogging is and who really got me thinking about my audience and how to be brave.

Seriously, these folks are great.

I’ve met blogging/Internet friends “in real life” before to have breakfast at IKEA, dinner at Marie Calendar’s, to go camping, to go to Disneyland…and a few other instances, and each time was super fun, but this experience was totally out of left field and we didn’t know we were all invited until a few days before the event took place! I’m so happy that Honda selected the four of us (and the other bloggers who were all amazing in their own ways) to explore San Diego while testing out the new Honda Fit.

Have you met friends you made on the internet?

What qualities in a vehicle do you look for?

Photos courtesy of Casey (@modernhiker) and Jeff (@TheSoCalHiker)

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Today’s post is from my friend, Laura of Ethos Adventures, who wants to share some exciting news about the brand-spanking-new Classified Day Trips app! I was just in San Diego and I wish the app was live so I could test it out! I’m really looking forward to seeing what the app has in store. I was a supporter of this app through Indiegogo and you’ll see my name in the video in this post!

Classified Day Trips App by Ethos Adventures - Campfire Chic

Stepping into the unknown is both exhilarating and terrifying. We’ve all read harrowing tales of explorers lost at sea, loners dying in Alaska, and climbers forced to saw off an arm to survive.

Certainly, that is not the “adventure” any of us crave. But there is something alluring about facing unexpected circumstances, challenging ourselves mentally or physically and ending up with a great story.

It was with the dream of inspiring others to get outside and out of their comfort zones that I left my desk job to start an outdoor adventure company where I could create this very feeling. I found that by not disclosing my client’s custom-tailored itineraries (but rather by “classifying” them instead) that I was able to create the anticipation and excitement that comes from facing a new and challenging situation, without actually putting anyone in danger.

Today, I take this model one step further with a mobile app that allows users to choose their own adventure. With Classified Day Trips users respond in real-time to clandestine prompts (such as “land” or “sea”) to unlock GPS navigation and Adventure Challenges leading them from one activity to the next in real life.

Each Trip starts from a designated location, however where a user ends up and the path they take to get there depends on that users decisions throughout the day. While one user may learn to surf, take a hike and enjoy a picnic, another user may go for a bike ride, dine on local cuisine and fly a kite on a secluded beach.

Classified Day Trips was funded entirely through a crowd-funding campaign launched last summer on Indiegogo and is free to download in Google Play and the App Store. The App currently boasts five Trips and will be updated automatically as I add more in the coming months.

I see Classified Day Trips as a low risk (no experience necessary) way to enjoy the excitement and adrenaline of endeavoring to try something new and different without facing the harrowing life and death circumstances so often associated with “adventure.”

In addition, I couldn’t be more proud of the fact that development of Classified Day Trips was only possible because a community of outdoor enthusiasts also saw the value in escaping into the unknown and were willing to put their faith in my vision.

You can get Classified Day Trips on the App Store and there is an Android Classified Day Trips through Google Play.

Where would YOU want to go on a day adventure?

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Iconic Greetings from Austin Mural - Campfire Chic

While in Austin, Texas, Alex and I noticed that there is a great amount of art around the city. There are so many murals, installations, and other things to keep the city “weird” that it was hard not to stop and appreciate all that was going on.

We did a lot of walking while in Austin and found that we noticed the small details of the city that drivers may miss: stars on planters, the capitol building included in many designs, and bats…so many bats.

So here is my challenge to you this weekend: Plan an afternoon exploring your city/town to find the little things that make it special.

O. Henry Mural in Austin, Texas - Campfire Chic

Books Mural in South Congress - Campfire Chic

 

Austin Graffiti

 

Yes, I’m inviting you to also celebrate the street art, the yarn bombing, and the interesting yard work that makes where you live unique.

You may not even notice the giant mural on the back of the bank anymore, but I bet it deserves a quick visit this weekend.

One of the cities in Orange County has some rule about statues/installations being mandatory if a new building is being put up…some sort of beautification project…? It’s pretty interesting to see giant statues outside of gas stations, I’ll tell you that! But it’s what makes that city unique. One of the cities closer to where I live in Orange County has a TON of fountains…it’s like every shopping plaza and workplace has a different kind of fountain! While I pass these fountains everyday, I could use an afternoon out of my car and really taking a good hard look at these parts of my community.

Till Death Do Us Part Mural in Austin - Campfire Chic

Mystical Mural in Downtown Austin - Campfire Chic

 

What is your town known for?

Today’s post was inspired by a prompt from my write365 iPhone app – available now on the iTunes store. The write365 app is a simple app that will randomly generate an idea for your next blog post, scrapbook page, or art journal entry. Find out more about the app here.

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I am no stranger to meeting blog friends “in real life”. I’m also no stranger to camping with people I met from the internet (Cal and Amy on two different trips). So let me just say that pulling up to the trailhead parking lot and leaning out of the driver’s side window to yell, “Hi! I think I’m hiking with you? I think we’re friends??” wasn’t the silliest thing I’ve done since I started Campfire Chic.

A little backstory: There is a group of Southern California hiking/adventure/outdoors bloggers who like to meet up at least once a year and go hiking. I missed the hike in San Diego and I got sick the morning it was super close to me, so I made sure I was going to make it for the first camping trip! I joined the ridiculously long string of emails and booked the campsite when we couldn’t decide where to go. At one point there was the potential of upwards of 40 people (hikers + guest) to the event but when it came down to it, 9 of us made it out to the event.

We were a mighty group, and it was a good size for our first time meeting like that as a group.

Southern California Hiking Bloggers - Campfire Chic

SoCal Hiker Tweetup – The Hike!

We met around 9:30 at the trailhead for the Los Pinos peak. It is just north of the Falcon Group Campground with plenty of parking in a dirt lot. Many people continue up the dirt fire road if the gate is open (please be careful if you decide to do this, this is a multi-use trail so you will see mountain bikers, hikers, runners, large SUVs, and other off-road type vehicles on this trail) and there is another flat dirt area where you can park and hike to the peak.

I have to admit: I was super nervous about hiking with this group. I haven’t been very active lately (except traipsing around Austin – that was a big workout for me!) so I was half-expecting to not even make it to the peak. Everybody was really great about making a few stops so we could regroup (never too far from one another, amazingly!) and nobody was being “that guy” who wanted to keep pushing and rushing people.

SoCal Hiker Tweetup - Cleveland National Forest - Campfire Chic

After waiting for a BIG group to be done with the summit, we got to the top and took in the views. It’s pretty fantastic at the top! The area is surprisingly green for having nearly zero rain this season and you can see both sides of the range. We took plenty of photos, found a strange toy in the summit registry, and headed back to the trailhead as the weather started to cool down. We finished our hike around 1:30 p.m. (a total of 3.5 hours of enjoyable hiking and eating our lunches) – total mileage was just over 5.5 miles roundtrip for half of us, the other half may be closer to 5.8 miles after they bagged a second peak on our way down.

Southern California Hiking Blogger Retreat - Campfire Chic

That time I camped with strangers from the internet.

The second part of the SoCal Hiking Tweetup was a campout – we stayed overnight at the Falcon Group Campground in Cleveland National Forest, which is close to the trailhead of our morning hike.

If you are looking for a campground to fit up to 70 people and a handful of cars somewhere between San Diego and the outer reaches of Los Angeles, this is a pretty decent spot. The campground is located just south of Lake Elsinore tucked away in the mountains so there is plenty of oak trees and other vegetation not necessarily associated with anywhere off of the 91 freeway (if you’re local, you’ll probably read that as: desert-ish).

Our campsite had two vault toilets next to our parking spots, plenty of trash cans, 5 picnic tables, three charcoal barbecues, and a 60-inch fire ring. There was plenty of room for us to spread out our tents and Jeff set up a hammock for people to enjoy. Alyx is my kind of blogger – she had props in her trunk “just in case” and we tried to hang up a giant California flag but neither of us are engineers, it seems.

Falcon Group Campground in Cleveland National Forest - Campfire Chic

Hiking in Cleveland National Forest - Campfire Chic

Alex and I are still perfecting what goes into our “car camping” bin in our storage unit – what’s funny is that we use so much of our things on a regular basis that I’m thinking we need to bite the bullet and buy duplicates (like packs of cards) so we don’t have to rifle through multiple bins/our closet/junk drawer/my purse for things we’ll need for our trips.

Hikers/Adventurers involved with this weekend:

I want to thank Fabletics*, KEEN Footwear, SKINourishment*, and Flow 397 for sending goodies for the event. Fabeltics sent headbands and waterbottles, KEEN sent socks and free shoe cards for a giveaway, SKINourishment sent stickers/Cross-Fixe/Climb On, and Flow 397 sent some great stickers.  In addition, OPAdventureTeam supplied items and Teton Sports requested sleeping bag reviews from a few participants. Thank you for your continued support to bloggers and adventure-seekers.

*I am an affiliate for SKINourishment and a Fabletics Master – I will receive compensation for any sales made through these links.

 

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