Friday, July 27th, 2007 at 3:37 pm in Family Travel.
Campouts, s’mores and hokey songs — could there be any sweeter, cheaper family adventure? Whether it’s a backyard overnight or a week in Yosemite’s backcountry, camping gets folks outside, communing with nature and with each other. The East Bay parks offer some great experiences for first timers. You can even book your tent site online. And “Campout,” Lynn Brunelle’s new book provides just the inspiration and practical know-how for an instant vacation.
Nestled in the Oakland hills, Anthony Chabot Park ($18-$25 a night) feels like wilderness, but it’s just 20 minutes from the nearest supermarket. Try Livermore’s Del Valle for camping and splashy fun. Or hike in to your camp site at Sunol Regional Wilderness for a more rugged experience.
Rent a tent from REI or borrow one from a neighbor, load up the cooler and sleeping bags, and skim Brunelle’s “Campout!” (Workman Publishing, $11.95) for inspiration. We’re particularly fond of kick-the-can ice cream — it’s a dessert! no, it’s a game! — and we’re dying to try the Spider Dogs, a twist on the classic hot dog on a stick. Skewer your hot dog on a good stick, then cut a deep X in one end, stopping about 1/2 inch from the stick. Roast it over a campfire, camp stove or barbecue until the ends sizzle and curl. When it’s cool enough to touch, take it off the stick, skewer it again from the other end, cut another X and roast this end until spidery legs form.
And much as we love the traditional s’more — chocolate and roasted marshmallows sandwiched between graham crackers — we’re intrigued by Brunelle’s variations. Peanut butter, jelly and marshmallow? Raspberry jam, dark chocolate and marshmallow between shortbread cookies? We are so there.
Share your favorite family campground, camping tricks and food tips in our comments section!
— Jackie Burrell