The Princess Guide to Camping

Yawn. Stretch. Sore.
It was grueling. But so much fun.

My tugboat man suggested a quick overnight camping trip to the Anza-Borrego desert because a NW swell was supposed to hit our little beach town on Sunday, the same day as the Mavericks surf contest in Northern Calfornia.

We left on Friday so we could hike during the day, camp at night, and hike again on Saturday before heading home.

From a few of the COMMENTS I received on my previous “Desert Solitude” post, SOME of you think I am incapable of “roughing it”.  I am very offended by your lack of faith in my chameleon-like ability to adapt to all environments.

SOME OF YOU are under the WRONG assumption that a girl who thinks she’s a princess of seashells–enchanted seashells no less–spends her days tottering around the mall on six-inch heels and shops all day with her Chanel on her itty bitty arm, stopping only for a nourishing bite of sushi before heading home to bake and clean compulsively. And create seashell bouquets.

Actually, now that I’ve written it, that sounds pretty damn accurate!

MOST of the time.

But there’s another side to this petite princess.

Although I confess to adore my creature comforts, I love to hike and camp. I love outdoor adventures.

Here’s how I marry the two sides of my personality. It’s not exactly glamping–glamorous camping, but it’s my way to experience the beauty of nature.

I call it…

The Princess Guide to Camping

  • A backpack is of primary importance, not only because you want to be able to carry important items like lots and lots of toilet paper and water, but it makes a statement about who you are.

We went to REI on Thursday because I needed a new daypack. Since I’m short even for short women, a youth pack fits me better than an adult sized pack. I got an Osprey Youth Jet 18 in grey and red. It’s super comfortable. This is a Made in the USA company.backpack harrodsbag

  • I carry the essentials: a Yale/Hello Kitty water bottle, small size Chanel perfume(Chance), and Kiehls Vitamin C cream.** I pack a LOT of tp. I can’t emphasize that enough. Gurrrlz, we don’t want to run out. We. do. not. Since you’re not supposed to throw it on the ground when you’re done using it–the whole “Pack it in, pack it out” mentality–remember to take a plastic bag just for that purpose.
  • And I love my Nivea. I usually use a travel container, but couldn’t find it, so I’m showing the larger size as an example.
  • In the Louis Vuitton makeup case, I carry lipstick (also Chanel), a half dozen or so different types of lip balm, a mirror that is one side actual and one side magnified (also good to use if you get lost and need to signal the rescue helicopter), my new Cha Cha wallet, Altoids,  and a miniature flashlight to light my way to pop a squat at night.
  • The sparkly Harrods case (a gift from DIL) carries a minimum amount of makeup. I always bring an eyeliner, brow pencil, highlighter and blush all-in-one, and tweezers. How embarrassing would it be to have an errant hair or two sprout up in an unsightly location? I know, right? Well, be prepared. Better safe than sorry. You never know who you’re gonna meet. I know someone who met Elton John at the Yosemite Lodge. What a nightmare it would be if he noticed that a little plucking was needed!!
  • Also in my pack, I carry my glasses and contact lens solution, camera, and phone. Oh, and a pair of gloves. Usually two. One to keep warm and the other as protection against the ravages of dust, dirt, and rocks. Rock climbing wreaks havoc with a chicka’s manicure. Very unpleasant. Very. **Tip: coat your nails with a quality clear glaze–I like OPI–because the chips won’t show, and you’ll be somewhat protected.

That’s about it for my load.

Hubs carries everything else: lots more water, our lunch, snacks, first aid kit, and rope. (And when my pack starts to bother me and/or I get tired and all whiny and cranky, he carries mine, too.) We always have a few packets of Emergen-C, protein powder, and sardines. I know what you’re thinking. You either love canned sardines or you hate them, but they’re a great source of protein. I buy the kind in water, unless it’s for my son who needs a lot more fat in his diet ‘cos he has such an efficient metabolism.

I think hubs carries rope just ‘cos he’s a mariner, but I’m not sure. Or maybe he’s anticipating the day I get too scared of heights or I get hurt and he has to pull me down a mountain. Either way, I don’t have to carry it!

  • These are the best. I cut them in half because I’m a thrifty gal (haha) but these are thecleansingcloth BEST for all over body cleansing.
  • Use a lot of good quality sunscreen. We used a 50+. Hubs carries it ‘cos it’s too heavy and I don’t have room for stuff like that.
  • Good hiking boots are invaluable. bootspolesI’ve had these for about five years and they fit like a glove. We both use trek poles, and it’s really helped me navigate through rocky terrain and hills, plus you burn extra calories, so it’s all good.
  • I rock hiking pants with all the little pockets and velcro. This time it’s not really for anything but practicality. The pockets are great for lip balm and if they’re sturdy, you can easily slide down a part of the trail that might be too difficult to navigate standing up.

I slide A LOT.

  • We have our favorite camp dinner; burritos with refried beans mixed with a can of tuna fish (sodium free), freshly made guacamole, and low fat cheddar cheese. I cook it all up on the camp stove while hubs heats the tortillas over the fire, and it is SOOO satisfying after a long hike.  I brought the avocados, onion, cilantro, and tomatoes, and made the guac right there on our little table. I prepared a few extra burritos and wrapped them individually in aluminum foil for lunch the following day. With apples, pears,  oranges, and crudite,  it was a healthy meal on the trail.
  • Bring a lot of clothes. No, really. You never know what you might need and the weather could change unexpectedly. This time, I brought a down jacket, scarf, gloves, two hats, two pairs of hiking socks, two pairs of regular socks, a few long sleeved shirts, Ugg-style boots for around the camp, two sweatshirts, and underwear. So it was a lot, whatever. We weren’t hauling everything on our backs–we were driving in a truck, and I like to be prepared. A good sun/hiking hat is ESSENTIAL!
  • A helpful tip is to always carry nuts and raisins. We like raw almonds and cashews and dried fruit, too. On a long hike, a couple of handfuls give you the energy you need to continue without whining–and by YOU I mean ME.
We're here!

We’re here!

First stop!

First stop!

We found a remote spot of Anza to set up camp. I’m not telling where it is, ‘cos we want to keep it a secret. There aren’t too many places that aren’t filled up with RVs and dune buggies when all we’re after is a little solitude and nature. After we set up the tent, we hiked about six miles.View from our secret campsite

View from our secret campsite

Since it looks like the captain probably won’t be here for our 19th wedding anniversary in February, I thought we’d have an early commemoration of the event. betterrockheart

The night was clear and crisp. We left the tent open to see the stars but the temp dropped to the low thirties and we FROZE.

It was so awesome.

From the moment the sun set to the next morning when it rose, we were serenaded by coyotes-in stereo–all around us–an astounding diversity of beautiful, haunting, melodious animal communication. It was heavenly.

The high was 78 degrees, the low hovered around 35.  That’s thirty-five bone chilling degrees.

It was almost too cold to sleep even though we have an inflatable queen-sized bed in our huge tent. The tent is so big, it’s like a mini-house. We’re talking princess-style, don’t forget. And check out the sun shower-OF COURSE I have a shower! A princess needs to be fresh at all times, right? Hidden inside the shower is a….TOILET! Ha ha! I don’t always run behind a bush and pop.


A tent fit for a princess!


Of course a shower is essential!

Wine, leave-in spray

Wine, leave-in conditioner, perfume

AND, in case you’re wondering, I do help set up. Just a little.

If you’ve never done so,  put it on your wish list to spend a night or two under the stars in the desert. There is such an overwhelming amount of mystical legend and lore–you really need to check it out for yourself!


The sunrise was magnificent!


A hawk feather we found on the slot canyon hike.










I don’t want to bore anyone with a zillion pics, but they really are spectacular–if you have the time, take a few minutes to scroll through.

Photo Gallery of first six-mile hike around the campsite.

Photo Gallery of day two six-mile hike: a slot canyon at Coachwhip Canyon.

Photo Gallery of last stop at Font Pt.

Photo Gallery of trail treasures.

67 thoughts on “The Princess Guide to Camping

  1. WOW– very cool pictures and awesome trip. But I am sorry you bring lipstick?? that made me laugh. but in a good way. you really are an interesting and special mix of WOman


    • Like of course I bring lipstick? What if a film crew is out in the desert or wherever? I need to be ready to step into a role at a moment’s notice. Sheesh. You should know that. And thank you very much and I’m glad I made you laugh!

      On Mon, Jan 21, 2013 at 5:30 PM, Enchanted Seashells…Confessions of a Tugbo


  2. Wow you really do camp like a princess, and as I would, if I camped any longer;(I chose an isolated campground with cement slabs and cots, but we had the place to ourselves…that’s communing with nature , right?(Even if it had heated showers and a walk in refrigerator?)
    Your backpack sounds a lot like my purse; a LOT like my very large purse, except substitute tissues folded for tissue on a roll.
    And ,We’re onto you now; did the Captain see this post? Does he know you actually put your first name initials out there for the world to see???


    • HAH! Yes, as soon as he got home from surfing, I made him read the post and he was OK with the initials. No one knows who we are. No one really cares about us at all! I think I actually had some helpful tips if you look past the spoiled princess act.

      On Mon, Jan 21, 2013 at 5:31 PM, Enchanted Seashells…Confessions of a Tugbo


      • Goodness,I was joking! If your initials were X and U, we might be able to narrow it down…if we didn’t respect your desire for privacy…at least,I do.
        Your tips are excellent; but my camping days are behind me.


      • I never did any camping growing up, so this is all new to me! I camped only once in college at Mammoth to Rainbow Falls, it was a real backcountry hike and we saw a bear, totally scared us! It’s hubs who wants to remain anonymous, me, not so much!

        On Mon, Jan 21, 2013 at 6:42 PM, Enchanted Seashells…Confessions of a Tugbo


  3. So great. Sounds like you two had the perfect date. Loved the sparkly Harrod’s bag, the shower (of course), the slot canyon trail, the coyote scat, and the perfume the best. And that meal you prepared sounds like what I make for a regular dinner LOL. And I’m not even limited to a camp stove. You may be a princess, but you did way better than I’d ever do in the camping department. Can you say “I need a cottage in the very least” and “I don’t do trailers” and “a tent, are you kidding me?” 🙂


  4. Wow, you need to write a book. I love your style of camping including the shower! I haven’t camped in a long time. The last time was in N. Carolina. I love your pictures. I feel as if I was there!! Thank you for taking the time to share all of this with us.


    • You are the sweetest person (get the connection, sweet, ha ha!) OK, I’ll write a book if you know a LA or a pub. I hate rejection! PS YOU are the one who should write a book–your recipes, your pix. OMG!

      On Mon, Jan 21, 2013 at 6:47 PM, Enchanted Seashells…Confessions of a Tugbo


  5. I used to camp out in my brother’s pup tent in my back yard when I was a kid; that’s it.I did a little comfortable one at camps with my boys when they were Cub Scouts,(nothing rough at all).The Husband took over when Boy Scouts are real camping,hiking, repelling, white-water rafting and all that came into play.I’d take those long weekends, clean and indulge myself in watching movies that I wanted to see. Sigh….those days seem so far away!


  6. Sounds like a great trip. 6 miles- Wow. Not sure I could walk that far but do enjoy it when the weather is nice. You kept your promise and lots of great pictures. Even though it was a mini-vacation looks like it was great and it good you got away. Haven’t camped since I was a teenager!


  7. looks and sounds as if you two had a great time.. hiking & camping is an amazing experience and it’s nice to see you can still “Chanel -IT” in the wild 🙂


  8. I suppose someone has to do it. Glad you enjoyed. Me? I’ve got to have a bar and room service. Did all the camping I ever want to do in Scouts years ago. Thought my parents were trying to punish me. All joy–even in camping. HF


  9. Your trip looks amazing! Holy beautiful batman. Absolutely gorgeous 🙂

    I used to be a princess camper, but have softened in my years (HAH!) Now I’m all about rugged simplicity. Not quite Bear Grylls but I’m getting there!


    • Ha ha, Bear Grylls. Too funny. Nope, not gonna drink my urine filtered through a dirty sock. Not in this lifetime! How about you? I want to hear more about your rugged simplicity. It sounds like a title for a poem!

      On Tue, Jan 22, 2013 at 8:50 AM, Enchanted Seashells…Confessions of a Tugbo


  10. Thank you so much for the cleansing cloth idea! I’d never thought of that before, and we don’t have a camping shower. I just always did the best I could with soap and freezing-cold water. This would be much better (especially when we start camping with Penny). I think you’re right about the rope being a mariner thing; my husband always brings tons of it too (even though he’s forgotten 90% of the sailor knots).


    • I’m glad I could help with that tip. I first used it camping with son/DIL on Cape Cod-she has great ideas! I normally don’t do disposable things (for environment and all that) but these are too good to pass up! I think also he brought rope in case we got stuck in the sand–his truck isn’t a 4-wheel drive, but now he says we’re gonna get one! PS Have you been to that seaglass beach up your way? We might go up to noCal soon if we have time before he has to go.

      On Tue, Jan 22, 2013 at 10:43 AM, Enchanted Seashells…Confessions of a Tugbo


      • No, I haven’t been to that one. I think there are a couple that I read about, one in Fort Bragg and one in/near Monterey. I did find a lot of sea glass at Rodeo Beach in the Marin Headlands, but they were tiny bits and pieces. Just be prepared, beaches up here tend to be foggy or overcast (or both) and very cold!


      • Yes, it was the Ft. Bragg one, that’s what I meant! Since hubs grew up in HMB, he knows ALL about fog, that’s why he’s a SoCal boy now, but thanks for the reminder–I won’t count on it being bathing suit weather LOL.

        On Tue, Jan 22, 2013 at 4:41 PM, Enchanted Seashells…Confessions of a Tugbo


  11. What a great trip! I too am outdoorsy, despite my interest in a cute pair of heels. Hey, a lady needs to be ready for ALL occasions! Pretty much everything you bring is what I bring too, except hello, shower, I want one of those!


    • The shower is AMAZING if you have enough time to let the sun warm the water (assuming it’s a sunny day of course!) It’s very neat! You go, girl!

      On Tue, Jan 22, 2013 at 12:01 PM, Enchanted Seashells…Confessions of a Tugbo


    • Although I would like it to be true, you are not the first to have suggested it. However, since the bloom is off my rose, I don’t know if I even qualify as princess anymore–sigh–but I thank you for the idea. If I had a lit agent interested, I might….know of one??

      On Tue, Jan 22, 2013 at 1:02 PM, Enchanted Seashells…Confessions of a Tugbo


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