Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The City of Berkeley's Best Kept Secret is a Three-Hour Drive Away

Berkeley Tuolumne Camp is a parents' paradise in a breathtaking setting.
Each cabin boasts a big deck, so take your pick: A bed under the stars...

...or inside the cozy cabin.

Don't worry about lugging: Strapping young guys known as Mait Dogs lug all your luggage from the car to the cabin.

Entertaining the kids? Taken care of. Here's Ev taking in the treasure trove of possibilities before signing up for macrame, pottery, archery, talent show, hiking, et cetera.

If nothing appeals there's always just playing and having the run of the 14-acre wooded oasis.
For preschoolers there's Kiddie Kamp. Three sessions per day of crafts and stories and a children/staff ratio to die for.

Greta never wanted to leave.

Bells announce the three fantastically delicious meals each day. Ok, I'm lying. The meals were not fantastically delicious. And I'm going to stop trying to use all of the 10 Tiredest and Cheesiest Phrases in Travel Writing even if this is a sun-dappled must-see vacation destination. (That's eight out of ten!)

Really, this place was so awesome I'm as gooey as the cheddar on our tacos about it.

The food was fine camp food and the kids bolted in at the bell so hungry they bolted everything and bolted out to play again. It took them four days to realize that dessert was served every night. They'd never stuck around long enough to get it.

Coffee was available all day. I was actually biting my nails about this before I got there. What if I'm up at 6:30? Will I have to wait for breakfast at 8am for coffee?? I needn't have worried. At Berkeley's jewel in the Sierras (that's 9!) they get the coffee thing.

And there's even cereal and pbjs for kids who don't like the meals. And a store where you can open a tab and the kids can saunter up and order one popsicle or box of nerds each day.

This oasis near Yosemite boasts luxury resort touches (sorry!), but also a bona fide camping experience complete with obligatory big bugs in the bathroom.

Ev and Clem immediately identified this exotic lady as a parasitic wasp. (I had to resort to calling a wasp exotic, but I got all 10. I guess I was lying that I was going to stop. But now I'm done.)

Anyway, that long "stinger" is a zinc-tipped ovipositor for laying eggs in the larvae of tree beetles. She was 5 inches long from tip of antennae to end of ovipositor. (For more info watch Life in the Undergrowth.)

There was a Talent Show and Bingo Night.
Here are Ev and friend Sasha stage fighting.
There was swimming at the swimming hole and jumping off Beaverhead Rock.

All of which gave me plenty of time to work at my desk in the woods. And I did not work on cheesy travel writing. See my manuscript on the desk? And there was coffee aplenty to fuel the work. And no internet connection to distract me from my work. The only activity that really tempted me was ping pong but I couldn't find anyone to play with. So I got a lot of writing done.
It was like the Writers Retreat I have often dreamed of, except that when I was done writing I got to play with the kids and hike to waterfalls. And help them save a baby bat.

This near paradise lacked: Mike, cappuccinos, a good bed. I'll bring a better bed next time. And maybe my espresso machine. And Mike if he promises not to talk me into playing ping pong instead of writing.


Anonymous said...

this looks like such a magical place. in the cliche way and the for real way :D camp is awesome, bugs and all.

Stefaneener said...

Well, I was going to volunteer to come next time, but I do play ping pong (and talk) so maybe it's not a great idea. Looks like a lovely time, though.

Ashish M said...

They imprison nerds in a box?!

Kristin said...

That place rocks. I've been there too. We didn't stay there, we just had access to the swimming hole. I was 8 months pregnant and not up for hiking or fishing with my hubby. I just hung out by the water and floated a bit.

It sounds like the perfect set up for you to write. The kids are safe there and it's so cool.

I really admire your book-in- progress. It's fantastic that you've come so far and you are following through, despite how busy you always are. Kudos!

patricia said...

You lucky duck! A writer's retreat with childcare? No way! I'm hiding in your suitcase next year!

Did you make some good progress on your novel?

The 10 Cheesiest Phrases in Travel Writing cracked me up. I think maybe *boasts* is my favorite. How did that particular word become popular in travel writing?