Simply Mrs. Edwards

{just the life of a new wife}

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Vacationing on a Shoestring Budget

What is a young couple to do when they’re on a shoestring budget but are dying to get away for a long weekend? They find the most breathtaking coastal area in their state and go camping.

A few weeks ago we packed up and headed north up the coast to Bodega Bay for a 3 night camping trip. Honestly, we live in one of the most amazing areas in the state. There is never a lack of places to go see and explore, never too few options for a weekend getaway. Last year we headed a couple of hours south down the coast to Big Sur for a weekend camping trip

We headed to Bodega Dunes Campground which is a part of the Sonoma Coast State Park. When you arrive, they tell you to drive around and find a site that you’d like to claim and head back to the gate to check in. Well, after a few loops around the campground, we thought we found “the one.” It was sunny and open and close  (but not too close) to a restroom. We let the nice lady at the gate know that we wanted to claim it and started to set up. Well, we quickly realized that it was too open and too windy. Strike one.

On to site number two. We found this cute little area that was secluded, yet still sunny. It was set back from the road and there was a perfect nook for our tent. It reminded me a little bit of the Secret Garden. Well…this site definitely had its secrets. And unfortunately those secrets were stinky like a skunky.

After the sun went down, we had not one, not two, but THREE skunks that came out of the bushes. Three skunks that had their own agenda and were not the least bit afraid of us. One of us was exceptionally afraid of the skunks. One hint- he has a beard. Josh may or may not have hid behind me as as I was warding off the the stinky beasts. I’ll let it slide this time…

There was no way that we were going to be able to sit and relax around a fire with our new found friends, so we hid in our tent and played cards. Looking back, it’s hilarious. In the moment, not so much. Strike two.

The next morning we packed up camp once again and began looking for another campsite. After looking for a while, we happened upon a gem. It was a campsite that overlooked the bay and had the perfect combination of sun and shade. No skunks in sight. It was glorious!

This was the view from behind our tent. Pretty great, right?

While we were planning the trip, I scoured Pinterest for as many food ideas as possible (see my camping board right here). We tried a few ideas, but relied on some old favorites like Saturday Morning Breakfast.

My Husband is a bit obsessed with campfires. He brought 1/4 truck full of wood and was determined to use it all before we went home. This meant that we had a HUGE fire each morning and night!

We did our fair share of exploring up and down the coast during our 4 days there. The Sonoma coast is  absolutely beautiful. There are areas of sandy shoreline and sections of rocky sheer cliffs. We quickly realized that the ocean was angry and definitely not worth swimming in.

One afternoon, we drove about 30 minutes north to the town of Jenner. It’s a really cute little area with one hotel, one gas station and one little store. The town is built right where the Russian River comes into the ocean. There is a little peninsula that separates the river from the ocean where people kayak and swim. It is also where 50+ seals hang out, play, and sunbathe.

We’ve decided that all of our camping trips need to be at least 3 nights. If anything, it takes that long to find a campsite that isn’t occupied by skunks…

Some tips on how to plan and enjoy a camping vacation on a budget:

  • Choose a location that is close to home, but is far enough to feel like you’re getting away. We traveled about 3 hours from home, which was close enough to save on gas, but far enough to have a change of scenery.
  • Plan simple, but tasty meals. Use websites such as Pinterest and All Recipes to find new ideas.
  • Save in advance! I found it helpful to stash cash away in an envelope or jar for a few paychecks.
  • Use websites/apps like Yelp to find local favorites and affordable restaurants.
  • Plan simple & free activities to enjoy throughout your stay. If you camp within the State Park system your campsite fees will get you into any other local park. If you don’t own bikes, try to borrow some from friends! Take a picnic to the beach, go tide pooling, take a good book and relax!

The Camper,
Mrs. Edwards


J&T Go Camping

I admit it, I’ve been the worst at blogging lately! I fell off the blog-bandwagon, but I’m baaaack! I promise! Here’s to playing catch up :) A LOT has happened in the past month, so my goal over the next couple of weeks is to get caught up on what’s happened and get back to real-time posting.

First up: Adventures with J&T!

A few weekends ago (maybe more than just a few, but who’s counting?), we loaded up the Chevy and headed south a couple hours to Big Sur. Both Josh and I love camping but had never gone together! We received a ton of awesome camping stuff for our wedding, so it was due time to put it to use! We booked a spot at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, a place that I’ve camped a few times with my family.

The drive down offered a whole lotta’ this:

It was SUCH a beautiful drive!

It was just about dusk when we arrived at the campground to find our site. Much to my dismay, the site that we had picked through the online reservation system was possibly the worst site in the place. All powdery dirt, no trees and 100% out in the open. NOT my idea of camping. For some reason my picture of camping has a lot more trees, a bit more privacy and less…dirt. Maybe I’m just a girl. My sweet, amazing, tolerant husband drove us back out to the gate and let me tell my sob story to the on-duty ranger. I’m sure he deals with unsatisfied women all the time so he knew how to handle me well! We were able to move a few spots over into a much better site. Happy wife = happy camping experience :)

It was fun/challenging setting up camp in the dark, but we did it! We’re kinda thankful that it was dark so no one could see how lame we looked trying to set up our tent for the first time (we were gifted an AWESOME Kelty tent for our wedding that is 98% fool proof…it took us almost the entire set up process to realize that the poles and everything were color-coded. We are the 2% that are in the dummy category, I guess.)

Dinner that night ended up being hotdogs and baked beans, haha. We ate at about 10pm, so I couldn’t expect too much.  After dinner, Josh was in the tent changing while I was sitting by the fire. I thought I heard some scuffling so I turned a flashlight on and OHEMGEE….guess what was less than 4 ft. away from me…a SKUNK! I freaked out! But a silent-I really don’t wanna get sprayed-kinda way. It was one of those moments when your entire life flashes before your eyes. I would die if I were to be sprayed! I think I scared it just as much as it did me, so it ended up running off into the bushes, praise the Lord! Thankfully no one ended up being stinky like a skunky :)

Saturday we had an all day adventure (fasten your seat belts for a ridiculous amount of pictures to follow):

Camping FashionYep, I wear knee high wool socks, over leggings, with TOMS. Awkward & awesome :)

handsome hubbySooo excited to cook breakfast!

Mrs. MustacheMr. MustacheHis and Her Mustache Pancake. Cooking mishap turned awesome photo op!

Exploring Andrew Molera State Park

My handsome hubby :)

SUCH an amazing view!

We headed over to Pfeiffer Beach where is was SO windy! We had sand EVERYWHERE when we left…yes, everywhere.
The rock formations there were fantastic…but probably would have been better if we weren’t being sandblasted!

We headed back to camp to make dinner, which consisted of carne asada burritos and corn on the cob. I’m a firm believer that while camping, you should be able to eat whatever you want. Hence, the random assortment of food that we had…haha.We forgot our corn on the cob holders at home, so Josh improvised with some galvanized nails he had in his truck. Redneck much?

Sunday morning, we had the best meal ever, Saturday Morning Breakfast (see recipe and my thoughts about it over here).


Then we packed up camp and headed south to Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park (we visited a lot of places called Pfeiffer, it’s okay if you get confused…) This state park is home to McWay Falls, an 80 ft. waterfall that drops directly into the ocean. Being one of only two “tidefalls” in the region, it’s a pretty spectacular sight. The beach is closed to human traffic and the water is the most stunning shade of blue I’ve seen in California. Although there are signs everywhere reminding people that there is no beach access, someone climbed down to the sand and wrote “Amanda, will you marry me?” SO cute. And SO illegal. Josh and I spent probably 5 minutes trying to figure out how the heck they didn’t die climbing down and back up the sheer cliff. That is dedication to a cause!

Amazing, right?!

We had a blast on this trip, it was definitely the first of many to come!! We live in an area where within an hours drive you can find some of the best camping in the state. We are blessed!

Thanks for putting up with my lame blogging lately. And for the ridiculous amount of pictures that this post has. You’re a true friend if you’ve made it this far down the page :)

A happy camper,
Mrs. Edwards