We’re headed out to Joshua Tree this Sunday for two nights of camping and getting ready made me think fondly back to our last camping trip there early this last summer to celebrate my mother-in-law’s retirement.

The National Park is one of the few things I really miss about Joshua Tree; I find that time in the high desert wilderness is very nourishing to the soul.

This is a 360 view of where we camped last time.

The idea was to plan a regular family camping trip and since we knew that Chad’s mom and dad (Ann and Al) would likely join us, we planned a surprise party for Saturday night with all four siblings (and significant others) plus a generous handful of local friends. The siblings all went in on buying enough ribeye steak to grill for the whole crowd, and all the guests brought a dish to share – we had a tremendous selection of potato salad that night. Then we topped it off with a round of She’s a Jolly Good Fellow and a carrot cake with Ann’s name written in chocolate chips.

That was a memorably fun camping trip – and that’s not just the tequila shots talking either.

Bella missed the fun because she had finals to study for.

Bella missed the fun because she had finals to study for.

For starters, it’s a pleasure camping with seasoned campers as my husband’s side of the family are. Everything you need is there, everybody is relaxed, and there is a huge and genuine appreciation of the outdoors underlying all the activities.

The pre-party started when we arrived Friday night; Tim, my sister-in-law Corrina’s boyfriend had brought up custom-ordered burgers from his LA bar and grill, Tompkin’s Square. I normally can’t resist The Eddie which is a burger with bleu cheese and grilled onions, but I went for something hotter this time – was it called the hellraiser? I don’t remember, but it was DELICIOUS.

The mood was giddy and festive. We had a hard time keeping mums about the following evenings party plans – in fact, I think we definitely let it slip…

Here are a few pics from that Friday night. Unfortunately, it was the only night I had the presence of mind to take pictures, but you can see more pics at Corrina’s blog here. There were lots of wild animal sightings too, including a family of burrowing owls, a rattlesnake, and a wild desert tortoise. Corrina tried out a petcam (on herself) that weekend too – you can see that perspective here.

How our mood of general silliness expressed itself.

How our mood of general silliness expressed itself.

Enjoying the light of the setting sun with the Mama and Max Murdy.

Corrina enjoying the light of the setting sun with the Mama and Max Murdy.

Chad bagged every peak within eye shot.

Chad bagged every peak within eye shot.

This camping trip will be different: Chad’s not coming – I’m going with four other moms and a total of NINE kids – but I’m willing to bet that we’re going to have another great time.

Yee HAW!

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