Camping on the Coast (with 10 of us!)



This is what happens when 5 guys and 5 girls from seven different states and 1 Canadian province all end up living in Portland…




and decide to go camping together.

When I was 22 I camped my way up the East coast of Australia for two months. At each new spot I’d hang a little dream catcher wind chime, given to me by my friend Charlotte, from the ceiling of my two-man tent. The chime and the tent. Me and my guitar. That was home.

Months later, when I was serving tables at a restaurant in Port Douglas, Queensland called Portofino’s and renting a room in a house with Charlotte and her boyfriend James and two long-haired dudes I can’t remember the names of, I missed the feeling of waking every morning in that tent, of unzipping the nylon door and immediately seeing trees, or ocean, or both.

I’ve camped several times since then, in New Zealand, on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, and on Bijindo in South Korea, though never for such an extended period. Realistically, I probably won’t sleep in a tent for two months straight again this lifetime. But a weekend of camping was a priority for both Joe and I this summer, so in April we booked a couple sites at Cape Lookout (one of the places we visited on our honeymoon, two hours south of Portland) for the first two days of August, invited some friends, and then invited a few more as the dates grew closer.

The level of enthusiasm leading up the this trip was HIGH. (The message thread is still going, and we’ve been back for six days.) Aside from travel/car-pooling logistics the main thing to sort out before arrival was, obviously, food. Dave, Ginny, and Sam suggested doing teams for each meal, which turned out to be a brilliant plan. (Everyone was in charge of preparing only one meal with their team, and could just relax and enjoy the others.) In case you have a camping trip coming up, I thought I’d share our grill menu for inspiration.

Friday dinner:

*Bacon-wrapped prawns (or sans bacon, for me)

*Veggie and Turkey burgers

*Diced potatoes with lemon, garlic, rosemary, and sour cream

*Roasted veggies that never got eaten because we were all too full (but made great leftovers when we came home)

*Assorted beer

*A bottle of Fireball whiskey

At some point after the bottle of fireball started getting passed around, Ranger Luke appeared out of the darkness to tell our group it was past the 10 pm quiet hours, and we needed to speak in ‘library or church voices’ from then on. Trying to get a group of 20 and 30 somethings sitting around a campfire with a bottle of whiskey to sound like they’re in a library or a church is a challenge no ranger should be forced to take on, in my opinion. Over the next hour Dave, Joe, and Evan entertained us with (quiet) impressions of Ranger Luke and a few people took turns sharing fart stories (the term ‘wretched alien farts’ was used in one anecdote). It was a classy conversation that I’m pretty sure wouldn’t happen in church.

Saturday Breakfast:

*Burritos and Stumptown Coffee

and a beach walk…


followed by more campfire time. I read a little, too, as we sat around, some of “Just Kids”, the memoir by Patti Smith about her relationship with the artist Robert Mapplethorpe in New York in the 60s and 70s. Have you read it? I picked it up at a garage sale recently and am really enjoying it. Her style is poetic and introspective, with deep insights into the artistic mindset.


Tamales and Gin and Tonics

Then it was time to hike.


Joe and I trekked about half of the Cape Trail on our honeymoon, but this time we finished it with the group, just over 5 miles round trip.


j and me

It’s a gorgeous hike, with mossy Sitka Spruce and sheer cliffs that are elevated in some parts 400 feet above the ocean. It gets really muddy halfway through, hence the smears on my calves here.

An excellent way to refuel at the tip of the cape is with flatbread, olive tapenade, and chocolate, which was kindly shared by Sara.


*Chilli and baked potatoes

*Summer salad with tomatoes and mozzarella

*Assorted beer

*Red wine

The final evening called for a beach bonfire…


complete with s’mores and a singalong/performance of hits including the Fresh Prince of Bel Air theme song, Celine Dion’s “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now”, and Diane’s solo of “You Be Illin'” by Run DMC.

This is Sam wielding his soon-to-be ablaze driftwood firestick.


Sunday breakfast:

*Parfaits of granola, yogurt, fresh fruit and berries

*Stumptown coffee

Joe and I took a last beach stroll and met Sara on the way back, who said she was going for a ‘swim.’ Joe joined in and they emerged approximately 45 seconds later, freezing but happy.

swim 2

The consensus while packing up was that we needed to do this again, and soon. I always feel a little wistful when August arrives, because you know summer is winding down, which inevitably leads to winter, and a disappearing sun. But I LOVE fall. And if we can fit another camping trip in before the Oregon rain descends, I’ll be really stoked, especially with this crew.


Have you been camping this summer? Where did you go? (I’d love to hear.) Coastal camping will always be my favourite, but there are plenty of places inland in Oregon we’d like to visit as well.

Happy Saturday, friends. I hope you’re spending it outside, in the sun.


(Photo Credits: 1st group shot, view, hike, and last fire shot by David Katz and Virginia Groves. 1st fire shot by Sam Dunlop. Photo of Joe and I by Dianna Antee.)

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