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The Little Basin That Could

blog littlebasin1Try Little Basin Campground for a local camping getaway

Local state parks make for the perfect summer staycation: they are nearby, affordable, beauteous, and, in Santa Cruz’s case, there are several to choose from. And now we can add one more valuable state park campground to our local trove—Little Basin Campground.

Formerly a retreat center for Hewlett Packard employees, the year-round campground is now part of Big Basin Redwoods State Park in Boulder Creek. Its 524-acre lot is a medley of grassy meadows and majestic coastal redwoods, checkered with 38 tent sites, 12 tent cabins, and RV sites.

It’s hard to imagine a more kid-friendly campground than this one. During my stay, little tykes on bikes and scooters cruised the paved roads that loop through the campground, reveling in their fleeting independence while their parents started campfires and barbecued nearby. Witnessing their unencumbered enjoyment, it was easy to imagine that Little Basin might become the kind of place that families return to year after year; where they’ll bump into other families who do the same, and the children will form lasting friendships defined by summer vacations spent together at this Santa Cruz Mountain campground.

blog littlebasin2United Camps Conferences and Retreats (UCCR), the organization that runs Little Basin through a public/private partnership with California State Parks, fuels this family summer camp vibe with plentiful group activities, like group campfires and nature appreciation walks. If nearby hiking trails aren’t enough to tucker the kids out, the grounds include a playground and sports courts and fields. It’s fitting that UCCR’s educational program, the Web of Life Field (WOLF) School, also operates educational camps for students at Little Basin.

The setup is also prime for group getaways and retreats: in addition to the recreational facilities, there is a group barbecue area, a rentable kitchen, a stage and amphitheater, and they accept group reservations of up to 400 people.

Alas, I did not visit Little Basin with a large group or any boisterous children. But the nascent public campground still gave me just what I needed: a peaceful, sun-drenched weekend camping with good friends. Well, pseudo-camping. Our cabin, named “Jerry’s Joint,” was a simple, spotless structure tucked away amongst towering trees. It’s incredible how much easier camping is when, instead of a tent and headlamp, you have a roof, bed and electricity. The cabin was surprisingly spacious, with a high ceiling, two large sets of bunk beds and a long wooden table. And yet we spent the majority of the time stationed around the fire pit and picnic table out front of the cabin, where the mountain summer is at its best.

The grounds have ample hiking trails to choose from, and the heart of Big Basin is only a short drive away. We opted for a 10-mile hike to Berry Creek Falls that starts from the Big Basin visitor parking lot. 

blog littlebasin4

Other than being long, the hike isn’t too demanding and rewards you with the sight of gorgeous natural waterfalls (which I’m happy to say were rushing with water for my visit). A worthwhile trek, certainly, but be sure to start early in the day if you want to make it back in time for Little Basin’s group campfire.

Other than the pleasant atmosphere and bounteous amenities, perhaps the most memorable thing about Little Basin was the staff, which is impressively friendly, helpful and attentive (one ranger was trying to remember every single camper’s name and, from what I could tell, was succeeding). Not to mention they all seem to genuinely love Little Basin, the place.

If you have a few days to spare before summer is over, why not support your local state parks while enjoying a relaxing outdoorsy staycation? Better yet, the campground is offering a second and/or third night of camping for half off until the end of August (good for Mondays through Wednesdays, only). Learn more at 338-3314 or littlebasin.org.

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Heart Me Up

In defense of Valentine’s Day

 

“be(ing) of love (a little) more careful”—e.e. cummings

Wednesday (Feb. 10) is Ash Wednesday, when Lent begins. Friday (Feb. 12) is Lincoln’s 207th birthday. Sunday is Valentine’s Day. On Ash Wednesday, with foreheads marked with a cross of ashes, we hear the words, “From dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return.” Reminding us that our bodies, made of matter, will remain here on Earth when we are called back. It is our Soul that will take us home again. Lent offers us 40 days and nights of purification in preparation for the Resurrection (Easter) festival (an initiation) and for the Three Spring Festivals (at the time of the full moon)—Aries, Taurus, Gemini. The New Group of World Servers have been preparing since Winter Solstice. The number 40 is significant. The Christ (Pisces World Teacher) was in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights prior to His three-year ministry. The purpose of this desert exile was to prepare his Archangel (light) body to withstand the pressures of the Earth plane (form and matter). We, too, in our intentional purifications and prayers during the 40 days of Lent, prepare ourselves (physical body, emotions, lower mind) to receive and be able to withstand the irradiation of will, love/wisdom and light streaming into the Earth at spring equinox, Easter, and the Three Spiritual Festivals. What is Lent? The Anglo-Saxon word, lencten, comes from an ancient spring festival, agricultural rites marking the transition between winter and summer. The seasons reflect changes in nature (physical world) and humanity responds with social festivals of gratitude and of renewal. There is a purification process, prayerfulness in nature and in humanity in preparation for a great flow of spiritual energies during springtime. Valentine’s Day: Aquarius Sun, Taurus moon. Let us offer gifts of comfort, ease, harmony, beauty and satisfaction. Things chocolate and golden. Venus and Taurus things.

 

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