Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Camping at Agua Caliente...and food, of course

Last weekend, we packed the car to the brim (literally) and headed out to the desert.  In San Diego County, we have the beautiful Anza Borrego Desert where they have a state park called Agua Caliente.  Yes, hot springs!  Some may say it isn't true can easily get clean whenever you want...but we enjoy it, none the less.
Our camp site was in the perfect location.  We were right up against the rocky terrain, which instantly created a natural playground for the kids (and Mark).  Speaking of playgrounds, this campsite is very kid-friendly and do have a real playground with a slide, swings, and climbing bars.  The piece de resistance, however, are the natural hot springs, 3 in total.  The one indoor pool is kept at about 100 degrees, complete with an island and jets, but does not allow kids under 56 inches.  Great for adults, but not for those of us who have small kids!  Still, we took turns enjoying the adult pool.  Outside, there is a main pool that isn't heated, which is unfortunate at this time of year, but I'm sure will be refreshing as the desert warms up.  Lastly, there is a smaller outdoor pool up on the hill that is kept around 85-90 degrees.  That seems to be where most of the kids hang out, along with their parents. 
Luckily on Sunday, we basically had the pool to ourselves.  The only downside to this pool is that the minerals in the water have disintegrated the plaster so much, that the gravel is exposed and the surfaces are extremely rough.  There were plenty of cuts and scrapes, but nothing major.  See...we were roughing it!

Now, onto the food.  Our dinner consisted of kebabs, polish sausage, potatoes, and kapusta (polish sauerkraut homemade by my dear friend, Monika).  For the kebabs, I marinated chicken tenders in two different kinds of sauces, Hawaiian and buffalo chicken, the night before we left.  We skewered them at the campsite and put those on the fire pit grate along with the kapusta and some cheesy potatoes in foil packets.  The potatoes were chopped and mixed with diced green and red bell peppers, onions, and shredded cheese.  Sprinkled with some seasoned salt, they were quite good, except for the fact that I kept them in the fire too long and they burnt on the bottom a bit.  
For dessert, we had two offerings - s'mores and gooey stuffed bananas.  Our s'mores were traditional - graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallows - but gently wrapped in foil packets and warmed until they oozed their chocolatey goodness.  As for the bananas, we left the peel on, cut a slit down the middle, and stuffed them also with chocolate and marshmallows.
After a night of drinking, talking, walking, admiring the full moon, and more drinking, we passed out in our tents under nature's nightlight.  It truly was a moon to behold.  One main reason we went camping this weekend was because of the full moon.  The campsite even has a trail called Full Moon Hike, but with the cold weather and our short duration, we didn't quite make it.  The night before we arrived, it was the biggest and brightest full moon of 2010.  Scientists said it was about 30% brighter than other full moons.  It was magnificent. 
We awoke to a sunny day and ready to grub, once again.  Our breakfast was simple, but plenty filling enough for our big day ahead of lounging in the pools :)  Bacon, eggs, fruit, and biscuits wrapped in foil and cooked on the grill. 
You may have picked up on a common camping trick to cooking food - wrap in foil.  I'm honestly amazed with what all it works with.  Even the biscuits were a tasty addition to our breakfast spread.  Stay tuned for our next trip since we've already reserved our campsites and Monika and I are planning on making a hearty stew (sans foil) but I'm sure there will be other new foil creations!


  1. I can't wait to go back! It's going to be fun!

  2. That was a blast! Such a great job on the whole experience and post - I'm impressed as always! :) Yep, I'm ready for the next adventure too! I know we'll have lots of yummy camping dishes all planned with the help of master chef Jen. :)

  3. Awesome camping trip and you went well prepared. I would have loved to have seen that full moon. Sharp photos. Glad you had fun! :)

  4. The gooey bananas take me back to our old GS camping days. I took some foil packs on a camping trip awhile back --- I found a lot of sites dedicated to packet cooking...very fun!

  5. Yes - girl scouts! That's where I first learned about the banana dessert too.

  6. Oh I'm jealous, I love camping! As a Montana girl I have been a bit hesitant to try So Cal camping, but I think I would love any place with hot springs :)