We set off towards Santa Cruz for a camping experience with the two kids. The minivan was loaded down with all our gear, firewood, food and the 80 pound Labrador wedged in the trunk to the tune of expletives and cursing by John. "Why do we have to bring the dog? I hope your tires have air in them by the time we get there! What is a TENT CABIN anyway?" John was perplexed by the idea of renting a tent cabin mostly because he couldn't tell by it's title whether it was a tent or a cabin and was unable to picture anything in between. The lure of Big Basin's Tent Cabins, http://www.bigbasintentcabins.com/index.php, in the mountains of Santa Cruz was inspired by the fact that these tents came with a wood burning stove inside and so I wrongly assumed that we would be warm and dry no matter the weather. Well, our low rider minivan pulled into the campground just after dark and we were greeted by a lukewarm host and $10 bundles of firewood. The campsite was wooded and lush and full of gigantic Redwood trees with trunks recently burned to create huge tunnels and "playhouses" for Shelby. Our particular site peered over a deep ravine where a small creek babbled through the ferns, trail heads were everywhere, sunlight could be seen at the tops of distant treetops, and the bathroom was conveniently located across the road. The fire pit was down wind from the picnic table so we spent the entire weekend playing musical chairs to keep from choking to death(this would have been better had we actually remembered to pack chairs!). We made the beds on the crude sleeping platforms and fired up the little stove inside as the temperature plummeted to the low 40's. John and I put the girls to bed and lingered around the fire outside with hot toddies in hand, savoring our quiet time together. We retired for the night when we agreed we were numb from our toes up. I spent the rest of the weekend shaking from cold, dressed in John's work coat and lamenting my less than fashionable get up as I watched "NorCal Natives" wander the campground in shorts and North Face fleeces in 44 degree weather. We set off for a hike on Saturday only to discover that our dog was not allowed on ANY trails, paved roads only. Lucky dog was curled up in the warm car while we hiked along at Shelby's short legged pace to the sound of my chattering teeth. When we left on Sunday, we had spent over $100 on firewood, every piece of clothing we owned wreaked of smoke, we hadn't seen direct sunlight in three days, I learned that it is possible to wear three pairs of socks at once, our gear had somehow expanded leaving even less space in the car, I feared I'd permanently lost feeling in 4 of my fingertips, and just as we descended onto the quirky streets of Santa Cruz John's phone rang. Being the easygoing, accommodating wife I aspire to be, we agreed to turn the car around, abandon our homeward direction and head a few more hours North toward an emergency meeting in Napa for John's work. Next thing I knew we were checking into the Napa River Inn (dog friendly, thank god), hot showers and clean crisp sheets. Now this is the way to end a camping trip! The girls and I lounged around in fluffy white robes watching Sesame Street over a glowing gas fire while John dragged our luggage to the Laundromat. We enjoyed a lavish dinner, warm beds (turned down and dotted with Godivas), feather pillows, and hot lattes with the newspaper in the morning. We're home and happy to have survived what we've learned to be the coldest damn weekend this year. Maybe we'll unpack the car tomorrow. For today, I'm celebrating Earth Day by avoiding my vehicle altogether. Camping is a distant memory and not one we'll repeat until hell relocates to the state of California and firewood is free. Here's to room service and thermostats.