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My Dockweiler State Beach Experience: Bonfires And Bonding

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCLA chapter.

I have yet to meet a single person who doesn’t love bonfires. Who wouldn’t want to eat s’mores with their friends around a crackling fire as the sun sets over the Pacific Ocean? However, many people don’t know what to do when it comes to preparing for a bonfire. Trust me, neither did I the first time I tried to have one. It can be an intimidating process. You need to make sure you have all the right equipment, a safe and affordable form of travel and of course delicious food! That’s why I’ve decided to share my newfound knowledge and experience with you.

The first thing we had to do was get the materials to start and maintain a fire. So, we paid Ralph’s a quick visit for some wood, lighter fluid, a lighter and prongs (to roast the food). But, you also can’t have a bonfire without some good food. That’s why we then headed to Whole Foods and Target for the rest of the supplies: marshmallows, milk chocolate, graham crackers, soda, organic fully-cooked beef hot dogs and some hot dog buns. 

Once we had everything, we had to figure out how to get to the beach itself. Being an out-of-state student, I don’t own a car here in LA. Since most of my friends are international students, neither do they. That’s why we always end up taking Ubers or Lyfts everywhere, including to Dockweiler. A ride there tends to be between $25-30, but heavy traffic (one of LA’s infamous attributes) can increase the fare. Although this may not be the cheapest option, it is unfortunately our only option.

Dockweiler State Beach also offers parking for those of you who do own cars. The rates are $8.00 on weekdays and $13.00 on weekends and holidays. But, if you’re within the first 300 vehicles to fill the lot, you only have to pay $3.00 on weekdays and $5.00 on weekends and holidays. As they always say, the early bird gets the worm!

When we finally got there, the first thing we did was find somewhere to sit and watch the sunset. I love watching the sunset, especially at the beach. It’s a magical experience that warms your soul. Of course we also took a million photos while this magic was unfolding.

Besides watching pretty colors melt into the sky, I think that preparing the food had to be my favorite part. I love feeling the warmth of the fire against my skin as I roast the hot dogs and meticulously toast marshmallows to the ultimate golden tint. It’s a skill that I have perfected over time and one that I am quite proud of.

Besides that, I also really enjoyed how the bonfire allowed my friends and I to learn even more about each other and strengthen our bonds. We shared many stories and laughs and created new memories that I will cherish forever. We also got to meet some pretty cool people who let us share their pit with them.  

Everything is all fun and games until the sun fully disappears over the horizon. That’s when it feels like the temperature drops by 10 degrees and the wind picks up. Although the beach is very beautiful at night, you can’t exactly enjoy its beauty if you’re shivering nonstop and trying to keep your toes from losing all feeling and sensation. That’s why you need to come prepared with layers of warm clothing, blankets, towels and extra socks. You might show up to the beach in shorts but you’ll end up leaving in sweatpants, three pairs of socks and your winter jacket. Don’t underestimate the weather of the ocean at night.

All in all, the bonfire was a great experience and one that bonded my friends and I even more. There’s nothing like sharing a delicious meal in a beautiful setting with people you love.


Kristin is a fourth year MCDB major and Film minor who loves to create art and bring a smile to people's faces. You can probably find her at the beach or in bed. Oh, and she is in love with cookies and cartoons.
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