For my first trip, I decided to go somewhere nearby where I could easily get a reservation. I live in Oakland, so the most convenient place is the campground in anthony chabot regional park. It's a bit expensive (though I think pretty normal for car camping) at $25/night, but it has a lot of availability and if anything went wrong I could easily bail out and drive home.
It went well. I had everything packed into my backpack and thrown into the trunk. I had to stop off to get some last minute stuff like a metal mug for cooking, and arrived at the campground around sunset.
I was able to set up my tent pretty quickly. I needed the fly since there was a chance of rain. By the time I did that and heated up some canned chili for dinner, it was pretty dark. Afterward I had a little difficulty getting my mug clean. I scraped up as much as I could, but ended up needing some paper towels. I think in the future I just need to use a little more water and either drink it or disperse it around. I just got into the tent and read for a while.
It got pretty cold and rainy overnight. I learned that I need a new sleeping bag, the one I have now is just not warm enough. I think it's because it hasn't been stored very well and it was never that warm to begin with. It's also pretty heavy and bulky compared to other ones I've been looking at.
In the morning I made some instant oatmeal. I made the mistake of heating it a little too high after I put the oatmeal in, so it got a little burnt to the bottom. Just another thing to watch out for I guess.
In the morning I had been thinking about going on a hike but it was still raining so I just packed up and went home. Dealing with the tent was tricky since it was all wet and dirty from the rain. I just bundled it up and stuck it in my trunk rather than get my pack all wet too. I learned I need to bring some trash bags or something to keep the wet stuff separate.
Anyway, it went well overall. I was glad that it rained so I could learn about how to deal with it in a controlled environment. The main things I got from it were: