I went camping again last week. This time with my family. My husband started a new job on Monday and we wanted to take one last trip this summer. We decided to get away to the coast and do a little camping.
We loaded the car and hit the road after picking my oldest son up from football practice (we did let him shower first) and we headed northwest to Ft. Bragg. We weren’t exactly sure which direction we would take, we could take the straight route through Petaluma and up from there, or we could head north and drive over to Clear Lake and head east. We decided to take the alternate route through Clear Lake. We drove through parts of California we’d never been too. Through some farm towns that we’d only heard of as signs on the highway. (So that’s where Esparta is). We drove by the Cache Creek Casino. Not sure why people would go all that way, but they do have some good concerts. Then again, growing up in Tahoe and going to college in Reno, casinos are usually my last choice for a destination. (Unless it’s for 99 cent ham and eggs at two in the morning. Do they still have those kinds of deals?).
We arrived in Ft. Bragg around six. We had our tents, we had our cooler packed. What we didn’t have was a guide book for campgrounds. And our internet was spotty up there. We drove past a state beach, but didn’t see a sign for camping. As it got later, we decided to look for a hotel and figure out the camping thing the next day.
We stopped in at one place right on the beach, but they only had one room left. With only one bed. Not going to work with four of us. But the desk clerk recommended Don and Dottie’s place- the Travelodge. They’d recently remodeled and we were able to get a two room suite for a reasonable price. They even had a rollaway so my two boys (15 and 10) didn’t have to share a bed. Bonus.
We were given recommendations for dinner, and a map, which I left back at the room. We found a place right on the water and had a great view of the boats coming in from the day’s fishing.
We went to Glass Beach the next day. The boys loved hiking around on the rocks, my youngest without shoes. I swear the boy had no nerve ending on his feet, he’s always running around barefoot, climbing trees and such. We looked for crabs and sea anemones and other such sea critters.
Then later that morning we found a campsite at a state park in Mendocino. We stopped in the visitors center for tips on things to do and the ranger gave us a great spot to park for the beach. On a perfectly gorgeous day, we stumbled upon this
An artistic structure that provided just enough of a wind block that I was able to pull out my laptop and work on a scene I’ve been struggling with on my current WIP. The teen hit the water with his boogie board, skim board and he ditched the wetsuit after a while. The younger boy dug a cool trench he later covered with sticks for a fort. We couldn’t ask for better weather, the beach wasn’t very crowded and it was almost perfect except for the beesting. The good news, I’m not allergic. But it hurt, and the swelling showed up the next day.
We camped that night and it was a little chilly once the fog rolled in. But a hot shower (once we dug up enough quarters) and all was good. We decided to go inland for the day. We wanted to see some redwoods since the last time we tried, my youngest son ate raisins and M&Ms out of a bag of trail mix and broke out in hives. We found out later he’s allergic to nuts.
We made it to Hendy Woods State Park, but decided not to camp there. The road leading in was lined with Poison Oak. My teen is very, very sensitive to it and had a really bad reaction to it the last time he got it. We ended up in the ER when his arm swelled to the size of my thigh- three days after starting the prednisone. We did take a hike through the redwoods, and my son washed his legs with dish soap as soon as we were done. No poison oak on this trip.
We drove over to Boonville, just because we’d never been there, but had their beer. They were one of the first breweries to put craft beer in a can. It was hot there. About 97. So now we had to decide. Head back home or go back to the ocean. We decided to go back to the ocean.
We took the road that wound through the mountains. Kind of a scary road, not just because of the 16 percent grade, but the “farms” with razor wire and very serious NO TRESSPASSING sings. Did not want to break down on that road and stumble upon an herbal garden.
We got to Point Arena, and it was 30 degrees cooler, and overcast. But beautiful. We walked out on the point and watched the seals or sea lions lounging on the fantastic rocks. The geology of the coast up there is spectacular. Layered rocks almost vertical due to seismic activity. Beautiful.
We ended up our last night camping at Bodega Dunes state park. We found the perfect campsite with this tree.
Yes that’s my son. Barefoot, of course.
We take a lot of road trips in this family. But we rarely make reservations. We usually end up finding something unexpected and spectacular. My writing is the same way. I’m a pantster all the way. I have a destination in mind when I write, but I can’t plot out a story in advance. I have to get on the road and see where it takes me. Sometimes I make a wrong turn and have to backtrack, but mostly I end up surprising myself and finding out it’s better than anything I could have planned.