Tuesday, May 22, 2012


I've been itching to go camping ever since the weather turned warm. A couple of weeks ago I said to Alan, "we should go camping - this weekend." Usually when I say stuff like that it doesn't pan out, typically because it's really hard to get a good camp spot on short notice within 150 miles of here. In fact, some places you have to book up to a year in advance. I don't know if it was because it's not yet Memorial Day weekend (typically when most folks kick off their summer travels), or because it was Mother's Day weekend, but there was availability at Bodega Dunes Campground, located about 50 miles north of San Francisco on the Sonoma Coast.

I've always wanted to camp on the beach and this seemed about as close as I was going to get. It's not actually on the ocean, but it is on the sand dunes, and you can see Bodega Bay from many of the larger campsites. Because we are a party of two, we really lucked out in getting a coveted spot on the dunes that was too small for anything but one tent. We actually had people walking by and telling us how awesome our site was!

We only stayed one night and it was a great way to kick off our summer travel season. The campground itself is really great, and I would have recommended it wholeheartedly - until the sun went down and we tried to sleep. You see, because it's located on the bay - and a working marina - there were buoys going all night long. Ding, ding, ding. It sounded almost exactly like our alarm clock which made sleeping somewhat problematic. As soon as we'd drift off, the dinging would interrupt our conscience and we'd be awake again. I woke up around 2 a.m. and pretty much stayed that way until finally drifting off around 5 a.m., only to be awoken at 7 a.m. by the sounds of some horrible children playing in a campground that wasn't their own. (These kids were pretty bad - when we arrived we had to kick them out of our campground too. They didn't want to leave. Finally I had to say, "you don't understand ... you're not allowed to be here anymore. Go away!")

The next day we woke up, cooked breakfast, and made our way to Armstrong Redwoods State Forest for what turned out to be quite the grueling hike. We can't agree on just how bad the ascent was (there were signs everywhere saying "steep trail") but after looking at the map, and hiking that bad boy, I'm going to say it was 1.2 miles of up, up, up. We had a few hundred feet every so often of flat but then we'd have to start going up again. I wanted to give up so many times. At one point I got so dizzy from breathing so deeply. But ... I persevered and prevailed. But oh god did I hurt for the next three days. I didn't know I could hurt that bad.

Despite the lack of sleep and the grueling hike, it was a really great trip and I'm already looking forward to our next weekend in the wilderness.

Why yes, we did take a nap on the beach.

This is the first time Alan has quickly - and successfully - built an awesome fire.

These trees are no joke.

Oh, and this is the forest where George Lucas filmed the Forest Moon of Endor (aka Ewoks!).

Driving home through the Russian River Valley

This is the sort of sunburn you get when you decide to take a 30-minute nap on the beach, sans sunscreen. Oops.