The forest and the sea
It was hard to imagine we were close to the beach at Van Damne State Park. The site we chose past the entrance ran along side the road and it felt as if we were in a forest grotto. Moisture clung in the air, a small creek ran behind the trailer and moisture dripped from everything. Coho salmon go upstream here in the Spring. The forest had a strange quite feel to it, few birds, some deer that wandered through and the occasional hiker going past the trailer.
Farther down the road a path led miles up into the Fern Canyon. We explored several miles of the trail over bridges and up the small creek marveling at the green..so green, after the dry hillsides of the eastern sierra and the half empty reservoirs of everywhere else we have been, this seemed unreal. The light that shines through these forests is beautiful, and tough to photograph, for me anyway.
Everywhere you looked something was growing but the forest seemed quiet compared to the beach and the hordes of squawking gulls that came to drink and bathe in the fresh water pool at the end of the creek.The only thing we hadn’t counted on was the cost, damn California parks and the coast are expensive, and our site was primitive, no water or power, for $35 this was not a bargain. We always seem to come into the beach close to a weekend and spots are already reserved so this being a first come, first serve park we were lucky to get a spot on a Friday afternoon, by sunset, the park was full.
The only bonus came in the form of food, as we were walking towards the beach one late afternoon (the only way to check for messages or emails) we came across a kayak-er using his paddle to pry mushrooms off of a tree..being the curious sort, we stopped and asked him what was he doing..”oyster mushrooms” he proclaimed grinning from ear to ear..”omelettes tonight” he said “here are some for you”..:) They were delicious in our beef stew.
We stayed a few days and explored Mendocino, loved it, stumbled into a local pub Patterson’s and had a nice meal, great local beer and yarns about the area from an older local couple. What a treat to hear about an area from these two lovely souls, we chatted away for over an hour while we ate, and learned. When we went to pay our bill the waitress paid for our beers..what(?)..”that elderly couple are like family to me” she said, “and not everyone is nice enough to sit and chat with them, so the beer is on me”…Thanks Carly, you are a gem as well.
After a few days without sun in the shade of the coastal Redwoods we took another jaunt up the coast to a sunnier sight, and better priced fuel. In Mendocino the one station we came upon was charging $5.55 a gallon, a wee bit of highway robbery but we filled our two gallon generator jug and decided to look for truck fuel North in Fort Bragg. A gale warning was posted for the entire coast and for a moment we were happy to be a Redwood gulch protected from the howling winds.
On our way back from Ft.Bragg we stopped at the Point Cabrillo Light Station, the wind was howling across this barren dry landscape, it was spectacular watching the seas pound the coast. The walk out to the lighthouse takes you through farm fields and past old fences. We could lean against the wind and holding the camera steady was next to impossible, no long lens today! The light house was a short squat building brimming with history.
The grounds were beautiful, although dry and stark. I love the Monterrey cypress, shaped by the wind direction over hundreds of years. Naked ladies, bright pink flowers dotted the landscapes in clumps. There are old cottages and the lighthouse master’s quarters that are being restored and some available to rent, a way to support the Light Station. Admirable. Wish they had RV hook-ups..but in that wind..maybe not;)
The next day the gale was gone and we headed South along the 1 marveling at the shoreline, while Mike watched his mirrors and the constant winding curves as you head down into the gulches and then rise up the other side, this is not a leisurely drive with a trailer in tow. The road to Ocean Cove was only 70 miles but took well over two hours to navigate but finally it appeared on the bluff in front of us and we checked in..$24 a night, dry camping, and that view! Pick your spot and settle in, on the bluff or back in the trees they had something for everyone. We’d read about this little spot, amazing small store and the views. Water is available, a wonderful Australian neighbor trailer loaned us their 55 gal drum to fill up from the tap and siphon into Myrtle. The extra weight of water adds to the overall trailer weight so we usually drive dry.
The Columbia Movie Studio purchased the property in the early 1930s to make a movie. They built six cabins in back of the store to serve as living quarters. After the movie was completed they sold the property. What a great backdrop for a movie.
Spending countless hours on the cliffs playing with my ND8 filter and long exposures, I was in heaven from sunrise to sunset.. a bit obsessed Mike thought I’m sure. To the South you could explore the cliffs and a few small beaches of Stillwater Cove Regional Park and to the North the Salt Point Marine Reserve covers a large area with dozens of hiking trails. We saw deer at the cliffs and sea lions below. The rock formations on the point were stunning. The exposed seaweed were like miniature palm trees.
The only hitch with Ocean Cove is no WiFi or even a sniff of Verizon signal like so much of this coastline. Up at the road side call box along the highway by Salt Point we got a whiff, enough to check emails and tell family we had not dissapeared from the face of the earth, yet;) We also drove South to a swanky resort, the Timber Cove Inn to treat ourselves to an upscale breakfast, and free internet;)..but my phone picked up some weird virus from their site..awkward, which put an end to surfing, unless I was willing to buy their debug program…robbery I say..so it was time to go.
We had some beautiful clear skies and even a Milky Way setting into the Pacific. The cats had enjoyed their sun filled days lounging on the back sofa but we were running out of supplies and gas for the little Honda generator. We need to look at installing an inverter for the future to make use of our solar panel. My computer, an all in one, runs on a battery (dimly I might add and just usable) but Mike needs 110 volts for his machine, so that will be our next investment in Myrtle.
We pulled out on a foggy morning, lets get out of here the cats were yelling..no sun, no purring, and once again headed South along the US1 past Jenner and Bodega Bay (looked hopeful for RV spots in the future) and winding our way (even through some bumper scratching on a serious right hairpin turn and decline, and thanks to the pickup behind us for saying it was just the bumper hitting and not something being pulled off of the trailer..which is what it sounded like..love these super nice Northern California drivers!) all the way to Point Reyes Station and the Olema Campround south of there. Laundromat, electricity and free WiFi…wonderful words after you have been without for awhile. I miss…my washer:) it’s the simple things sometimes you learn to appreciate, the sniff test gets put to use in the rural areas more often than naught;) So, that is that, in a nutshell. Next chapter-Point Reyes and San Francisco and the continued meanderings of the Astro Gypsies…Stay tuned:)
A quick note for any camera buffs out there. I use a Canon 6D with a 100-400 IS zoom and a 24-105 1:4 IS as well. I have a ND8 filter, no flash but lot’s of patience;) I’m a strict amateur learning new things everyday! Any input is appreciated, or critiques as well:)..writing or photography;)