Tag Archives: outdoors

Annual Doran Camp 2017

Annual Doran Camp 2017
Doran Beach Campout

Bruce, Bran, Norma, Helen

I look forward all year to the annual SCPN campout at Doran Beach. This time, Saturday night was calm and clear and they saw some of the Perseid Meteor shower. I, myself, slept through the whole thing, getting a great night’s sleep and kayaking by myself on Sunday morning in the mist. I had the bay to myself. Jeannie made a fabulous potato Thai curry Saturday night, and I served a red shrimp curry that Peggy and Mary Rose made the night before and shared with me, along with their famous peach chutney.

Jeannie is a great cook

Bran, Norma, Billy

There is a core group that camps every year, and we have daytime visitors including AnnaLisa, LeeAnnin and Benn. They even had a club meeting!

Bran hand-ground coffee beans, something he learned at an Arizona get-together. The food was great. They brought some grilled chicken thighs that were yummy. On Friday night we grilled the NYTimes taste-test willing hot dogs from Whole Foods, and taste-tested two kinds of buns: pretzel and brioche. Pretzel won.

On Saturday, Billy fire-roasted an enormous squash. He could have fed an army with it. He was not too happy with the mini-army of Japanese-American boy scouts that started early-morning calisthenics on Sunday morning with sharp counting in Japanese, and barked orders as they did laps around the parking lot before 7 a.m.

In the past, the illumination on the low-hanging branches near where I like to place my tent would cause too much light infiltration. This year I hung a couple of beach towels over the front which worked well (I should bring clamps next time in case of wind). No rain fly for me — it blocks the windows and ventilation. I used both a solor-powered string ($20 at Home Depot) and a remote-controlled battery-operated $8 string from Amazon. Both worked well, and next time I will wrap them with more space between each ring in order to illuminate the entire limb.

Solar lights, battery lights, wind baffles

Billy and Bruce rigged up two enormous wind baffles on the street-side of site D which really made the site much more usable. They had climbed the tree to attach the tarps using bungee cords and they withstood the wind well. Billy cleverly used an acorn to attach the ripcord when the grommets tore out of a cheap tarp.

Notes for next time: duct tape or bungee cords to secure the lighting power packs. Put Volvo key on long keychain necklace — it kept falling out of pants pockets. Turkey pucks for Billy, Bruce makes his “bone cereal” in the morning. It is only 30 minutes via Sebastopol, 45 via Occidental.




Woman Lives Undersea for 8 Days

Woman Lives Undersea for 8 Days

Here I am with Dr. Dawn Kernagis, a member of Women Diver’s Hall of Fame, who spoke at SRJC today about doing biomedical research on the effects living underwater for eight days as part of NASA’s NEEMO 21 crew. Here is a video of her talk, “Dr Dawn Kernagis talks about life undersea during NASA s NEEMO 21 Mission.” So impressive! This was part of Women’s History Month.

Sugarloaf Hike Springtime

Sugarloaf Hike Springtime

Sugarloaf Mountain

Sugarloaf Mountain

Yesterday, Wendy Gross led us (group shot below) on a four-hour, seven mile hike on Sugarloaf Mountain that was very steep. Halfway through the hike we were on a beautiful, seldom-used trail that was steeply up-and-down alongside a flowing creek. There were several stream crossings which were easy, even though Laura Tighe just walked through the water and skipped trying to balance on the rocks. She said, “it cools my feet.” She also commented that the entire group standing on a wooden bridge (below) was an interesting test of the strength of the bridge.

I was ready for the hike to end around noon, our usual stopping time, but it took until 1 p.m. to finish and we reached an altitude where the deciduous trees thinned out and we were seeing healthy conifers with cones so big Jason was marveling at their size and robustness. We thought Jason and Frances would join us afterwards at Midtown Cafe, but the 2 p.m. closing time was fast approaching, so they opted out. To give you an idea of how taxing the hike was, Jill ate the entire Duck Confit she ordered, and Ezra ate everything, too. He enjoyed the strenuous hike, but next time I will make sure that Wendy has actually hiked the trail previously before I follow her.

There were lots of pretty spring flowers in the cool, foggy weather, and we had a vigorous discussion about penstamen. Wendy finally opened up a flower and counted the stamens — five.

Back: Diane, Jill, Ned Middle: Wendy, Ezra, Jason Foreground: Frances, Ulla

Back: Diane, Jill, Ned
Middle: Wendy, Ezra, Jason
Foreground: Frances, Ulla

My Tick and Rash

My Tick and Rash

CDC  Lyme Disease Rash Pattern

CDC Lyme Disease Rash Pattern

Yikes! I just discovered a tick bite, about 24 hours after the hike. This is what was left after my friend broke off the body, which I will submit to the County for testing for only $31. My doctor dug out the tick’s head on Monday morning and prescribed doxycycline for me, reminding me that the rate of infection of Sonoma ticks is low. She searched the web from the computer in her office to show me the distinctive “target” rash for lyme disease, so I am including the image from the Center for Disease Control (CDC). I am told that Ezra got a tick, too.

Black Mountain Two Night Kayak Camp

Black Mountain Two Night Kayak Camp

BlackMtn360wFor our traditional Mothers Day Campout, Lori Parmalee selected Black Mountain, a boat-in only campground in Lake Sonoma which was full for the first time in several rain-sparse years. She booked all four of the campsites on the peninsula and we had six campers on Saturday night. Friday morning, Lori and I paddled in with Liam O’Flaherty and had the lake to ourselves. It was raining lightly when we launched but it stopped quickly and the water was smooth as we crossed the four miles to Black Mountain in about an hour.

The drizzle began again when Lori took this picture of Liam and me at the table in the distance. I am on the left in my green plastic poncho I bought 25 years ago when I started boating. This is the first time I have used it. I also purchased my tent at that time, and on this trip, the raccoons tore a three-corner hole in it to get to my sun-block lip-gloss. Grrr. But they greedily went after my headlamp first which got stuck in the hole, so they didn’t get the lip gloss.

The table in the foreground was probably moved from my campsite which is the farthest away. Liam theorized that it was moved when the water was low, last Autumn, then inundated by the Spring rains.

ViewFromLatrineIt was great having the entire campsite to ourselves. One of the reasons Lori likes Black Mountain campground is that this is the view from the latrine (left).

Even though it was raining lightly on Saturday morning, we were joined by Brent, Deb and Louie and had a great campfire on Saturday night. I left my little chair in my car because I was (unnecessarily) worried about a too-heavy boat, so I had to stand for the campfire. Won’t make that mistake again. We had fun sharing food and an excellent bottle of Gundlach Bundschu wine compliments of Liam. Louie shared some excellent craft stout. My massaged kale salad was not the show-stopper I hoped.

It rained briefly both Friday and Saturday nights, which served to keep the weekend very restful and meditative. I enjoyed the women’s magazines Lori brought to leaf through and use as kindling. They stayed dry while my cotton pants sopped up the condensation in my tent.

Lori and I paddled back on Sunday morning while the others explored farther up the water. I learned her trick to find her way back to the boat launch — stay to the left on return and always take the left choice. Many of the openings are hard to see until you are right upon them. Even though Sunday was Mothers Day, there were few speed boats on the water and our paddle back was uneventful.

I had been fretting about organizing and preparing for a two-night campout, but it was very successful. I am tired but happy. Here is my picture on Friday afternoon after the three of us arrived.

Paddled The Gualala River

Paddled The Gualala River

In 2000, I was looking at houses in Sea Ranch and discovered a steep road to a put-in on the Gualala River.  This hard-to-find road leads to the fabled “hot spot” and I learned that the river is runnable when the water is high in January and February.  At a planning meeting for North Bay Kayakers, we decided to plan a trip and I reserved Campsite 10 at Gualala Regional Park, the first time I have ever been able to get this prime site, and was delighted to discover it had a little beach.  Paul Hutchinson and Louie Mattarelli had already arrived and taken an adjoining campsite.  I shared my site with Lori, Liam and Howard.  We all drove up in the rain on Friday went to dinner at the Gualala Hotel.


Vince Kreger, a great leader, and his cousin Andy grew up in the area and knew the water.  The Gualala River separates Sonoma county from Mendocino county.  We put in at twin bridges in Annapolis.  There were 10 boats including our tandem.



The rain had been steady all winter and we had three days of good rain immediately prior to the Saturday paddle, so there was very little “paddle and drag.”  Howard and I are in the tandem at the bottom of the photo below.


Even though our canoe was missing the whitewater flotation, we did fine and stayed dry.  The boaters in the little kiwi boats did best, slipping lightly over the shallow sections and avoiding the boat-flipping elbows in the river.  Kathy Turner and Amy (photo below) had good, small boats.


I want to buy a little kiwi and use that next time I paddle the Gualala which I am told is the cleanest river in California.  It was beautiful, like the upper Russian River, but much cleaner water and riverbanks.  A fine day.

Teardrop Trailer – Gualala Glamping

Teardrop Trailer – Gualala Glamping

Last summer I didn’t get to go camping at all, and I got very little camping the summer before in 2012 because Howard complained that he didn’t want to sleep on the ground anymore. I still want to camp and I love sleeping on the ground, so for his birthday, I rented a Teardrop Trailer from Vacations-In-A-Can and made a reservation at Gualala for mid-September, the soonest I could get.
This is what the little rental trailer looked like in the campsite, and if you click on the image you will see how it is presented on the rental website. The L’il Bear model we chose expresses this motif mostly in the bedding, but the trailers are rented without linens, so I had to provide the appropriate masculine environment for Glamor Camping, or Glamping.

We brought cozy flannel covers for the interior

We brought cozy flannel covers for the interior

I used high-thread-count cotton bottom sheet and down comforter in gray glen plaid flannel duvet with coordinating red flannel pillow cases. The awning-style windows opened on both sides and there was a vent on top so the cabin could be as airy or cozy as desired. A very tall person would not be comfortable here, but Howard said the 79-inch long sleeping area was just right — especially for reading when the temperature drops, as it tends to around dinner time. It’s funny — it’s usually warmer at dawn than at sunset on the coast because of how the warm inland valleys draw the cool water ashore at the end of the day.

A galley kitchen is built-in to the back of the trailer but it was not very useful because the campground has all the amenities like a picnic table, flush toilets and a shower, but if I ever made a teardrop trailer for myself, I would make the back a desk where I could write or paint, and simply close the teardrop to keep my work in place and dry until I could pick it up the next day.

4 pin connectorThe rental was not exactly plug-and-play. Howard’s Toyota pickup has a trailer hitch (a requirement for rental) but the rental also requires a 4-pin flat connector so that the tail lights, brake lights and turn lights work on the trailer. powerSupplyHoward stopped by the rental place a couple of days before we were scheduled to pick up “L’il Bear” and discovered that the 4-pin connector he already had was obsolete and that he had to replace it with an updated model to for safety compliance. Although the rental guy told him it was a simple replacement, it took Howard a couple of hours of lying on his back under his truck to trace all the wires and connect them up under the bed of the truck so that everything worked properly. It also required hooking a power unit to the battery as well (photo at right). Howard said the trailer tracked well on the road and, at 700 lbs., was very easy for his 4-cylinder truck to pull up the twists and turns of Highway 1.

totemFinial150wThe Park Ranger told us to check out the Ceremonial Hitching Posts which had just been dedicated a few months earlier on the Summer Solstice, 2014 as part of the Sakha Cultural Festival. They were carved by the visiting master carvers from Yakutsk in Siberia, the Sakha people first came to the North Coast of Sonoma with the Russia American Company to work at the settlement at Fort Ross from 1812-1842. The “serge” (pronounced sayr-gay) honors these Yakuts. There was an interesting exhibit horse-centric Yakut culture in the nearby Visitor Center.

The installation included three totems with the serge. The ranger told us that the local artists had offered the visiting Russian carvers a superb redwood for the totems but that they rejected it in favor of Douglas fir. That might reflect their far-North culture that does not have redwoods.

The weekend before we went camping, we visited a Petaluma gathering of Teardrop enthusiasts that meet every year right after Labor Day. They invited us to come by next year during their “open house” hours because they love to show off their wheeled domiciles.

Wild – Cheryl Strayed on the PCT

Wild – Cheryl Strayed on the PCT

bookWildMy sister Laurie’s friend Maureen left this book on the nightstand in the guest bedroom when we spent the night at her house before we set out on our drive from Colorado Springs to Portland, Oregon last Thanksgiving. I didn’t realize at the time that Maureen was offering it to us because she had finished it. At the send-off party that same evening, another friend of Laurie’s also recommended this book, but it would be nearly a year before I would be being able to “sport-read” again.

I started this book last weekend while we were camping in Gualala and really enjoyed it, especially the Acknowledgements on the last few pages which give a sense of why it took 15 years to write. It made me realize it can take a lifetime to write a novel, and why it is important to stay fully alive for your whole life. This is one of my favorite passages, page 258, where she reflects on her marriage that she tanked through infidelity:

What if I forgave myself? I thought. What if I forgave myself even though I’d done something I shouldn’t have? What if I was a liar and a cheat and there was no excuse for what I’d done other than because it was what I wanted and needed to do? What if I was sorry, but if I could go back in time I wouldn’t do anything different than I had done? What if I’d actually wanted to fuck everyone of those men? What if heroin taught me something? What if yes was the right answer instead of no? What if what made me do all those things everyone thought I shouldn’t have done was what also had got me here? What if I was never redeemed? What if I already was?

I’m glad I read the book before the movie came out.

I like books that have me thinking about them afterwards. Even though his book was “first-person adventure,” the hike along the Pacific Coast Trail was just the engine that conceals the real content. As Cheryl hikes, she reflects on how she trashed her marriage, and other seriously-bad decisions she made. There are no comments or analysis from the 15-years-hence writer, just the ruminations of the hiking 27 year old on bad stuff she did — how she hurt someone she loved very much. The first-person ruminations gave me some insight into how people might feel when they behave badly in their own lives. I find myself using this book as fodder to consider what it would be like to not take the self-destructive behavior of others personally — but rather, to consider it as part of their own way of working out their rage or disconnection from Oneness-That-We-Are. Nothing like months on the trail to connect a person to the Divine!