Covid restlessness finally kicked in for me after seven months of seclusion. I joined Lori, Deb, and Liam for three nights camping at Van Damme State Park at the end of October. Liam and I shared site 009 and Deb and Lori were next door at 008 where they had the sunshine and free wi-fi that Lori loves. She joined a Zoom meeting with the Petaluma Paddlers one evening! This was my first visit, and not cheap! My half of the on-line reservation was $61 plus $10 a night for three nights as “extra car” for a total of $91. I discovered more private and forested campsites 27-30 deeper in the “lower loop” that are far from wi-fi and close to the Fern Canyon trail that I would like to try out when it is hot in Santa Rosa. Here is a link to a video showing all the Van Damme campsites.
We all brought bikes, and Lori on her electric bike led us on a trek from the north side of the mouth of the Noyo River in Ft. Bragg to MacKerricher State Park Laguna Point for lunch. Because it is autumn, the rafts of ice plant that cling to the coastal cliffs were turning red, making russet caps on the ochre cliffs silhouetted against sea. I had not been on a bike for years, so the 11-mile ride was a stretch for me and for Deb.
Mercury is retrograde, and when we returned from the peddle, Deb’s car battery was dead (again). Liam gave her another jump start and we rolled into Mendicino Tow at 110 Manzanita St at the north end of Ft. Bragg just before closing to get a new one.
The scenery along the coastal trail was quite beautiful, with plentiful, colorfully-painted rest stops along the way (Covid petri dishes) and beautiful Glass Beach sparkling with the sea-softened remnants of a long-ago refuse site.
The next day we explored Big River at 9:30 a.m. to catch the high tide, but it was too windy so we drove south to Albion River Campground and paid the $5 per boat to launch. The river was beautiful, calm, dotted with unique houseboats. Deb and I got all the way to the “island” and explored the Lagoon on the way back.
Mercury being retrograde, we got to see the Mendocino Tow people from Ft. Bragg again when we got back, because Deb accidentally locked her car keys in the trunk. Liam used his AAA membership for the call, and when Deb’s door was open and her key retrieved, the driver waved good-bye. Liam said, “Don’t you want my billing information?” “Nah, we have it all on file.” “See you tomorrow,” I chirped as he left. That night after fresh guacamole and white wine, we went to the beach across Hwy 1 from Van Damme.
The drive home on Hwy 128 is breathtaking through the Navarro section. Deb, Liam and I stopped to check out now-closed Paul Dimmick campground on the way back. No water, and the Navarro River is very low. The trip was great fun and I hope I beat the odds and will not get sick as a result of my adventure.