This place will go on my list of favorite campgrounds for sure. Located near Olema, it is nestled in a beautiful redwood forest with access to hiking, biking, or quick trips to a number of fun little towns.
The days are getting longer and we easily pulled in with lots of light to spare on Friday. It was raining on and off all day and as we were unhitching, it started to come down a bit. We’d gotten set up enough that we could pause the process and raise the roof to wait out the water. That’s a nice feature by the way. After a few minutes, it stopped and we finished stabilizing and such. Set up goes quickly when there are no hookups.
Richard had cooked a delicious Coconut Curry Chicken in the Shuttle Chef and all that remained was to boil a little water and pour it into the Thermos for rice on the side. As we were waiting, we tried really hard not to over observe the family tent camping next to us. They were clearly struggling. They had lots of things spread out on the table to make dinner and the dad was trying his best to get a fire going, only to get thwarted by another shower. The kids were getting increasingly crabby, the mom looked more and more frazzled, and everybody started snapping at each other. Just as the dad quipped, “It’ll be at least an HOUR before we start cooking!” our timer went off for the rice. We had steaming hot dinner, with ice cold beer, and frozen ice cream sandwiches for dessert. I’m not sure what the neighbors eventually had because we closed the privacy curtains when we decided we were being obnoxious by watching them. I don’t think they could see us, or some family member would have probably defected.
Any compassion I had for them disappeared the next morning. They started a very smoky fire in the morning and went off somewhere, leaving it to smolder and engulf everyone in the vicinity. Having been raised a backpacker, I have been conditioned to regard any level of smoke from a campfire as a potential hazard. You just don’t leave a fire smoking at any level. Ever. Also, they drive a Lexus and strike me as a family not that used to camping. I was offended not only as a fellow camper, but frankly, also as a Californian. Any guilt I had over their dinner frustrations has evaporated in a puff of air quality destroying smoke.
After breakfast and shower, Richard got ready for a bike ride and I went over and made sure their fire was good and out. Then I messed around, did dishes, and met him in Nicasio for lunch, like I did when we stayed in Olema several months ago. That is a beautiful drive and it is nice to see the reservoir full. When Richard returned to Dory, he cooked up a pot of thermal Chili and we went on a hike.
The Pioneer Tree Trail is gorgeous, except also kind of like an obstacle course when you factor in the Poison Oak. We are both very sensitive to the stuff and it is growing everywhere right now. There were times we had to sidestep and pick our way through the narrow trail, ducking and high stepping, in order to avoid the big oily leaves reaching for us. It was also a beautiful trail, so the conversation switched rapidly from, “Oohs” and “Ahs”, to “Acks!” and “OMGs!” all along the way.
Arriving back at Dory to hot chili waiting is awesome. I took a picture. I noted that we have now become people who take pictures of our food and Richard said, “No, YOU have become a person who takes pictures of your food.” Which led to a philosophical discussion of whether inaction is the same as being complicit (I think it is). See, this is why it’s important to spend time together as a couple.
Sitting inside, we had the Nature Channel playing out the starboard windows and Reality TV on the port side. We got immediately sucked into the reality show. Terrible at Camping Family had left and Highly Organized Family moved in. They had a fascinating array of bags and containers piled high on their picnic table. Again, we couldn’t help but watch as their dinner preparations unfolded. They had a grill and a dutch oven cooking in combination and they looked like a well oiled machine as they poured some kind of pre-prepared asian foods into the pot and onto the grill. Dad was clearly in charge and he moved around stirring and poking ceaselessly. After about an hour, the family of five was eating what looked like an impressive Chinese dinner, all using chopsticks, even the baby, while dad cracked a beer and started singing. Nicely done Highly Organized Family!
Sunday morning our neighbors prepared an equally elaborate breakfast show while we had what we thought was a pretty impressive meal of cold cereal and blueberries. Oh yeah, and espresso and lattes! Ha! Take that! We were both rather stunned that after breakfast, they started putting everything back in their car. Seriously, that was a LOT of preparation for a one nighter. Hats off to them for sure.
There is no dump station at Samuel P. Taylor, so we drove over the hill about five miles to the Olema RV Park, where we’d stayed previously. We paid $10 and waited in a very slow moving line for the dump station. Between the two campgrounds, I highly prefer Camp Taylor. But we’d have trouble pushing the battery more than two nights, so Olema is the place we’d go I guess if we wanted a longer stay. Cell service was actually far better in the state park and the Olema Campground wifi was so slow as to not be worth it.
Our drive home was blissful. The weather was gorgeous and just as we were talking about where to have lunch, an idyllic lake just appeared right in front of us. This turned out to be Stafford Lake recreation area and it came with fuzzy little balls of goslings running around as part of the package. You can’t really beat that. We gave a little tour to a park ranger, got a couple of thumbs up along the drive (which I guess means “I like Altos!”? Or it could mean, “I like how you’re driving under the speed limit.”). Home by 3, perfect weekend.
Total miles: 57.6, 15 mpg there, 16 mpg on the return (very windy); 2 hours, 9 minutes
Site: 38, which I thought was one of the best