Sonoma Coast – Wright’s & Doran Beach

IMG_0502Happy winter holidays! Because this, the darkest week of the year, is the season of joy, reflection, and gratitude, we headed to the Sonoma coast to celebrate California in all its splendor. Wright’s Beach remains at the top of the list for spectacular campgrounds. I was lucky enough to score one of the primo, ocean side sites, but as there is no dump there, I knew our time would be limited to no more than three nights. I decided to combine the trip with a follow up just to the south at Doran Beach, figuring we could dump tanks when we moved. IMG_0555Neither place has electric hookups, but both sites have excellent solar. Still, this was the longest stretch of boondocking we’ve done yet, and I knew we’d be possibly pushing the limits. Before we left, we joked that we’d either be fine, or would get divorced. People would be shocked and would ask, “After 24 years?! You seemed so happy! What on earth could have caused this?!” We’d reply dryly, “Battery issues.” And those who know, would fully understand.

IMG_0525There’s not much to say about Wright’s Beach beyond just posting the pictures. It is spectacular. I got to enjoy grilling dinner to a beautiful sunset backdrop each night, and both fall asleep and wake up to the glorious sound of the surf. We did a couple of hikes while there and explored tide pools. I recommend the Kortum Trail from Shell Beach to the lookout above Goat Rock. IMG_0529We were treated along the way to a couple of very talented musicians who were just out for the day, making beautiful music, perched on one of the large rock formations. It was kind of surreal and blissfully uplifting. On a sad note, after we returned to Dory, we saw rescue helicopters circling over the water for a long time, plus we saw Coast Guard boats out to the north. Then, they just suddenly turned and departed southward, which we knew was either good news or bad news. We heard from the park ranger that two kids had gone in the water at Goat’s Rock and one didn’t make it. If any of you ever visit the coast, please take the warning signs very seriously. If they say not to go in the water, they mean it. So sad. *Update: it looks like the kids had no intention of going in the water, but were swept away by a sudden wave. The father passed away as well, trying to save them. 😦

IMG_0599After shifting to Doran, we dove into serious discussions about generators (again). Since we have the Trimetric battery monitor, we are cringingly aware of everything that goes on in terms of usage and replenishment of the Alto battery. We know, for example, that the 12V fridge draws by far the most power, around 3 amps out when the compressor is cycling, and that if we turn it off at night when it’s cold outside, we can save a lot right there. We also know that when the sun is low in the sky, the solar panels bring in up to 5 amps when unobstructed by anything (like clouds). Compare this to summer when we can get up to 10 amps in with the sun directly overhead. Combine this with the fact that it is light for far less time when you’re camping with the Solstice. So every day, we’d bounce the battery back just a little less than the day before, and every morning we’d wake up just a little lower. Yes, we can reduce our usage of lots of amp sucking things, up to a point. And that point came on one of the particularly cold mornings when we were reluctant to run the heater due to the energy draw from the fan. That is precisely the moment when I start to question what we’re doing, because it is no longer fun. I’ll skip past the discussion and cut to the chase: if the Home Depot in Santa Rosa had had a Honda 2000w generator, we would now be its proud owners. As a sign from the Universe, however, they were out of stock. So instead, we drove into Sebastopol and bought a good jumper cable, in case we needed to recharge the battery directly from the car. We also put in an order for a smaller, lighter, unit, a Yamaha 1000w, which we anticipate we might need the next outing because we will be fully immersed in a sunless redwood forest for three nights. I shall no doubt be reviewing this unit in detail with the next post. Meanwhile, we enjoyed a delicious dinner in Sebastopol at Ramen Gaijin and ran the damn heater when we got back. Hooray!

IMG_0596Bodega Bay is a super fun place to visit. Besides the beach, there are restaurants and beautiful beachy hikes to enjoy. One of them took us to a massive bird convention. Among the primary factions were those birds from the Pixar short movie, and they were every bit as adorable as you’d hope.

Last thing to partially report on: Dory got an early Xmas present! But we only got to play with it a little bit. After an Altoiste posted a photo of a movie being projected on the back wall of the Alto, that was all I needed. Dory now has a mini movie projector. What we still need to figure out is how to power it (YES, this DID factor into the generator discussions). We have some ideas, and a shower curtain screen. Before our next outing, we have some research to do and a shower curtain to iron. Projects are important.IMG_0621

Happy Holidays to all!!

Wright’s Beach – site 7. Sites 5-10 are amazing and incredibly hard to reserve. Nice bathrooms, water spigots, no power or dump. Doran Beach – our favorite, site 76. Dump station is now pay per use $7. No electric, water spigots plentiful, nice bathrooms. Be aware there is a fog horn that goes off regularly and the Coast Guard station is right there and routinely makes weird loud speaker announcements, with “awoogah” horns and bells and such. I kind of like it, but can imagine someone who would not.

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