Deep redwoods campground
Welcome to our Van Trip Do Over Thanksgiving Break. This time two years ago, I had lined up all kinds of wonderful reservations down the coast. Then we lost Dory. But rather than slip into a despair coma and lose the reservations, we rented a van and made do. So this is our chance to do this trip the way we normally would.
Mission #1: Gowan’s Oak Tree for the Best Apple Pie in the Whole World
First stop: Hendy Woods, where our ulterior motive is to pick up an apple pie from Gowan’s Oak Tree. And sure, we’ll do some hiking or biking too. But mostly, we’re here for the pie.
Me: After this next bend, it’s going to be all straight and flat through Anderson Valley. Or maybe after the next bend.
Sign after bend: Windy road for next 12 miles
Richard: (not saying a thing because he’s smart)
I took a half day off on Friday so that we could arrive in daylight. That was a great call. The only thing about the trip worth noting is that I have an ingrained memory of Highway 128 as being “mostly flat and straight after the initial curves.” Do not listen to my bullshit. That is all false. The only strip of 128 that is flat and straight is about three miles in Booneville. The rest is curvy swervy. It’s totally fine for trailers, but it’s best to be prepared appropriately. The other hiccup was that I missed the turn into the state park. It is well signed, except for the fact that it said “Hendy Woods 1/2 mile” with an arrow pointing to the left. You are supposed to turn left there, obviously. But, to my mind, at the last minute, it said to me, “Go another 1/2 mile, and then turn left.” That is also don’t listen to my bullshit. I was able to awkwardly turn around at the next winery, but only because they luckily had an exit gate. If they hadn’t, I’m not sure how I would have gotten out of that parking lot. No harm, no foul, but I lost many “trust the driver” points on that approach.
Nature’s Air Conditioning
Redwoods are magical organisms. They resist fire, can survive in environments other trees can’t, and they make the most effective natural refrigerators. In the dead heat of summer, a redwood forest is going to be cool. However, with November not being summer, what we found was that it was dark, really cold, and relentlessly damp. Our weather apps said it got a bit below freezing overnight, and I mentioned many times, out loud, how much I love having dual propane tanks. We just ran the heater with abandon all the time.
I have super Otter spotting powers
We did the Big Hendy Grove hike, hitting all of the loops. That is a beautiful stroll through the forest and a must do for anyone wanting a redwoods experience. Bonus: I spotted a river otter splashing around in the Navarro River.
We also did the biking/SAGing thing up Philo Greenwood Road, out to Navarro Beach. That got Richard some quality biking time. I met him at the Navarro General Store and we drove the rest of the way. He enjoys the backroads more than biking 128, but it sure is a pretty drive. It goes right through Navarro River Redwoods State Park, and hugs the river most of the drive. That road is my favorite way to get from the inland valleys to the coast.
Booneville is super cute, but sadly, all closed on Sunday, or short staffed because it’s the week before Thanksgiving.
I wanted to take a little jaunt into Booneville for maybe a dinner out, but we timed it poorly. Sunday most places were closed and there aren’t that many to choose from. Richard had earned an ice cream, so he got that, but I decided it was better to just head on back to Dory for one of our Blue Aprons.
But we did pretty well with our Za’atar-Spiced Chicken & Couscous with tomatoes, cucumber, candied walnuts, sour cream, and fresh mint.
We packed for 9 days’ worth of dinners, knowing we could eat out if we wanted to. We chose 5 Blue Aprons, packed 3 pan dinners, and frozen Chicken Cordon Bleu for a “fancy” Thanksgiving dinner. That’s about the limit for our fridge, but we also will need to probably go shopping at some point to replenish milk. Add to the full fridge a frozen apple pie and that’s a good week right there. I wasn’t totally sure the pie was going to go in, but it turns out Dory2’s fridge is exactly the same kind and size as the one in the rented van. So now we know our maximum dinner + pie capacity.
Well stocked fridge
Next we hit the coast!
Total miles: 138.8, 17.0 mpg, 3 hours 49 min. Site 43. Other good sites: 61, 64, 68, 11, 12, 19, 25, 43. No solar anywhere. No hookups. Good dump. Water spigots, nice bathrooms. Some LTE and sometimes 5g for both of us.