A lovely, woodsy little campground
A new place! This is a county park in the Sonoma County system and has always been just a bit too far out of reach for us to go visit. We did drive through the campground at some point a few years ago, and I remember my overall impression was that it was a very small campground. Pretty, and nicely quiet, but a tight squeeze to drive through. The location made it also a bit far for Richard to bike to from Fort Bragg. Instead, I dropped him about half way at Manchester State Beach. There, he got out and rode the rest of Highway 1 to the campground. He considered doing a longer ride up Annapolis to Skaggs-Stewart Point Road, but that would have added another couple of hours. He’d like to try it some day, but it would take better planning.
On Highway 1 along the north coast, any oasis of civilization is a welcome sight.
It was a particularly foggy day, so much of the ocean viewing along the way was completely obscured in a thick white blanket. It didn’t clear until I was just about to arrive in Gualala. This is a very cute little town and a nice place to stop if you need a quick bite, or shopping essentials while you are on the coast. I headed right to the campground to set up.
Sure, we fit. No problem.
The campground itself is very small, with a narrow loop road coming quite close to large redwood trees on both sides as you pass through. The site I reserved fit Dory ok, but it was pushing it to get the car positioned in front of her in a way that could be counted as “in the site.” I took off the towing mirrors to prevent anyone clipping them, and basically just crossed my fingers that there was enough room for other trailers to get past.
Dual 100 ah lithium batteries: check. Dual 440w solar panels: check. Having a generator after 5 days of deep forest in the winter: priceless.
Following a stretch of five days with zero solar, it was time to pull out the generator and top up the batteries. I’m very happy we now have dual lithium batteries and massive solar panels on the roof, but all those potential watts and amp hours don’t get you very far when it’s winter and you’re under the cover of tall trees. I am not usually the generator person, so I am rather proud of myself for getting it all up and running long before Richard arrived.
I kept myself entertained by catching up on the blog. While there is no cell service down in the campground, there was super fast, and free, wifi available. That was all I needed for the rest of the afternoon and evening. That, and pizza. I noted that there was a good looking pizza joint in town and Richard got to go out on a mission to get some take out. He texted that it was quite the operation and we’d have to wait almost an hour. He said there were many people working the kitchen, and pizzas were coming fresh out of the oven like an assembly line. Surprising to have such a wait in such a small town, but perhaps the nearby resort complex of Sea Ranch keeps the pizza people busy on the day before Thanksgiving. In any case, the pizza was fabulous and put me well over my calorie budget for the day.
Beach at the mouth of the Gualala River
We spent Thanksgiving Day checking out the beach and Bluffs Trail. There is a little trail that goes right from the campground, under Highway 1, and to the day use area of the park near the shore. You can walk down to the beach from there, which we did. From there, we picked up the start of the Bluff Trail and just kept walking until we decided to turn around. This trail goes on for something like six and a half miles and skirts Sea Ranch Lodge and golf club much of the way. There are stunning views of the ocean all the way and it is completely flat. We walked far enough that I figured I had worked off the pizza splurge from the night before, and then turned around and walked back.
The colors were absolutely stunning.
My favorite part was stopping to look at waves as they were cresting in the wind. The spray coming off the top created a rainbow effect that was just crazy beautiful.
Our Thanksgiving consisted of Chicken Cordon Bleu, precooked and frozen, then reheated in the Omnia. This paired with sauteed green beans and a bottle of Rombauer. For dessert, it was apple pie heated to perfection in the Omnia. We brought out the “fancy” Corelle plates to mark the special occasion (but still the plastic wine cup because we are not pretentious).
And a Happy Thanksgiving to all!
This was a perfect Thanksgiving for us. We even got to video chat with our son. Stop #3 of 4 was delightful and introduced a new location. While the location of Manchester is more centrally located along the coast, I preferred Gualala because there was a fun little town and a beautiful campground. I would very happily stay here again.
Total miles from MacKerricher: 68.6, 16.7 mpg, 3 hours 4 min (stopping at Manchester SB). Site 13, no solar, no hookups. Amazing free wifi. No cell from campground. Very tight campground loop road. Most sites ok for Dory, but not all. No solar sites at all. Site 10 would be nice, with a river view too. Good dump.