Great solar site in a 10+1 campground
On an awesome trip like this one, it is hard to say which stay was a favorite. But this one was pretty great. We had a hard time coming back to reality. First off, the drive between Gualala and Salt Point is one of the most spectacular stretches on an already jaw dropping coastline. There tends not to be much traffic out this way because you’ve got some daunting driving on either side, so Richard had a nice ride down the coast. And what was once a cell service dead zone now has pretty steady signal the whole way. I must admit, I do appreciate connectivity. Any time we have good cell service, we give the campground an extra point in the Levenberg Rating Scale.
Just another view along the way
I got to the campground in a jiffy and had to ask if our site was open yet. It was, and I was pleasantly surprised by how nice it was. This was the first site we had gotten with any solar at all the whole trip. And it was easy backing with a pretty level pad. I just parked and had lunch while I waited for bike guy to get there, happy that we could communicate the whole time.
Of all the options we chose for Dory2, the inverter was the one I figured we probably could have done without. The microwave comes in second, but any time we have ever heated up leftover Chinese food, I have reminded myself of how much I love it when the moment is right. The inverter will allow you to power those few 120v items, like the microwave, for short bursts even if you don’t have hookups. Since we’d run the generator the previous evening, and since we had nice solar, and since we had two leftover pieces of pizza in the refrigerator, this became one of those perfect moments when the inverter got its chance to shine. Hot pizza on a picnic table while you’re listening to waves crash in the distance moves the inverter-microwave combination into the “must have” zone.
Along the trail to Stump Beach
Since Richard’s ride was short, we had plenty of sunlight left in the day to go out for a hike. We took the trail out of the campground down, down, down to the Visitor Center (which was closed). From there, you can catch trails that take you along the bluffs to Stump Beach. This hike goes in the books as one of our favorites. You get a front row view of endless waves smashing into rocks and exploding into the air. You can feel the mist on your face and feel the vibrations pounding under your feet.
The trail ends up at a deep cove where the waves roll in, one after another, in long sweeping rows of cresting sea foam. Herons will deign to share the view with you as long as you don’t mess with them. Once we’d had our fill, taking in the awesome power of the Pacific, we turned back and headed the way we’d come. We caught a beautiful sunset and returned to Dory by walking up, up, up the campground road. That night, we were reminded how beautiful the starry skies are. Being so remote from any big city, you can easily see the Milky Way on a clear night. Even through the coastal mist, the stars are magnificent out there.
For our last full day of vaycay, we checked out the road into Kruse Rhododendron State Preserve. Richard has biked the road, but his memory on it was fuzzy. I was curious about driving it, and he was interested in not having to bike back down it, so we planned to meet at the top. It’s about six miles one way and I’m not really sure I could recommend it. I was surely glad to be doing it in the Passport, and not when it was muddy. And if it had been one way, I think I would have enjoyed it more. But honestly, it is so narrow, I just kept hoping no one would come in the other direction. There are some places you can pull out to allow another car to pass, but there are also long stretches where it would be seriously dodgy. As it happened, only one car passed me, a State Park Ranger, and it was in a place where I could scooch over. But yeah, by the time I reached the top, I was ready to really look at my other options for going back down. Given that I didn’t want to have to do the whole “roller coaster” from Jenner, I took my chances with the unpaved road again. And again, no one else came the other way. I’m sure my mindful friend will remind me about how thoughts are not facts, but boy, the thoughts about what would I do if another car came definitely drowned out the quiet reality of it not actually happening. It was a very pretty drive anyway.
Restored and staged for how it might have looked back when it was an occupied fort
Our last hurrah came in the form of a docent led tour of Fort Ross. Richard happened to see a flyer for it in the campground, and it was so fun! We learned so much about the history of Russian settlement in the area, as well as the impact that had on the native population. We learned that one of the most extensive collections of native baskets is housed in a museum in Russia. The docent said he went there with a group of local native descendants who wept when they held the baskets. They said it was like feeling directly connected to their ancestors and it was very powerful. It is a fascinating area, which marks the southernmost migration point of both Russians and native Alaskans. Just a bit further south, in Bodega Bay, that area marks one of the northernmost migration points of the early Spanish settlers. While the competing factions maintained a strained detente, they were also fairly codependent, and traded frequently, even though technically they were not supposed to. Superimpose this over the top of an already established and thriving native culture, and the history becomes both fascinating, and tragic. I highly recommend doing those docent tours any chance you get.
Are you suuuuuuuuuure we have to leave?
Alas, it was time to head home on Sunday. We wanted to fight it, but all of the pie was gone, so that took some of the sting out of departure. We got in an exhilarating drive along the roller coaster before pulling into our very familiar territory of Bodega Bay. We had second, third, fourth, and fifth thoughts about maybe pulling into Wrights Beach to see if there was a premium site open for just one more night. That was some major self control to keep driving past (on my part; Richard was no help at all). But we will be right back there next weekend, so stop the whining and get back to work. We are such babies.
Our Thanksgiving Van Trip Do Over was extremely fun. We could do this every year. I think I’d limit the stay in Hendy Woods, but still make it a stop in order to get pie. I’d be interested in trying Van Damme State Park some time too. But I wouldn’t change a thing about staying in MacKerricher, Gualala Point, and wrapping in Salt Point. Just perfect.
Total miles from Gualala Point: 18.8, 14.3 mpg, 1 hour 9 minutes. Site 2. Great site. Solar, excellent 5g (now), set apart from others, nice and level. New (as of 6/2021) 5g tower nearby, so excellent cell service in a once dead zone. No dump.