Stillwater Cove

Perfect destination for a four day weekend.

You know how, when you are in the middle of something difficult, it’s really hard to see the big picture? You deal with problems as they come up, moving quickly onto the next, sometimes without any time to process the last thing before the new one demands your attention. You may only realize in retrospect that you were spread pretty thin. It has been a disorienting and discombobulating couple of weeks on the home project front. I don’t think either of us fully appreciated how much this has been impacting our psyches. Having a four day weekend in a new campground was a good way to pull back and zoom out, in order to get a clearer view of the Big Picture.

View of the coast from Meyers Grade Road

We got out fairly early on Friday, after erecting a number of makeshift privacy walls using sheets and blankets, all over the house. Our daughter has been completely displaced, both from her room and from our son’s former room, which she has been using ever since the storms made it rain inside and ruined her floor. I give her huge credit for dealing with all of that. Our son’s bedroom was left with lots of weird collected items, and smells, so she has had to make room in between a creepy skeleton Jack-in-a-box and random dumpster bound items that he at one time thought were cool. Meanwhile, we have been sleeping in Dory in the garage. Spread thin. The contractors have made some rather large mistakes in the past week, and on Thursday there was a blow up. Everyone regrouped and moved on, but I had an assignment that had to be taken care of during the drive up.

Waiting in the Fort Ross parking area – trying to discern from pictures whether Sterlina Henna will go well with Eurasia Grigio.

We had planned to drop Richard in Jenner so that he could get in a ride. He was to take Meyers Grade Road to Fort Ross Road and meet me in the parking area for Fort Ross. We adjusted the plan so that, after dropping him off, I went back to Bodega Bay for cell service so that I could call our contact at the tile store and choose different bathroom tile. That didn’t work because she was not available, so rather than wait around, I headed up the coast hoping there would be enough service at Fort Ross. It’s a beautiful drive and the sky was blue, so that ended up being therapeutic. Once I was there, I was in a better frame of mind to be able to shift off of the tile I had originally chosen, that is now out of stock. The tile person got a better version of me than the me that was awkwardly parked in a too small parking area, overlooking a cliff, back in Bodega Bay. There was enough service for a FaceTime, and I have chosen tiles that I think will be just as nice as the others.

Spectacular, practically private, ocean cove

Richard arrived not long after, and we went together to the campground, just a few more miles up the coast. This campground was the only remaining destination of all the Sonoma County Regional Parks that we had not stayed in. It is just a bit too far for a weekend, and you hit the “Roller Coaster,” a twenty mile stretch of Highway 1 that is nonstop twists and turns, with spectacular plummets on one side. It would be no fun to drive that in the dark, so I have saved this place for a time when we could travel in the daylight. It is just to the south of Salt Point, a small and lovely campground, with its own idyllic little trail right to a gorgeous cove. Of course, sunset viewing was on the schedule.

Beautiful Redwood trails, right from the campground

On Saturday, we set out to get in a good long hike. On Thursday, I stress binged an entire package of Lula’s Aloha Rocky Road chocolate, and was therefore six hundred calories over budget for the week. That was the first time, in over a year of being careful, where I went full throttle on a f*ck it, calories be damned. I promised myself that I would enter the damage in my calorie logging app after the fact, but I consciously did not look it up beforehand. It was delicious. If you’re going to stress binge, I highly recommend Lula’s Aloha Rocky Road.

The Dead End Trail, aptly named

We started from the campground and took the Canyon Loop Trail until we came to Dead End Trail. We were curious, and had calories to burn, so we tried it. Guess what. It ends in a dead end. It was pleasant enough, though pretty steep uphill most of the way. We didn’t get exactly all the way out to the end due to fallen trees, but we got the idea.

Fort Ross Schoolhouse, built in 1885

After coming back down, we continued the Canyon Loop with short side trip to see a historic school house. Apparently, this restored building was in use all the way until 1974, until it was moved to the park for preservation. The loop continues along a lovely river, but the lower bridge is out, so you have to cross on rocks or logs.

Highway 1 with the cove behind it, looking from the campground

The next day we had a blow up of our own. With all the stress of remodeling, we had some stuff to work through, both short and longer term. Richard is nothing if not determined, stubborn you could say, when it comes to getting me out on hikes when I’m mad. He chose a loop a couple of miles up the highway, to something called the Pygmy Forest. It was not easy to find the trailhead, let alone a safe parking spot off the highway. Much of the trail was muddy and overgrown, and it was clear that trail cleanup crews have not quite gotten to this one following the big storms. Sometimes the trail turned into small streams, as runoff made its way downhill. The trudging fit the mood and we continued uphill, sometimes silent, sometimes wrestling over the next steps to get us back some semblance of normalcy at home. We came to the place where we were supposed to turn left and catch the Pygmy Forest loop, only to find a sign posted and yellow caution tape strung, indicating the trail was closed. Richard was super frustrated. I was ‘whatever,’ still firmly planted in my mood. We kept going forward to see what the other end of the trail was like, and there too, found the way barred. It was not going to be our day for miniature pygmy pine trees, so we moved on to the rest of the loop.

No. No pygmy trees for you. No.

Eventually we came to a prairie, which was admittedly nice, despite the swampiness in some spots. Our spirits lifted a little, and then we came to yet another sign saying the trail ahead was closed for repairs. At that point, to turn around and go back would have been a lot more miles than we planned on, so we both entered “well how closed?” mode. After all, there was no yellow caution tape this time, and it was somewhat ambiguous which trail this sign was indicating. My negative mindset predicted we would be able to get all the way back down until the last ten feet, and then we would encounter something we could not traverse, and have to go five miles all the way back. Richard was not as pessimistic.

I mean, that does seem pretty closed.

We encountered fallen tree after fallen tree, but each one was manageable. We didn’t know if the next obstacle would be passable, but we kept going. At a certain point, it became funny. “This trail is a f**king metaphor, isn’t it?” I mused. A muddy, uphill trek, with disappointment, and barriers thwarting us, and not at all what we had planned. But also, it became kind of exciting to see how bad the next obstacle was going to be, and whether we were going to be able to scramble through. In the end, Richard was right and we were able to make it the whole way back to the car. Along the trail, we talked through the things that were hard, and untangled some of the ways we were triggering each other. We made some feasible plans for how to recombobulate our home enough to get us all our bedrooms back. We acknowledged how hard this has been, and how we both have different stressors and different coping mechanisms, and these are sometimes at odds.

More obstacles

Back at the car, we both saved our Strava hike data and the app returned a picture of having walked a perfectly heart shaped trail. It WAS a damn metaphor! If the trail we intended to take had been open, it would not have ended up as a heart shape. It was only because we kept going, through the mud, and closed signs, and fallen trees, that we had walked a corny little map of love.

Heart shaped trail 🙂

On that note, we got in some romantic strolls on the coastal bluffs, a spotting of an otter in the water, and another stunner of a sunset. When we got home, we enacted our Recombobulation Plan, and by the time we were ready for bed, we had livable bedrooms again, with brand new window shades. We have been incredibly lucky to be able to sleep in Dory for the past two weeks, but it is not like camping. For one thing, since we can’t dump the waste tanks, we don’t use the toilet. So when I need to pee in the middle of the night, I have to take a long, cold walk through the garage. By the time I’m back in bed, I’m wide awake and freezing cold. I have not been sleeping well. Our daughter is an intensely private person and it has been really hard on her not having a safe zone. But now we have things just a little bit more back to normal. We feel we can ride this out until the ADU is ready for her to move in. And at that point, life will be a whole lot easier for all of us.

Beauty formed through the relentless crashing of waves

But I also think, having trudged through the rough spots, it will be all the more appreciated when this is done. The problems have forced our paths toward a more loving understanding of each other. And the Big Picture at the end will not only look great, but feel better. Better because of the struggle it took to get there. Heart shaped.

Total miles: 112.9, 16.5 mpg, 5 hours 40 min with stop at Fort Ross to wait. Site 1. Double site. We spun around and it was totally private on that side. No hookups. Good dump, but only for reserved campers, $7. A little bit of solar. Pretty good service for Verizon, but not at all for ATT. Just up the coast there is a 5g tower with excellent service for both. Water in campground was not potable when we were there.

2 thoughts on “Stillwater Cove

  1. A very sweet story. So nice to read of your adventures in and out of the heart. FYI, I have a spare master bedroom with a fully functional master bathroom if you want a break from Dory.
    I charge a minimal amount for use of the room/bathroom — payable only in hugs. Dee

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