About Me

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Concord, California, United States
I am a sometimes-writer, everyday mama, creative failure and experimental cook. I am interested in living a beautiful life, spending time with my family and making things that I can feel proud of. When I'm by myself I'm usually outside. Don't bother calling because chances are that I didn't bring my cell phone because I couldn't find it. If you see me walking, it's because I lost my keys and if you see me with only one child... I'm probably in big trouble.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Camping in the Redwood Groves

 Jay and I have hired one of the older kids from our girls' school to babysit for us tonight.  She was Lila's first grade buddy and was on Bun's track team, so both of the kids are comfortable with her.  While I was arranging the night with her mom, her mom mentioned that they are big campers and have camped all over CA but always go back to a campground up north called Hendy Woods State Park.

Jay and I, being the  newly crowned spontaneous adventurers that we are, decided to head up there on one of his days off.

So on Thursday morning we set out on the three hour drive, up past the wineries and vineyards and into the mountains.  The only downside to Hendy is that in order to get there you have to drive on the windiest roads that I have ever encountered (and I grew up in Colorado).  I mean, they are, carsick, pukefest windy... and you have to be on them for over an hour.   I'm not going to lie.  It was rough...  Scenically beautiful, but rough.  Even Groovy James puked in his carrier.

Once we got there we at lunch and settled into the cabin that we rented.  Last week we froze while camping in Santa Cruz, so this week we opted for a cabin with a little wood burning stove.  It's funny, because as far as luxury camping is concerned, this site is WAY more rustic than the KOA, and yet our experience was so much nicer.

One thing that I love about these cabins (and I would NEVER have rented one otherwise) is that the bunk beds do not have mattresses or bedding.  They are just platforms.  So you bring your own air mattresses and bedding and use that.  Anyone who reads my blog knows how scared I am of bedbugs, so I can not imagine being able to sleep on a mattress that I didn't bring from home.  The very thought is making me feel itchy.
This is the little stove.  We only put two or three logs in it and it really got this little cabin warmed up at night.
It also has a little table and chairs.  There's a picnic table outside where we ate our meals, but I can imagine that this table and chairs would come in handy during the rainy season.
 The actual campsite felt like we were deep in Little Red Riding Hood's forest.  This is the kind of camping that I love. We could drive our car up to the site and have all of the comforts of home, and yet still feel like we were experiencing nature.

The Santa Cruz KOA sort of felt like we were 20 years old and camping at a music festival.  A good time, but not necessarily what I love the most when I camp.

These are pictures from around the site.  There were very, very few other people camping and while hiking we only saw two other people.  We had the feeling of having this park practically to ourselves.  There were a few tents and a few campers, but I don't think that any of the other 3 cabins were occupied.

It only cost $10 more to rent a cabin, so think it was completely worth it.

After setting up and exploring our campgrounds, we set out on a hike.  Our mission was to find water.  The girls put on their swimsuits and grabbed some towels and bottles of water, and we set out.

Unfortunately the dogs were not allowed on these trails with us.  I can see why.  There are all sorts of creatures that I imagine would stay far from humans but might feel differently about a leashed dog.  We put the dogs in their carriers and secured them in the cabin.  I felt bad about it... but it was for their own safety.
 The Redwoods are just breathtaking.  I happen to really like trees as it is... but these trees are incredible.

Somewhere in this park, there is a huge redwood trunk that a man lived in for a long stretch of time.  They call him the Hendy Hermit.  The next time we camp here it will be my goal to find it.  Our trip was so short this time (after all, we had to be home for our big date tonight) that we could only have one goal... and it was to find a river to play in.

But along the trail, there was a lot of playing to be done.

Finally, after hiking for about 2 hours, we made it!
And we were all wading around and splashing, feeling at one with nature when Bunny kicked over a piece of drift wood and a dead rat came floating out and heading down stream.

And then I freaked out and ordered everyone out of the water.

Yes, I know it's nature.  I am sure that there are lots of dead things in every stream...


it couldn't have been any more nasty.

The image will be forever branded on my brain.

 This is a picture of Bunny going on and on about the discovery of the rat.  She would later tell us that seeing it had been the highlight of her trip.
 I had to take a picture of this tree.  I don't know why there's not a trail to it called, "Phallic Tree Trail" or something.

When we got back to our cabin I put out appetizers and started to cook.

We put out hummus and veggies, mexican 7 layer dip and chips and I got started on dinner.
For dinner I made baked potatoes, chicken breasts and salad.
I totally love camp-cooking on my little grill and eating outside.  While our kids munch on veggies, Jay starts a fire and I pour a glass of wine.

I think that I love creating home spaces when we are not at home.
 After dinner we took the dogs for a walk around the campgrounds.

The girls played and climbed on everything!

And we came back and roasted marshmallows.
 We are doing some serious roughing it.  That's our portable dvd player.  Bunny and Lila are chilling out in bed, watching icarly.
When it got chilly we started a little fire in the stove.
And Jay and I stayed up till the wee hours, sitting by the fire, talking.
In the morning we got up and I made breakfast burritos.  Then we started packing up and headed out with the dogs on a hike before starting the long trek home.  

Even though Groovy-James got sick in the car, I really think that the dogs both love coming on these adventures with us.  Also, I think that it's been great for Groovy, who tends to be very standoffish with strangers.  They are both very well behaved while we are away and when we get home they are always exhausted.  

Both of them laid like this on my lap, lifelessly, for ages last night.

This was a wonderful camping trip.  I can see how someone could really make Hendy Woods a home away from home.  I can't wait to return.  But the next time we go it will really need to be for longer than one night.  It's too long a drive and there are too many things to see and do there to spend that much time in the car.  

I am thinking of taking the kids back there in September for a few nights!  


  1. What an amazing place to go for a family adventure. My family would love that camping spot. I've always wanted to see the redwoods. One day....

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