Around mid November, Oregon and Washington were creeping closer, and I was excited. After a few nights in the Redwoods, we’d be out of California (no offense Sunshine State). The Humboldt Redwoods State Park would be our final stop in California and a place to start getting refreshed for the second half of the trip.
We left San Francisco (not San Fran, as a reader pointed out to me after the last post) and headed up 101. We caught site of some vineyards, and thought about stopping at the Coppola Winery, but it was really early in the morning and they didn’t open until 11am. Also, on a side note, I just finished reading The Billionaire’s Vinegar, so I really wanted to stop…. maybe next time?
During the trip, I often tried to think ahead about a place to stop for lunch where we could park, make lunch, walk Lucy and relax for a second — so when I saw we were coming up on Lake Mendocino in Ukiah (about 2 1/2 hours outside San Francisco), I figured they probably had a place to park that would be pretty easy going.
This place is a winner! It’s got a huge parking lot and a great view (this link will show you an aerial view of the parking lot), plus a little beach if you want to take a walk. It’s an Army Corps of Engineer park with a nice walking trail around the dam, however, I’ve read really mixed reviews about camping there, so read up on it if you need to overnight.
For the next 3 hours, our drive took us from flat to hilly and from bright to dark. We were seeing more big trees, the hills were getting more steep, and it was obviously going to rain. We stayed on 101, and got gas in Willits, CA just as a downpour began — one that would cause a kid driving too fast down a hill to do a 360 in the middle of the road and land 10 feet in front of the truck. As those 30 seconds went by, much like the 30 seconds when the Airstream fell to the ground, I couldn’t speak, but managed to grip the passenger handle in the truck and brace for impact. I knew we’d be fine, our truck was a tank, but the kid in the Corolla was going to have problems. Literally at the last second, he managed to gain control just before hitting us. Then he got out of the car. I saw him grab his mouth and bend down, either breathing a sigh of relief or throwing up. Not sure. This was the only time on the trip we came close to being in an accident — it’s really amazing when you think of it — over 3,000 miles and not a dent.
It rained on and off for the next hour and then… oh, hello giant trees.
And then it got dark…
We stayed in the Burlington Campground of the Humboldt Redwood State Park, which was the only camping section that was open, and it has no hookups (I think it was $15). As we pulled in and checked the bulletin board for available spots (because its low season, the Ranger only stops in once a day), it started to really pour, so we quickly drove around trying to find a spot we’d fit into. Not a spot we liked, mind you. A spot we’d fit into. These spots were tight, and so are the roads around the campground. Use caution… I felt we were maxed out taking a 27 ft in there! We decided to stay in spot #33 because we could back into it pretty easily.
It rained so hard through the night, and it was so cold that sadly, we decided to head to the next destination in the morning. Hello Oregon!