My wife and I hadnâ€™t gone camping in thirteen years but last weekend, with the accompaniment of our good friends Jennifer and Matthew, we decided to give it a go. We drove west from Healdsburg to highway 1 and then north, up the rocky Northern California coast until we reached our campsite at Stillwater Cove. The campground was nestled among ancient redwood trees and was close enough to the beach that we could hear the ocean breeze whistle in the treetops.
After popping our tents and removing the coolers from our car, we went on a hike. We walked along well groomed trails, the redwoods towering above us created an almost cave like experience. After crossing a couple of old wooden bridges, we followed a creek, populated with ferns and wildflowers until it opened up at Stillwater Cove. Two Rubber boats lay beached on the sand like sea otters with their black rubber skin glistening in the afternoon sun. Several divers removed abalone from the boats and started to pack up their gear.
We sat on the beach for a while, taking in the ocean view. Several pelicans flew overhead and then scooped close to the ocean looking for fish. I pulled out my watercolors and with the bright sun in my face, attempted to capture the delicate colors of the windblown landscape while the others napped in the afternoon sun.
After heading back to camp, we nibbled on Humboldt Fog goat cheese, kalamata olives and slices of juicy peaches while preparing a dinner of Greek tomato salad and grilled chicken and vegetable kabobs. Lagunitas IPA Beers were passed around and with a blazing campfire to keep us warm, we skewered some marshmallows and made the obligatory, but tasty, sâ€™mores (sâ€™mores are toasted marshmallows and warm chocolate smooshed between two graham crackers).
As night fell, we sat in a semi circle around the fire and told ghost stories until my wife started getting the creeps and told us to stop. She then threw a napkin into the fire and I watched as the flames consumed it. The remaining charred paper lifted, with the help from the heat of the flame, and drifted like a spirit into the darkness.