Last Friday around 5:30pm I got the camping itch.
I had finished all my cooking and writing for the week, had just gotten home from teaching a yoga class, and had fallen asleep the night before with ” Camping in Northern California” open by my side. You see, I didn’t grow up camping, and only recently (in the past year and a half) discovered how much I love it.
Okay, let me clarify: I love camping when it involves an air mattress, hot water and red wine. I camp how I want!
It definitely helps that I live driving distance from amazing state and national parks. Oh, California! How I love you (but I still hate your income tax).
Anyway, I called up Adam who was still at the office in San Francisco and asked him if we had any plans this weekend. “Nope,” he said, “for the first weekend in a long time, we have zero plans. What were you thinking?”
“Wanna go camping?” I asked. “In the BIG trees?”
“All the way up in Humbolt?” Adam asked. I bit my lip because I knew it was a long shot, and might not even be worth it, since Humbolt is a little over three hours from my house and all the sites were probably booked up anyway this late in the summer.
“I’ll be there by 8.”
So I quickly proceeded to fill the cooler with ice, hot dogs, cheddar cheese and beer and pack up my bag. We ended up leaving my house around 9pm and arrived at our site at 12:30 in the morning.
IT WAS SO WORTH IT.
Trust me, do yourselves a favor and skip Disney World to come see the giant trees instead. Give your family an experience they will never forget.
We ended up landing the last spot available for Friday and Saturday night, and it was perfect. We camped at Hidden Springs Campground, at the south end of Humbolt Redwoods State Park. When we arrived in the middle of the night, we blew up the air mattress in my Honda Civic as to not wake our neighbors.
And yes, I am that girl. I also sleep with ear plugs in my ears and a zero-light eye mask strapped on my face….why do you ask?
We finally got all set up and got to bed around 1:45 in the morning. And wouldn’t you know I had to get up and pee twice that night? That’s what I get for guzzling Vitamin Water on the late-night drive over.
The next morning, we were exhausted…naturally…but it was worth it to wake up in the middle of the forest and have two full days ahead of us to explore. Adam built a fire and I broke in my new coffee percolator (aka “ol’ perc”) with my favorite Dunkin Donuts coffee. I cooked up bacon and eggs over the fire and then we set out to explore all day!
We ate a pb&j lunch on a 1,600 year old fallen redwood tree (aka “ol’ larson”) and then found a beautiful beach leading to the Eel River. Adam taught me how to skip stones, and we waded in the crystal clear water for about an hour. It was magical.
If you visit Humbolt Redwoods State Park, be SURE to check out the Visitor’s Center! Yes, it was a little touristy and I almost got puked on by a carsick dog, but they have a cool little theater inside with a film all about the area, as well as some neat exhibits. I can’t wait to someday bring my kids back here — the junior ranger program looked fantastic.
All day long we snacked on gummy bears and local sweet n’ spicy beef jerky. It made perfect fuel for numerous short walks in various redwood groves. It’s hard to wrap your mind around the fact that some of these old trees have been around since Christ was alive.
Adam took a short nap.
And I forged on….thankful for my sugar buzz from all the Haribo gummies I consumed!
We headed back to camp around five o’clock, and I scrounged all my quarters together to take a ten minute hot shower. The bathroom facilities at Hidden Springs were top notch! Like I said, I’m the type that really appreciates hot water while camping, and this totally fit the bill. Restrooms were clean and very well maintained. I was very happy!
For dinner, we made our absolute favorite camping meal of all time: chili cheese dogs.
Is there anything better in this life than a chili cheese dog?
Well indeed, there is!
A chili cheese dog with a cold beer…preferably from Deschutes.
For our ‘dogs, we used smoked chicken + gruyere sausages, Amy’s chili and wheat bread with honey mustard and Tabasco. I bet you can guess who went grocery shopping for dinner supplies.
Then, on Sunday, we broke down camp and headed home the “scenic way”…aka the way that guarantees car sickness but rewards travelers with jaw-dropping views of the Pacific through the redwood forest after 40 miles on a winding mountain road.
I begged Adam to stop at Hendy Woods on the way home because I had heard a lot about it and thought it might be a great stop for our next camping adventure. It was amazing, but what was even more amazing was the apple farm right next door!
They actually had an honor system for all their juices, jams and balsamic vinegars. I put two bucks in the cash box and got a glass of ice cold fresh apple juice from the orchard.
It was the perfect end to our spontaneous camping weekend.
As much as I love camping, it sure was nice to sleep in my own bed on Sunday night with Dexter curled up next to me. We want to make one more weekend camping trip this summer and I think it’s going to be to Sequoia National Forest over near Yosemite. I can’t wait!
Here are the facts again:
We Stayed: Hidden Springs Campground at Humbolt State Park, spot 105, which I highly recommend
We Ate: Bacon, eggs, toast, beef jerky, red gummy bears, chili cheese dogs, lots of grapes
We Explored: Founder’s Grove, “Big Tree Area” near Albee Campground, Avenue of the Giants, some random swimming hole that I probably couldn’t find again if I tried