Many months ago, I decided to give myself the gift of spending my birthday at one of my favorite places - MacKerricher State Park 3 miles north of Fort Bragg. I reserved my favorite campsite. I let the kids know in case they wanted to/could come although it was such a casual mention so far in advance most of them didn't really notice.
As time drew near, Benjamin and Joseph agreed to come, although not with great enthusiasm. When Benjamin registered for his classes at Sacramento City College, the only class he could get was a Friday only class. That was a conflict with my desire to head out early Thursday. Then, too, I have class meeting 11-1 on Tuesdays and Fridays. I decided to wait for Benjamin's class and leave as soon as possible - like pick him up at the college and hit the freeway.
Then the Stake planned a Laurel-Priest raft trip for Saturday. And the (older) Singles planned a fun-sounding BBQ. But we decided to stick to our plans.
I rented a U-Haul trailer on Thursday so we could have it all packed up before Benjamin went to class. Of course, it didn't work out that way. I went to work in the morning, then to class, then to CalPers where they were too busy to help me, did a few other errands, fielded a few friendly but time consuming phone calls.
(Oh! One of the calls was from my ex. I don' know if he meant it as a birthday present or not, but he told me that as I have had to deal with furloughs and he has not, that he does not plan to claim Benjamin on his income tax this year as he had earlier insisted, but will let me have the tax break. In more good news along the character development line, he told me that he is working well on getting his credit card debt into shape and has not charged anything for a year. He said he plans to repay me for the money that paid for his Prius instead of house repairs after he eliminates his credit card debts. I will not hold my breath or take out a loan on that, but I was glad to hear that he is doing well and intends well.)
Anyway, here's something new and different in my life (I wish!) - time got away from me and I didn't get nearly as much done as I would have liked.
Benjamin and I spent much of Thursday evening playing with fire. We found 3 campstoves and tested them. One made hissing (leaking) noises when we turned on the propane. When we (meaning Benjamin) tried to light it, flames shot out everywhere except the burners. Seared the hair off his hand. It takes a while for the flames to go out when you shut off the propane at the tank. It may or may not be repairable, but I tossed it. Stove number two, did not have electronic ignition and it looked old, dirty, and beat up, but it lit nicely. Stove number 3 made with the bad hissing noises and joined stove number one. It had taken me 3 or 4 stores before I found the right mantles for our lantern, but I did and we figured out how to work the lantern.
Benjamin hauled out tents, sleeping bags, and camp chairs before class. I loaded the trailer and with all that, randomly selected food, and firewood.
While I was running around haphazardly, Joseph was not functioning well at all. Finally he told me that he didn't want to go. Sadly, I accepted. Although, I did mention to him a few times that he could still change his mind. Miriam told us Thursday she was considering coming, but had trouble actually deciding. Finally, Friday afternoon, she made the leap. I arranged to pick her up after I picked up Benjamin.
With all my lack of organization, it was surprising that I was only a few minutes late getting Benjamin. Picking up Miriam took us in the opposite direction of our trip, but it was worth it. She rode up front with me and helped navigate. Benjamin rode in the back with Anna.
It's a long drive, but much of it is pretty. We stopped for dinner at Burger King in Willits (I had coupons) but their machine was down and they couldn't take credit cards. It was probably better that way as the 30+ miles between Willits and the coast are notorious. The good thing about them looming so evilly in our memories (and us having only some snacks in our tummies - neither too much nor too little food) is that the trip didn't seem as bad as we feared it would be. Not bad at all. Except it was night by then and I worried about hitting a deer. That's the one thing I do not like about night driving. We saw no deer until we got to the entrance of MacKerricher where two of them were grazing by the sign. Nice!
We made a good team setting up camp in the dark. In my favorite camp site. Decided it was too late for a fire. Benjamin had brought a cot that Glen used to use for me, but although I had laid on it to test it for a couple of minutes at home, I hadn't been on it 5 minutes before my back started to complain and I folded it up. Maybe it was more than 5 minutes, was Benjamin asleep already? He used the cot the next night.
Funny thing. A couple of years ago, I had bought myself a tent from ing direct with my 15% birthday discount. I have yet to sleep in it. People have gone camping without me. I took it to SLO last month, but there wasn't room for it at the campsite. This trip Miriam and her air mattress got it. Bad news, Miriam! I like the air mattress idea, will probably get one before I go camping again, and I will sleep in my tent. As Joseph mentioned when we returned, I do have 2 air mattresses, but they are double size and mostly for house guests. (Probably would just fit in my tent, though) Although, MAYBE Benjamin would have been willing to share with me had we brought one, I am thinking about getting a single.
Anna liked camp right away. She would have liked to not be tied up - so much to see and explore, but she only complained when I walked to the rest room. Once coming back with Miriam, we encountered another camper who looked at me and said, "Your dog misses you." I could only say, "Sorry." But it wasn't really too bad. She barked a little bit when she heard people moving around after we had retired to our tent, but settled quickly.
Once in the night she heard something making a purring like sound and scratching. Oh! How she wanted out of the tent! But she was good about it. Stayed awake listening alertly for a good while.
It was great at the coast! Cool at night, but not cold. Not cold at all in the morning. I was up before 6 both mornings and it was lovely. Saturday Anna and I went down to the beach and watched the crashing waves for awhile before the others were up. It was not until we came back up off the beach to the logging road that I say the sign saying that dogs were not allowed on that part of the beach. oops. Benjamin met us coming back. He was following our tracks and showed me how my hiking shoe tracks were different from the other shoes on that trail.
We had a great breakfast - there were sausage, bacon, eggs. Did the kids get the s'more stuff out then? I had packed biscuit dough left over from something Benjamin had done before, so there was experimenting with it. They wanted to do Woofums which David and Teresa had introduced at the sibling camp last year, but I didn't have woofum sticks or corks. (If you don't know woofums, this fellow wrote about them on his blog.) They did all kinds of interesting things. Was it breakfast, lunch, dinner? or all of the above. It was an lazy, easy going day and all a bit blurred now.
A lovely somewhat overcast and misty day much of the day, I like it.
We all walked along the old logging road away from the dog banned beach to an unsigned one. Enjoyed the rocks and waves. Tide wasn't low enough for exploring tide pools, though. Miriam started playing with my camera and took some nice pictures - mostly of flora. (Maybe I will manage to get some up later.) On our way back, Anna went sniffed out something exciting. She pounced and sniffed, dug a little, and had a great time until I drug her away feeling sorry for her terrified little intended quarry. After we were gone, Benjamin lifted up the log and saw a little lizard.
We had watermelon, hot dogs and biscuit experiments for lunch.
I had to go into town to get ice for the ice chest, a toothbrush because somehow I forgot mine, and corn because I kept thinking I smelled corn and I wanted some. While I was gone, new camp neighbors came in, but didn't have a lighter. They came over to borrow fire and walked back to camp carrying a flaming magazine (!). The flame got too close to the woman's hand and she dropped it! Miriam yelled for her to step on it and ran over with our shovel to put it out. Really! I am surprised my kids let her carry an open flame, but I am glad she knew to use the shovel.
I had made foil dinners and even used Benjamin's wet paper towel trick. But if you leave them in the fire long enough, they still will burn. Fortunately, I had made PLENTY. Some of the dinners were partially edible and some totally good. Anna took care of the burnt food. The corn came out great.
Despite a lazy day, we were tired and turned in early.
Two not so great things about camp this time. 1) The showers were closed for repair. 2)The water looked, at best, like ice tea. At worse, use your imagination. Overnight brown sediment settled to the bottom of our water pot. Looked bad. When the water was heated it stirred up looking worse than before. It was 'ok' in oatmeal and hot cocoa. Fortunately, we also had some good Sacramento water for the occasional drink. Also, milk and chocolate milk. Had to use baby wipes to clean ourselves. But we got ourselves decent, went to Sacrament Meeting, then broke camp. It had been misty, but as soon as we finished putting the tarp on the trailer, it became sprinkly and by the time we had made our potty and dump the trash stop. it was raining. Nice timing for us! We didn't have to take down wet equipment.
A pleasantly, uneventful drive home. Uneventful for us. As I said, it had started raining. We took the curving, hill hugging Hwy 20 to Willits slowly. At one curve, we spotted a car completely off the road pretty much on it's side against a tree. Of course we stopped. The lady was fine. She had her cell phone, had called her husband, and help was on the way. She was warning drivers coming the other way to slow down. Reassured, we drove on.
It was good to see Joseph who had enjoyed having the house to himself. I was delighted to see he was in church clothes and to learn that he had biked to church. It is always nice to get home to your own plumbing and bed.
I took today off to unload and return the trailer, put stuff away and recoup a bit. I did some of what I meant to do. sigh.
It was a short visit, but a good one. We all thoroughly enjoyed it. It seemed like a good idea, and it was.