Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Off Camping

Back to the family and off camping

On the way back to Lizzy and Lily, we called in at Bodega Bay, to the north.  It was misty and quite chilly, so after looking at the fishing boats in the marina at Spud Bay, we called at the Spud Bay Crab Co. for "the best clam chowder" in town.  Hot and fully of fishy and potato goodness, it was just what you needed to warm the cockles.
Next, we called at Sugarloaf Ridge National Park in the Sonoma valley and walked the 3mile vista trail, with beautiful views over the Sonoma countryside.  Saw several large wild turkeys, very large birds.  Called in at VJB vineyard, where we've been before, for lunch and glass of chardonnay in the sunshine in their courtyard.
Back at Andrew and Lizzy's for Thursday night, and they made us home-made deep dish and thin, crispy pizza on their gas oven/BBQ. Really yummy!
On Friday morning, I went with Lizzy and Lily to Pioneer Park, whilst Ian went cycling up Mt Burdell.  It was great to see all the other young mums and children in the park.  Lizzy says it's a great meeting place.  The mums can unwind and chat, and the children get the chance to mix together.  We came here last November with Lily, and it was great to see the difference in what she can do in the park now, climbing, sliding, swinging, watching what the other kids are getting up to.  Later, while Lily had a nap, Ian and I called for a coffee and blackberry "scruffins" at Dr Insomnia's coffee house, our regular!  Andrew and Lizzy went out on their own, for once, to an Italian restaurant in Novato and we looked after Lily.  All went well, and she was happy to be left with us, so we had a Shaun the Sheep and Pingu marathon session!  One of her favourite things is to make Pingu sounds, that and playing "Bubbles" game on the IPad.  In fact, every time she sees grandad she asks for bubbles, so I've nicknamed him "grandad bubbles"!

Before we went off camping on the Saturday, we caught up with Laura and Emma, and met her sister Zoe, and then called Kate to find out how her trip to Madrid, to visit Michael had gone.  Then we set about packing overnight camping gear into manageable rucksacks and bags, before setting off on the 3/4 hour drive to Bear Valley National Park, near Point Reyes Peninsular.  We obtained our parking and tent permits from the park office, parked up near the start of the Sky Trail and then set off on our 1 1/2 mile walk.  Now that doesn't sound like much but with heavy packs, it was far enough, as we climbed steadily to reach the Sky Camp near the summit of the hill.  A great place to camp, feeling really remote.  Lizzy booked the pitch some time ago, as it's booked up at the weekends for some time now.  About a dozen pitches, some in the clearings, some deep in the woods, all private and well spread out in your own little bays, so that you're not overlooked by anyone.  Our pitch overlooked Limantour bay and the ocean.  It was very hot as we pitched the tents, so we went on another walk into the cool of the trees.  Lily enjoyed looking for "baby trees", and as we sat for a rest, we saw a coyote hunting small prey in the long grass.  Also saw a snake about 4' long, with yellow stripes along its body.   Lily enjoyed playing in the dust and the dirt, back at the tents, occasionally taking her shoes off and then transferring dusty footprints into mum and dad's tent and bedding!  She was having a great time. As Lizzy started to make hot dogs for tea, we drank red wine and watched the dense, cooling sea mist roll in off the ocean and climb up the hill- a regular feature of this coastal area.  By 5 pm, all the pitches were full and the mist had swallowed up the view and the heat, which was quite welcome!  As we went on an evening stroll, we walked into the mist, with the sunshine only a short distance above us. A bobcat walked across our path, and deer stared at us in the mist.  Andrew said he expected it to clear later in the night, and it did, so that a starry night sky could be enjoyed.  Surprising how cold it gets at night, considering it was about 28' c during the day.  As we settled down for the night, after Lily finally settled off to sleep, we could hear the howl of a coyote fairly close by.  All was silent, apart from the occasional wave breaking on the shore about 3 miles away but so clear.
Slept as well as you do when you sleep on a thin mattress, on stony floor, but better than Andrew, who sacrificed his sleeping bag to Lily.  He was up at dawn, just as a group of coyotes had finished howling loudly.  Ian thought that it was some fellow campers acting daft!  Andrew was taking photos of a beautiful sunrise and sea mist, which he's edited and put on Facebook.  Some great pics.  Muffins and tea for breakfast, and then walked back down the trail on a beautiful morning, back to the car, the apartment and a shower!  All pink-cheeked and grimy!
Ian and I went for a cycle, whilst we waited for our turns in the shower.  It's a lovely place to cycle from, and very popular.  Andrew spent time editing and downloading photos, video and music for us to bring back with us.  Thanks Andrew.  Rib eye steaks on the BBQ for tea and relaxed together on our last evening.  We're going to miss them all, but it's been a great visit, and the camping trip was a highlight.  In fact, we've left our mattresses and sleeping bags there, in the hope that we'll do it again on another visit.

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