On Sunday, S and I took off on our first mini-road trip. We drove south to Fort Bragg to visit a beach of sea glass. Apparently, at some point in time, Fort Bragg threw their trash in the ocean and as a result, they have a beach that has lots and lots of smoothed glass. (I’d look up the exact details, but in the interest of actually writing a book someday, I’ve locked myself out of the internet for the working hours of the day, so if you’re interested in the specifics, I leave the googling to you. Glass Beach, Fort Bragg, I’m sure you’ll find it.)

Dog on beach
Happy, happy, happy Zelda, running free at the beach. Basically, her favorite thing ever.
sea glass & rocks
The composition of the “sand” she’s running on.

Our plan included a late lunch at a restaurant we’d read about and then camping at Jefferson State Forest, but after a relatively quick visit to the beach at high tide, I got nervous about our timing. We’d gotten off to a late start and I didn’t want to wind up reaching the campground after dark, only to find it full. It was a ridiculous worry, because it was a Sunday night in the middle of March, and the campground was not going to be full. Still, I suggested we skip the restaurant until the next day and head to the campground.

The campground was not full.

It was closed.

But there weren’t any signs saying “no overnight parking,” so… we camped there anyway. I stayed in the day use parking lot and S and her two dogs trekked a short distance up the road to a campsite where she set up her tent for the night.

I’d left my phone in the van, but as we got settled, I wandered around thinking about all the great pictures I’d take on Monday morning. The majestic redwoods, the lush ferns, the incredible green of the spring grass, the light through the branches. Ha. In the night, it started to rain. And it rained, and it rained, and it rained. I lived in California for over ten years — admittedly, farther south — and I think it’s rained more in my month in northern CA than it did in the entire decade that I lived in the state. I, of course, didn’t mind the rain. I was snug in Serenity, cuddled up with my dog. But S got to discover that her tent has started to leak. Ah, the delights of camping.

On Monday morning, we went back to the glass beach, at low tide, and had a very fun, only mildly damp, ramble. My favorite moment of the entire trip was when Z ran away on the beach. Riley, the youngest of the dogs, had headed off on an ambitious excursion and S and Buddy were following him. They’d crossed a fast-flowing stream of water into the ocean onto a rocky area and I wouldn’t let Z go that way. I wasn’t sure how strong the current would be and I didn’t want her to get swept away. So she turned around and ran back the way we came, up a steep slope, trying to catch up with Riley that way. I chased after her, but she was fast! At the top of the hill, she gave me such a great doggie smile. Good rainy beach day with a happy dog is a delight.

After the beach, we went to the restaurant, a place called Mayan Fusion. It was incredibly good. I had kebabs with chimichurri and a Mayan salad with jicama and pumpkin seeds and grapefruit, followed by fish tacos (which also became my dinner) and S had sweet corn and a pork dish (which also became her dinner). It was so delicious that S is already planning our next trip to Fort Bragg (a three hour drive away) to eat there again.

We wandered around Fort Bragg a little, not exactly being good tourists but glancing at the train depot and the last building from the old Fort Bragg, and then headed north. I wanted to stay at Humboldt Redwoods State Park for the night. After two and a half years of traveling, I’ve finally decided that my travel goal is to go to every state park on this list of the best state parks. I’d been thinking I’d try to camp at a state park in every state, but the so-called “best” state parks of every state will be even more fun. And conveniently, Humboldt was nicely close.

A panorama of a redwood tree with S building a fire before it.
The only way to get a real picture of the redwoods is to use the panorama setting.

We got a nice little campsite right next to a redwood so huge you could walk inside it, built a fire, enjoyed the fresh air, and ate our leftovers for dinner. And when it started to get dark, S tried out #vanlife and slept in the other twin bed. She’s not giving up her tent anytime soon, but she is now at least a little bit of a convert to the convenience of a real roof.