Wed 1 Jul 2009
The first camping trip of the summer was amazing! The volksvegan made the trip beautifully – though I am really glad Sen was driving, because the little one-lane dirt road from Highway 1 to Usal campground is insane! It was a steep eroded road with huge ruts, tight switchbacks and loose gravel, and was really close to the edge of the cliff at some points. But boy was it an amazing view from the edge!
We packed up the volksvegan and followed our friends Pal & Ottie out to Usal. It takes about two hours from home, though it’s only about 60 miles or so. The volksvegan carried us up up up and then across a ridge along a steep cliff, then down down down into a big valley, overlooking Usal beach as we descended. When we got there, we easily found the campsite where our friends Mike & Kelsie and Rick & Paula were already set up. It was a fairly secluded site with lots of room for all 8 of us. We set up the pop-top quickly and then figured out how to put up the canopy that attaches to the side of the bus (it has been a while) before hopping on the bikes and heading to the beach. When we were almost at the beach, we stopped dead in our tracks: just ahead of us, near the side of the road, was a herd of HUGE elk. And we forgot the dog leashes at camp. So we headed back, got the leashes, and sped back to the beach in time to see watch the elk and check out the area. Apparently the elk that live there are one of the largest subspecies of elk in the world. They had huge fuzzy antlers and seemed totally oblivious to us. Good thing the pooches were leashed up so they couldn’t scare them away! Unfortunately my camera was acting up when we first got there and I didn’t get very good elk shots.
We hung out with our closest friends all weekend, met the “neighbors” and brought them some midnight munchies (lots of fruit). We went for a hike up the ridge to an overlook where we could see the whole beach and had a close view of an osprey nest just above us on a dead tree. We also took another hike to a really crazy grove of redwoods. I have never seen redwoods like this before! They were gnarly, with huge trunks and branches that twisted and turned in all directions. The whole hillside was covered with them in one area, it made me wonder what made them grow that way. We spent a lot of time with one tree in particular (check out the picture at the top of this post), which looked like an octopus with tons of branches coming off a huge trunk. It was definitely a magical place!
We got to watch sunsets at the beach, cook big meals outside, and got lots of exercise biking and hiking around all weekend. We headed home after visiting the gnarly redwood grove one more time. The forest was teeming with life and lush. Juneau and Niko had such a blast running around, hiking with us, and playing on the beach. The Lost Coast is definitely a special place, we’d love to return soon and do the backpacking trip from Usal to Shelter Cove. It hardly felt like camping with our little home away from home – both pooches fit nicely in the bus with us and we were quite comfy!
It was a beautiful mini-vacation! You can see all the photos of the trip on flickr.
Next up for the volksvegan: Seneca and Pal will be heading to Hopland’s Solar Living Institute in the van in a little over a week, where they will learn how to make bio-diesel, create a processor, and learn how to run a bio-business. Hopefully they’ll learn enough to start producing fuel for ourselves and gradually build a client base from there. It’s exciting that we’re finally moving forward with a business and becoming a bigger part of the biofuel revolution! Stay tuned for notes from the course.