5 State Parks – Spring Break

Spring break and well deserved! After working all week and moving the Cloud back to the yard on Thursday it took us a little longer to get away Saturday. Our first destination was Woodson Bridge SP where we have camped four times already. Our first night ever in the Cloud was here and honestly there isn’t a bad site in the park. Just three other campers when we arrived with five more to come. This campground was flooded but they managed to get most of it cleaned up with the April 1 opening.

The oaks here are beautiful and majestic.

I have never seen a black butterfly.

We chose site 27 with full sun and no tree branch overhang- learned along time ago to avoid that scenario in Spring. Settled in and took a walk around the campground, checking out the intensity of flow and height of the Sacramento River. Did a quick drive to the winery, did some tasting and looked at the awesome church. Relaxed, ate dinner and hit the sheets early.

New Clairvaux Winery- took home three bottles!

Watching the building/creative progress to this point has been awesome.

Up Sunday, walked to the day use area, John went to mass at the church, ate breakfast and headed out. Our destination was the wildlife area campground in Oroville, but once we saw it we moved on to the enroute campground at North Thermalito Forebay. Hiked the Rattlesnake Hill Loop Trail checking out all the flowers, got Panda Express, watched a movie and slept. Monday morning we left the trailer and drove up to Table Mountain to hike the trail in search of wildflowers. We arrived at 9 and the parking lot had maybe 15 cars. Three hours later and six miles we came back to an overflowing lot with probably 100 cars. The weather was prefect with overcast and threats of rain but did not materialize. After getting back to the trailer we hooked up and drove up to Loafer Creek Campground (#75). Beautiful sites and hardly any campers. Showered and went into Oroville to pick up stuff, came back and settled in listening to the rain.

Parking lot from the picnic area was a good spot to stop for the night since we didn’t like the looks of the campground at the Oroville Wildlife area.

Rattlesnake Hill is a good walk when the weather is mild and the views are great – cows, the bay and trains!

We drove the back way into the Table Mountain area and stopped at this little spot called Cherokee. Interesting history and cute buildings.

Obvious this area is heavily used by people, dogs and cattle. The weather was perfect for hiking.

Never can take enough pictures of flowers…lupines, owl’s clover and poppies.

Cows, lupines and John

The name escapes me…only saw it in a shaded wet area.

We took a path less traveled and used the REI app – Hiking Project – to find our way back to the car. On our travels we came upon this little spot.

Our campsite at Loafer Creek campground.

Finally saw the dam and the lake from the tower at the Visitor Center.

Lunch in Colusa.

Tuesday’s drive to Clearlake SP was beautiful and sunny. Had lunch in Colusa and arrived at the park to find out they had just opened since cleaning up from flooding. We had our original reservation changed by them and came in a day later. Our site (#88) was nice and sunny and with highs predicted in the low to mid 80’s we could depend on our solar for the next three days.
The campground along the lake we are told is the best in summer with lake access and the cooling effect compared to the two upper campgrounds which right now are gorgeous and closed. I must say that the wildlife here, especially the bird life is awesome and I’m so glad we brought our kayak! We set up our site (takes 20 mins) and walked around the campground, listened to the Giants, BBQed and settled in.
Slept in, made cinnamon rolls and set off to hike the Dorn Trail. An easy hike with some views, oak woodlands and deer. We also toured upper and lower bay view campgrounds. Everything is so green right now. Back at camp we had lunch, listens to the Giants and pulled out the kayak. Decided to put in at the beach area due to all the rocks right by our site and the muck. There are two sloughs that almost surround the campground and while they have a lot of wildlife they are mosquito loving also. The water is not to cold and green. We kayaked all along the campground shore seeing we’re all the fishermen go. Went into the reeds, saw pelicans, cormorants, a variety of ducks and had a very glassy paddle. Decided to keep the kayak inflated for a morning paddle. BBQ again, movies and sleep.
Thursday, hard to believe the week is almost over. Kayaking at 10 am and did the right side of the park, through Dorn Bay and Soda Bay to the little island and back. Nice day…inside the trailer it hit 80…shower time! Safeway trip, checking out Soda Bay, wine, watching fishermen and boats.
Getaway day and pancakes! Such a gorgeous day and still mesmerized by all the birds here. Leaving around 11 we wanted to drive to Standish Hickey SP and stay there. When we arrived, only part of the campground was open and the sites are tight and mostly dark, so drove over to the Peg House and made lunch. Richardson Grove SP was next on the highway and driving in we decided that it could work for one night. Selected a pull thru #33 and noticed a couple other sites taken – one with a Bambi in it. Walked to the entrance to pay and then down to the visitor center. Such a stunning piece of architecture and the docent gave us a behind the scenes tour. Enjoyed what little sun we could find for the last hours of daylight, along with wine and salmon for dinner.
Woke up to a lite drizzle. After breakfast and a shower we walked back to the visitor center to check out the displays further. Took pictures along the way, watched an Osprey and walked back under the forever Humboldt foggy drizzle. The goals for the day are to eat lunch at the Benbow Inn, drive on the Avenue of the Giants and camp at Burlington campground. We drove the old Benbow road but had to turn around once we hit the campground because of a size limit sign. It worked out because we sighted a Bald Eagle along the river. We drove through the local KOA to check it out, it was well maintained and a short walk to the Benbow Inn. We’re not hookup types but this park would do if one could get a site on the outside loop- no views now that the blackberries have taken over, and hang out at Benbow.
We parked just below the Inn, had a nice lunch in the dining room and walked around the grounds. Heading north we drove through Garberville and Redway and then got on the Avenue of the Giants. We pulled into Burlington and there were many reservations but we were able to snag a spot #18 for the night. Never thought I would camp in this campground with a trailer as I lived behind the fence of the campground for three summers while I worked here. I continued to work here for an additional 6 years, even after becoming a mom to two at the time and owning a house in Weott. Best place to work summers with the Eel River walkable, a store and a post office.
After getting settled we walked over to the visitor center, that we helped start, and looked at the exhibits and books. It was a rainy late afternoon, glad we had the cloud to hang out in. In the morning we returned to the visitor center, walked around the campground and hiked down to the river. It was a beautiful yet chilly morning. We then headed up the Avenue, stopping at the Dyerville bridge to look at the main fork of the Eel. Continuing along the Avenue we headed home with a stop in Eureka at Vista Del Mar, that we just happened upon down by the waterfront, great food and service I have to say. Home by 5 and the laundry started. Now to think about another adventure!