Friday, June 20, 2008

Back to the Mendocino Coast

With some of my favorite lakes in the High Sierras still under snow, I decided to take my kids up the coast to show them some of my favorite places and to introduce them to abalone diving. First we stopped at Kruse Rhododendron State Park so see if the the flowers were still around. No luck on that count, but the redwoods are always nice, and we found some cute little newts in the creek.

We secured a campsite near the beach at Manchester State Park near Point Arena, and on two evenings we headed down to the beach for sunset. We spent the next couple of days exploring the Point Arena area including Bowling Ball Beach, where we could explore tide pools and interesting rock formations.

Later in the week we moved north to the Mendocino area and camped at Van Damme State Park. We used the fire rings on the beach each night to make s'mores and to toast dinner roll dough over the fire on our marshmallow sticks (great right off the fire, especially if you roll the hot bread on butter).

The cove there is sheltered, so it's a great place to play in the water. We went to a dive shop in nearby Fort Bragg and rented wetsuits so the kids could snorkel around while I looked for abalone. Although we had minus low tides and I did get some abalone when I went out alone, it turned out that the kelp had grown significantly since I had visited in May and it was so thick at low tide that it wasn't practical or safe to bring the kids into the thick floating mats of it in the cove. We had fun swimming around though.