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Pescadero, CA

Took advantage of the lovely fall weather (and being locked out of the office during the government shutdown) to make a short mid-week trip down the coast. Left the city in the late afternoon and decided to stop for dinner at the fabled Alice’s Restaurant instead of attempting a too-hungry-to-think-straight camp dinner in the dark. For no particular reason I opted for a chicken sandwich instead of sampling from the myriad of burgers, but you know what? It was great. Franklin’s burger was also pretty great, as was the big wooden deck and small-town-in-the-woods vibe, so I’m thinking a return trip will definitely ensue. The pre-camp dinner did the trick in keeping us from snarling at each other while looking for a site among all the unclaimed “Reserved” signs in Butano State Park (sometimes I want to shake my fist at Reserve America) and constructing our tent in total darkness. But once we settled in it was fantastic, so unseasonably warm I sat by the fire in a sweater and shorts and the moon played peek-a-boo through crazy tall trees while we drank wine and made fancy-pants s’mores with grilled peaches and ginger snaps.

Lit out in the morning and stopped through the town of Pescadero for coffee and provisions. Made the usual run into Arcangeli’s Bakery for their fresh-baked artichoke bread then noticed Downtown Local, an awesome little coffee shop I don’t remember seeing the last time we came through. Sightglass coffee, rad decor with lots of motorbike memorobilia and vintage touches, and a little side shop selling local/bay area goodies (honey, soaps and apothecary stuff, candles, etc). A perfect stop to tide us over til we got down to the Pie Ranch and were able to gorge ourselves on berry baskets and a miniature apple pie.

Made a detour off the highway so Franklin could skate a ditch hidden back behind a bunch of bushes. It never ceases to amaze me how dudes (and ladies) can sniff these spots out and then find them again.

While he shredded, I got to admire the view.

Next stop was Harley Farms to say hey to the goats (and purchase the fruits of their labor) then rounded out our mammalian experience with a hike through Ano Nuevo State Park to see the elephant seals and on to Costanoa to grab a tent cabin for the night.

In keeping with our “fancy coastal camping” vibe (ie. there’s a heated mattress in that tent) we grilled up lamburgers with minted yogurt sauce and lots of pea sprouts, plus a minty peach salad for good measure. Sometimes pre-planning camp meals makes life both easier and extra delicious.

And a nearly-full moon just makes everything magical.

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Going coastal? If you’re in the bay area, you’ve probably cruised down the 1 and hit most of these spots already, and you can do pretty much everything in a day if you don’t have the time to stay overnight. But if you do, Butano State Park’s got some lovely walk-in sites (as well as some pretty secluded drive-up ones) and Costanoa’s a spot worth checking out. I imagine it’s a zoo there during the summer, but mid-week off-season it was fairly empty and with tent cabins starting at $80/night (which includes use of the “comfort stations” with saunas, heated bathrooms and outdoor showers) it’s a pretty good deal. They also have AAA rates and full moon specials worth looking into. You can roll straight down Highway 1 from the city, or take 280 south to Woodside then swerve your way through the redwoods past Alice’s and La Honda on the 84, just depends on your mood. And if you do go, make time to stop into Duarte’s in dowtnown Pescadero for a libation or a bowl of soup, it’s a favorite spot with old-time ambiance and an excellent juke box.

 

 

Add comment | February 21st, 2014

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