Camping near Santa Cruz

When you think of Santa Cruz, California, you think surfing and skateboarding. That’s why were shocked to find it windy, cold and heavily forested all around the city. A testament to the woodsy-ness of the area is the State Park we chose for the night, Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. Driving through the dense forest was beautiful and relaxing, but we grew nervous about finding a spot. Thankfully, we landed at campsite (lucky) number 20, and the campground itself was decent as state parks go. We bought some firewood from the ranger lady, then drove a couple miles north to do some grocery shopping to prepare for the night’s dinner.

Kristen was bundled... it got chilly!

Loren whipped up a barbecue sauce marinade using whatever we had on hand: bacon fat, olive oil, tomato paste, sriracha, honey, fresh-squeezed lemon juice, Mrs. Dash, salt and pepper. It seriously tasted just like barbecue sauce. We mixed that with the chicken drumsticks, got the fire started, and threw them on the grate over the fire. For a side dish, we wrapped asparagus in aluminum foil, with some bacon fat, salt and pepper, and set the package on the coals.

By the time we’d finished all of the food, we were stuffed to the brim - it was arguably the biggest (and best) camp dinner we’d ever attempted - and getting sleepy. After a few sips of wine, it was bedtime.

The cool misty morning brightened a bit with the happy discovery of a few blackberries, which we promptly picked to have as a snack while Loren prepared our breakfast, which started the day off right: fried eggs with sriracha and sliced avocado (the fallen one we’d found on the sidewalk in LA). While sipping coffee, we were even afforded a bit of birdwatching, IDing both a Dark-eyed Junco and Acorn Woodpecker, along with the west-coast campsite usual suspect, Steller’s Jay. Then, it was time to head North.

Cute little Dark-eyed Juncos were hopping around in the morning