With the fire behind us but on our mind, we were extra conscientious campers today. We headed due west for Mendocino. The drive spanned the temperature gamut: from 100 degree golden rolling hills, spotted with oak, to 56 degrees in the Redwoods, overlooking Fort Bragg. Our destination was Russian Gulch campground. Apparently, it was the destination of many, because the grounds were filled by the time we arrive. Fortunately, the ranger not only advised us on where to go instead but called ahead and arranged for the last spot to be held for us. We arrived in MacKerricher State Park campground 15 minutes later and happily paid for out camp site.

MacKerricher State Park is located on the site of a former lumber yard. Remnants of structures trace the tracks that used to trolly lumber from the nearby forested mountains to the ship docks.

The upside of MacKerricher State Park is it’s more varied scenery and boardwalk path. A walk from our campsite to the coastal hike had us flanked on one side by a reedy little lake and the thundering ocean to the other side. While the coastal boardwalk was only a short hike, we enjoyed feeling a little above it all as we strolled past coastal wildflowers, local fowl, and the sea, slamming itself against partially submerged boulders.

Small birds find a hospitable home in the park.

Boardwalk trails elevate visitors and protect the native grasses.

After a walk along the beach it was time for dinner. On this occasion, it was Camp Steak dinner redux. We kept the sautéed mushrooms and jettisoned the cheap cut of meat in favor fillet minion and peach cobbler. After completing the steaks, I quickly covered them in tin foil and stacked random clothing on top of them to keep them warm while I cooked the mushrooms. The air was quickly cooling down and the steaks would cool quickly if left by themselves. Better yet, tenting them in tinfoil helped allow the insides cook through so that the steak was a lightly rose medium rare. This was, thus far, our best campfire dinner yet.

Despite the highly acidic coastal environment, a wide range of wildflowers flourish on the bluffs.

The best campfire dinner to date: filet minion with roasted mushrooms

Lexi lives in a truck camper down by the river.

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