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Open Roads Forum  >  Truck Campers

 > Trip Report: Searching for sand along the Lost Coast

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jefe 4x4

West Slope, Northern Sierra Nevada

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Posted: 06/09/16 09:52pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Jeanie and I usually have a 'theme' in our travels. But we also understand, for us, the trip is the destination. One bucket list thread is to camp ON as many beaches in N. America as can be legally camped on. Why? Because we can. I've been driving on blow sand for decades and the XTC is my last gasp at the art of sand driving with a 10K pound rig. This has been easy in Baja California and other parts of Mexico; very difficult in Canada; and rare in the U.S.
I've camped at Pismo Beach, California, as it it the go-to place for dune buggies, sand ready jeeps and assorted sand lovers. North of Pismo, the pickin's get slim until you get to Point Sal near the Vandenberg launch facilities. We've camped on the sand there some years ago. Continuing north, the major highways, even the fabled highway 1 start to move away from the Pacific Ocean as the terrain gets very vertical with steep slopes to the rocky, mostly sand free waters edge. The minor roads in this area, called the Medocino Coast are very narrow; somewhat paved; very winding with ridiculously steep grades. They didn't move much terra firma to make these. No cut and fill here. Just paved over cow paths, IMHO. When you are in 1st gear for 45 minutes just to make it up the hill; that's steep. This is just how we like it. We met a couple coming the other way in a small class C. They were both wild eyed at the thought of actually passing another RV (even as narrow as ours) on one of those steep and narrow grades. There are occasional beaches and one private campground at Westport Beach allows you to camp on the sand. This is very rare in a state with extreme coastal commission restrictions. We called ahead and reserved THE spot right at the edge of the campground.
[image]
Yes, this is our bench and spot number pole:
[image]
I call this next pic, Parade of the Park Benches right out our window:
[image]
In reality there was no surf driving here. Good thing.
While in the vicinity, Jeanie and i visited Mendocino Botanical Gardens. I love local botanicals. We took a lot of flower pix. Here are but a few:
[image]

[image]

[image]
There were other excellent native species along the coast:
[image]

We moved on to a place called, "Glass Beach", where the glass and other refuse of old was dumped into the sea and the sand did its work over 8 decades:
[image]
The darker beach front is all small glass bits ground down and polished by the sands of time:
[image]
Going north yet again, we attempted to get to Usal Beach and Usal Road, a BLM takeover of a former State Beach. I read some sobering horror stories about the current conditions there and we decided to bypass the Usal as we had formerly camped there right on the sand. Besides, the Usal road was closed for repairs after too many off-road rigs tried unsuccessfully to traverse this awful road in winter time leaving 6 foot deep mud pits.
Eventually we got on the Matole Road and really started feeling remote. The tire busting, cheaply repaired roadway was about 16 feet wide, which made for a bun pucker situation when you met on coming speeding pickups on the many curves. Simply the worst county road I've ever been on, and we go looking for bad roads. The only tax base in Mendocino is no tax base: The Cash Crop, you know.
[image]
We camped at a county park on the Matole River as the only vehicle in the place:
[image]
We wanted to see if we could camp at the mouth of the Matole River where it flows into the Pacific. There was a small and weirdly populated campground with all sand camps. A couple jeeps and a guy in a tent that looked like the guy yelling, "five, four, three,..." running down 5th Avenue and holding a sign announcing "the end is near".
[image]
We had a mystical morning walking to the confluence. Just mystical.
[image]
[image]
This was on May 2nd, so apparently this looked like the local May Pole du jour.
[image]
We decided not to camp there so continued on the Matole Rd. This was a very good section of 14 foot wide blacktop: A car will not fit in those lanes. Well, maybe a Prius.
[image]
Some spring wildflowers along the way north:
[image]
[image]
We finally to to a county beach that allowed vehicles. It was about 10 miles long, west of Ferndale. I locked the hubs and put 'er in 4Bye but we had bigger fish to fry, or so we thought and we marched on to Clam Beach, a county park known for sand running. It's near Arcata. We got there and found that because of ill-use by some nearby college kids with jeeps, the beach is now closed to motor vehicles. Boo. We marched on to Patrick's Point State Park to lick our wounds. It was a beauty of a little know and little used park.
[image]
[image]
If you are interested, I have put up 114 Lost Coast pix in an album here with a lot more depth.
http://s194.photobucket.com/user/jefe4x4/library/The%20Lost%20Coast?sort=3&page=1
BKA always admonishes me that I post too many pics that eat the bandwidth on his internet allowance.
This was trip #1 for the spring. Trip #2 was just finished so it will be a while before the T.R. is posted.
Thanks for looking.
jefe
P.S. I had this throbbing in my transfer case lever that slowly got worse. Where did this lead?

* This post was last edited 06/10/16 09:37am by jefe 4x4 *   View edit history


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deltabravo

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Posted: 06/09/16 10:00pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Awesome!!


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Vinsil

Oregon

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Posted: 06/09/16 10:16pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

great TP!

Wondering...have you been up in the Oregon dunes? The sand is so different here I'm wondering if you can compare the two. Never been on CA sand. Great adventure.


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jefe 4x4

West Slope, Northern Sierra Nevada

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Posted: 06/09/16 10:35pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Vinsil,
Yes, we've been at the north and south portico to the Oregon Dunes. I was ready to camp at one of the numbered 'poles', but Jeanie got frightened that we would be swallowed up in the sand. I was ready. It was after Oct. 1st, so vehicles were legal. I had my auto deflators at the ready. All for naught.
We'll make it some time. My new 10 inch wide Stockton Wheel XTC wheels ( the so called, Power Wagon Wheels) are coming, probably next week, so I'll have bomb proof super singles on all four corners by summer. The centers are 1/2 inch plate. I asked if anyone ever called to say one broke. He said, "no one."
jefe

Vinsil

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Posted: 06/09/16 10:56pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Sweeeeeet! Let me know, I'd love to camp with you (you'll pull me out...right?)

Camper_Jeff_&_Kelli

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Posted: 06/10/16 12:59am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Neat!


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JoeChiOhki

Sauvie Island, OR

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Posted: 06/10/16 01:07am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Glad to see I wasn't the only one that noticed the Matole Road is narrower than normal. [emoticon]

Wonder if that was the same guy I called the "local meth-head" back in 2007.....


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kohldad

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Posted: 06/10/16 04:53am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Great adventure and love the views. Those roads sound pretty nice compared to some of the roads I find up in the mountains of WV.

And to your P.S., I have a good guess on where that is going and just hope it wasn't when you needed it. Never thought about the shifter knob giving indications of impending doom - another thing against electronic shift.


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GpnAZ

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Posted: 06/10/16 07:00am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

What a fun trip report, great adventure and great pictures, thanks for sharing!


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elwood58

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Posted: 06/10/16 07:50am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

My wife and I grew up on the Lost Coast, living in Arcata. I spent the first third of my life camping all over the area. It is a shame that most areas have been closed off to camping and beach running. As you found, there are not that many access points to begin with.

Totally agree on what a gem Patrick's Point Park is.


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