Everyone camps differently.  We used to be that family that tent camped, but we brought a lot of stuff to keep us comfortable and amused.  Now all that stuff is neatly tucked away in our camper.  At the Benbow KOA we had the extremes of camping on each side of us.  On one side were two couples crammed into an r-pod and a tiny tent; on the other side a class-A motorhome (you know the ones that look like buses) towing a full-size truck.  The bus driver and his wife along with his brother-in-law had been traveling cross-country for six weeks starting out in their home state of Florida.  He said he was too old for tent camping and was enjoying the comforts his RV offered, like heating and air.  He had done enough tent camping in his youth with his parents and nine siblings (5 boys and 5 girls).  I asked how his parents managed to take that many kids camping and he said they had a DeSoto and a station wagon.

Today we traveled about 100 miles through Humboldt County, but we took our time stopping along the way.  We started with a 3-mile hike in Pepperwood along the Avenue of the Trees.  It was a beautiful (warning I’m going to use the word beautiful a lot) forest of redwoods with lush ferns and clover growing below.

Our next stop was lunch at Eel River Brewing Company, home of the first certified organic brewery.  This compelled me to try the organic IPA and Shawn had the Emerald Triangle IPA; I must admit the non-organic Emerald Triangle was better.  The regular and sweet potato fries were awesome.  Piping hot and crunchy.  The fish & chips and black bean burger were OK.  I guess I was feeling a bit hippie in Humboldt ordering things like organic beer and a vegetarian burger.

Driving along 101, I spotted a billboard advertising a cheese factory.  Now a cheese factory is a thing worth stopping for…a reason to change your planned route.  We drove through the little town of Loleta to the Loleta Cheese Factory where we sampled about 30 cheeses (they were tiny samples, no need to call the cardiologist).  They made smoked cheddar, Gouda, Jack and Havarti and then there were all of those again with peppers, jalapeños, habaneros, and garlic in various combinations.  Needless to say, we bought a few…plus a couple bars of Humboldt dark chocolate for good measure.

All that cheese called for a beer, so we headed on to Lost Coast Brewing.  Don’t try the Raspberry Brown Ale.  It is hideous (in my opinion), but the triple IPA was quite good.  But even better than beer, they had Downtown Brown ice cream made from the wort they use for the Downtown Brown Ale.  A local artist crafted the large metal sculptures in the parking lot.  The owl-like creatures cast cool shadows on the parking lot.  The bomb was just weird.

OK, enough eating and drinking for an afternoon.  Time to find a campsite.  We went to Patrick’s Point State Park on the coast.  This is the only place where we could not make a reservation and we were hoping to find a good site that we could get the RV into.  As we drove through the loops, we would either find great sites that were already occupied or tiny sites that we couldn’t fit in.  Luckily, the very last site #124 was empty and pretty big.  It’s a pretty site with more ferns and redwoods and it is rumored to have a mountain lion.  We are tucked in for the night.

Daily Ratings & Stats

Eel River Brewing – 3 stars (but 5 for the fries)
Loleta Cheese Factory – 5 stars
Lost Coast Brewing – 3.5 stars

Steps taken – 7,272
Miles driven – 100+
4-Leaf Clovers spotted – 0
Temp – mid-60s