Two Nights of Scooter Camping at Samuel P. Taylor State Park

March 17th, 2014: Bay Area

J and I decided to go scooter camping for the first time. Our scooter isn’t in the best of shape anymore, so we picked a destination that was in reasonable driving range.

Samuel P. Taylor State Park is around 40 miles from San Francisco if you go the scenic route up Highway 1. On a scooter, the scenic way is not only prettier, but slower and safer.


Our route.

J expertly packed our gear into her old travel pack: a small tent, two sleeping bags, and air mats. Spare clothes went in a day pack. A small supply of food went into a canvas bag to store under the seat. We decided that we wouldn’t carry any perishables or try to cook, so the food was fruit, nuts, and fruit and nut bars. We would eat bigger meals in Point Reyes Station.

After crossing the gusts of the Golden Gate Bridge, we detoured through Sausalito to get a good view of the city. We reconnected with the Shoreline Highway at the 101 highway and ascended the hills of Mill Valley into the westward wilderness.

Big Sur’s coast has a reputation for scenery boners, but I personally find this drive is a bigger turn on.

We have been on it many times with both scooter and car, but it doesn’t get old. The first descent down the winding road towards Muir Beach is the first view of the ocean. It’s just a triangular sliver at the end of the valley, but the air already smells different.

After Muir Beach is another winding ascent before the highway travels a ridge with a sprawling valley on one side and a steep drop to the Pacific on the other.

For most of the way to Stinson Beach, the road has a high, commanding view of the ocean as it winds into and out of valleys. The vastness of the ocean is increased by elevation and the shifts in scale between, you, the water, and the snaking road ahead.

The sky was clear and the sun made the color of the water and hills pop.

After Stinson Beach, the road flattens to a near sea level as it follows the edge of the bird and seal infested Bolinas Lagoon. It stays flat as it heads northward. We passed grassy cattle pastures, old farm houses and zoomed through shady tree tunnels.

At the first stop sign of the trip, we turned right onto Sir Francis Drake Boulevard and drove another 4 miles to the entrance of the park.

We were an hour before check in time, and a small line had already formed to reserve walk in campsites. We grabbed a map and drove into the park to scope out the lay of the available sites.

After another half hour of waiting, we had a site for $35 a night.

Due to drought, none of the sites had running water, and the closest bathrooms were closed due to leaks.


A slightly less clear slot.

J and the stump.

Our little pack mule.

Path to the camp site.

A tent for two.

Shafts.

Verdant fields.

Our site was setup in minutes, so we drove to Point Reyes Station for lunch/dinner, coffee, and to get some marshmallows and a small bundle of firewood.

Before sunset, we went on a walk along the river, then came back to start our fire. Marshmallows were toasted, and we watching our first bundle of wood turn to embers.

A turkey vulture flew home to a tree above us.

We went to sleep early, only to be woken by a new set of neighbors arriving and their dog getting scared by an equally noisy raccoon.

The night was surprisingly cold and dewy. My old bladder had to find creative places for relief.


A meat market restaurant makes for a filling lunch.

I don’t care.

A lurker’s view of our site.

Oxalis.

The moody grove.

Riverside trail.

Unfurling ferns.

Long exposure river.

The rock.

The forest floor, a gully.

The next morning, we woke early, ate snack bars, and walked to the ranger station to renew our site for another night. We kept walking down Sir Francis Drake to an entrance to the Barnabe Trail.

It was already hot when we started the seven mile hike, and it got hotter the more we climbed. At the top, we rested in the shade and watch various butterflies and bees go about their day. Hawks and turkey vultures hovered in the drafts rising from the hill.


Cool salmon crossing sign.

A brief walk on the road to get to a trailhead.

A grove of heavenly trees.

The first taste of sun.

Spanish moss.

Misty web.

The path ahead.

Looking from the crest.

Dharma Station B. (Mt. Barnabe Fire Lookout)

J on the crest.

A banana slug in a non-moist area.

Cross Marin Trail.

Interlocking branches.

After the hike, we drove back to Point Reyes Station for lunch at Cow Girl Creamery. We sat on the back lawn and feasted on substantial, perishable food. Afterwards: coffee.

Our second campfire reduced to embers as we listened to one set of neighbors play Trivial Pursuit and another set play cards.

We went to sleep even earlier, though this time on properly inflated air mattresses. I slept better.

In the morning, we struck the campsite as quickly as set it. We ate a filling breakfast at a diner, and drove back home along the coast.

Our first scooter camping adventure was a success.

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