Bodega Bay – A New Year’s to Honor a New Type of Year

Bodega Bay BeachesNew Year’s is always a time for celebration, time with family and friends, as we recollect the memories made the previous year and plan for the joys of the coming season.  This year for New Year’s eve, we decided to branch out and steer clear of the festive crowds, live music, and bubbly champagne that always seem to accompany the old growth of one year, and the ringing in of another.  We found the most peaceful place we could, Bodega Bay, CA, and fell asleep long before midnight.  We didn’t even pop a cork, and surprisingly it was my favorite New Year’s in memory.

This year, we spent our holiday camped on Wright’s Beach, a few short miles north of Bodega Bay on California’s glorious Coastal Highway 1.  While this was a popular destination New Year’s Day, we had several beaches to ourselves, or shared with a select few who were as quiet and serene as ourselves.  Bodega Bay is famous for the Pacific Ocean’s crashing waves, rock outcroppings, winding roads, and sandy beaches.  It’s about 25 miles north of the more popular Point Reyes National Seashore.  You’re further from the crowds of San Francisco, and there are ample beaches allowing you to find a shore or cove all to yourself.  If you’re ever in California, schedule a day in Bodega Bay.  You’ll be glad you did.  Below are a few of our favorite experiences while we were there.

Camping at Wright’s Beach

Wright's Beach Cooking Bodega BayWright’s Beach is a fairly large campground with a few dozen, private campsites.  You can reserve online, but the trick is to reserve early and choose any of the campsites WB01 through WB09.  These are the only sites with a direct view of the coast.  You can see the ocean through your tent window or while sitting at the picturesque tables.  Bring a few beach chairs, and prepare to enjoy a day with spectacular views, and a night lulled to sleep by the crashing surf.

Explore Bodega Bay

Bodega Bay Black TurnstonesThe Bay is a great site for birders.  While here we watched Brown Pelicans, Coots, Black Turnstones, Buffleheads, and Brandt’s geese.  There are ample restaurants and coffee shops, not to mention salt water taffy and kites!  Each day, we stopped so Joe could enjoy a cup of coffee, while I treated myself to ice cream.

Surfers and Birding at Salmon Creek

Bodega Bay Surfer Many areas of Bodega Bay are not safe for swimming or surfing.  Salmon Creek, however is,  and it’s one of the most popular places for watching surfers, beach combing, and admiring the wildlife.  Here we visited the nesting grounds of the endangered Snowy Plovers and admired Marbled Godwits.  The parking can be tough at Salmon Creek, so it’s best to arrive early.  Don’t worry, the surfers and birds arrive at dawn as well.

Harbor Seals at Goat Rock

Bodega Bay Goat Rock Harbor SealsGoat Rock is a beautiful beach with astonishing views, and a picturesque drive.  It is about nine miles north of Bodega Bay, and well worth the time.  We popped on some Celtic music and pretended we were on the coast of Ireland.  The cliffs did bear some resemblance to the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland, though each hold their unique beauty.  When you arrive, you’ll notice many signs warning you to stay clear of seals who are very shy and come here to raise their young.

We walked along the beach, to the largest waves we had yet seen, getting very excited when we saw the cresting backs of dolphins and occasional harbor seals and sea lions.  It wasn’t until we came to the end of the beach and rounded the corner, that we saw the reason for all the signs.  Bodega Bay Harbor SealsOn the beach across the river, there were over 50 harbor seals sunning themselves, clear of the rising tide and human interaction.  People watched as massive sea lions played in the swirling surf and the harbor seals humorously scootched out of the water onto shore.  When they look back at you with soulful eyes, you can see why they’ve been coined the dogs of the sea.  Definitely one of my favorite hours spent at Bodega Bay was visiting the seals.

Bodega Bay, CA

Bodega Bay Snowy PloversThis year we went a different route for a new years, choosing a New Year that celebrated nature and the preservation of valuable outdoor sanctuaries.  Our time in Bodega Bay showed the value of these parks and preserves that maintain nature for people, animals, and the natural processes of our planet.  It was a memorable way to start the new year by honoring our planet, and those with whom we share it.


Hiking with your dog

National Camp with your Dog Day – Tips for Camping with your Four-Legged Friend

by Heather Kallevig

Camp with your dogThis week’s blog post is in honor of an upcoming day, one I consider a holiday worthy of celebration, National Camping with Your Dog Day.  Taking place on September 5th, National Camping with your Dog Day celebrates getting outdoors with your four-legged friend.  Whether you’re a weathered outdoor enthusiast, or a recent dog owner looking to enjoy new activities together, this is a great opportunity to explore nature together.

Camping with your pet does require a few additional considerations to ensure the trip is enjoyable for all involved, especially if you’re traveling with a group.  Whether you are new to sleeping outside with your pet, or have had many outdoor tramps together, it’s always a good idea to remind yourself of the best strategies for planning a more enjoyable outing.  Below are some of my tried and true tips from camping with my two dogs, Skeeter and Tinker.  The photos in this post are a tribute to my two little outdoor pups.

  1. Ensure your dog’s basic needs are met

Get outdoor with your dogsFood and water are the most essential considerations for you and your dog’s outdoor adventures.  When planning your provisions, keep your dog in mind.  If it’s going to be very hot outside, make sure you pack extra water, especially for areas where water is less readily available.   If you’re burning more calories during a day of long hiking, plan accordingly and pack extra dog food and treats.  In the same way you require more food, they are going to be burning more calories and feeling extra hungry too.

  1.  Pack the Right Gear

camping with your dogWhen preparing for a trip, you always ensure you have the clothing and gear you need for the unique elements.  Your dog requires the same consideration.  If it’s cold outside, make sure you are packing warmer clothes for your dogs.  You may need to protect their paws, while also packing an extra warm or water-proof layer.  In hot weather, having a fresh trim for long-haired dogs is best.  This not only keeps them cooler but also protects them from annoying cockleburs and stinging grasses.

  1. Check their paws

Dogs don’t wear shoes, but their feet are at risk in the elements.  Cold and hot weather climate trails pose unique risks to your dog’s foot health.  Make sure to check their feet at the end of the day and keep an eye out for any signs of limping or discomfort.  Dogs naturally try not to show pain, so they may have a thorn in their foot and trying their best not to show it.  Finding problems early can save your pet from additional pain or the risk of infection.

  1.  Give them somewhere soft to lay at the end of the day

Make sure your dog is comfortableAfter a long day of exploring, the last thing you want to do is sit on hard, dry ground.  Your dog may have the same feelings.  Before you settle for the evening, think about where your pet may lay on the ground.  Humans usually have chairs, picnic tables, or blankets.  Don’t make your dog sit on the ground at the end of a long day day, but bring along something to protect them from the ground.  At the very least, a tarp or space blanket is a good idea

5.  Pack it Out

Often people will leave dog poop where it’s deposited, feeling it cannot cause much harm in the “great outdoors.”  However, you must remember it is not a natural part of the environment.  The food your dog eats has preservatives and other chemicals, that is left outside when they leave waste.  Also, in areas where many dogs frequent, high levels of dog doo can cause elevated levels of e coli.  So, just remember, if ever in doubt, pack it out.

6.  Make sure the Location is Pet Friendly

Make sure the location is pet friendlyNothing will ruin your family camping trip faster than discovering the location is not pet friendly.  My husband and I were disappointed when we arrived in Denali National Park to discover dogs were only allowed in a few short trails on the park.  We were confined to these areas when we had hoped to visit the park.  Keep these things in mind when reserving spaces in campgrounds and choosing trails.  Make sure you and your doggy friend are welcome.


Bring your Dog Along – National Camping with Your Dog Day

Dogs love the outdoors.  It gives them a chance to learn, explore, and stretch their legs.  Whenever you’re heading outside take your best friend with you.  By planning ahead, you can ensure the outing is fun and memorable for all people and animals involved.

If you want more useful information, visit the website of the group who started National Camping with Your Dog Day.
Camping with Dogs is an online community of outdoor dog enthusiasts, a great place to find useful tips and kindred spirits.  So happy hiking and don’t forget to bring your fuzzy, four-legged friend!

DSC_0053 - Version 2 camp with your dog