Hendy Woods State Park, California - Camping for Families: Redwoods, Swimming Hole, Wine Country, Fresh Salmon, Near the California Coast!

Hendy Woods State Park Campground in the Redwood Trees

What: California State Park with great Family Campground, Mendocino County.
Where: 2ish-3 hours from San Francisco.
Highlights: Coast Redwoods, Water Hole, Wine Country, Fresh Salmon at Local Market, Near Highway 1 along California Coast.
Temps: Moderate. Bring layers.
Tips: Book early. Fills up fast with groups. Reservations
Other tip: Bring the kids' bikes!

Throw it all in the car and get yourself here! Amass a big group of families or come with your core group - Hendy Woods campground is a giant, redwood tree, magical find, with tons to do for busy camping families. 

Soft pine needle carpeting on large camping sites make it comfy and still nature-y -- and the giant loops of roads that form the campground make it the perfect track for kids on bikes. (Drive slowly, kids darting in and out all over the place.)

A water-hole nearby is a must on a hot day, and wineries and the ocean in one direction or the other sort of make you rub your eyes and mumble quietly to yourself: Is this a dream? Pinch!

There's a market just minutes from the campground that sells everything you've forgotten. And has gorgeous, fresh, local salmon scooped right out of the Pacific Ocean nearby. 

Our kiddos look forward to it each year. 

-Outdoorsy Mama
"Look deep into nature, and you will find the answer to everything." -Albert Einstein

You might also like & more info:


Summer is Here! Time for a new Profile Pic - As a Californian, I No Longer Have Eyes, Just Shades.

Outdoorsy Mama in Summer
As a Californian, I no longer have eyes. Just shades…..

Connect with me. Come play.

-Outdoorsy Mama


Sending Your Kiddo off to Overnight Camp? Here's How to Get Them - and YOU - Ready to Avoid Separation Anxiety. MOTHERHOOD PART 2

The perfect overnight camp note: Short & sweet & boring and vaguely loving

I look into the rear-view mirror and see my 9 year old daughter’s face. She’s actually quiet, a state that comes irregularly to her, and about as often as a visit from the celestial Halley’s Comet or a glimpse of the elusive Sasquatch.

She’s hugging the pillow that will smell like home for the week tightly to her belly. And I’ve stopped chattering about stupid stuff and instead we listen to the San Fran radio station playing the latest Katy Perry hit.

My stomach is clenching. Just enough to let me know I’m not as cool as I thought I’d be about all this. Lord knows I’ve been through this before with my son – 3 years older than her.

But there’s something going on for me, too, today as I sense her mix of excitement and nervousness about being away from mom and dad for the week (“just” one week!)

So what did I say to her and do for her to get her ready for overnight camp? And what advice will I also take for myself? 


#1 “It’s OK to feel Sad!” This is the numero uno most important thing I made sure she (and i) heard as we had our quiet chats about overnight camp. There may be moments of sadness, missing mom, missing her bed. And that’s OK. 

Feel the sad feelings, take a moment to notice them, have a quiet moment if she needs to, and then move on to the next fun activity... “Like Archery!!!” is what I seem to constantly come up with as THE exciting overnight camp activity that she’ll never get to do at boring old home camps.

#2 Send a packet of handwritten notes on 3x5 index cards in sealed envelopes for every other day. I write short, ridiculous but hopefully soothing in their banality notes for her to open every-day or every-other-day or when she’s feeling the need for a Mommy check-in. 

For example: “Hello there sweetie! Whatdiddya have for breakfast today? I had a handful of walnuts and some coffee. Heading to the basement to organize the piles. Bet you’re having a blast swimming!” and then I draw a silly-uncoordinated-not-an-artist pic of a coffee cup or her “swimming”…. Short & sweet and sort of vaguely loving. A touchstone from home: All is boring & good here, you go have fun.

#3 Talk about overnight camp from the minute you sign her up. I like to think of this as important to prevent camp-shock-syndrome. Sorta like getting a new sibling. From the time it’s appropriate to start talking about a new baby brother or sister, you talk with your kiddo about having a new baby in the house and how things are going to be a little bit different and a lot the same. 

Do the same with overnight camp – some of the routine will be exactly like home (brush your teeth, go to bed, have some breakfast, pee) and some will be a little bit different and a lot of fun (a sleepover every night, giant sing-a-long campfires, a dining hall with all kinds of food!)

And, now back to our story: As we pull in to the designated supermarket parking lot meet-up spot, we see the Big Bus that will take her up to camp and all of the other families already milling around. I park and my daughter and I have a quiet, private moment for a HUGE hug. (Sob!)

And then, we join the jolly throng of campers and duffle bags and chatty parents and I am merely a comforting “see ya, mama!” figure as she boards the bus surrounded by her best buddies. Waving their arms around. Bouncing up and down on the seats. And wearing massive, adventurous smiles.

She’s ready whether I am or not…tissues (secretly) required. 

-Outdoorsy Mama
“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” –Albert Einstein

For more helpful info:


Products i Love - Smartwool Light Cushion Outdoor Socks. THE Most Important Part of My Hike, Bike & Outdoor Adventure!

I grabbed my first pair of these from the gear shop at the addictive Red Mountain Resort in St George, Utah getting ready for a day of hiking-straight-up at Zion National Park. 

I needed something reliable and I'd skied in Smartwools, but had never had a pair for my summer adventures.

Best move I've EVER made for my happy feet.

A week of sweaty, hot, orange-rock-hiking, Southern Utah canyoneering, and mountain biking – I took this particular model – "Light Cushion Outdoor Women's" – thru the wringer for miles and miles of abuse in my trail shoes. 

What? Amazingly, they didn't stink at the end of the day. And my feet stayed comfortable and dry. 

Whatever magical ingredient that these guys at Smartwool bibbedy-bobbedy-boo into this sock formula works. No hot spots, no blisters, no sweaty toes, no nothing. Just comfort. Boom!

Merino wool. And "light cushion" adds some padding but isn't bulky. And, let's face it, they're attractive - a bonus so I don't feel like a lumberjack in my trail shoes.

I just ordered 6 pair of the same color so I'll be ready for a summer of intense outdoor activity - summiting Idaho mountains, canoeing Vermont shores, trail running Colorado scree fields and hiding from all responsibilities indoors. 

Yup. Love ‘em. Been using them all year. They come in gal, dude and uni-colors of all sorts. Find them at most smart, outdoorsy retailers.

-Outdoorsy Mama

“Look deep into nature, and you will find the answer for everything.” –Albert Einstein

For more info: 


Top 5 Father’s Day Gifts for Outdoorsy Dads – Yes YOU! Cairn, REI Outdoor School, ENO Hammock, Southern Utah in VW Camper, Big Agnes Sleeping Pad.

Here you go, Honey! 
Ok. Let’s be serious here. Dad’s numero uno gift would be Mom in a sexy dress. Strappy heels. Freshly opened Fat Tire Belgium Ale in one hand. Remote in the other.

But that’s a fantasy and a beer selection you two can play out another time. Wink! Here are top 5 ideas to WOW your Outdoorsy Hubbby for Father’s Day:

Cairn Gear Box – Perfect for the Dad who likes to see what’s new, current, hot in the outdoor industry. Every month a new box arrives filled with a sampling of cool gear, trail food, skin care on the trail, and apparel accessories. Like: headlamp, gloves, energy bar, bug dope. He fills out a “profile” to help them pick what is best for him, and for only $25 bucks/month, he gets a new box filled with gear each month. You can get a one time box or a subscription (yes, like a magazine) that shows up each month for as long as you want.  Cairn Box "How it Works"

REI Outdoor School – This is the kind of school I could enroll in FOREVER. Welcome to REI outdoor school. Yeah, your guy thinks he knows which exit to get off on on the highway. We’ll give him that. But imagine the navigatory satisfaction he’ll have after taking a professional navigation class with compass, map, GPS and a giant freaking wilderness designated mountain in front of him. Like a Route-Finding-Rock-Star. There are classes in everything from navigation to kayaking to rock climbing. And speaking from personal experience – I recently took a Wilderness Medicine class – these are FUN and make you feel powerful. REI List of Outdoor Courses

ENO Hammock – This ain’t your grandma’s hammock. In fact, it’s the complete opposite. I have a friend, yes you W.N., who slings this up at the summit of every hike and hangs and enjoys the view, sending pics back down to us mere chair-sitting mortals. Throw it in your backpack, sling it between two trees at the top, feet go up, and it’s naptime. Happy Dad. ENO Hammock Selection

A Trip Thru Southern Utah in a VW Camper – Ayeeeeee - bucket list! This one takes the cake. Grab your packs, the kids, the dog, and don’t worry about the kitchen sink – it has one! Zion, Arches, Bryce. Moab, Dinosaurs, and, heck, finish or start it all in Vegas. Throw in the VW cool factor and your outdoorsy hubby/dad may never recover from the glow and flow of this trip. Can I come?  VW Westfalia Camper Floor-Plan  (p.s. a friend L.F. is renting one of these this weekend for a local camping trip - brilliant.)

Big Agnes Sleeping Pad – Clearly it all comes down to keeping Dad, comfy, eh? But he deserves it. Throw a Big Agnes underneath him at the next camping spot and Dad’ll sleep like a baby. I first found out about their greatness from Backpacker Magazine. After being tested by thousands of wild outdoorsy types slinging gear to the top of the world and back, Big Agnes came out on top. AND they’re from Steamboat, Colorado, one of my fave places. Super comfy, i love mine. Big Agnes Sleeping Pad Selections

Enjoy & Happy Father’s Day to you kick-arse dads!

-Outdoorsy Mama
“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” –Albert Einstein

Disclaimer: Cairn is a sponsor for an upcoming gear testing trip #HellHikeAndRaft that I am a crew member of in September in the Hell's Canyon Wilderness Area in Idaho. However, my opinions are my own and I write about what I like and believe in in my own words.


Gear Review: Sierra Designs Rocks the "Backcountry Bed" Sleeping-Bag 3-Season

Sierra Design's sleeping bed - tucked away for the night (reenactment)

Imagine: you are in your tent at the campground at the base of Colorado's 14-er, Long's Peak, in Rocky Mountain National Park.

It’s the middle of the night, and the wind is coming down in giant gusts and making big wooshes through the skyscraper trees, like a locomotive headed your way.

You know you’re going to be up in just a few hours – your alarm is set for 2:00am so you can have a quick packet of oatmeal & get your gear re-checked and organized for the summit later that morning to beat the thunderstorms.

The problem is, you don’t want to get out of your sleeping bag, ever, even with the adrenaline of the mountain climb before you. 

Sierra Designs - hand pockets!
Because you’re not sleeping in a bag, you’re in a BED - one of Sierra Design’s new Backcountry Beds – the new idea bumping around in sleeping bags.

Unbelievably comfortable and (dare I say) cozy – but also functional and COOL. As in awesome.

Cool features:
No zippers
“Blanket” that tucks into the sides and up to your neck
Slot underneath to stick your feet out if they overheat
Slot for your sleeping pad underneath, so there’s no nighttime slippage 
2 hand-pockets in the blanket for extra warmth
DriDown - stays warmer, dries faster
Easy side sleeping w/out taking the whole bag with you
Tagline: “Sleep like you do at home with a comforter.”

My 600 Fill Dridown Women’s 3-Season got a test drive on a 40 degree weekend, it’s rated to 25. Like many of us oh so delicate ladies, I sleep colder, so I was wondering about the warmth of the bag-with-no-zipper. I was FINE. In fact, I found myself using all of the adjustable features at some point in the night as my body went through it’s own cooling down and warming up stages.

Mens, womens, tall – it comes in sizes for all of us – make sure to check the length, especially taller gals as the Women’s is x5’8” and I’m 5’7” and am just, just fitting perfectly.

Eager to continue to test this bag/bed this summer in colder & more extreme backcountry locales. I'll update. And, p.s. I have to FIGHT my family away from stealing this from me. Karate chop.

-Outdoorsy Mama
"Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better." -Albert Einstein

UPDATE: 7/14/14 - my bro took this bag, men's version, into the California high sierras late June and got cold at night. didn't think it lived up to the temp rating. returned it. stay tuned for more info...

For more info: