My brother Paul bought a large plastic canoe years ago and has hardly ever used it. We have talked about going on a canoe camping trip together but never actually picked a date or a location. I finally picked a date and place far enough in advance and got Paul to reserve a spot in his calendar. My plan was to do a repeat of the successful trips I have initiated for BASK to the Willow Creek Campground on the Russian River. We launched from my other brotherís (Ralph) front yard who has access to the Russian River. We were heading out on Friday afternoon, but of course disentangling from work took longer for everyone and we were late. I got ready first and jumped in my boat to head down to the campground by myself.
I was concerned about getting one of the nice campsites on a Friday before the Labor Day weekend. I became even more worried when I turned the last corner and could see a tent set up in campsite number nine, the second most desirable in my humble opinion. I didnít see anything in the best spot, number eleven. (This same spot was called number ten last year, but the rangers have been re-arranging the signposts). But when I landed and went to look the table had signs taped to it saying it was reserved. I walked out to the meadow and the last meadow campsite also had signs on it. In the distance I could see someone else setting up on one of the meadow campsites and I started to wonder if we would have to stay at Bridgehaven or give up on the camping aspect of this trip. Fortunately when I walked out to campsite number seven it was not taken. This is the only other campsite, besides 9 and 11, that has any river access at all, although you have to walk through a tunnel of brush to get from the river. It had a nice private feel to it so I relaxed and figured we would be OK.
I moved my canoe down in front of our campsite so Paul would know where to land, then I started setting up my tent and equipment. Paul arrived and set up his stuff, then we had a few hours to relax, talk, and read until dinner time. Maryly Snow was joining us but had to drive up after work so she drove directly to the campground parking lot. I spent some time sitting in the parking lot so Iíd be there when Maryly arrived, so I was there when the Ranger came by. I mentioned the reserved nature of campsite number eleven to him, and he was not pleased. He says if they leave a tent, or even a picnic cooler in a site he will let them get away with it. But if it is just a sign he said he would tear it down and open the site to the next campers who come along.
When Maryly arrived and stowed her stuff we immediately jumped in the canoes and paddled the short distance to the Sizzling Tandoor Restaurant. We parked our boats at the Bridgehaven campground again (I got permission from the manager to do this, like I did the last two BASK trips here). Of course we had a wonderful dinner at the restaurant. It continues to amaze me that such a nice restaurant has been able to survive out here in the middle of nowhere.
One of the main attractions of doing this trip was to paddle back to the camp by the light of the moon. Unfortunately the sky was overcast and we didnít see much moonlight. The overcast was thin and the moon was able to light our way by the indirect light through the clouds. Every once in a while the clouds would part and we would be able to see crisp shadows cast everywhere. Paul made it back to camp first and was surprised by Ralph, who had paddled his Frenzy kayak down to sneak up on us and growl from the bushes at the side of the river. He apparently sat around for quite a while we took our time over dinner. Ralph joined us for our campfire and we sat around talking until the clouds sprinkled rain on us for a few minutes drove us into our tents. (Ralph paddled home). In the middle of the night it rained heavily for a while and woke me up. In the morning it was dry for a while, then rained again for a few minutes while I was trying to put my tent away. It stopped for our short paddle back up to Ralphís house.