Camping: Portola Redwoods State Park

OK, now that we have that nastiness with the minivan out of the way (“Other than that, Mrs Lincoln, how’d you like the play?”), I can post about the nice part of our weekend: our annual camping trip to Portola Redwoods State Park.

I had to work on Friday so we did most of our packing on Thursday night.  Fortunately, Frido, the neighborhood “helper”, was around to make our lives easier.

It was a gorgeous 28-mile ride to Portola Redwoods on Friday evening — we took Cañada Road to Highway 84 to Skyline to Alpine Road to the park.  The weather was gorgeous and there was very little traffic.

I’m really starting to get comfortable on the Ninjette.  I won’t be breaking any land speed records anytime soon, and my back still cramps up occasionally while riding, but the nice 30-50mph sweepers are really starting to feel good.  I had very little pain on my ride to the park.


We arrived at the park, checked in, and bought some firewood.

I think this photo looks like I have a flagpole growing out of my head but Peter insists it’s more of a unicorn horn.  With flags on it.

I am the only human on earth who cannot flatfoot a Ninja 250, even while wearing boots with a rise in the sole.  😉

I’d reserved campsite #39 about six months ago.  We’d seen the campsite on a hike during a previous visit and it looked really secluded and beautiful.  Fortunately our memories were correct; it’s definitely a site worth reserving.  A bit far from the bathroom, but the quiet and darkness was worth it.  Mostly.

It’s not a motocamping trip without glamour shots of the bikes!

Dinner was our favorite recipe from a pasta dish with olives, cashews, and honey mustard.  We add chicken to make it a little heartier; yum!  I really recommend for all your, well, trail cooking needs — the recipes are tasty and are easily made while motocamping with just a JetBoil.

We had arrived fairly late in the evening, so by the time dinner was over, it was nearly dark.  We amused ourselves with the campfire and the ubiquitous game of Carcassonne (Peter won by 7 points — *shakes fist at sky*).

The only downside to site #39 is that it’s a ways from the bathroom and the walk back to the site is at a fairly steep incline.  That’s probably not an issue if you haven’t been sedentary with back problems for 2 years, but if by chance you have, caveat emptor.

The seclusion of the campsite meant we slept in past 8am! Unheard of while camping in a state park.  I’m happy to report that my back did well again with the Exped 9 mat and I woke up without any cramping or pain.  In fact, I had way less pain then than I do now while sitting and typing this. 😉

#39 really is a beautiful campsite.  There’s a bit of foot traffic nearby as it’s just off of a popular trailhead (which we’ve walked in the past but not on this trip) but it’s the sort of park where everyone waves hello and says good morning.  We saw a few families start their hikes while we were cooking breakfast and there were smiling faces all around.

Jesse bags make a remarkably good refrigerator.  All of the frozen food stayed cold and even the icepacks were still frozen the next morning.  I think it’d be a pain to bring more than a couple of meals at a time, but for dinner and breakfast this worked out perfectly.

There’s a large clearing behind campsite #39, so instead of doing an official hike (it was late morning by this point), we wandered around the clearing looking at trees and banana slugs.

By this point it was just about noon and the friendly ranger was figuratively knocking on our door and reminding us of check-out time, so we packed up our stuff and headed towards Alice’s for lunch.

As you undoubtedly read, the lunch plans didn’t go exactly as planned.

Once the paperwork and everything was done, we walked over to Alice’s to have that burger after all.  Peter asked the waitress for some ice to put on his wrist; when he explained, she said, “that was YOU that was hit out there??”  I get the impression that most of the riders who have accidents at Alice’s don’t then immediately walk into the restaurant for a buffalo burger.

The ride home was thankfully uneventful; Peter was sore but he was able to ride the V-Strom home, where it now sits and awaits the insurance assessor.

I liked this picture of Peter crossing under Highway 280 on Cañada Road:

And that was our motocamping trip.  54 miles total (50% more miles than my last motocamping trip!) and really, zero back pain on my end.  Very very very encouraging.

Hopefully everyone will heal up enough to do another motocamping trip this summer, perhaps next time without the vehicular assault.   Dare to dream!

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7 Responses to Camping: Portola Redwoods State Park

  1. Red says:

    Awww.. hawt people on hawt bikes. 🙂 It looks like a lovely camping trip and I feel like I must do one this weekend. Maybe Rainier…

    Thanks for the trail cooking link. I’m super lazy when it comes to cooking while camping, but I need to learn that skill.

    I am the only human on earth who cannot flatfoot a Ninja 250, even while wearing boots with a rise in the sole. 😉
    I resemble that remark! 😛

    • carolyn says:

      Ooh, if you go camping at Rainier, you must take millions of photos. That seems like a gorgeous place to camp. is awesome. I think I’d be too lazy to eat like that on a multi-day trip (where I’d have to procure groceries every day) but for a night or a weekend it’s great. There’s some minor prep work before you leave and then everything on the trail/camp is just mix together, sometimes with boiling water. A++ easy!

  2. Neil says:


    What kind of camera and mount are you using for your moving shots? I really like the shot of the left hander. Gives the feeling you are on a motorcyle while leaning into the turn.

    • carolyn says:

      It’s a Canon S95; I don’t have a mount on the Ninjette. I put the camera on a lanyard around my neck and shoot with my left hand while riding. I take a ton of pictures and some of them end up blurry so I just toss those; I’ve taken enough over the years, though, to kinda get a sense of what lighting will work. The redwoods are *really* hard to take photos in; you’ll notice all the ones I posted are in broad daylight. 😉

  3. George F says:

    Nice, love your zoom picture and the 2 after. banana slugs? wow, I had never seen them.
    Looks like it was a fun trip, beautiful pictures, I love your part of the country, I want to return back there 😉

  4. BradleyB says:

    Hi Carolyn,

    I’ve been lurking around your blog since the Alaska trip. (Someday I’m making that trip from Kansas.) Thank you for keeping this thing up, posting all the great pictures and writing such great articles. I have to say it’s a refreshing treat whenever you post an update. And with a house full of little kids and a wife that doesn’t ride, I live vicariously through your writing when you post camping trip stories. (sigh… Someday.)

    I’m very glad to hear that Peter was not hurt in the crash. As someone who battles Kansas City traffic every day, I’m constantly in full defense mode about cross traffic and have had my bike on it’s front tire stopping hard for a left hand turner. I’m so glad I practiced hard stopping regularly for several years.

    BTW, I still refer to your SV tech articles regularly when I tear into something on my bike. I ended up with a 4 year old that was identical to the one you had with only 890 miles on it a few years back and your articles convinced me it was a good buy. At 30K miles, it’s still running strong.

  5. Mike says:

    Hi Carolyn,

    So glad to hear that Peter wasn’t badly hurt! When I met you guys at Alice’s last December, (my first time there) that intersection made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I’ll be even more careful now if I ever get up that way again (which I sure hope to!).

    You’ve just about convinced me to go purchase an Exped 9 mattress. If you’re comfortable on it with all the back trouble you’ve had, I imagine it would work for me too. I have the Aerostich cot, and it’s nice, but it’s so narrow that turning over on it has become this bizarre ritual where I pretty much “bounce and flip”. LOL

    I sent my wife a link to this post. There’s just something so cool about a moto-camping trip…..

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