|Spectacular time on Mendocino coast
Diving on the Mendocino coast was spectacular. The Redwood Empire Divers hosted a campout at the beautiful VanDamm State Beach.
After a significant storm the week before, the ocean flattened and the small particulate settled to improve the underwater visibility. Free diving (breath hold) for abalone in the frigid kelp beds was perfect. The calm ocean welcomed first-timers and the old mossbacks to one of those memorable days on the coast. The good times followed as the evening meal was prepared.
The sound of many dull-beaked woodpeckers bounced off the towering redwoods from several campsites as fresh abalone steaks were pounded into submission by hungry campers. Fresh abalone cooked on a camp stove and eaten around the campfire with friends is an experience we should all have.
As usual, the potluck buffet was spectacular, as plates of pasta salad, green salad, garlic bread, potato salad and fresh fish from the day’s dive weighed down heavy paper plates. Pies, brownies and cookies were eaten; cold brews and excellent wines also graced the table. Dive stories around the campfire blended with those from the topside folk who had visited the picturesque town of Mendocino during the day. The campers slept snug in their sleeping bags as the cleanup crew of raccoons slipped in during the wee hours. Foods that you might not want to share with the bandits had to be locked in the car. Locked because some of them may know how to open a car door. For sure, they know how to open a cooler and eat anything left out.
A small group of mushroom hunters plied the coastal bush for Chanterelles. Although the rain two weeks ago was sufficient to coax them to grow, the warm, dry days that followed kept those that were newly sprouted in decent shape. Those that grew before the storm shriveled and dried out. Let’s hope for better rain, dry (but too dry and warm) then rain, dry and rain again. Is that too much to ask?
Bill Hanson is a Sonoma County native and a lifelong sportsman. He is the former president of the Sonoma County Mycological Association. Look for his column in The Community Voice each week.