Usal Beach 2009 (early Aug):

With just a few weeks before the kids went back to school it was time to spend a few days camping at Usal beach. Last time we were there was 2002/2003 so worth a visit again. We headed in Sunday afternoon to miss the w/end crowd.

This is the view looking north just before the road descends down to the camping area.

A wider view of the beach/camping area. Nothing much has changed since our last visit, other than the removal (hopefully temporary) of the pit toilet near the beach/grove camp area. Now you need to go for a walk down to the beach toilet.

Our camp site. Same one we stayed at the first time we went to Usal. The fire ring is gone though, but at least someone had made a rock enclosed fire area which we used. Time to unpack and set up camp.

A seal sunning on the beach. It would spend a lot of the day on the beach and then head into the water around dusk. Seemed a little weak, hopefully it was ok.

Kids having fun running from the waves. You can see the fog just off the coast. Kept the temperatures in check. Every evening the fog would come in an envelop the coast and then recede my mid morning, except the last day when we got to see a beautiful sunset, pictures further down.

Snack time - seems kids eat all the time :)

Older one reading, younger one hard at work cutting wood for the fire.

Early evening and the fog is working its way closer to shore. I guess that's what a fog bank looks like...

Well, every time we've camped at Usal beach we drive the road up to Shelter Cove to have fish & chips at the store. This was a short stretch of the road that looked a bit worse for wear from winter travel. Combined with winter travel and a down slope, water and tyres have created ruts in this short section. Not an issue for summer travel.

Signs at four corners advising folk that this isn't a road that should be taken lightly in winter. At four corners the road becomes paved for a section, then gravel and then paved again. Basically this is the end of the single lane dirt. Usal road was a bit more overgrown than previous times and small branches would lightly kiss the vehicle in sections - no issue unless you've never driven this kind of road.

This is the light house at Shelter Cove. It was transported here in sections via helicopter. There are docents that man the light house (non-operational) and you can see some of the history inside. Just behind the light house there is access down to the tide pools that are fun to visit when the weather is warm and sunny.

Fish & Chips consumed and we're back on Usal road heading south back to our camp at Usal beach. An old Bronco II in a state of disrepair. Probably stolen and abandoned - an eyesore on an otherwise nice dirt road.

Back to the short rutted section. Photo op for the kids while I drive the 100' or so of ruts.

This is essentially the 'worst' section on Usal road. Probably a lot more interesting in winter. The pieces of lumber give a hint at the winter 'fun' that must occur here.

View from the top of Usal road before heading down to Usal beach from the north. There are several camp areas. One is the meadow where the honesty pay box is before the bridge over the creek. The next spot is in the grove near the beach. Another spot is right on the beach front and the last is in the redwood grove just to the lower right.

Last evening and we have a fog free photo op. Looking north from Usal beach.

Last photo and we catch the sun setting for the night.

My older son taking an arty photo.

And we're heading home. Stopped at the Usal beach 'lookout' for a final picture or two before heading back out to hwy 1.

Fog hanging over the hills north of Usal beach. Kids are 6 yrs older than the last time they were here, time goes by so quickly!!

Final picture. Oops, who stole the Golden Gate Bridge's southern tower???

Back to Usal in 2010. Short camping trip after visiting AMA flat track motorbike racing (business trip) east of Santa Rosa.

Camp setup in from the beach at Usal Beach. Getting ready for evening.

We always head up to Shelter Cove for fish and chips and on the return down Usal Rd took a few pictures of some of the 'fun' stuff. Road is getting a bit rutted out from winter rains.

Same spot, straddling the rut, get to see the suspension doing its magic. Take it slow and you barely even feel the vehicle drive across the rut.

Elk at dusk, they seem to like coming down in the early morning from the hills, but this is the first time I've seen them in the late afternoon.