The sign at the start of the Mattole road says “not recommended for trailers.” But we keep driving anyway. We are headed for an area known as the “Lost Coast,” and we are hoping to relax a few days. We start going up a steep road immediately, and soon it becomes only one and a half lanes as it winds up the mountain through a dark forest. Luckily we don’t see much traffic, but that big pickup with the horse trailer is a little scary. It is crazy to me that there are horses and cows up here, but the higher we get, the more open it becomes, and the more farmland we see.
Finally, we crest the top of the mountain and can see the ocean far below us. Here is where things get really tricky. We need to drive down the steepest hairpin turns I have ever seen to get down the mountain. Matt mentions we might want to get the brakes checked. They are making a funny sound. Yeah…. Maybe we should have thought of that earlier.
There is a ranch at the bottom of the mountain surrounded by bright green fields, looking out to the ocean. It is easily one of the most tranquil spots I have ever seen. Just when we thought the craziness was over, we go back up again. More forests and switchbacks as we go up, up and up. More cows and switchbacks as we go down, down, down. At times it looks like the road leads straight off a cliff into the ocean. I am holding my breath, hoping the brakes don’t fail.
With a sigh of relief, we make it back down to the oceanside. There is another sweet ranch home at the bottom and some very lucky cows that are grazing in fields overlooking the water. The kids are starving (as usual) so we find a pullout by the ocean for lunch. I take the kids down to the beach while Matt fixes food. They go crazy climbing on the rocks, finding shells, and waving sticks around.
We head back up and have quesadillas by the sea. The sun is shining brightly. A couple seals pop their heads out of the water to say hello. It is pretty wonderful. So we decide to stay the night. Why not? After repositioning the trailer, we have the most wonderful view out the back. The kids take naps and Matt and I take turns climbing on the rocks exploring tide pools.
When the boys wake up they go in search of sea snails and driftwood for a beach fire. I make a picnic dinner and we eat it by the light of the fire and the stars. Marshmallows are roasted, songs are sung, and then we head to bed to the sound of the waves crashing on the shore.
In the middle of the night I awake to the sound of a downpour and gale-force winds. I am thankful we are in a trailer and not a tent or a boat. Somewhere in the back of my mind I remember reading that this area is known for monsoon-like rains in the winter. The wind is catching the tarp and jerking the trailer around. I hope that we are not pushed over the edge of the pullout, running down the hill to the sea.
After dawn the wind settles down and the rain slows. I am content to sit inside, sipping my coffee and watching the waves. We have no internet, no cell reception, no neighbors, and barely any traffic passing by. The disconnection feels liberating. There are no to-do lists, no errands to run, no nagging sensation that I should do anything but relax and enjoy the beauty of nature. I am content.
We stay one more night and are reluctant to pack up the following day. Disconnection is great, but it is time to reconnect with an old friend for Thanksgiving. As long as we can make it out of this crazy place!