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Overnighter on the Sonoma Coast

A quick escape for some fresh air north of the Bay Area.

By: Benjamin Canevari + Save to a List

This trip was the perfect chance for some time with friends, fun for the dogs, and delicious camp food made possible by the Gerber Gear ComplEAT Cook Set.

Day 1

Stop 1: Like any good road trip, we had to start out with coffee. I own a cafe and coffee roastery in Downtown Woodland called Gallery Coffee Roasters which is a great middle ground for meeting up with our friends, Micah and Chandler. After getting all hopped up on caffeine we hit the road!

I love driving, especially in my old Land Cruiser. People always ask me how long it takes to get places and the reality is always roughly twice as long as what I think it takes. I mapped it out though, and the drive from Woodland out to Jenner (our first real stop of the trip) took two hours and ten minutes. Roughly an hour and a half if you’re in San Francisco. A two-hour drive is nothing for us on these types of adventures, I’ve made countless day trips out to the Sonoma Coast and a ton of overnight trips. Definitely one of my favorite places to be, it never disappoints, and this time was no different.

After a beautiful drive over the hills, through the woods, and along the river, the highway dumps us out onto Highway 1 right at the southern point of Jenner.

Stop 2: It was time to let the dogs find a place to get some wiggles out. Car rides and new places are more than enough to get them a little wound up. Most of the time we find the spots we want to go explore from the road. Someone says, “Oh that beach looks cool!” and we start looking for pullouts and trails to get us down to the sand. In this case, there was an ideal parking lot at Russian Gulch State Beach. It was super windy so when we saw how sheltered the parking lot was we knew it would be the perfect place to cook up a quick snack before our afternoon on the beach.

We grabbed our stove and the ComplEAT Cook Set and headed out on the short walk from the parking lot to the beach. I highly recommend the ComplEAT cook set for this kind of adventure. It all stacks and packs together really nicely, which made carrying it out to the beach from the car a breeze.

We don’t own a camp table believe it or not. We just haven't found it necessary since we usually wind up finding a fallen tree or big boulder to cook on - that is, if we can’t cook off the back of the Land Cruiser. Sure enough, as soon as we walked out onto the beach, bam, a log big enough for cooking some nachos.

The ComplEAT Sauté Pan is so perfect. The way the pan is built makes for nice even heat distribution, and we used the lid on top to try and melt cheese all over our nachos. The hot pad that comes with the set was super handy too as a base for our nacho pan on the wood - it's made with silicone so the pan doesn't slide around on an uneven surface.

We may have been a little too excited to eat and pulled our nachos off the stove a bit early before all of our cheese melted, but either way, these nachos slapped.

We spent all afternoon on the beach playing with the dogs and watching the waves. There was only one other couple there so we basically had the place to ourselves. I feel like that never happens.

The sun started to drop behind the hills so we decided it was time to head back to the beach's parking lot and make dinner before we went to camp. Still super windy, we wanted to use the sheltered parking area to be able to cook and eat in peace.

Micah whipped up some tacos in the Land Cruiser's "kitchen" while the dogs had their dinner. Again, the packability and stackability of the Gerber Gear Tableware Set were key to staying organized while cooking in a small zone.

The size and shape of the plates were the exact dimensions needed to hold 3 tacos. A perfect fit!

Stop 3: After dinner, we headed to our campsite. Our trip was a little short notice, so we couldn’t get reservations anywhere. Luckily, there’s a little place called Ocean Cove that’s exactly what we were looking for.

Located 17 miles north of Jenner, you pay in the cool little general store across the street, and then go find your spot! There are TONS to choose from. We claimed our spot and made for the beach.

Pro tips: Ocean Cove's General Store closes at 5pm, so just make sure to get there before then to pay for your site! The camp spots on the bluffs overlooking the ocean are beautiful but pretty windy. There are plenty of more sheltered sites further in where cooking and sleeping in a tent will be a bit more enjoyable during times with high winds.

By the time we got back to our campsite it was pitch-black. We had forgotten to grab fire wood, and it was still windy. Tired friends and tired dogs, we ended up just going to bed for the night.

Day 2

The next morning we got up and made coffee and started cooking breakfast. 

Micah brought stuff to make Shakshouka, which I’ve never had before. Let me tell you….this stuff is delicious! Everybody needs to try it; check out a recipe for it here. He said that the 5.6-quart Stock Pot from the ComplEAT Cook Set was a great size to make this for all 4 of us.

We had a nice easy morning as we made breakfast and cleaned up slowly. Since it was a Sunday morning and we all had to go back to work the next day we were aiming to get home at a reasonable time.

Stop 4: We started to head south on Highway 1, planning to pit stop to let the dogs out before heading back home. Russian Gulch was on our way home and it was so amazing for the dogs the first day that we decided to stop again and let them swim and play for a bit.

It was Lily’s first adventure having just been adopted by Micah and Chandler and it was so much fun getting to experience her wonderful new life. One of her rear legs had needed amputation a few months before she was adopted, but she didn’t let that get her down. She had so much fun watching, chasing, and playing tug with Holly and Patsy. She was a little unsure of fully going in the water still, but man…what a sweet and happy dog. Welcome to your new life Lily!

Stop 5:  Our only real goal for the trip home was to stop off at Cafe Aquatica. This stop has been routine for me over the years every time I'm on the coast. It sits right on the water with tons of great outdoor seating. Good coffee (yes, always more coffee), great food, and live music…I simply love this place. We grabbed our drinks, sat and enjoyed the surroundings for a bit, and then got back on the road towards home!

Pro tip: Parking is limited, so if there’s no parking in the lot, head north about 50 yards and you should find a spot on the side of the road.

Bonus stop: Dropping into the town of Petaluma on the way back from the coast is always enticing, especially if you aren't in any rush to get home. We tried for a quick stop since Micah wanted to hit a favorite bakery of his. But, once we got to Petaluma, we found there was a huge antique fair happening downtown. Thousands of people were out and about! We don’t do particularly well with big crowds, so we did our best to get in and out for some pastries (and maybe just a little browsing) before heading home.

All in all, it was the best way to end our overnight trip. A nice, mellow getaway that allowed us all to relax and get some fresh air, and a chance for the dogs to really tap into their inner adventure dog. Big wins all around.

Check out Gerber Gear's full Camp Kitchen collection before heading out for your next adventure!

Can't-Forget Packing list:

1) Gerber Gear's ComplEAT Cook Set
2) Reef-friendly sunscreen
3) Big cooler for drinks
4) 2 Burner camp stove
5) Dog bowls (we use the Herzog slow feeder bowls), leashes, and collars
6) Cameras! My faves are: Fujifilm x100v and XH2 cameras
7) Coffee set up: my fave is the NotNeutral Pour Over set
8) Fun lights for your campsite (we use solar-powered string lights that work great)

Follow along with more of Ben's adventures on his Instagram: @CanevariPhoto

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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