MacKerricher State Park… and Moving On

Peggy and I were ‘getting the look’ when she snapped this photo at MacKerricher State Park just north of Fort Brag, California. The concern the seal had was whether we would come closer and disturb his snooze in the warm sun, i.e. would he have to get up and jump in the icy ocean? The answer was ‘of course not.’ I’m not happy when someone disturbs my afternoon siesta. So why should I disturb his. You know, “do unto others…”

This is the last post from our not-so-recent trip to the North Coast of California last November. Tempus Fugit. Indeed. My posts have been so rare lately they are close to being put on the endangered species list. But more on that later. MacKerricher State Park begins 3 miles north of Fort Bragg, California and continues for 9 miles up the coast. It features a wide variety of habitats ranging from sandy beaches to rocky headlands. There are tide pools, wetlands, a fresh water lake, and even a sea-glass beach. The ocean took an ugly dump and ground the glass up into attractive baubles that people like to collect. Our daughter-in-law Cammie used to turn sea glass she gathered in Alaska into beautiful jewelry.

We were at the park for a couple of hours and only walked a mile or two along the 9 mile beach. We were impressed, however. The area deserves much more of our time. I’ll let the photos that Peggy and I took speak for it. I included some of the these in an earlier post.

Looking south and capturing the sun reflecting off of the incoming tide.
There was plenty of action as the waves rolled in.
The bright green moss captured our attention…
As did this tide pool outlined in green
The ever-present ice plants continued the green-theme as they climbed up the ancient sand dunes in their unceasing effort to replace native plants. And be pretty.
Plus there was seaweed to admire and wonder about. I’m thinking that this would make a great whip for the Devil.
I wondered why someone had trimmed the roots off of this gorgeous driftwood.
All too soon, it was time for us to leave. For a brief moment, my footprints were captured by the sand before the next wave rolled in. I was amused to see how they wandered, never traveling in a straight line, always willing to detour toward anything that was of interest, always ready for a new adventure— wherever it might lead. Like Peggy and I are. And that’s my next subject.


As you may recall, Peggy and I are preparing to hit the road full-time in mid to late March. That’s one reason why my posts have been so few and far between. But there is more. We are also selling our house and moving East. Our daughter has an empty apartment in Virginia that we will be using for our base as we travel North America. She and her husband Clay have been lobbying for years that we should move closer to them. The apartment is small, however. We are using it as a reason to seriously downsize. It’s called donate, give away and toss. If we haven’t touched something in a couple of years, it goes. (Books and heirlooms are the exception— and even they are subject to scrutiny.) A moving pod sits outside our backdoor to collect what remains. In a few weeks it will arrive on our kid’s doorstep. We’ll take three months to get there.

We will miss our cozy home with its great views and entertaining wildlife. No doubt about it. Living out in the woods had always been a dream of mine. But it is time to move on. I turn 79 in a couple of weeks. While not necessarily old (from my perspective), it is definitely not young. My sense of humor on doing all of the work involved in maintaining five acres isn’t what it once was. And, there are more serious reminders of our age: the passing of family members and friends.

My sister died a couple of weeks ago, leaving me with a thousand happy memories and a large blank spot. She was my first baby sitter and forever friend. While we didn’t see each other often, we were always close. You may recall the posts I did on our annual pumpkin carving contests. They started in the late 90s and went on for 15 years. And you may also remember my blog on Nancy Jo and the Attack of the Graveyard Ghost, a prank my brother Marshall and I played on her when we were kids. Marsh passed away couple of years ago while staying in his RV at our house. I was with him when he died. I am now the last living member of our family. It’s a strange feeling.

A number of friends have passed on as well over the past few years. I attended a memorial/life celebration in Sacramento last weekend for one of my early backpacking Trekkers, Don Augustine. I first met Don in 1981 when he went on a hundred mile trek I was leading through the Sierras. It was a tough year with lots of snow still on the ground. I was kicking footsteps in it over a steep pass leading into the Granite Chief Wilderness when he hustled up to where I was working and offered to help. He would continue to offer a hand whenever needed for the next 40 years as both a trekker and as a volunteer. His generosity was close to legendary. His specialty was encouraging newbies as they struggled to meet the challenges of long distance backpacking and bicycling. I told a story about it to the some 200 people who had gathered to wish Don goodbye.

At the time, I had gone to Alaska as the Executive Director of the Alaska Lung Association. Don and a couple of other good friends had come up to join me on a backpacking trek I was leading across the Alaska Range. We had a particularly difficult young woman along who was always last getting into camp and whined a lot. It was the unpleasant job of our trail sweep/rear guard to walk with her and bring her in. I took my turn and by the end of the day my patience was running thin. That’s when she threw her pack on the ground and declared, “I am not going another step. I am camping right here!” I responded, “Do you see that hill crest? “Yes,” she pouted. It was maybe a quarter of a mile away. “The Trekkers are setting up camp on the other side. We can be there in 15 minutes.” “I don’t care,” she answered. “Okay,” I said, “pull out your whistle.” (We required that all of our trekkers carry one.) “I have to hike over the hill and check on the group. I saw a grizzly bear about a mile back. If you see him heading your way, blow loudly on your whistle three times and I’ll come back.” She was up in a flash, had thrown her pack on, and was leading me over the hill at a hefty pace.

I took Don aside in camp and asked if he couldn’t use a bit of his magic on the young woman. “I’ve got you covered, Curt,” he said. “I’ve got candy.” He reached into his pack and pulled out a gallon ziplock filled to the brim. (There were reasons why Don always had the heaviest pack in the group.) And Don was right. On being introduced to Don’s ziplock and his charm, the girl’s attitude improved immensely and she started hiking faster to keep up with him and his candy. It was a much better solution than my making up grizzly bear stories.

Don playing his guitar on one of our Sierra Treks. He often carried his guitar and the camp chair he is seated in. And Pop Tarts. Nancy Pape, lying down and listening, was also at the memorial.

It’s always hard to lose a family member or friend, and even more so when he or she has been close. It is like closing a chapter in your life— the laughter and good times, the tears, the adventures and so much more. But it is also an important reminder that life is short, whether you are 79 or 29. Life should be lived to the fullest whatever your age. Peggy and I believe this totally. That’s why we moved to Oregon and that’s why we are now moving on now, doing what we love to do, wandering to our hearts content. Until it is time to do something else.

We will be sharing our adventures on this blog. As always, you are invited to join us. We hope you do.

My next post on Friday will be different: It will serve as a detailed description of our house, property and the surrounding region for those who may be interested in having their own ‘home in the woods.’ –Curt and Peggy

42 thoughts on “MacKerricher State Park… and Moving On

  1. Beautifully written….brought a few tears to my eyes.

    On Mon, Feb 21, 2022 at 8:00 AM Wandering through Time and Place wrote:

    > Curt Mekemson posted: ” Peggy and I were ‘getting the look’ when she > snapped this photo at MacKerricher State Park just north of Fort Brag, > California. The concern the seal had was whether we would come closer and > disturb his snooze in the warm sun, i.e. would he have to get up” >

  2. There’s an art to living. Knowing when not to disturb. When to pause and see. Noting the beauty. And when to go a different direction.
    Eventually we all feel like orphans – it is odd.
    Your plans for residence/ home base is similar to ours – although I’d love your home there, At some point you have to stop them from nagging about you being isolated and far from family if something happens.
    It’ll work – you’ve got your house on wheels!
    Downsizing is horrendous – we did that to move here, but UGH. Downsized a little too much (without a boat or house on wheels!)
    Take care and I will look forward to posts as you and Peggy get settled and then head out for more adventures.

    • We have always found beauty wherever we travelled. So I know we will find it in Virginia and on the road. Thanks for your kind words. Our ‘house on wheels’ promises us many adventures ahead. We leave with many fond memories. But that is always the best way to leave. –Curt

  3. I enjoyed your robust and beautiful visit to MacKerricher State Park, Curt. I have never heard of it and don’t live far from there, so thanks for the introduction, I hope to walk those lovely beaches one day. Good luck on your adventure ahead — it’s a big jump to move across the country, and to leave behind your house and west coast lives, but one that sounds wise and equally as adventurous. You and Peggy strike me as wild at heart and I am sure you will have a lovely new chapter ahead.

  4. I believe I will miss your Oregon home too even though we’ve never seen it in person. It seemed idyllic – but I never had to care for it.
    It is hard to make such a change. I’m a youngster [a full year younger than you]. But faced with the sudden decline of close friends and relatives, we decided to make a similar move “while still young and healthy” and not forced to do it. We bought our place in Ohio just short of two years ago, have learned to enjoy snow again [it is not bad when one doesn’t have to go out to work] and have no regrets. Any doubts were erased when Alie suddenly had to go into the hospital last November and was ill for an extended time. She is fine now, but having family close made a major difference to us.

  5. Sorry to hear of the loss of your friend, Don.
    I find it so hard to believe anyone could leave a home in the woods!! But I do hope you and Peggy will enjoy your new chapter.

    • Thanks, G. Appreciated. We have loved our home in the woods, but it is time to move on. And, as you know, Peggy and I do enjoy wandering. 🙂 We will even wander down your way… Hopefully, we will be able to meet! –Curt

  6. Life seems to be made up of a series of transitions. It’s as if there is a moment of clarity about what the change is and the pieces start falling into place. It does seem like a very big change from the Oregon woods to an apartment in Virginia and I understand wanting to be close to be close to your daughter and how this place will work for you as a base to come back to as you travel. Wishing you the best. 🙂

    • Thanks, Arati. We have been privileged to be here, surrounded by nature and beauty, And we will miss it. But life has taught me, that there is beauty almost everywhere and Peggy and I are wanderers at heart. The apartment in Virginia will more than serve our needs as we continue to explore. As for the future, it will bring what it brings. But it will be another adventure… –Curt

  7. Yes, Curt.
    As Mary Hopkins once sung;
    ‘Those were the days my friend
    We thought they would never end’.
    Of course they never end really, they change direction and new adventures beckon. I live in an apartment and have each day my morning coffee with friends. It is terrific and life could not be better. I play soccer on Wednesday night and croquet three times a week.

  8. Tough decision, I bet!
    We’ve been doing some soul searching too, but have decided this isn’t the year to sell (though the housing market is sure hot right now!)

  9. I’m so sorry to hear about the losses from your family and friends, Curt. It will be a big change for you and Peggy, no doubt, but what a new adventure! And being near family is huge. (That’s one major ‘bonus’ that I’m looking forward to in our upcoming move- being driveable to Dad, and my inlaws will practically be in our backyard, which has pros and cons…;) ) Praying that the transition to this new chapter goes smoothly, and looking forward to following your future adventures!

  10. oh wow Curt so many changes.. My condolences to you about your sister you adored leaving a blank spot and all of those you love. I’m truly sorry. happy almost birthday and can’t believe you’re moving but so appreciate the way you live and spend your days in beauty and joy! You’re pictures are beautiful! 💖 Take good care of you💖

  11. See? I was right. Granted, I had you hiking the PCT at 80, but if the destination’s different, the impulse is the same, and the journey will have its own share of new delights. You and Peggy both have the health and the resources to begin this different sort of journey, and I suspect it will be energizing. Your timetable sounds good, and that new kind of home base sounds perfect. It’s going to be fun to see how it all develops. It’s always a sorrow when good traveling companions like your sister and your friends drop away, but that’s no reason to stop traveling!

  12. Wow. I just keep saying wow! So many stories in this post, and so much news.
    A wonderful eulogy for you buddy Don – he sounds like he was a really good human being. (And of course I love your story about the grizzly 😂)
    I know what you mean about downsizing, and about how things slowly change as we get older. My Don will be 80 this year 😳 though he’s in great shape – among other things we’ve discovered snowshoeing – so much fun. Like Peggy I’m a child bride 😂
    You know of course that Don and I did The Great Downsize back in 2011 when we started our whole nomadic trek, and we’re now living in a small apartment that suits us just fine.
    I’m so sorry about your sister 😢 may she Rest In Peace, and may you find peace with her parting. (I think about my sisters from time to time wondering who will be the first to go. They’re all older than me, the oldest being your age.)
    And finally I wish you and Peggy every good and wonderful thing with the downsizing and your nomadic roaming around North America. Do come to Vancouver and say hello! It would be so wonderful to finally meet in person!
    PS we’re off to Croatia and Greece for May/June. Yay! Travelling again!

    • First, congratulations on traveling again! It’s what we do, right. We are certainly ready to be nomads again. It was Peggy, this time, who told me in June that she was eager to be on the road again. You can imagine how much persuading I needed. 🙂 That started the whole ball rolling and it hasn’t done anything but gain momentum since.

      It’s been a while since I have seriously downsized. The last time was when I went on my 6 month bike trip and decided if something didn’t fit on my bike, I didn’t need it. Grin. Doesn’t get much more basic.

      As for Nancy, She has turned 85 and was seriously ailing. All of this don’t make it easier to lose her, but ti did mean that she was ready and we were prepared. Thanks.

      Peggy and I would love to meet up with you and Don. If we get anywhere near Vancouver, and you are home (always a question), we will make it happen. –Curt

  13. Curt, I’m very sorry for the loss of your sister and dear friend. Change is such a constant in life and (for me) such a difficult thing to accept. Although I’m sure that moving will be a challenge, in the end, I am also sure that it will be a new adventure with great potential for happiness. I truly wish the very best for you and Peggy. Looking forward, as always, to your posts about your travels and your experiences.

    • Thanks, Sylvia. Much appreciated. Life goes on and change is an inevitable, if sometimes difficult part of it. We are quite excited about hitting the open road, however, and exploring North America again. –Curt

  14. Like others said, there is so much in this post. I just love those ocean shots. The colour of the water is outstanding. And the rest…wow. You touched my heart, Curt. What a beautiful remembrance of your sister, your brother, and Don. Being “the last one” left in the family – what a concept. My grandmother introduced me to it, when she was about 98. “Everyone I knew is gone now,” she said about her friends. “I’m the only one left and it’s lonely.” Like my friend Marlene, who recently sold her home and moved to an apartment, I hope you feel a sense of relief, at leaving the responsibility with someone else from now on. Your decision reminds me of a short conversation I had with my uncle in about 2014. I said I was ready to buy a house, but I loved the city and I loved the country and I couldn’t decide which way to go. “If it’s all the same,” he said, “you must start in the country. You are young and you can handle the work. Eventually you’ll be forced to live in the city. So move to the country now, get that experience, and then take your time and move back to the city whenever you want to.” It was excellent advice, and I see that you followed it as well.

  15. Most of all I see resilience in all of your adventures. It’s that secret ingredient to a good life.
    Sad to have to leave those warm friendships behind, but the memories are well polished in your post.
    I wish both you and Peggy more great trails wherever you go (or stay… if you ever do start gathering any moss???) 😉

    Bless you both! 🙏

    In the meantime… waiting breathlessly to read your next adventures.🤓

  16. Curt and Peggy, I’m with Alison because I just keep saying Wow! Your post is so filled with news, memories, observations, and as always, your gentle sense of humor. I was so saddened to hear of the passing of Nancy and Don. And I remember your poignant post about losing Marshall. I’m so so very sorry. You honor them all with your thoughtful words.

    I’m excited for the new page you’re turning in your life journey – setting out on a new adventure. New travel home, new Virginia home – wandering to your hearts content. I know it will be hard to leave Oregon behind – once it gets in your soul it’s stuck. But I’m hopeful you will find some new magical places on your journey that capture your heart anew. Wishing you both all the very best in your new life! Hugs, Terri

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