In this week’s installment of the Hartnett Highlights: Yurtville, we take you on our road trip to Northern California.
You guys, I’ve been dying to write this post about our trip to Yurtville. It was a whirlwind adventure we’ll cherish forever. I want to thank Airbnb because if it wasn’t for becoming a host, this trip never would have happened.
Christopher and his Bernese mountain dog, Mercalli, stayed as guests at our Airbnb in the beginning of summer. I felt an affinity towards Chris the moment I met him. The night during his stay, he returned home to find Kieran and I drinking beer by the fireplace.
Already giggly from my beer buzz, I asked if he and Mercalli wanted to hang out and drink with us. 10 minutes later we were drinking beer, laughing, and swapping stories about our lives. About 4 beers later, Chris told us about Yurtville. He built a yurt for him and his partner to live in, located in Northern California. Every year they host a party, Yurtville, on their property for their friends and family. They hire musicians to play on the stage he built and allow attendees to camp onsite. And of course, dogs are welcome.
Once Chris invited us to attend Yurtville I began to map out the logistics in my head. I really wanted to go and was certain I could talk Kieran into it. Luckily for me, Kieran is easily talked into an adventure! So last weekend we packed up our car with camping gear, and our dog, Homie, and hit the road towards a weekend we’ll never forget.
DRIVING ALONG THE COAST
Driving along the coast from Portland to Northern California added 5 hours to our trip. However, those 5 hours were well worth it, the scenery was strikingly beautiful. My vocabulary regressed to grade school equivalency, the landscape literally struck me dumb. Wow was the only word my mouth could muster. The enormity of the Pacific Ocean is hard to fathom. The scope of the ocean cements the realization of how small we really are.
We had no choice but to make frequent stops on Homie’s behalf. She behaved remarkably in the car, but we still had to ensure she received plenty of exercise on the road. Normally I want to stop as little as possible on a road trip, but we were happy to accommodate Homie this time around. It didn’t suck to stretch our legs along the Pacific coast. HA!
After driving for over 9 hours we found a dog-friendly hotel near Eureka, CA. We wanted one last chance to shower before camping 3 days straight. The next morning we piled into the car early to finish our journey to Yurtville. On our second day on the road, we drove over the Golden Gate Bridge in San Fransico. The original idea was to stop at a park close to the bridge and walk Homie. She would get much-needed exercise while we soaked up the amazing views. But, the weather altered our plans. The dense fog made viewing the bridge almost impossible. We forged on knowing someday we’d be back.
Driving along the coast and visiting San Fransico have been dreams of mine for a long time. I can’t believe they came to fruition! After what felt like an eternity, we arrived at Yurtville.
We pulled up to Yurtville and found the designated camping area. We finished putting up the tent when a familiar face trotted towards us. Mercalli, the Burmese mountain dog! As Homie ran to greet him, Mercalli’s face lit up as if he remembered who Homie was. The pair began to romp, wrestle, and rekindle their canine friendship.
Shortly thereafter we spotted Chris greeting the newcomers to camp. After exchanging hugs and pleasantries he asked if we wanted a tour of his property. Yeah, no brainer, we immediately said yes. Chris led Kieran and me down a gravel trail to where he and his neighbors built a considerable sized stage, equipped with lights and couches for guests to lounge on.
After showing us the stage Chris introduced us Bartendro, the drink dispensing robot. Bartendro is the epitome of what transpires when you go camping with a bunch of engineers. My enthusiasm for the robotic bartender was hard to miss, I geeked out all over the damn place.
The drink dispensing component of Bartendro was hooked up to an iPad. The iPad screen allowed you to choose from 15 different drinks. Once you select a drink, it allows you to adjust the alcohol strength, the sour or sweetness, and if you wanted a taster or a full beverage. Oh, I wanted a full fucking beverage.
I pleaded with Kieran to build our very own Bartendro. He said maybe. Maybe might turn into a yes if I pester him long enough. Fingers crossed!
Kieran and I helped ourselves to a drink then continued with Chris’s tour. Dude, Chris built another platform above the stage with a light laser projector. The lights danced and twirled above the performer’s heads on stage. I didn’t snap a decent photo of the laser show but trust me, it was trippy AF!
After the laser lights, Chris guided us up the trail to the main attraction. The yurt he built so he and his lovely partner could live off-grid. I didn’t take interior photos of the yurt for Chris’s privacy but believe me, it was rad.
The yurt was hoisted up by a huge deck. One side had couches to relax on while the other side was home to a large grill and seating area. Kieran and I participated in the co-op meal share Chris organized so we settled down for an amazing spread of food.
After dinner, Kieran and I mingled with the other guests and made best friends with Bartendro. We laughed, listened to the band, watched the laser show, engaged in fun conversation, the works. And let’s not forget about Homie! Chris gifted all the pups with rechargeable blinky collars. They got to run and play off-leash the entire time. Talk about dog heaven! Chris even had tracking devices available in case anyone owned a dog that loved to roam. If any of the pups got lost he could track them. Fortunately, Homie stuck by our side the entire night.
I don’t remember much after that. We’ll just go ahead and blame that on Bartendro.
The following morning we found Chris brewing coffee and cooking bacon and eggs on the grill. Kieran and I could have kissed him, we were hungover and in dire need of subsistence. A large group of people congregated around the table as the smell of bacon wafted through the property. The discussion of going on a beer hike struck up as people downed their breakfast.
Does beer hike mean what I think it means, I asked, stuffing my mouth with more bacon. Turns out, beer hiking is exactly what you think it means: going on a hike and drinking beer. I looked around the table and noticed beer drinking had already begun. Chris told us after he finished his breakfast beer, a delicious looking stout, we should collect our day packs, and get ready if we wanted to join them.
True confession time- he had me at beer and hike and beer hike. Kieran and I finished up our breakfast beers then returned to camp to get ready. We filled our camelbacks with water then stuffed our day packs with snacks and IPA. About an hour later we were told whoever wanted to hike should gather around the yurt. Shortly thereafter a group of 20 people and 7 dogs (some dogs belonged to the neighbors who didn’t hike with us) set off on the beer hike.
Now, I should mention we didn’t guzzle a bunch of beer while hiking. That would have been stupid, not to mention dangerous in the hot summer heat. We would drink lots of water during the hike, then find shady areas to relax for 20-30 minutes. During our down time is when we’d crack open a beer. We stayed close together and shared water and snacks to ensure everyone had a fun and safe time.
Homie amazed me during the hike. Kieran and I walked at the back of the pack. Homie would run to the front of the group but she kept doubling back to ensure we were still there. Once she saw us coming, she would wag her tail, run over to say hello, then sprint back to the front of the line. She looked so damn happy, it was awesome.
Succeeding the hike it was our turn to help cook the co-op meal. Chris asked us to be considerate of the vegan and gluten free eaters, even though the majority of the attendees were carnivores. I contributed by making gluten free and Vegan Green Chili Mac and Cheese. However, in my opinion, the star of the show was the tri-tip sandwiches! My god, they were to die for!
We had, yet again, another impressive spread of food for dinner. People brought numerous types of salads, side dishes, and desserts for everyone to graze upon. I was hungry after our hike so I took great pleasure sampling everyone’s co-op donations.
I wish I could say we continued to socialize and party after dinner, but honestly, we hit a wall. It was the combination of driving 15 hours in two days, the hike, the beer, the hot weather, and a belly full of food that did us in. We required a nap, stat.
Our plan was to nap for a couple hours then join the Yurtville festivities. We laid down at 7 pm and woke around 9 pm. Damn, we still felt exhausted! We got dressed and emerged from our tent, hoping to catch the band’s second set. We sat on a couch near the stage for 5 minutes barely keeping our eyes open. Even Homie wasn’t haven’t it, she curled up on the couch beside us, with her head in my lap.
We gave into fatigue and went back to bed. We had another two days of driving ahead of us and wanted to feel well rested. And it’s a good thing we went to bed early because Homie had us up at 6 am. She’s good about sleeping in at home but wakes at the crack of dawn when we camp. There’s no going back to bed once Homie is awake, so we decided to pack up and hit the road.
As we pulled away from Yurtville we smiled, reflecting on our short but sweet stay. Chris has built a cool life in Northern California and we sincerely hope our paths cross with him again!
Time to go home, but we had one more overnight stop along the way.
The Shasta View Meadow Campsite
Not that long ago I joined a site called Hipcamp. It’s like Airbnb but for campers. Hipcamp is pricey but the sites are located on people’s private properties, which means the campsites are often super cool and isolated!
I found and booked the Shasta View Meadow site in Weed, California. Shasta View Meadow gives you two options when you stay. You can either sleep in a tree house or camp on a platform in the middle of a meadow with a mountain view. The site also offered a firepit (including wood), a common area platform where you can cook and eat dinner, and a babbling brook clean enough to drink from.
We booked the platform in the meadow. I was dying to stay up and star gaze. The platform was roughly 300 feet from the common area. The brook ran through the site between the parking area and the platform, so we had to hike all of our gear to our campsite.
We honestly wouldn’t have minded hiking in our gear, but it was fucking hot that day. The temp reached 90 degrees before 2 pm. We were sweltering. Luckily the nearby babbling brook was ice cold. We dunked our feet in periodically in attempts to stay cool.
I wanted to love Shasta View Meadow, I really did, but a few happenstances made our stay a little disappointing.
First, the family who booked the treehouse had a little dog who didn’t like big dogs. They politely asked that we keep Homie away which is understandable because Homie is young and can be a lot to handle. The family was sweet and sincerely apologetic about their dog, it wasn’t’ their fault, but it was a bummer our dogs didn’t get along.
Second, the surrounding forest fires and moonlight made it difficult to star gaze. I’m obsessed with space. I love staring at the night sky. Even though the fires were far away, the smoke provided a blanket of haze that dulled the star’s shine. The real culprit was the light pollution from the moon. Ugh, that fucking moon. I wanted to stay up, drink beer, and admire the stars but the moonlight made it problematic. Don’t get me wrong, the night sky was still grand, but without the moonlight, it would have been grander.
Third, the extreme heat made our stay uncomfortable. Even if we wanted to use the firepit, we wouldn’t have. It was too damn hot! Kieran, Homie, and I felt lethargic. An overwhelming sensation of dizziness forced me to lay down for awhile. We did everything in our power to stay cool, we managed, but it was difficult. Our plan the next morning was to get up, make coffee, and watch the sunrise over Mt. Shasta. Unfortunately, the temperature was already in the mid 80’s by 7 am. Fuck that! The heat was too much, we opted to pack up and leave early, seeking AC in our car.
Oh! One positive aspect of the heat was leaving the rainfly off our tent! I woke up occasionally throughout the night and was able to get an eyeful of the night sky through the roof of our tent. That was cool!
Anyway, my disappointment in the campsite had nothing to do with the campsite itself. We caught a bad break in terms of the dog situation, the light pollution from the moon, and the insane heat. I can imagine what it would be like camping at Shasta View Meadow in the fall. If you’re lucky enough to get cool weather and a starry night, you’re in for a treat!
Kieran was able to snap an amazing picture of the sunrise before we left:
And that’s it, folks! We packed up the car and high-tailed it home! Another adventure for Kieran and Christina Hartnett is in the books! I laughed with Kieran after we got home. After sharing an epic adventure like Yurtville, next week’s Hartnett Highlights is going to be boring.
I have a feeling the title of next Friday’s post will be Hartnett Highlights: Maximizing Couch Time. HA!
So what trips do our adventurers have planned next? Good question! Summer isn’t over so we’re planning to camp, hike, and explore the PNW per usual. Stay tuned for more!
In the meantime, tell me what you’ve been up to! Comment and tell me about your adventures!
I sincerely thank you for stopping by,