Hey did you know about these seaside cabins that you can rent at the foot of Steep Ravine, in Mt. Tamalpais State Park, up in Marin County?
Oh, you had heard of them, vaguely? Yeah, me too; but for some reason I never looked into renting one of them, even though I’ve been living 20 miles away for the past 18 years.
Then a few weeks ago my friend Stu called me up and said he had rented one of these very cabins for an upcoming Monday night, and did I want to go up there with him to drink some beers, listen to the waves, and play some Dead tunes on guitar (not necessarily in that order). What was there to say no to?
We left the city in the late afternoon, and stopped for a few basic supplies at the Safeway in Mill Valley; and there I made the tragic mistake of leaving Stu to do most of the shopping, while I took care of some other pressing business.
Here’s the thing with Stu- left to his own devices, he will purchase $100 worth of groceries for a 12-hour trip; and this is exactly what he did. I came out of the bathroom to find, in our cart, two half- sticks of butter, a full-size carton of milk, a large bottle of orange juice, a package of cookie dough, a package of cocoa, two boxes of Annie’s Mac & Cheese, a 12-pack of Great White Ale, a 32-oz tub of yogurt, a package of granola, a pack of blueberries, 4 bananas, two oranges, a bag of chips, and a tub of hummus. And a roast chicken! All this for one night. And there’s probably even some stuff I neglected to mention.
If I had done the shopping, we would have left the Safeway with a 12-pack and a bag of ice. But hey- Stu was just looking out for us. Good on’im.
Before dinner we took a pleasant little stroll along the beach and the bluffs, admiring the ocean’s handiwork and trying not to drop our beers as we scaled the crumbling cliffs and probed the driftwood sculptures peppering the beach- a tee-pee and some wind shelters .
Needless to say, we did not go hungry that night.
After dinner, we fired up the wood stove- you know, to keep the demons of the night at bay. Then we settled in to play some music for a few hours.
Starting at around 11:30 PM, we kept saying we were about to go to bed; but for some reason it kept not happening. Funny how it always seems to go that way when beer and its companion vices are involved.
Satan came knocking for our souls sometime around 2:30 AM; and the only way to protect ourselves was to kill the lights and pretend we were asleep; but he continued to sniff around the windows for so long that we got sleepy and started to drift off. So much for friends of the devil.
Fuck it, though- we were out of beer anyway.
The most painful part of the whole proceedings was that we had to get up at 6 AM, so we could leave at 7 to get Stu to work in the city by 8. I had been planning to give him my car and ride my bike back to the city; but I was hungover, under-rested, and anyway it was foggy and damp out; so I aborted that plan.
But many good times must be paid for on the back end, with periods of exhaustion and stomach discomfort- this is just par for the course. Everyone involved knows the rules, everyone knows what’s at stake. It’s kinda like the mafia, but without all that pesky murder, betrayal, and bad-assery.
No remorse, no repent.
The Steep Ravine Cabins and Campground (that’s right, there are campsites too, some of them killer) are located on the west side of Highway 1, about two and a half miles south of Stinson Beach, and 25 miles north of San Francisco (plan for an hour’s drive under normal traffic conditions).
As of a few weeks ago, the cabins cost $108 per night, and sleep anywhere from 6 to however many people you can cram onto the floor (though they might technically have occupancy limits, for all I know). Each cabin has an ocean view, comes with a wood-burning stove, a large oaken kitchen table, and a charcoal grill (outside). The “beds” are just horizontal wooden spaces, so bring sleeping mats, bags, and pillows. No electricity, so bring lanterns or headlamps.
The only downside: Lamely, here, as everywhere else in the California State Park system, dogs are not allowed.
The cabins can be seen on Google Maps here, and they can be reserved here. Be advised, however, that they are very popular, and reserving them is a cut-throat business that requires a certain fortitude and determination which Stu possesses, and I do not. But I have other strengths.
If you want to walk in our footsteps, reserve Cabin #5 (Willow Camp)