Our First Ever Family Weekend of Wonderfulness
On this, our first ever Weekend of Wonderfulness, we rode up to Beal's Point on Folsom Lake, about 30 miles from Sacramento. It was the first time bike camping with our little ones. Amazing! It's great to know that there are adventures so close to home.
Really, picture a nearby campground. You probably wouldn't ever think to camp there as, let's face it, your own bed is much more comfortable. However, getting there by bike with all your gear strapped to the back -- that's wonderfully worthwhile.
Riding up on Friday after Jose finished work turned out well. It was a bit of a scramble to get everything together. We realized at the last minute that we didn't have fuel for the stove -- and, while we were loading up, our dog Zorro peed on the sleeping bags. Yuck. Luckily, the bags weren't wet on the inside, so we just stuck them in the panniers by themselves.
Jose took the boys in the trailer and the panniers with the sleeping bags on our touring bike. I attached a milk crate box to my Yuba Mundo Cargo Bike and loaded it up with firewood, packed the clothes and food in my panniers, and strapped the tent to my rack.
Off we went!
The ride is beautiful -- 90 percent or so along the American River Bike Trail. The shady route is comfortable and it's fun to watch the surroundings change as you get closer to the foothills. Many places still show the destruction caused by mining during the Gold Rush. The terrain is mostly flat, with little rolling hills that grow bigger as you get closer to the Folsom Reservoir. There are a few places where you have to get off the trail and maneuver the streets, but it's still very easy to get around. We got lost once, but had no trouble finding some helpful bikers who were happy to keep us pointed in the right direction.
The last 3 miles or so are all uphill, but the Mundo was great. My load was balanced enough and the gears are low enough that I made it up 5 to 7 percent grades. We rode the entire way, stopping very briefly just once to give the kids a snack to munch on. We would have made it the whole way, but Big Brother had opened up his water and couldn't close it. The pants he was wearing were his only ones we had along, and I did not want them soaked that early in the trip.
I was really impressed by Beal's Point campground -- green, shady, and quiet. Beal's Point is at the very end of the American River Trail and impossible to miss. I wished it had a bicycle camper section, but it did have nice spots away from the road (sadly, none was available -- reservations next time!). It's also a little pricey since they don't have bike rates, at $25/night.
We registered and set up camp.
It was getting a little chilly by the time we got there at around 5 p.m., so we bundled up and I started the fire. It was great having brought the wood. I'm sure we could have just bought some in the park, but I like an extra challenge! We were able to put some tortillas and cheese in a pot on the grill over the fire pit, which turned out some tasty quesadillas. We'd also brought along some fresh spinach.
I had a semi-warm cup of tea, and then it was bedtime. I love having kids that go to bed at 7 p.m. -- it's the best excuse for the grown-ups to tuck in at the same time! We did learn that no matter how small your children are, you still need a four-person tent. We have officially outgrown our little two-person tent.
We decided to pack out early the next morning. It's pretty awesome to begin the day with downhills! We made one stop at Hagan Park, the perfect halfway point, to let the kids run around a little. Shortly after that we ran into G'ampa, who was headed up to Folsom Reservoir for the day. Big Brother had chosen to ride the rest of the way in the Peanut Shell on the back of my bike.
It was a beautiful, quick trip. Just enough of a ride to recharge our senses and get back in touch with nature.
Tip for this adventure: In the summer, the campground gets pretty crowded, so this might be best for a midweek trip, if you want more solitude. Bring your water floaties and beach towels for an afternoon on the lake. The 3.5-hour ride is just right for taking after work, or heading out early to enjoy much of the day in Folsom, which has a great old town and yummy cafes/ice cream shops.