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 Usal Story


Usal Story
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For the Family Story

My Usal

by Mary Campbell Gertz

        My Grandparents William Isaac Thomas and Sarah Jane Crispin Campbell Thomas (she preferred to be called Jen or Jennie) came to Usal in 1922. They leased the land to run cattle and sheep.  My Grandfather also fished for night fish and sold them in Fort Bragg.  The only other residents of Usal were Don Etter whom lived in the old hotel and also ran cattle with my Grandfather and Ed Pate who lived in a cabin on the beach.  My cousin Joan Verona Coyne and I spent every summer vacation at Usal and this is what I remember:

        Crossing the old wooden bridge and suddenly there is Grandmaís house. The very first thing you notice is the beautiful flowers surrounding the house and along the fence by the roadside.  Getting out of the car you enter an old tall wooden gate, a few steps across the path and you are on a small wooden porch that leads to the front room. Itís not a big front room, but large enough for the family.  There is Public Pay Phone on the wall by the front door. It has a large handle on the side of the phone that you turn several times when you want to speak to the operator.   Grandmaís ring on the phone is one long and two shorts.  It is important to know this because everyone has a different ring and you need to know which one to answer.   Anytime you pick up the receiver you can listen or talk to any of the party lines on the phone.  The front room is always left open because of the phone, and Grandma Jen always leaves a bottle of quarters, dimes, and nickels by the phone for people who need to make a call and donít have the change.  I was always told the only reason Usal was on the map, was because of the Public Phone, however I do not know this as a fact.

Looking around the rest of the room you see a big leather rocking chair, a daybed in the corner with a spread made of Goat Skins,  and a unwritten rule that we were not allowed to sit on it. A big bookcase along the far wall, with family pictures, and a picture of Admiral William Standley, (Grandma was most proud of that) Admiral Standley is related to us but I am not sure how. Thereís Ted, Bill, and Milton all in military uniforms, Joan and I, and lots of other family members I could not begin to remember who they all were.  Moving to the wall facing the door you see a big console radio (our only source of entertainment, News, Prays, Lone Ranger).  This old radio ran on batteries of some type, and the reception was only good at night.  Therefore we only used it when something real special was on.  Next there is the doorway to the kitchen, a small table with more pictures, and the next wall is an old pump organ, and the door to  Grandmaís bedroom.  In the middle of the room is an old black potbelly stove, the only source for heat, kerosene lamps hang on the wall or sit on the table, and there is wooden rocker, a footstool, and a wicker chair.  The floors were all covered with linoleum; there were a few braided rag throw rugs and a real coyote skin rug.

I canít remember too much about Grandmaís bedroom, it was usually locked because a loaded rifle was behind her door, and revolver under her pillow. The rifle was ready to shoot any intruders into Grandmaís Hen House, be it coyote, raccoon or fox.   At night when to chickens got to squawking Grandma grabbed her gun and off she went to the rescue. On the wall next to the bed was a huge dresser made of knotty pine.  It had two large doors that opened and several drawers. There were also two windows that looked out into the garden and on to the road.

Another large dresser and a treadle sewing machine, I donít know what happened to the dressers but I have the sewing machine When you entered the kitchen the first thing you see is the large wooden cook stove (in later years it was switched to a butane stove and she also got a butane refrigerator.) Off to your right side was a large table that 8 to 10 people could easily sit around, I canít remember if there were chairs or benches.  On the left side was a cupboard where flour, sugar and all her baking stuff was kept  It was here that Grandma Jen made her biscuits, bread and delicious blackberry pies.  Moving on was the drain board, and sink with only cold running water, (it came directly down the hill from the spring up above the Donís house) we heated the water for the dishes on the stove.  One kettle of hot water to wash the dishes in and another to rinse them off with. Across the back wall were windows and the door to the backyard, around the same side as the stove a small eating area where Joan and I ate our breakfast.   There was a glass door cupboard where Grandma kept all her dishes.  The dishes were the old fashion blue and white with people crossing a fancy bridge design, also a set of white with a black checker border.  This area had a small pull down table that was just big enough for us to eat on. Past the stove was another door that led to the open porch, to the left was the door to the back bedroom and you went through the bedroom to the bathroom.  At the end of the kitchen table was another small bedroom with twinís beds where Joan and I stayed all summer.

Going out the door to the back bedroom was an open porch with a cooler on it.  The cooler was about 5 feet high and 2 feet wide; it was built out of wood and screen.  The screen was covering both ends so the cool air could go through, it had two or three shelves where the butter, cream, milk and eggs were kept. The house was built next to a hill that was full of redwood trees and very shady all the time.  In that hillside a large hole was dug, inside the hole was a wooden box affair that you could actually walk into.  It was lined with shelves and it was always real cold because of the damp cold earth surrounding it.  It was Grandma Jenís refrigerator.  It was located right at the end of the porch next to the outside bedroom.

Going into the little bedroom was a dresser on one wall and a small bed on the other, (not as big as a full and not as small as a twin) I think it was called a three quarter bed and it was big enough for two people to sleep in. Then there was the bathroom.  It was pretty dark in there unless the sunshine was shinning bright, one little window, one little sink in the corner, and little green round wooden tub with a shower curtain that wrapped around the tub.  There were always lots of Daddy Long Legs Spiders in the bathroom; Grandma Jen would not let us kill them because she said they were good spiders.  Joan and I took a bath every Saturday night whether we needed one or not (and believe me we needed one).

In the bedroom on the same side as the dresser was some kind of water tank or holding tank and some how we had hot water for our bath but I still cannot figure out how Grandma would heat the water for the bath, I donít remember it being heated on the stove and carried in.

Going out the backdoor in the kitchen to the garden you were on a fairly good-sized porch. Off to the right was a covered area where there was a wood box for the kindling and the firewood was stacked along the wall (you never went pass the woodpile without bringing wood to the house.)  Also on the porch was an ancient washing machine.  The washing machine ran on gasoline and you pulled a long rope to start it, kind of like starting a lawnmower nowadays.  You could hear that old washing machine chugging and spurting clear down at the beach.

The flowers in the garden were many, dahlias, lilies, roses of all kinds, fuchsias and bluebells.  Everyone that came to Usal brought Grandma Jen some kind of flowers to plant. With her loving care she managed to grow them all. There was a small lawn area, with a couple of old canvas lawn chairs and a long old-fashioned rope clothesline.  On the hillside next to the lawn were lots more flowers and all kinds of ferns.  A small trail led up the hillside to the redwood trees and Grandpa Bill had made a platform type porch up there.  The kids (Ted, Sis, Gloria, and Billy) when they were young used to sleep there sometimes.  Also further back in the trees was a meat locker (a huge wooden box hung high in the trees) where they would hang deer meat to cure.

There was a large shed at the back of the yard where all kinds of stuff was kept; mostly I remember the Chicken feed and Oats for the horses.  Next to that was Grandmaís pantry, another storage area for all her canned goods.  She canned everything she could in Mason Glass Jars.  It was 9 miles to the store in Rockport and some times in the winter the road would wash out. Everything she grew, peas, beans, corn and berries was canned. She also canned Deer Meat, Lamb, Beef and Chicken. In her pantry she hide her Coke Cola, it was packaged the old fashion way, a six-pack of coke all in neat little bottles.  The Coke Cola was near and dear to her heart, she only drank it once in a while and Joan and I never got any.  Iím sure that was Grandmaís only vice.

Going out the garden gate you would find yourself in a large area where Grandpa Bill chopped and stored all the wood.  Next to that was a gate into the chicken yard.  There was a little pen next to the henhouse where Grandma always had a hen that was sitting on eggs, I think most of the baby chicks were hatched in that pen, but sometimes there would be a hen on trial in there and if she did not lay any eggs in a couple of days she was dinner. Joan and I did not gather the eggs, we either broke to many or we were afraid of the chickens, some of them got really mad when you took their eggs away.

Going thorough the gate to the next yard, was the duck pens, we loved the ducks.  I donít think Grandma cooked the ducks, (if she did she told us it was chicken) I think she just used the eggs.  It was our job to herd the ducks to the creek everyday and bring them back before dark.  So you would see two little girls, with two twigs, and about ten ducks walking down Usal Road to the creek.  Life doesnít get any better than that.

Sitting on the front porch you could see to your left and up the road a little way, Don Etters house. At one time it was a hotel.  On the other side of the road was a big metal garage; in the garage was a large generator that Don Etter used for electricity for his house.  Grandmaís house had no electricity. In front of the garage was one of Grandmaís vegetable gardens, she also had one at the beach.  On the porch hung a horn; it was made out of a cow horn.  Grandma would blow the horn to call us when dinner was ready or whenever she wanted us to come home.  For some reason you could hear that horn all over Usal. When Grandma blew the horn you better come running or have a doggone good excuse why you didnít show up. From the time we first stayed at Grandmaís we tried to blow the horn, and we couldn't make a sound.  I think we were 15 or 16 before we finally managed to get  some noise out of the horn.

Straight out in front of you was a large pasture, surrounded by wooden fencing.  In that pasture was where Grandma dried the sheets, on a wire clothesline she would prop up with large wooden poles to hold the sheets off the ground.   Also in the pasture was a hollowed out tree stump and a little cabin.  The tree stump is where Grandpa Bill had the bear cub chained at one time.  The bear almost killed Grandpa Bill because he teased it and one day after it was grown it broke its chain and took after him, and he had to shoot it.  Thatís how the story goes anyway.

Behind the little cabin was a creek, to cross the creek you had to walk on a log that was quite high.  It was a very scary to cross, but we made it, because on the other side was the big old barn.  The barn was so neat; it had a big corral out in back for the horses.  It had maybe 8 stalls inside, there were lots of old harnesses and bridles and brushes hanging on the walls. It also had a couple of small corral places inside for cows and such.  It had a huge hayloft and a large storage area for hay down below. We use to jump from the loft to the huge piles of hay on the bottom, we loved the barn.  About 50 feet from the barn was the blacksmith shop, with all kinds of neat stuff. There was old farm equipment stored in there, and all kinds of horseshoes, nails, and tools to put them on with.  There was even a thing to heat horseshoes.  You turned the handle and it make the blower go, the blower made the fire burn hotter so they could heat the horseshoes and shape them to the horses foot.  I think this was called a Blacksmithís forge.

Further down the field was an apple tree; it was the only fruit tree I ever saw in Usal.  By the apple tree was an old abandoned chicken house and a creek ran right along the side of it.  It was a really good fishing hole, lots of the big trout used to hide there. Down the road a little bit further was what was left of the old store.  It was a two-story building, pretty neat to play in, a little scary because everything was falling apart. Everything except the old safe; it was really big and really rusty and would probably be worth a small fortune now.  Across from the store, at the first gate to the beach was a really quaint little one-room cabin (there was an old hobo who they let live there for awhile).  At the second gate was the shearing sheds, branding yard and loading ramp for the cattle or sheep.  During the summer a team of shearers would come from somewhere and stay at Donís house until they got all the sheep sheared. Joan and I loved to packed the sheared wool down in the big sacks they hung from the roof, we would get very oily, but along with all the Usal dirt and dust it did not bother us a bit.  Don and his crew use to brand the cattle there and we always thought we were helping by sitting on the calves to hold them down, I can still remember how the burning flesh smelt.

The third gate to the beach was just past two stone platforms that were once the foundation to the sawmill.  What was left of the foundation was very high, we would try very hard to climb up the sawmill; one side was smaller than the other, thatís the only way we could climb up there.  On top was a plank that connected both sides so we would walk the plank to the other side and slide down. Now the sawmill is ground level on the one side and about a foot high on the other side.    Just before you got to the gate the road went up a little rise and on each side of the rise towered huge trees that kind of forms an arch to drive through.  It was always kind of spooky going through in the dark in the back of a pickup truck, we were not the bravest kids in the world, and remember we were from the city.   We were sure there was a mountain lion in the trees ready to pounce on us.  That last pasture before the beach is where they would grow the hay; they would cut it, let it dry and rake it up into the truck to haul to the barn.   Later on they got baling equipment, and then they would bale and stack the hay.

The fourth and last gate was at the beach.  To the left of the gate and small cement kennel the Coast Guard built for the police dogs during the war.  Iím not sure how long the Coast Guard was stationed there; they stayed mainly on the beach to watch for Japanese invasion from the water or planes from the air.  After they had left Grandma Jen became an official Plane Spotter for the army.  I guess all this was before radar.   On the right side of the gate was Grandmaís garden; because of the nice sandy soil she was able to grow lots of good potatoes, peas, beans, lettuce, turnips, and great strawberry. Next to her garden was the first cabin; it was rather large and used for company.

The Game Warden, his wife and their dog Captain use to stay there all the time.  When the Game Warden stayed at Usal he was usually there to move the fish that were trapped in the creeks, as the water dried up in the summertime.  If the fish were not moved their creek area would become so small that all the raccoons had to do was wade in and help themselves.  He had huge metal cans that looked like milk cans, and there was some kind of aerator on his truck.  He and his wife would set up the nets, and Joan and I would walk in the water and scare the fish into the nets, then they would put them in the cans and put an air bubbler in each can and off we would drive.  We went either to Juan Creek or Pudding Creek those areas never went dry, and we would put the trout in there.  When it was real low tide they would take Joan and I out among the rocks in the ocean to pry off the abalone.  In those days you didnít have to dive for abalone you just pried them off the rocks with a crowbar.  They ranged in size from 12 to 14 inches at least.

There was a little walkway to the bathroom (outhouse) and a smokehouse where they cured salmon. Next to that was a rather large size garage and then Ed Pateís cabin.  Next to Edís cabin was Grandpa Billís, we all use to sleep there when the fish ran late at night or very early in the morning.  Next to that was a small little barn where Dickie spent the night. He was the white horse that hauled the fish sled. After Dickieís barn there was nothing but sand and ocean.  I donít remember Grandpa Bill ever catching Dickie; he just always seemed to be there when needed.  Depending on the tides, we would get up at two, three, four in the morning, when Joan and I were there Grandma would stay home a lot, she just didnít like Grandpa Bill to be all alone on the beach.  He would get on his fishing gear, hitch up Dickie to the sled, put on the fish boxes, we would get on Dickieís back and off we would go.  When the fish started running, we thought we were riding Dickie to Grandpa, but later years found out the horse just followed him whether anyone was there to ride him or not.  When Grandpa Bill stopped to fish Dickie would stop and wait, when Grandpa Bill moved on Dickie would follow.  When the boxes were filled, they were left high on the beach till we were all finished. Dickie would drag the sled to the filled boxes and Grandpa Bill would load them on and off we would go back to the cabins.  Grandpa Bill had a generator at the cabins, so the lights were turned on and the fished were washed and repacked in the boxes and ready to take to Fort Bragg when it got light. 

Later years when Ed was there he and Grandpa Bill would walk up and down the beach and when one of them found a spot where the fish were running they would signal the other one with a flashlight.  They also had large trays where they dried a lot of the fish in the open air and sunlight.  When they were dried they would drive to Fort Bragg and sell them to the Chinese.

My very first memory of Usal was when I was six years old, going trout fishing with my Dad in the creek.  He taught me how to clean the fish I caught and when I brought them back to Grandmaís she would cook them for dinner.   The first time I rode a horse one of my brothers put me up on Dickieís back without a saddle (that was pretty scary) they led me all over, than tied the rope into a halter and I rode by myself.  That was probably the beginning of my love affair with horses. Dickie this old white farm horse was the most beautiful thing in the world as far as I was concerned.  I was to spend every summer at Usal till I was about fifteen or sixteen years old. Joan and I would take the Greyhound Bus (the milk run that stopped at ever little town on the way, it was also the cheapest way to go) it took us all day to get there .We caught the bus at the Greyhound Bus Depot in Oakland to go Rockport where some one would pick us up.  I would stay as long as I could; Joan would usually go home in a month, only because her Mother made her leave.  After we did our chores, dishes, dusting, we were free to roam around and do whatever we wanted.

When Grandpa Bill was still alive we would follow him to the ends of the earth.  He was such a neat man, and he entertained us with stories of Money Trees, Ghosts in the Graveyard, and anything else he could think of to warp our minds.  He had pieces of pipe fitted with covers that screwed on the ends; he would fill then with silver dollars and leave them in places that Joan and I would walk over them.  Jars of quarter, dimes, and nickels he always found in the ferns where we had been playing.  He would take us to Rockport with him, and tell us he owned the town and we could go into the store and get any candy we wanted.  He could have told us he could walk on water and we would have believed it.  He was a very tall; large boned man, not extremely handsome but very nice looking.  He originally came from Texas and was a former Texas Ranger.  He was also Law Deputy and Supervisor of Fort Bragg.

Grandma on the other hand was a little tiny thing, even to us kids she did not seem very big.  She was quite chunky at one time but that did not slow her down even for a minute.  She had this beautiful long gray hair that she always braided and wrapped around her head, but at night she would let Joan and I brush her hair and thatís how we learned how to braid hair---we enjoyed doing that a lot.  Grandma Jen was a very religious person.  She was also a Member of the Christian Science Church and she believed in their theory of ďmind over matterĒ.

Every Sunday we had church right there in the front room, Grandma would read the lesson as they called it, Joan and I would try to listen without squirming to much in our chairs and Grandpa Bill would sleep till he started to snore, then she would catch him.  Grandma Jen would take us hiking deep into the woods to see the flying squirrels; she could out hike and out climb everyone.  We would go Blackberries, raspberry and hazelnuts picking.  We would walk to the beach and she would shoot at the squirrels that were stealing from her garden. And we would climb the hill to clean out the spring at least one a month so the leaves didnít clog up the lines.  All the water in Usal came from the springs in the mountains, at that time it was totally unfiltered pure spring water and you never had to worry about germs or disease.

For two little girls, walking to the beach and back to Grandmas could easily be an all day trip.  In all actually it was only a 20-minute walk at best.  On the way to the beach we had to stop at the cabin on the road to investigate what had happened since we were there yesterday, usually nothing.  Then there was our tree house by the creek we had made.  We always had to stop there and check things out.   From there going through the pasture there was usually a few sheep or cows to talk to and a baby lamb or calf.  And then the shearing shed which you had to go through, checkout all the stalls, pens, and corrals you never know what you might find.  Climbing over the gates or through the barred wire took a while too; it was just too much work to open them.  When we got to the old sawmill of course we had to try to climb to the top, it was not an easy task (in later years as we grew taller and it grew smaller it became much easier.)

Entering the last pasture before the beach, it was always filled with all this magnificent driftwood and huge trees and stumps the ocean would put there during the winter, you just had to climb them and investigate each and every piece.  The ground squirrels made there home at the base of the stumps, the shunks and various other animals lived in the hole in the logs.  Sometimes you would find a porcupine slowly ambling across the field.  My Dad said there was an unwritten law among the country folk, you never harmed a porcupine because if you were alone in the woods and starving you could always get a porcupine because they were so slow.   The horses were usually in that pasture, so we had to stop and talk to them, pet them and pull grass so we could feed them by hand thinking they would like us better.  Arriving at the beach, we had to pet Edís dog Nipper just because he didnít want us to, and most of all we had to stop and give Ed a bad time.

Getting across the creek to the ocean was tricky when the water was high.  Sometimes you just had to take off your clothes and play in the water to get across.  We never fooled around in the ocean or turned our backed on it. The ocean was very dangerous and had an extremely bad undertow.  We would walk on the edge of the surf until are feet turned blue or the pain was so great we couldnít stand it, after about a half hour your feet would get numb and you could stand the cold.   Walking from one end of the beach to the other was an adventure in itself. There was seaweed of all kinds, little trees and things you could squeeze and spray each other with seawater, driftwood, shells, harmless jelly fish, floats, live creatures and dead creatures, birds of all kinds anything a kid could want to stay amused.  And best of all there were no other people allowed on the beach or in Usal unless they had permission from Grandma, Grandpa, Don or Ed.  That meant they were all friends or relatives.   Then coming back from our stroll on the beach it would take us hours to find where we left our shoes and pants. Walking back to Grandmas we of course had to follow the creek.  I donít think we ever got back in time for lunch, but with the breakfasts and dinners Grandma cooked we really didnít need lunch. Breakfast at Grandmaís house was a three-course meal; there was fried fish that were caught the night before, fresh eggs, bacon or ham, potatoes, hot biscuits and homemade blackberry jam and always hot oatmeal mush.  Dinner was about the same, fresh trout if you had fished, potatoes, gravy, beef, lamb or deer or maybe fried chicken, some kind of veggie (which of course we did not like but had to eat) and again hot biscuits or homemade bread and some kind of homemade pie or cobbler. I remember when the Game Warden would come for dinner Grandma would always make this fantastic beef stew, which he dearly loved, in reality it was illegally caught and canned deer meat (but I think he really knew that.)

When I first began going to Usal I can remember two large fields of potatoes, one just before the bridge coming in and the other in back of Donís house, what they ever did with the potatoes I do not know.  Then suddenly no more potatoes, maybe it was something new they were trying out and it didnít work.  The field behind Donís house then became a garden, corn, peas, beans etc. only there was no way to keep the deer out of it.  Every time you would walk by the field at dusk, you would see 10 to 15 deer.  Even after the garden was long gone the deer still loved that field.

Speaking of Donís old hotel it was a pretty scary place to us, number one because we werenít suppose to be there, and number two because it was two stories high, very dark and lots of mice, rats, and cobwebs.  Sometimes we would sneak up there but we did not stay very long because as I said we werenít to brave.  Behind Donís was this beautiful little creek and all these great alder trees and huge redwoods, the grass, ferns, and moss blanketed the ground, there was little white type daises, large purple foxgloves and varies other wildflowers, it looked like Godís own personal garden.  But than all Usal was Godís Country.

The only people that were ever allowed to camp at Usal were the O'Brien's.  They were special friends of Grandma and Grandpa from Potter Valley.  They came every summer and stayed at least a month.  They would camp in the same spot every year, across the big creek against the hill next to a spring.  They always had a board path to the spring and drinking pan tied there so you could get water whenever you were thirsty.  They were the neatest people, sometimes at night we three (Grandma, Joan and I) would ride Dickie over to their camp and sit around the campfire and drink hot chocolate.  Grandpa Bill would come after us in the truck because you could not get across the creek without getting wet, and we would just untie Dickie and let him go.

When we very first starting coming to Usal there was a place on the other side of the bridge, a pile of bricks, stones, and wood.  Grandma said it was where one of the rich people used to live, she said if you sat there on the bricks and called the chipmunks they would come and eat out of your hand, and she was right, but then she was always right when it came to Usal.  We would go and feed the chipmunks several times a week.

Crossing the bridge we always had to check on the trout, the water under the bridge was so clean and clear you could see every fish in there, except the big ones would who always hide under branches and stuff.  We spent a lot of time fishing from the bridge; it was one of our favorite things to do.  Old fishing poles from Grandmaís house and a jar of Salmon Eggs and we were in fisher heaven.  We always caught trout, if we didnít feel like cleaning them for dinner, we would let them go. When we did clean them we would go to the little creek by Grandmaís house, clean them there in the water, leaving all the guts and heads in the creek and the next morning everything would be cleaned up by the raccoons.

Grandpa Bill died on the beach at Usal when he was fishing.  He was 86 years old.  He died March 11, 1947.  It was Joanís 11th Birthday.  We only went to Usal and few more times after that, we got jobs, found out about boys, and our interests changed.  All accept our love for horses.  In Oct 1954 when Larry and I got married, Grandma came to the city for our wedding and she stayed with Mom and Pop for a week or so, and Larry and I spent our Honeymoon at Usal all by ourselves.  For two young (18&19 year olds) strictly from the city we did all right.  We cooked on the wood stove, lit the kerosene lamps, and managed to take care of ourselves very well.  It was the greatest place in the world to begin a marriage.

Grandma stayed at Usal on her own for quite a few years.  When she got too sick to take care of herself she came to the city to live with her daughter Gladys. In the end she had to be taken to a rest home where she lived a while and finally she went to heaven.

My Dad and varies people in the family would return to Usal periodically, either to deer hunt or just to check on the place and bring a few things back.  In this time period Don Etter moved back to Ettersburg (named strictly for his family) and Ed Pate also passed away.   Union Lumber Company called my father to say the hippies were living in  and destroying Donís house and if we wanted any of the stuff from Grandmaís we better come and get it before they trashed it to.  Union Lumber Company could not keep the Hippies out of anything and they were afraid they would set fire to the hotel and eventually burn down Usal.  So to prevent this from happening the lumber company did a control burn and torched all the structures that were left, Donís house and garage, Grandmaís and the barn, and all the cabins at the beach.

This was very traumatic for all of us and nobody in the family ever wanted to go back to Usal.    It was many years later after the kids were born, Steve was 10 years old and Suzie 9, Larry and I decided to go back to Usal to camp for a week.  We got in touch with Union Lumber Company and they gave us permission to camp.  We had Chevy El Camino, an old green army tent and a little pup tent for the kids to sleep in.  Boxes of food and one ice chest.  It was in June after school let out, we camped in the back of where Donís house was, deep in the redwood trees and practically froze to death, it was so cold back there and the trees prevented the sun from coming through.

Digressing for a moment back to the beginning, it had been so long since we had been up there just trying to find the right turn off from highway 101 was a challenge.

Finally being on the Usal road after all that time, and having the kids actually see it for themselves was most thrilling.  We parked at the Graveyard turn to let the brakes cool off before going down the hill towards Grandmaís, of course we all got out for a look, it was like coming home again, except there was no buildings.

Crossing the old wooden bridge and driving to Grandmaís house was like old times, except when we got there---there was no Grandmaís house, or Donís or anything else.  The main thing was that it smells, tasted and felt like Usal.  It also sounded like Usal, the Crows were cawing and the Bluebirds were busy doing their thing, the Seagulls on the beach, and even the buzzards in the sky. We had the absolute pleasure of teaching our children everything about part of their heritage.  There after we camped at Usal for many years, (never in June again its to cold them, always September) we would stay one or two weeks and after a time Joan and her husband Don and their sons would come camping too.

In 1985 Usal became a State Park.  It now known as Sinkyone State Park or the Lost Coast.  1986 was the last year we all went camping there, the State put up entrance fee signs, outhouses and picnic tables, you could no longer drink the water and there was trash and people everywhere we couldnít go back.















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This site was last updated 03/01/05