Birthday Camping at Portola Redwoods State Park

Birthday Camping at Portola Redwoods State Park

Less than an hour from the bustling center of Silicon Valley is a lovely state park with tall redwood trees, ferns and – most shocking of all in this California drought – running streams. Portola Redwoods State Park was the site of this year’s camping weekend for my birthday. It was so nice of 10 friends to come join us for the fun!

Portola Redwood State Park

Rob, Margaret and I arrived at the campsite at nearly 9pm – we got a late start because our second Daisy Girl Scout troop meeting ended at 6:00. Greg and Kevin were already there – with lots of firewood and cute lanterns strung around the site. We set up the tents and turned in for the night.

In the morning, we had a quick breakfast and then set off on a 6 mile hike along coyote┬áridge to tarcreek trail and back. Hidden in the redwood groves is a 100 year old logging camp – which was fun to discover along the way. Trent and Ev had arrived right before we returned and joined in for lunch of mini sandwiches with pain epi bread from Acme Bakery, salami, cheeses, pickled beets and other delicious things.

Picnic at Portola redwoods

Jackie and Pierre arrived shortly after and we all hiked down to the river, where Ev splashed around with a couple acorn grinding holes left by Native Americans a long time ago and the rest of us hunted crawdads. Rob and I bought these cheap ranger hats at the Grand Canyon on our honeymoon and they continue to be my favorite thing. So dorky. So adorable.

Portola State Park

We stopped in at the visitor center too. This park was the site of a dramatic gold-rush-era love triangle and then a campground for the Shriners and there are still mystical Islamic symbols tucked around the grounds.

Portola Redwoods Visitor
Jackie, who is due in just a few weeks with a baby, was a great sport to come out for the weekend. She hiked all over – including inside the burned out redwood trunks.

Jackie In Redwood Tree

Back at the campsite, it was time to start up the bonfire again and break out some drinks before dinner.

Fire at Portola Redwoods

I tried, somewhat successfully, to teach everyone how to make friendship bracelets. Camp-style means that the string is tied to your knee directly.

Camping friendship bracelets

Dinner time! I was so, so pleased to see that these locally-made Leon’s Hot Franks were strung together in this long chain. Quite festive and perfect for our “weenie roast” over the fire.

Hot dogs Portola State Park

The hot dogs cooked marvelously over the bonfire.

Hot dogs at Portola SP

Little Ev even got in on the action. He was a super camper at only two and a half years old.

Ev hot dogs

Yum! We served the hot dogs (and they were spicy!) on fresh Acme Bread buns with truffle mustard, sauerkraut and a pickle spear. Our friends were supposed to bring salad for dinner to counteract this decadence, but fell sick at the last minute. Poor us, we had to eat so many hot dogs ­čÖé

Gourmet Hot Dogs camping menu

After a break for the sun to go down and people’s favorite camp stories to come out – we started in on s’mores. Trent brought really good marshmallows, graham crackers and chocolate bars along with peanut butter and Nutella. Ev loved his first s’more experience. It took about five wipes to clean off all the marshmallow stuck to his face.


Sunday morning, Jackie made us all an incredible breakfast with fresh mellon and hashbrowns, bacon and eggs cooked around the fire. I was too busy eating it all up to take a photo of her spread.

Thank you, thank you to our kind friends for making my birthday celebration a fun one once again this year!

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This article was written by
Website: EmilyStyle

I'm an adventurer and founder of a brand strategy studio. I'm so lucky to work abroad for a couple months each year. Weekly dinner parties and picking what to wear when I'm at home in San Francisco. I love a tough challenge, email [email protected] to reach me.

There are 2 comments for this article
  1. May at 7:52 am

    Happy Birthday!
    You two still look likely newlyweds.
    Thank you for sharing the wonderful camping trip.
    Its fun to see Ev getting older while everyone else doesn’t age.

    • MrsEm Author at 9:47 am

      Thanks May! It’s hard to believe Rob and I have been together for nearly 15 years!