After leaving San Francisco, we drove up highway 101- through Marin County, passing Novato, Petaluma, and lots of dairy and cheese farms. Cows, horses and goats dot the landscape- we always joke around about how these cows have the life- unlike the ones off of the 5 freeway in Coalinga. The beauty of the California coastline in this area is exquisite as you drive through redwood forests and small, quaint towns like Fort Ross, Jenner by the Sea, and Bodega Bay (great place to buy and fly a kite, picnic and eat saltwater taffy).
The first time we visited the Sea Ranch was in 1999 and we have visited frequently since. First as 20-somethings, then as newlyweds and then as parents of a growing brood. Although we’ve changed, the Sea Ranch has remained exactly the same. Bones and muscles feel strong and weak at the same time- sort of like when you step into a hot tub or get a massage. The wildflowers, coastline and dried grasses all combine together to produce this scent that permeates everything- you inhale deeply and it’s in your soul, your clothes and hair. We sleep deeper and more profoundly here. Deep to our core, at the Sea Ranch, we are the best that we can be and we hold it and the memories we have created over the years close.
That first day we hiked, cooked yummy food, ate too much of the smoked like bacon monterey jack cheese and spent quality much-needed lazy time together.
By the second day, we were ready for some adventure. The abundant rainfall this past winter had produced a flowing Gualala River and we intended to make the most of this by spending the day kayaking and picnicking along it. After a too-quick 5 minute training session by the kayaking company, we were told to call our guide when we had made it down to the bottom of the river. The boys, fearless as they are, went ahead of us in their individual kayaks while hubby, myself and baby girl shared a 3 person kayak. It was an interesting 10 minutes as we attempted to communicate with one another – hubby and I in terms of which direction to paddle and who was doing what. I felt like briefly strangling my husband but somehow we made it out alive. We even had a chance to picnic along the river and explore a campground among the redwoods that was completely abandoned.
On our third day, we spent time beachcombing and tidepooling and exploring the many beaches along the coastline. Walking on the sandy shore, climbing and skipping rocks, playing with things like dried up seaweed and large pieces of driftwood. The cool, salty air sprayed our cheeks as we chased each other up and down. We also picked some mussels off the rocks and took them home to cook them up. After some research on mussel cooking however, we opted not to and played it safe.
On our fourth and final day, it was with much sadness that we packed up the car and took one final walk along the bluffs. The Sea Ranch is our family’s place- it will always be- and we consoled ourselves by knowing that we will continue to have many more adventures in years to come.