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Friday, March 4, 2016

Gualala, California - 2004

We move north of the Bay Area to visit our next destination, Gualala.  Pronounced “wah-la-la,” this is one of the small, little towns along the Mendocino Coast in Northern California, about ten miles south of Point Arena.

It’s another "Tim"less getaway while he’s at summer camp in the mountains near Lake Arrowhead.  It’s over 500 miles and eight hours of driving to get here, so we stop overnight in a forgettable motel in the memorable, cute little town of Martinez on the east side of the San Francisco Bay.  The next morning, we continue on the 101, moving over to Highway 1 when we get to Petaluma.  It’s a beautiful coastline drive past Tomales Bay, Bodega Bay (where Hitchcock fimed The Birds), and Sea Ranch where we finally cross the Gualala River into the small town.

Our lodging would be at The Seacliff on the Bluff, an inn sitting right on the edge of a cliff overlooking the lagoon and the ocean.  While semi-accessible rooms (bathtub) are on the bottom floor, we got a room upstairs for this trip.  All rooms here feature floor-to-ceiling windows looking straight out at the ocean, a deck, two-person Jacuzzi tub, fireplace, king size bed, robes, and a fridge stocked with a complimentary bottle of champagne.

It’s not really family oriented but for a romantic getaway, it’s ideal.  Rates run from $140 - $175 for the summer months but call ahead and sometimes they have a free third night available if you pay for two nights.  We did and it brought our total to around $300 for three nights, or about $100 per night.  For a large, oceanfront room with spectacular views.

It’s about lunchtime when we arrive and next door is a small shopping center with a deli called Trinks.  We have a couple of really delicious sandwiches along with some wonderful desserts.  It was a delicious lunch and we’ll keep this in mind later for a picnic.

Dinner was at a place across the street from the supermarket that had an outdoor deck with a spectacular view but suffered from mediocre food and incredibly slow and borderline rude service so we’ll just move on…shall we?

The next morning, we go back to Trinks and get some sandwiches and dessert to go along with a light breakfast.  Our destination today is Annapolis.  No, not the home of the Naval Academy but a small village up in the hills behind us.

We’ve brought our picnic lunch up from Gualala, up here high on a hill, to Annapolis Winery.  Letty loves chickens so the rooster logo immediately picks up her interest.  Mine is piqued by the great white wines they have there.  We take advantage of the free tasting and get a bottle of their delicious gewürztraminer to go with our deli lunch and have a wonderful little picnic out on their lawn.

Driving back down, we explore some of the surrounding area.  We visit the Timbercove lodge and then take a look in this differently designed chapel next to the road in Sea Ranch.
Dinner tonight would be at a little Mexican joint just north of Gualala.  It is very good and makes up for the lousy dinner we had the night before.  It was called Lucy’s then but I believe it’s gone or changed its name since we were there.

The next morning, we’re heading the other way.  Yesterday, we went south, today we go north.  To start off, we head up to Point Arena and the Point Arena Lighthouse.

Out on the rocky and turbulent point, this lighthouse has been assisting navigators since 1870.  It was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake and rebuilt.

Today, it still is in service, but this little light on the rail is what works today.  The Fresnel lens inside is still in perfect condition, but is just for looks these days.

You can visit the lighthouse and much of the grounds, visitor’s center, and gift shop are accessible.  Unfortunately, like most lighthouses of this vintage, the only access to the top is via a long, steep, circular iron stairway.

It’s a bit foggy today anyway but it still makes a nice stop along the way.
Next, we’re heading to one of the state’s many fine wine countries.  As much as I knock my home state, one thing we are justifiably proud of is our wine industry.  Truly world class with many, many official Viticultural Areas.  In fact, there are currently over 100 officially designated AVA growing areas in the state.  Today, we’re heading to the Anderson Valley AVA, located in a redwood filled gorge along the Navaro River about 20 miles south of Mendocino.

Along the way, on highway 128, we stop to take a little hike through the redwoods.  The areas on both sides of the road are part of the Navaro River Redwoods State Park.

Emerging from the forest, we make it to Husch Vineyards where we taste the wines and buy some of their great chardonnay. 

We continue along until we reach Gowen’s Fruit Stand where we get some fruit for lunch and enjoy out back with a friendly pooch that wandered by.

Back in Gualala, it’s foggy again, but we park at the end of town and hike out to the sand spit that separates the ocean from the lagoon.  It’s about a mile or so hike and we end up across from our room…so close I could throw a rock and hit it but we must hike all the way back the way we came.

The fog lifts just in time for sunset and we decide to indulge in the champagne left in our fridge along with some fruit from the stand we visited earlier. 

We sit out on the balcony, with a fire roaring behind us in the room, and feed scraps to the seagulls that land on our rail.

Sitting back with a glass of champagne, a fire to our back, and the sun setting over the Pacific, it’s time to wrap up this trip and make the long drive home.

Copyright 2010 – Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved.

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