Playing Tourist

Over the years, Rick and I have played tourist wherever we’ve lived.  Sonoma County is no different, except that people come from around the world to visit the wine country, redwoods and Pacific coast, and we have it close at hand.  When I’m neck-deep in a project, I don’t have time to wander too far from my computer.  Once the manuscript is turned in and I’m waiting for the editorial conversation on what more needs to be done, we are free to explore. 

Recently, we decided to head out to the coast.  It’s a beautiful winding drive through redwoods, past vineyard and pastures with flocks of sheep.  We stopped at Duncans Mills, remnant of an 1870s lumber town on the Russian River, and browsed through the shops and art gallery.  We drove on to Jenner-by-the-Sea, long-time homeplace to Mom and Dad Rivers.  We’ve spent numerous week-ends in the small hillside coast town over-looking the mouth of the river and Pacific Ocean.  We parked and watched the sea lions lounging on the beach.  The pups are growing up.  Every time we visit Jenner, the mouth of the river looks different.  Some of the old railway system was noticeable this time, sand washed away during winter storms.

Goat Rock is a popular spot for film makers.  The beach is one of the prettiest on the Pacific Coast, and was one of the least visited until listed as one of the ten best.  We came on a Thursday, and few people were about.  We watched the surfers for a while and then continued south to Bodega Bay where we had lunch at The Tides.  We both remember it when it was the restaurant in the famous Hitchcock movie “The Birds”.  Tippy Hedren still visits on occasion, raising money for her Shambala Preserve.  The schoolhouse is in the inland town of Bodega. 

The best views of Bodega Bay are from Bay Hill Road, a narrow byway up over the hills.  Spectacular! 

As with any area, there are plenty of tucked-away places of interest to visit.  Most people coming to visit Sonoma County are interested in three things:  wineries, the coast and the redwoods.  But there are plenty of other things to see.  I keep a file packed with ideas for day trips; the Old Faithful Geyser up the road, Pacific Coast Air Museum beside the Charles Schultz Airport, the pathways of the Laguna Regional Park, Safari West, the Petrified Forest, Shoffenberger Park in Petaluma, the Riverfront Regional Park in Windsor, the Square and Mission in Sonoma, not to mention all the beautiful neighborhoods in Santa Rosa, Healdsburg, Petaluma, Sebastopol.  We could wander for hours past restored Victorians and craftsman homes with gorgeous gardens.   And this is just a partial list of things to do close to home.

The thing is there are tuck-away places in every state and town across the country.  Sometimes they’re so familiar we forget they’re there.  That’s why I love playing tourist and taking mini-vacations throughout the year, right in my own backyard.