Sea Ranch is located on
the northernmost boundary of Sonoma County
Sea Ranch in Sonoma County is one of
the most pristine, scenic California Beach communities we've
visited. This privately owned,
unincorporated community features
Sea Ranch Lodge where tourists can stay in ocean view rooms and
enjoy the most scenic and natural environment found anywhere along the
California Coast. One of the Sea Ranch architects, Charles Moore,
was known for his meticulous attention to detail as seen in a variety of
projects such as the Beverly
Hills City Hall restoration.
Having driven past Sea Ranch
on fog-shrouded Highway 1 previously, you could not see the spectacular
the Shoreline Highway. What you could observe, however, were rustic
wood sign posts engraved with the Sea Ranch logo
design. These sign markers seemed to continue for miles, marking street turnouts. It
was odd that
such a place didn't appear to have grocery stores, gas stations or even
a shopping center. Of course there is shopping across the Sonoma County
line not far away in Mendocino County's Gualala. Yet from the length of the drive through Sea Ranch
(more than 10 miles), Sea Ranch was the most populated area since Bodega
Bay 42 miles south and over an hour's drive from this beguiling location
that was most likely a town.
Spring forward a year and
a second trip along the California coast north of San Francisco. Instead
of staying this time at Bodega Bay, Little River or Eureka, I was
actually going to Sea Ranch, a place I knew little about but was
yearning to explore.
Living in the heart of the
concrete jungle in Los Angeles makes you either fearful of nature,
ambivalent or addicted to having it in your life. I was on the fearful
side, tending toward ambivalence. The idea of going on nature hikes,
fishing on the Pacific Ocean or kayaking down the Gualala River is a bit
overwhelming for the city girl who tries to keep her Reeboks looking new
so she can wear them to outdoor functions throughout the year. It's
not cool to wear dirty shoes in the city, even if you are attending
fundraiser events at the beach. Now that the trip is over, my Reebok
shoes are filthy. I stopped by the Reebok Factory Outlet store in
Monterey as I headed back to L.A. and purchased two pairs of shoes to
replenish my stock of white Reeboks.
Checking into Sea Ranch
- I arrived at Sea Ranch late in the day and checked into my
abode, a luxurious rental house available
for overflow traffic that often occurs at this popular spot well known
in the Bay Area. I took a shower and scurried off to bed without time to
get my bearings. In the dark I heard the crashing waves somewhere out
there. While the sounds of the ocean were initially exciting, they
lulled me into a peaceful sleep. Waking up early to go on a "Picture
Perfect" hike, I noticed it was incredibly quiet at Sea Ranch. There
were no sirens nor constant drone of jet engines that land or take off
from three airports near my Southern California house.
The problem with my hike
given by a Sea Ranch resident was the grass. It was wet. My Reebok shoes
and the pants I wore became soaked within 5 minutes of heading out to
the cliffs above Blacks Beach, known for its black sand. My shoes would
stay wet for the next five hours as the sun broke through the fog many
times and two sets of rain clouds broke loose. By the end of my Northern
California trip that included a day and night in the rain at Safari West
in Santa Rosa, my shoes would be deluged with rain, mud and nature's
stuff. Down in L.A. it was sunny. That's one major difference between
the north and south.
But looking at the photos
I took of deer, starfish and sea lions...looking at the photos of
beautiful beaches, redwood forests and colorful flowers, I would not
trade a single minute of the experience for a sunny day at Venice Beach.
10 highlights of the
1. Irises growing wild.
The week before I went to Sea Ranch, FedEx knocked on my door and
delivered a dozen Irises from my brother as my birthday gift. I couldn't
help but feel sorry for him writing a check as I looked at the Irises
scattered beneath my feet in this wildflower paradise.
2. A little brown mouse crawling through the hay at our Sea Ranch dinner
function at the barn. I hadn't seen a cute, furry brown mouse in
years...only gray, swift rats prevalent in the alleys behind
restaurants. A girl sitting next to me was obviously from the city as
well. She quickly raised her sandaled feet onto her chair and kept them
there throughout dinner.
3. Mosquitoes in bogs. I
forgot that bogs exist, much less huge, hungry mosquitoes. I learned on
the trip that bug repellant clothing sold at REI is popular amongst
seasoned nature buffs. If you hike in the woods at Gualala Point
Regional Park, (707) 565-CAMP (2267), bring some bug spray with you or
4. Grocery stores near Sea
Ranch that close actually close before 10 p.m.
5. Clear ocean water. You
can see through it! All sorts of little sea creatures are visible.
6. Wine, wine, wine.
Sonoma County is a wine growing region and locals are generally quite
knowledgeable about wine. They drink it with most meals.
7. Roads with no cars in
sight. How refreshing is that?
8. Organic foods. They are
readily available and served at many restaurants.
9. The sounds of nature.
When you leave the noise pollution behind, the senses become heightened
and your body relaxes. It seems healthy and is quite appealing.
10. The locals. You won't
find nicer folks than people who work at Sea Ranch. They seem to go out
of their way to help you enjoy your stay.
For more information
about Sonoma County:
Sonoma County Tourism
420 Aviation Blvd., Ste 106
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
Peter: " The Sea
Ranch is internationally known for architecture and land use planning,
and draws a large number of educated and discerning people to live and
vacation here. In Gualala, you can find custom made carpeting,
modern home furnishings, and fine women's clothing. We have two
very good restaurants, Pangea and St. Orres. And, the supermarkets are
open until 7:30 in the winter, and 8 in the summer."