okay, so i'll admit that i have this bad habit of promising people vacation information, then sharing it a little too late. i've mentioned that my new friend sarah is hitting my old stomping grounds in sonoma county. just didn't send her these links in time. so just in case, and for all of the rest of you, i offer more sonoma county tour guiding.
another beautiful west county indulgence drive: BODEGA BAY
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starting from guerneville. again, drive west out of town, again turning left onto bohemian highway at the rio theater. this time, you will drive right through occidental, continuing on bohemian highway till you get to the tiny town (if you could even call it a town) of freestone. here you will find two major places of interest. the first is an absolute REQUIREMENT and it's called wildflour bread. stop. sample. buy a loaf. buy two loaves. hell, buy as many loaves as you can fit in your car. trust me, you will want to take them to bed with you. i have met cyclists, as in the ones who pedal, that made the day long journey from san francisco, just for this bread. on more than one occasion.
just across the street you'll find a very unique kind of spa called osmosis. i can't say that i've ever partaken in the sawdust (?) bath they offer, um, but everyone raves about it. we'll call that one optional.
continuing south on bohemian highway, you'll soon run out of road and turn RIGHT on bodega highway, also known as highway 12. more cow pastures leading you out to the ocean. slow down in the little town of bodega and recognize the church and schoolyard on the left hand side from alfred hitchcock's 'the birds'. there's also a beautiful old creepy cemetary up on the hill as you're leaving town, eucalyptus leaves swaying in the wind.
at the end of bodega highway, turn RIGHT on highway one. drive just over three miles and turn LEFT on south harbor (up a steep hill), and an immediate left on heron, then left on mockingbird road. follow the signs for pinnacle gulch and park. this is a lovely 1/2 mini-hike down to the beach. sometimes amazing tide pools.
after your hike, backtrack to highway 1 and turn left. you're now entering the town of bodega bay. stop at the pink and white striped salt water taffy shack on the left side of the road. the best flavors (buy a bag of each and try not to consume all in one sitting or illness shall visit ye!): apricot, cran-raspberry, molasses, etc.
continuing on highway 1 you'll find the more popular 'candy and kites'. the taffy is not as good as the pink place, but it shares a parking lot with a great fish and chips place that is a great salty, greasy balance to the taffy you've already wolfed down in 1/4 mile of the road.
if you're in an exta-exploratory mood, follow signs to bodega head, a lovely detour to the 'head' of the bay and a beautiful place to get the wind caught in your hair. left on eastshore road, right on bayflat, follow the signs. along this road you'll also find a place that sells great clam chowder. my grandma used to love it so much that i, the vegetarian, braved the smell of it all the way back to santa rosa to bring it to her.
back on highway 1 heading north, more coastal drive till you loop back to guerneville over the russian river and a right turn. stop anywhere you like, but remember to respect the awesome power of the ocean. it's a lot more dangerous than the east coast. necessary caution out of the way, you'll find the coast easily accesible from roadside parking lots, usually a very short climb down to the beaches full of craggy rocks to explore and admire. enjoy.
taffy and beach photos by amy ahlstrom