Coastal getaway

We’re just back from a brief trip to Manchester, where we visited with friends who have a vacation home there. It was quite beautiful and very serene. In retrospect I regret not having taken more pictures.

First, the drive up was a bit nauseating. We followed the iOS map’s directions, which navigated up 128 through Booneville then turning it out onto the extremely windy Manchester Elk Road (which turns into Mountain View Road a stomach-turning number of miles in). The landscape was magical, but for someone with a tendency to motion sickness … not the most fun. Surprisingly Sadie weathered the circuitous road with little more than some green gills, and we arrived in good stead.

Our friends’ property is really cool. Just shy of an acre, it consists of a tiny house, a bunkhouse, and a garage that looks rather like a miniature barn. The bunkhouse is wee but impressive – substantially modified from a flat roofed structure to pitched, an open ceiling finished in whitewashed blonde wood, a fabulous little loft space, and a bathroom. Our friend Richard hand-built several of the windows, installed the shower, and has built a composting toilet. All this was done without professional assistance, just reading and figuring!

The four of us and our respective pooches visited Manchester State Beach, the south end of which is dog-friendly, this 7-mile stretch of sand is gorgeous yet there were few other visitors. The long hike in, up and down dunes, may have discouraged others, but it was quite worth the effort. Sadie danced about in the surf.
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We stayed at a very cute hotel in Point Arena, just a couple of miles south. The Wharfmaster’s Inn is at the ocean edge of Port Road and seems to be a surfer magnet. Situated along a bluff overlooking a beach nestling cliffs, the heavy surf was dramatic and its powerful voice ever-present. Though we didn’t have an ocean-view room, the sound of rolling waves in the near distance was a reminder of Byron’s words:

ROLL on, thou deep and dark blue Ocean, roll!
Ten thousand fleets sweep over thee in vain;
Man marks the earth with ruin; his control
Stops with the shore; upon the watery plain
The wrecks are all thy deed, nor doth remain
A shadow of man’s ravage, save his own,
When, for a moment, like a drop of rain,
He sinks into thy depths with bubbling groan,
Without a grave, unknelled, uncoffined, and unknown.

We met our friends for dinner at the charming Rollerville Cafe, where fare offered ranged from fish and chips to Prime rib. I had an Angus burger with pineapple and delicious housemade barbecue sauce. Yum!

This morning I walked Sadie down to the shore where the dawn mist and din of crashing waves was invigorating. Sadie charmed a couple of fishermen chatting at the edge of the pier, steaming coffees in hand. Well-behaved dogs wandered freely along short and narrow quay. At 7:30 am, several surfers were catching waves, and a few were already done for the morning, packing in their boards, smiling and exhausted in the cold morning air.

After a small breakfast we began the drive home, a leisurely jaunt south on highway 1. While this strip of the highway winds to hug the contours of the rugged coast, far fewer hairpin turns made this a more pleasant route than that we had taken in, and the shimmering sun on the surf was nothing short of dazzling. We continued south on PCH to Bodega Bay, then east on Valley Ford Road toward Petaluma. A tempting variety of communities dotted the coastal route; most interesting to us for future visits included Fort Ross and Jenner, though the crowded Bodega Bay also looked interesting. We made one stop along the way to stretch legs, at this lovely spot just inside the Sonoma County border, which unfortunately wasn’t dog friendly and so we were unable to explore.
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Words are insufficient for describing how I feel to see the Pacific Ocean. Its incredible beauty and power simultaneously fills me with respect, joy and serenity. I feel so profoundly, satisfyingly insignificant, liberated and content at this ocean, as if I am of this coast, a product of these waters. I’m eager to return and spend more time exploring.

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