Ah, the sea.  A few years ago, enjoying a wade through the Dwyryd Estuary at low tide while traveling in northern Wales, I declared that it was high time we planned an ocean-centric trip.  While an estuary isn’t technically an ocean (it’s ocean-adjacent), it has that maritime feel to it—you know, briny sea air and noisy seagulls and such—leaving my inner Jacquetta Cousteau all riled up, a feeling that never quite dissipated.

The Welsh inspiration

This past June, once we secured the catsit in Santa Rosa, I could finally make good on my threat.  Tacking on some seaside time wasn’t even up for discussion—it was going to happen.  Thirty minutes’ drive from Santa Rosa, but a world away by feel, Bodega Bay boasts one of the few swimmable beaches in the area (if you dare to brave the cold water) and is a draw for urban escapees from the San Francisco Bay area, as well as the occasional traveler from much further afield.

A rare sighting of a Minnesotan outside his natural habitat. If preventive measures aren’t taken, he could become invasive.

Sitting atop a “tranquil bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean,” Bodega Bay Lodge was our home for the final four nights of our trip. Early mornings were spent on the balcony listening to the continuous soundtrack of foghorns and sealion grunts, the sources of the littoral chorus obscured by the ghostly, fog-filled marine layer.  It was magical.

The fishing village of Bodega Bay hugs the northeast shore of Bodega Harbor.  With a population of less than 700, it has a wonderfully low-key vibe.  There isn’t a whole lot to do there except explore the striking headlands and beaches, but that was perfect because, with the exception of our final wine tasting and a visit to their weekly farmers market, that was pretty much all we planned to do. 

In particular, Bodega Head, that spit of land you see jutting out from the mainland like an elephant’s trunk in the aerial photo above, is a stunning place to explore.

It was also the place where the husband and his cellphone parted ways in a daring escape that would make any Alcatraz prisoner proud.  Unable to quell his inner 8-year-old, the husband pranced about in the violent surf, playing a game of Chicken with the crashing waves. During one ungainly sissone/petit jeté/pas de chat combo, his cellphone broke free from his breast pocket and dove to freedom a watery grave.

Chatting innocently with a fellow surf-lover just before “The Incident.”

Back at the hotel and still bewildered and in shock over the sudden, costly loss (oh no, wait, that was me), the husband engaged my phone’s “track my iphone” feature, the same function he used to locate me when I was lost but not lost in the French Alps. A little map appeared with a tiny circle flashing right where the brazen leap had occurred, but we reasoned that the app was just noting the last place the phone had been seen alive.

The next day, on the husband’s insistence, we returned to the scene of the incident on the incredibly remote chance that the sea had somehow coughed up the toxic interloper, but alas, it was not to be.

Not long after, we hiked to a remote beach full of rock-clinging sea creatures and squishy invertebrates. Here it became clear that the husband had not been chastened in the least. His moves had transformed from clumsy ballet hops into a more elegant triathlete run, but the previous day’s lesson had eluded him.

No phone left to lose, but those ARE prescription sunglasses!$!$

All this beach exploration, wave taunting, and ignoring of life lessons left us hungry, so we drove to the only “grocery store” (in reality, just a tiny general store) we could find, which was many miles inland.  There, we were finally able to pay homage to Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, which, like John Carpenter’s The Fog, was filmed at Bodega Bay.

A few quick words about food, should you be of a mind to visit Bodega Bay yourself: First, you’re going to want to eat at Spud Point Crab Company.  Everybody does.  It was not crab season when we visited, so we had their clam chowder—New England style for the husband and Manhattan style for me.  It was delicious, and I’m an avowed non-liker of clam chowder!  But here’s the important point: go early.  We essentially had our clam chowder for breakfast.  When we drove past Spud Point a little later, about 10:30 am, the line was obnoxiously long.

And second, shops around here, including many restaurants, close up early . . . often by 6pm.  That’s not a problem for the us, the King and Queen of Early Bird Specials, but if you prefer your dinners when New Yorkers (or God forbid, Spaniards) do, you’re going to have very few options in an already limited dining scene.

We’d love to return to Bodega Bay one day.  In fact, we probably will.  The drive back to San Francisco via scenic Highway 1 lived up to the hype and left me with a new Dust-Farm-Pail List goal: drive the entirety of that spectacular route (in chunks).  We have several sections left to do, including the one from Bodega Bay to Eureka.  Next time, though, we’re coming back during crab season.

Not in summertime. 😦

33 thoughts

  1. Oooh so pretty! I love the red grasses along the coastline. Aside from the cellphone incident, it sounds like a lovely time was had by all. (And who knows, maybe the cellphone had a lovely time exploring the ocean floor as well)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sounds like you picked quite a lovely place to connect to the sea. Judging from your wonderful photos, Bodega Bay looks like a picturesque fishing village that harbours sights, sounds, and activities — by land or by the sea — that call to the adventurer in all of us. I particularly love Bodega Head; it would be just perfect for strolling along the cliffs and watching for migrating whales. I am sorry to hear that the sea swallowed your husband’s phone, unfortunately, smartphones and water just don’t mix. Thanks for sharing your Sonoma County adventures! Are you guys already back to teaching? We had our first school day today and had a chance to meet the lovely teachers. Aiva 🙂 xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are so poetic, Aiva! 🙂 The husband is already back and I go back next week. It’s interesting how the virus caseload is actually quite a bit higher now than it was a year ago, but my school district’s response is not nearly as rigorous. (Ditto for districts all over the US.) I guess that’s pandemic fatigue for you. One rural Minnesota school district that made masks optional (and is already in session) has had a big outbreak and nearly 300 kids are now in quarantine after the first week. What a mess. Is this Aiva’s first year of school? I hope she loves it and COVID and all its restrictions don’t negatively affect her.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you! 🙂 Yes, it’s her first year of school where she’s going to learn to read and write, so it’s pretty important. In Ireland, students don’t have to wear masks, but must keep their physical distance from one another outside of the classroom and work within the classroom in designated groupings or ‘bubbles’. We just have to wait and see how it goes this year as there are more daily COVID cases than ever before. Wishing you a safe return xx

        Liked by 1 person

  3. That last sign looks like a man trying to vacuum up his dog. With a dust buster, no less.

    I’m not a big fan of California in general, but I make an exception for that part of the state. Really, anything from about Sonoma County north. And Monterey Bay. I will say, I’ve never had better chowder anywhere else!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Such milky-blue waves! It’s incredible that one can go from the hot, dry desert inland to the foamy coast within a few minute’s drive in California. Goes to show that the state has so much geographical diversity to it!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. If it is any consolation, when I we walked our first camino in Spain, I diligently shoved all our sweaty clothes in the washing machine and then wondered what that clunking noise was as the clothes sloshed around in all the water. Not a happy husband for a couple of days, but at least we were clean.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. Not only are the pics amazing, but I love your voice and wit as well. I particularly liked the first pic’s caption and the way you described ‘the incident’. Thanks so much for this! It gives me inspiration on how to write better 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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