No, I don’t get a summer break but thankfully Jess does, and that provides us some much welcomed flexibility in the summer months which we gladly spend on a series of weekend beach trips, BBQ’s, swimming pool time, visits to the grandparents, Choo Choo’s (any and all we can find), local zoo’s and more. Sea Ranch was our opportunity to put a period on this wonderful sentence and begin looking toward the opportunity of the coming season.
A Ride up the Coast
Sea Ranch is a special little spot up the Northern California coastline about halfway between Mendocino and Bodega Bay. A quiet community of beach homes running along the coastal cliffs complemented by a serene golf course and miles of hiking trails, Sea Ranch’s true signature is that of a retreat. Relaxation is inevitable.
It takes a little driving to get there, but the when you hit the coastline, cell phones immediately go dark. Not by some road trip mandate, but because AT&T appears to have no interest in infiltrating the sleepy coastal towns. From there things only mellow further. Cruising North on the historic coastal hwy 1 winds you past miles of small beaches and towering cliffs. Along with the peaks and valleys of the road, the landscape rapidly changes from sparse coastal brush to lush coastal forest. All the way a fresh cool breeze establishes atmosphere.
Note: While all this sounds romantic, the bends in the road are no joke. Hand off the passenger seat to the voyager with the weakest stomach early or risk explosion. This was a new lesson for us which resulted in a MacGruber-like roadside clean up session and detailed study of Ben’s car seat owner’s manual “re: how (the hell) to flip this thing forward”.
Thankfully, Jess is a great wife/mom/partner and Ben is a trooper. Between the three of us, we quickly laughed, cried, sighed, divided, and conquered. New parenting badges were earned and we were quickly back on our way.
A few bends down the road later, we arrived on the north side of Sea Ranch, just before Guallala. The second we cut the engine, it was a scramble to unbuckle and deliver Ben to his “celebrity” grandparents. It’s pretty sweet to hear the delightful cheers when he knows grandma and grandpa are within reach.
Our base camp was a family friend’s vacation home, very much a sanctuary in the midst of a peaceful playground. Just out the windows were an expanse of tall fields speckled by the occasional coastal getaway, a view of the the ocean, several grazing deer (moose according to Ben), and the promise of fog not far off.
If I had to pick a favorite spot to lounge, it would easily be the comfy chair by the window, the perfect place for cold drink and good book. Still with a balcony deck, the big screen the living room, the pool table downstairs, and the enclosed spa below you’d be hard pressed to get bored in a place like this.
Outside, just a block down the road we had exclusive access to the trails that ran the coastal cliffs. To the North, an impressive beach complete with driftwood forts assembled by past visitors. To the south, the massive rocks and impressively weathered trees that define the north coast.
This trip was about recharging…and that, we did in a variety of ways.
Happy Hour: The first night out was the perfect chance to let Ben have a moment with the Grandparents while Jess and I snuck out for a sunset happy hour on the cliffs. If that doesn’t recharge you after a long day of traveling, I don’t know what will.
Riding: Saturday morning, I prepped the road bike and hit the hills. Thankfully, I’ve done this route before cuz it’s a little gnarly. 3,000 ft. of climbing in just 25 miles is no joke, but the payoff is well worth it. Embarking at Stewart’s point, a steep climb gives a rider no room to warm up, but within 5 miles I was already through the forest canopy and at the top of the first peak. A sharp descent delivered me swiftly to the valley floor and where I’d ride across a bridge over 100 years old…amazing. The next climb came soon after and took me through a series of vineyards (Jess and I always threaten to go wine tasting there, but have yet to make good on our intentions….one day). Admiring the scenery, I took a moment to enjoy the view and snack on some while blackberries before hopping back in the saddle and taking the loop back toward the coast. Pumping the latest Jay-z album through the earbuds, I took on the final climb before ultimately dropping down onto hwy 1 for the last 5 miles of the loop. Rolling along hwy 1 with the wind at my back and the shore break over my right shoulder, it was impossible to contain a goofy grin for the rest of the ride.
Beach Time: Sunday was our chance to hit the beach as a family and it was great. Shortly before lunch we walked down to the sandy shoreline. Ben was thrilled, and it was a treat to watch. That kid is a fiend for the beach. Crashing through the cold waves, throwing rocks, and launching sand through the air, he was beyond content. I really wish that I could bottle the laughter we heard but the photos will just have to do. I can’t wait to do a million more beach trips like this. Seeing everything through his eyes is truly a gift.
Wrap it up!
I could go on and on…and on, but it’s probably worth wrapping things up at this point. The trip was a joy on so many levels. Biking, playing, hanging with family, and taking in the memories was a treat. This trip won’t soon be forgotten. I’m so thankful that we could get away together, and can’t wait until the next trip. Until then, I’m recharged and ready for a fun Fall.