It's kind of hard to believe, but we've been out here on the West Coast for a week...and hadn't yet even glimpsed the Pacific (or, as we Easterners like to call it, that "other ocean"). Today we set out to remedy this egregious oversight. The locale we chose was Bodega Bay--and yes, I am aware that it was the setting for Hitchcock's iconic film The Birds...because every time I mentioned it when our cross-country venture was in the planning stages, people felt compelled to tell me. The drive took us on Highway 1, more famously called the Pacific Coast Highway (naturally). Leaving Santa Rosa, it meanders its way through several cute little towns, before settling in to a winding, rolling route through forest-and-farm country. (With this combination, we felt extremely lucky that the fresh air held a strong scent of pine, and not the, ahem "alternative"...)
The sea itself, when it finally slides into view, is well worth the roller-coaster ride. The ubiquitous fog had not yet dissipated for the day, so tendrils of it still skimmed the rocky hillsides, lending the whole scene an almost spooky aura. Vigorous waves and sheets of foamy surf pounded the huge rock formations with thunderous roars. Craggy cliffs loomed forbiddingly over the narrow beaches. We braved the 65 degrees and the stiff breeze to wander around for a while, and were amply rewarded for our fortitude when we spotted anemones and starfish in some shallow tide pools near the shore. Higher up, hawks glided overhead on the updrafts (probably searching for their next seafood buffet). One thing that amused us was the abundance of stern warning signs, educating visitors about just how dangerous--and sneaky, apparently--the Pacific can be. The Park Service caution you about "sleeper waves" that have been known to quickly swoop up onto the sand, catching beachcombers unawares and whisking them out into the water. They also admonish you to never turn your back to the ocean...or play tag with the waves (absolutely NOT making this up...) Finally, they advise you not to tread too close to the edges of the cliffs...which could crumble and plunge you to your doom. I'm not kidding, this is the phrase that appeared repeatedly on the signs: "Few survive." (That should totally be accompanied by ominous music, right? I thought so...)
But we did manage to come through the experience unscathed--without falling, or being dragged out into the tide...or becoming kibble for a rogue...seagull, or something. So after tempting fate in such reckless fashion for the bulk of our day, we decided on a safer course of action for the evening. Since we have recently joined the Petaluma Fan Club (membership...four), we found a restaurant/brewpub in town, to test out some local cuisine for our dinner. I can happily report that both the food and the ale were outstanding. And that, my friends, concludes our stay here in delightful Santa Rosa. It's difficult to fathom that our vacation is almost over, but tomorrow we pack it up again and had back south to San Francisco for one last day-and-night-'o-fun. It's been a blast...Hasta luego, Condado de Sonoma!