About a month ago, (it was early June), Martha and I realized it had been 20 years, (as of July 4th), since we visited The Sea Ranch for the very first time, at the behest of my mentor and his wife, knowing nothing – at the time – about this remarkable ten mile stretch of the Sonoma County coast.
In recognition of this milestone, we quickly made the decision to spend this July 4th at The Sea Ranch too!
…well that plus the simple fact it was going to be 115° in Phoenix – yikes!
Southwest Airlines was promoting great fares, our dear friends graciously offered their guest studio to us and we managed to book both a room at the W Hotel & dinner at The Salt House for what would be our last evening in California – kismet!
I’ve written before about our connection to The Sea Ranch here and shared images of our July 2014 trip here and here, as well as our marvelous stay at Condominium One here. We did, in fact, return in October of 2014 to attend the The Once and Future Sea Ranch: An Architectural Forum, (a trip I failed to recount in a subsequent blog post), but we hadn’t been back since. Needless to say, both Martha and I felt it was time to return for a visit!
Last Monday, we flew into OAK, made our way across the Richmond Bridge, headed north on 101 and exited at Petaluma, which is where our five day journey really begins. Lunch at Wild Goat Bistro was fantastic, and Martha captured this second image, (below), as we were leaving the restaurant – perfect, isn’t it?!
After a quick stop at Petaluma Market and Della Fattoria, we resumed our trip on the Pacific Coast Highway, arriving at our dear friend’s home late Monday afternoon. After a relaxed visit with our friends, Maynard Hale Lyndon and Lu Wendell Lyndon, the four of us made our way three houses north on Sea Gate Road to enjoy a lovely meal at Donlyn Lyndon’s and Alice Wingwall’s home, (Donlyn is Maynard’s older brother and one of the founding architects of MLTW). Hilarity ensued… 🙂
The next morning we were greeted by:
…and Martha captured these two images while exploring Maynard and Lu Lyndon’s garden:
Later that morning, Maynard, Martha and I chose to take a walk along the bluff trail to Pebble Beach, where we observed families enjoying the relatively calm water and gentle breezes while marveling at the ragged cliffs looming above.
On the way back to Sea Gate, we ventured past Donlyn’s and Alice’s home again, savored a delectable lunch at Maynard and Lu’s, then prepared for the annual 4th of July picnic/reading of the Declaration of Independence at One-Eyed Jack’s, a community park located roughly midway between the southern and northern boundaries of The Sea Ranch.
The fog began steadily creeping back toward the coastline as the afternoon progressed, and by the time we reached One-Eyed Jack’s at 4:30 PM, we were fully enveloped. Having the opportunity to catch up with fellow Sea Ranchers was a real treat, as was the picnic, complete with watermelon slices for desert!
July 5th was the day we chose to venture north along the Pacific Coast Highway to the small coastal community of Mendocino. We were pleasantly surprised by how quiet downtown was compared to previous visits, so Martha took quite a few photographs of the gardens dotting the area as we wandered up and down each block while pondering the numerous alternatives for lunch.
We decided to have lunch at Cafe Beaujolais, then continued our stroll about town before beginning the leisurely drive back to The Sea Ranch. We did stop in Gualala, (the small coastal village immediately north of The Sea Ranch), to visit with the noted photographer, Paul Kozal, owner of Studio 391, and a dear friend of ours. After returning to the Lyndon’s home Thursday afternoon, the four of us headed out for another walk along the bluff trail, this time heading south toward Black Point Beach. That evening we joined Maynard and Lu Lyndon at The Sea Ranch Lodge for a much-anticipated dinner. The timing couldn’t have been better – we enjoyed a spectacular sunset, complete with a so-called “green flash”, just as the sun dipped below the horizon line.
Thursday began with breakfast at Two Fish Baking at Stewart’s Point, where, afterwards, we reluctantly bid our dear friends goodbye, then meandered south to the Timber Cove Resort, where Martha and I lingered for almost two hours. We learned the extensive renovations had been completed in 2016 – what a complete transformation! The staff were super-friendly and happy to answer all our questions about the property – highly recommended!
In Bodega Bay, we stopped to visit with Ren Brown, owner of the Ren Brown Collection, which specializes in Japanese prints and, more recently, a growing number of extremely talented ceramic artists. We spoke with Ren at length about his recent travels, upcoming exhibits at the gallery and his love of square dancing! We encouraged him to visit the Ceramics Research Center at Arizona State University this fall, then he graciously invited us to walk through the gardens surrounding his gallery/home.
Our last stop before reaching our hotel in San Francisco was at The Palace of Fine Arts. We’d learned about an exhibit of Lawrence Halprin’s landscape architecture projects spanning his entire professional career while we were at The Sea Ranch, and we told everyone there we’d report back on what we saw. Yes, the Halprin exhibit is great and we are recommending anyone – and everyone – visiting San Francisco this summer make an effort to see it in person.
When in the city, we like staying at the W Hotel, (adjacent to SFMOMA and Yerba Buena Gardens). The creative lighting in the lobby is just one of the many design details we find so appealing about this conveniently-located landmark. Dinner at The Salt House, (minutes away from the W Hotel), was the perfect way to conclude what had turned out to be a rather remarkable day!
Friday morning was largely devoted to the Edvard Munch exhibit at SFMOMA, but we also took in the Alexander Calder exhibit, and new work by Park McArthur:
Despite the hordes of people enjoying a warm, sunny afternoon at Yerba Buena Gardens, Martha managed to capture this image of a young child pondering the waterfall all by himself – isn’t it wonderful?
The vehicular congestion in San Francisco during rush hour is always a challenge, but we did manage to get across the Bay Bridge with only nominal eastbound traffic on our way back to OAK, and enjoyed an uneventful flight back to Phoenix on Friday evening.
In closing, I can safely say this trip to TSR certainly exceeded our expectations, and we came home with a fresh set of fond memories – some based on people and places we’ve become familiar with over the past two decades, while others are entirely new to us – and will most assuredly be enjoyed again and again on subsequent visits to this very special sliver of California coastline.