At the end of May, my in-laws came to visit. While the past few weeks had been clear skies and warm across the city, June gloom had arrived and made our neighborhood dreary.
Luckily, J and I rented a beach house at Irish Beach, north of the small town of Manchester, California. We hoped that it would be free of fog.
On Friday morning, began our drive up Highway One. The first thirty minutes or more was foggy, and I was bummed that a lot of beautiful coastal scenery was obscured.
By Pt. Reyes Station, the sky was clear. We ate sandwiches at some tree planter picnic tables, enjoying the ant-based entertainment.
Grass was transitioning between green and golden. We drove by farm after farm, the roads winding up and down hills, through small towns, across streams.
We stopped at Fort Ross, a restored wooden fort that was part of a Russian settlement from the 1800s.
The rusty blonde ranger at parking entrance was a bundle of energy, welcoming us to the fort with what seemed like standup material.
All the the buildings had been propped to resemble their original purpose, with guns in the armory to beds in the bunkhouses.
The wind carried the barking of sea lions all the way into the fort, but the beach was out of view due to cliffs.
We drove up the road to the next park, hoping to see the sea lions. The same rusty blonde greeted us.
Was she both a comedian and a teleportation expert? Would she be at our beach house too?
Path to the fort.
A view from inside the fort.
A view of the ocean from inside a turret.
Windy beach with seals.
Our beach house was located high on a cliff overlooking the ocean.
We unpacked, enjoyed the view, and J and her mom drove off to find food for dinner.
By sunset, they weren’t back. Her father and I watched it alone, keeping an eye out for whales.
Apparently the nearest grocery store closed early, so they had ordered takeout from an Italian restaurant.
We ate dinner to the sounds of the surf.
I hadn’t turned on the hot tub properly, so the water was just warm enough for a first night of star gazing.
The next day, we drove to Anderson Valley for wine tasting and lunch. The first vineyard was very casual. We sat on a sunny porch and sampled a variety of wines, including a syrupy dessert variety.
After one tasting, I was already tired and buzzed, so I sat outside at the second vineyard and listened to the wind rustling leaves.
We drove back via a nearly one-way and shoulder-less road that went up and over a mountain. Conversation topic: the nuances of trespassing.
In the morning, J and I walked down to the beach.
It was virtually deserted, and massive drift logs resembled a whale graveyard.
J and I navigated a floating log maze, then walked along the beach for a mile or two. We crossed a small stream by making a wooden bridge, and followed a tidal bay that was partially sheltered from the wind. Our stopping point was a dune of beach grass. We enjoyed the view, the sound of the waves crashing, and the grass rustling from the constant wind.
It was our last full day at the beach house, so we stayed in for the rest of the day playing couple’s Spades, reading, and hot tubbing.
We left by noon the next day. Our plan was to drive back along the coast, but we took an accidental detour that led us into Petaluma. From there, it was the highway back.
I was a teenage sea monster.
Another abandoned motel.
Not their original hangout.
Clear blue easy.
Living on the edge.
Cracked and collapsing homes.
A view from our lunch stop.
San Francisco was sunny when we returned, but by dusk the fog had rolled in again.
The gloom was a perfect match for losing yet another round of Spades.