For the car ride up to Sonoma County I did what anyone who spent 2003-2007 rooting for Seth and Summer would do– I downloaded all 6 soundtracks of the OC and bumped it the whole way up the 101. Someone had suggested heading to the Russian River Valley rather than to Sonoma or Napa, and luckily I was able to get a killer deal on a two night stay in a little cabin in the woods. Once off the 101, you wind through the 116- what a gorgeous ride! It hugs along side the Russian River, lined with redwoods, and meandering through adorable little towns.
Before settling into my little cabin, I took the 116 all the way to the coast then explored my way up Highway 1. This is that classic drive (but a very, very small part of that drive) with the winding road around cliffs hugging the coast of the Pacific. Naturally it was a stunning.
How cute is this little cabin I was in!?
Really just a glorified shed, but it was wonderfully peaceful.
Outdoor shower to make it seem like I was really roughing it up there.
I will tell you though, the cabin was much less cute when I got back from dinner in the pitch black and dead silence. Perfect atmosphere for contemplating all the ways I could be murdered out here. So after trying to call each person I could think of to talk me off a ledge, I went back out to the store got a bottle of wine, ran up my data watching Netflix, and happily fell asleep.
The next morning I headed up to Armstrong State Park to wander through the redwood forest. What a tranquil little spot! I met an older couple there and spent the afternoon walking around the park with them. I know this is crazy, and I probably shouldn’t even publicize this- but I was a little unimpressed. Not with the couple, but with the redwoods. Yes they are beautiful and this strange reddish color, yup incredibly tall, remarkably old- but I just wasn’t as mesmerized as I thought I’d be. Maybe because there isn’t anything nearby to give a reference for how tall they are, maybe because the branches get in the way of seeing the very tip of them, maybe because I’ve always lived in places that have tall, old, established trees. Regardless of my being underwhelmed I would still highly suggest checking them out.
Of course there was some wine tasting on this leg of the trip. Since I know very little about wine, it was a huge benefit to have worked somewhere that only carried Californian wines. I scoped out the many, many wineries around me and chose a few names I recognized.
Strange enough this was the first time on my trip that I felt semi uncomfortable being alone somewhere. The tasting room was a beautifully decorated room with floor to ceiling windows, high ceilings, plush leather couches, and two long dining room tables. The couches were littered with couples intertwined tasting, enjoying one another’s company, and whispering about where to head next on their romantic getaways. At the first long table sat five folks in their early to mid fifties with someone’s 20 year old son as their designated driver. I made my way to the other table (set to seat 12) and awkwardly listened as the server explained each of the four champagnes he poured for me. I pulled out my tablet and started reading, typing up notes of my travels, and listening in on the group next to me as they giggled and replayed absurdities from decades ago. Each story accompanied with a glass shaking hoot from one woman and animated back slapping between the two men; the son sat shaking his head looking as though he wanted to evaporate.
I popped my headphones in, tipped back my champagne, and disappeared into my own world. By the time I glanced back around the room, all that was left was clusters of dirty glassware and chairs strewn about. Hyper aware that the staff must be closing up shortly, I moved faster through my pours. The staff was so sweet and generous as they saw me move to settle up quickly. The vineyard manager came out and chatted for over an hour with me as staff came through the room jumping in and out of conversation. One of my favorite things is listening to people talk about anything they are passionate about. So while I often couldn’t hang on through the technical conversation of viticulture and regionally unique varietals, I so appreciate his willingness to share his knowledge with me and answer the barrage of questions I had for him.