It started with an early morning email from Penzey’s Spice Company. I was highly motivated to get the poster commemorating the moonwalk and pie. They have a shop in Montgomery Village in Santa Rosa, CA and I have family in Sonoma County to drop a few things off. Then the dogs piled on the bed and I looked at the weather forecast. It was an easy decision to pile into the car with the dogs and head to the coast. I stopped at my cousin Kim’s, then Penzey’s, then headed toward Bodega Bay.
Alfred Hitchcock filmed the classic horror film, The Birds, in Bodega Bay. I found my way to Highway 1 and Bodega Bay via Sebastopol. It was tempting to stop along the way and would have if Gravenstein apples were ripe. (Festival is August 17) By the time I got to the town of Bodega Bay I was feeling peckish and the dogs needed some water.
The Birds Cafe is named for the film and offers great local options–chowder, fish and chips. The staff remarked that I was one of many customers with a Sacramento Republic jersey. People from the Great Valley are looking to escape the heat! I enjoyed my fish and chips and especially the view from the deck. The sky was overcast and that was a plus. In the summertime hot temperatures inland usually sucks the fog over the coast and lowers temps by 20 degrees.
The staff at Birds Cafe gave me a suggestion for a place for the dogs to play in the surf. I was disappointed because there wasn’t much beach for them to run on but the dogs went right in!
We drove on to Petaluma to see more family and for the dogs to romp some more. Again, I wish traffic wasn’t so miserable (coming and going) because it is so enjoyable to visit the coast.
There is so much to see and do in Sonoma County. There is the coastline, the Russian River and the party town of Guerneville. You can wine taste in Healdsburg or Sonoma. Great food abounds in Petaluma and throughout the county. Many of the historic Italian dining rooms dotted throughout the western county are still serving lunch and dinner. One that holds many memories for me is Union Hotel in Occidental, California. I don’t know how young I was the first time I rode in the car from Occidental, up and over Coleman Valley Road and dropped down to Highway One and the Bodega Bay on the other side. Dramatic scenery abounds and if it is foggy it adds an element of terror to the ride. I have a romantic spot in my heart for Coleman Valley Road.
When my Auntie J sent me the notice about the Western Hills Garden reopening for visitors this summer and I saw the address (16250 Coleman Valley Road), I got a little thrill. We needed to go on Saturday because that is the only public day that I generally have free. I saw that dogs on a leash were welcome so I packed up Lulu the adventure dog and we headed to Petaluma to pick up my Auntie.
We drove the backroads through Valley Ford to Occidental. Coleman Valley Road deadends in to the middle of town. The garden is part way up the hill from town on the right. There is parking along the road. The garden and plant sales are open Saturday from 10 – 4 as well as Tuesdays and Thursdays by appointment.
The entrance fee is $12 for adults. The garden provides a map but the 3 acres of paths are straightforward. Lulu was so excited by the smells of garden cats and wild animals. We were excited by the amazing plants–oversized lilies, large rhododendrons, and a tremendous diversity of plants.
We saved some time for plant shopping. I found some specimens that are hard to find in most nurseries. Now that I have so much shade, I can consider some plants that couldn’t survive in my Central Valley garden with hot summer sun.
I’d go back to shop for plants (no entry fee needed) or to show the garden to friends. It is always inspiring to see a truly well designed garden.
We returned to Petaluma via Sebastopol and to Amy’s Drive In in Rohnert Park. Amy’s features delicious vegetarian diner food. It is just a block from an In-N-Out if you prefer a double-double.