Mom and I headed to Bodega Bay, located about 65 north of San Francisco, for an adventure. We relaxed, ate lots of fresh sea food and explored some new country, including a visit to Fort Ross.
Highlights: We experienced beautiful beaches with crashing surf, colorful sunsets, the freshest of fresh seafood and a visit to the Russian 1810s era Fort Ross on our 4-day 3-night adventure.
About mid afternoon, mom and I made it into our little 2 bedroom apartment called “At The Bays Edge” and it really was located right on Bodega Bay’s water’s edge. That gave us enough time to unpack and go down to our deck to read and watch the birds.
I hadn’t been down there too long before I spotted a bobcat making its way along the edge of my deck, about 10 feet away from me. I thought to myself, that can’t be a bobcat and by the time his rear end and tail was in plain view, I knew it was a bobcat. But by that time I couldn’t think fast enough to get my camera out to capture the critter and it loped off into the brush.
It wasn’t long after that mom brought me a cup of hot cocoa. Isn’t that the nicest mom ever?
I sat there watching the seagulls as the fog moved in and out. They are hard to get a picture of because they move so fast.
Zoomed way in, I could see Doran Regional Park across the Bay. We had driven through it before we landed at our apartment and it is a 2-mile stretch of sandy beach that has picnic areas, places to build sand castles, fly kites, surf, fish and walk around. I understand that you can also fish and crab from the park.
I was very curious what kind of sunset we would have. The fog had rolled back out and I waited, watching the birds start to settle in for the night.
Our plan for dinner had been to pick up a couple of Dungeness crabs for dinner and when we went down to get them, they were just closing and out of crab. We knew we would regroup the next day and get there earlier. We decided to go out to dinner at Lucas, a short drive.
I had the Fisherman’s Stew, a huge bowl of fresh fish, mussels, clams, shrimp and scallops in marinara sauce. It was very good! Mom had been having a hankering for fried oysters and they were just what she had been dreaming about.
She said they had a light coating on them and were the best she remembered having. We headed back to our apartment and had our Happy Hour after dinner. Mom kept an eye out the window for the full moon to start its rise.
On our first morning we drove the short distance to Bodega Head. The wind was blowing pretty good and it was a bit chilly for mom so she sat in the car, which as she said, had a million dollar view of the ocean, crashing against rocks. I decided to walk some of the trails in the area which were at the top of the cliffs overlooking those crashing waves.
A friend of mine who had visited this area a couple of weeks before our visit had told me that the whales were migrating. That is one of the reasons I wanted to walk along those cliffs, to get a view of a whale. I didn’t see any whales that day, but I saw this critter.
The ice plant had pretty blooms on it, just starting to open up for the day.
On the way back we picked up our crabs for dinner at Spud Point Crab Company, where they were cooking them right in front of the combination restaurant and store. We had them clean them for us and we headed back to our little apartment, down to the deck to read and relax.
Dinner was yummy. That crab was delicious and mom made garlic bread to go with it! We ended up only eating one of the crab but cracked the other one for crab sandwiches the next day.
On our second morning, I got up early to try and see the full moon set on Bodega Bay.
The birds were up earlier than I was, looking for their breakfast.
Today’s adventure was driving up to Fort Ross. The Fort Ross Colony was established in 1812 by the Russian-American Company and was North America’s most southern Russian settlement. Of course the Russians were not the first people who lived in this area. The Kashaya band of Pomo people would seasonally move their village from the ridges where they lived in winter to their summer home near the sea called Metini.
Around 1742, Russian frontiersmen began to leave their Siberian mainland to look for fur bearing marine mammals in the area. By 1784, Gregor Sgelikov built the first permanent Russian settlement on Kodiak Island in what is now Alaska. The organization that he led became the Russian-American Company in 1799 and was granted a monopoly over all Russian enterprises in North America. They established colonies from Kodiak Island to Sitka as well as in Hawaii. The operation expanded when American ship captains contracted with the Russian-American Company for joint ventures, using native Alaskans to hunt sea otters along the coast of Alta and Baja Caliofrnia.
The Russian-American Company sent a manager to locate a California site that could serve as a trading post and that is when Alexander Baranov arrived in Bodega Bay in 1809. He and his party of 40 Russians and 150 Alaskans explored the region, bringing back many sea otter pelts to Alaska. The site gave these settlers a defensive advantage because of the village’s relative inaccessibility from the Spanish occupied territory to the south. It also had plenty of water, good soil, forage, pasture, and a nearby supply of redwood for construction. In 1812 Russians and Alaskans arrived to build houses and a stockade, establishing a colony to grow wheat and other crops for Russians living in Alaska.
Gophers, coastal fog and lack of farming experience created challenges for the Russians and their agricultural efforts. By 1820 the marine mammal population was depleted from over hunting by the Americans, Spanish and Russians. The Russian-American Company introduced hunting moratoriums on seals and otters, establishing the first marine mammal conservation laws in the Pacific. In 1840 Russian naturalist and artist Ilya Voznesenskii spent a year at Fort Ross, gathering specimens of California’s flora and fauna, as well as many native California artifacts such as baskets belonging to the Kashaya Pomo Indians.
By 1841, the Russian-American Company sold the Fort Ross holdings to John Sutter, who sent his assistant John Bidwell to gather up the hardware, cattle, sheep and other animals from Fort Ross and transport them to where he built his own fort, Fort Sutter in what is now Sacramento. In 1843 William Otto Benitz began to manage Fort Ross for Sutter.
The gates to Fort Ross were closed when we arrived because they were having their Fourth Grade school program where the children, dressed in period clothing experience life at Fort Ross for a few days. The children were down at the beach while we were there but we talked with the teachers and learned that they even had to take 2 hour shifts of guard duty throughout the night.
Mom and I strolled through the grounds, walking through the restored buildings with descriptions of their purpose.
After looking through the old buildings at the Fort, we headed outside the Fort walls and to where the Call House was located. George W. Call purchased the land adjacent to Fort Ross in 1873 and established the 15,000 acre Call Ranch. He exported cordwood, railroad ties, fence posts, apples and dairy products. They loaded their cargo onto ships anchored at the wharf in the sheltered cove below the old Fort Ross, using a chute that carried the bulk items directly onto the ships. The Calls owned the property until 1973 and it is now part of the Fort Ross State Historic Park.
The Call House was closed for repairs but it couldn’t stop me from taking a closer look at the old wood fence that surrounded that area. Different flowers wove their way through the pickets.
We headed back toward Bodega Bay, looking for a nice beach to have our picnic lunch. We really lucked out when we landed at Goat Rock State Beach. It is near Jenner, south of the Russian River’s outlet to the sea. We found a big driftwood log to sit on, looking out at the waves crashing onto the beach, while eating our crab sandwiches.
This friendly seagull took a liking to us. . .until he (or she) figured out that it wasn’t getting a handout from us.
We headed back to the apartment, did our relaxing down at the deck and decided to walk to a restaurant close by for our dinner. As we walked up the driveway, you will never guess what was standing in the driveway. Yep, there was that bobcat again. It stood there for a few seconds then hopped into the nearby vegetation. We continued our walk to The Sandpiper, a restaurant that had been recommended by a friend and only a couple of blocks away. I had the Fish & Chips and mom had the Seafood Platter. It was a very nice end to the day.
It was our third morning and time to head home. We couldn’t come all this way and not stop by the famous town of Bodega, about five miles from Bodega Bay and a little bit inland, on our way out. Bodega was the location for outside scenes in Alfred Hitchcock’s film, The Birds. That is the movie where the birds go crazy, pecking the poor folks in the town to death. Two important landmarks from the The Birds still stand in the town of Bodega. The Potter School, just east of Bodega was the spot where screaming children fled for their lives. St. Theresa’s church, right in town and also on the Bodega Highway, is where they found refuge. So, here is a selfie of mom and me in front of the church.
No bird attacks on this day!
We had a great trip, loved getting away to the coast and experiencing some new adventures. We both highly recommend the adventure and the place we stayed!