Anchor Bay to Sebastopol - Precipitious Drive #3
We woke to a rather jolly breakfast, still in blissful ignorance of the day ahead.
Pia and Chris are amazing hosts. Breakfast in the dining room was most convivial, all the guests chatting with each other, enjoying delicious coffee, Pia's YUMMY homemade bacon and egg pie with asparagus, tomato and cheese. Pork-Chops-White had to have 2 portions it was so delicious (mind you, it was probably equivalent to her usual 4 egg omelette. Sheesh. How does one person eat so much?) And still managed to scoff a piece of the homemade apple galette. With cream.
But who's counting.
I am not my Pet's keeper.
Now, it needs must be said; Chris did try to warn us.
MPJ was super blase, casually saying, "Ohhh, we'll be fine! We've come down almost the whole way on Hwy 1, we can handle a few twists. Nothing could be worse than the Lost Coast road. We'll be fine."
Famous last words.
You see, we genuinely did not know what was in front of us because we hadn't actually done the bit that was behind us. That lorry, err, I mean that truck that went down and closed the road yesterday? Well, if we had done that stretch instead of the inland road to Gualala, then maybe, just maybe, MPJ might have paid a little more attention to the true level of warning in Chris' comments.
20/20 and all that.
Still blissfully ignorant, the first 20 miles backtracking to Sea Ranch Lodge was easy peasy. Pleasant even. This time we had more opportunity to really look Sea Ranch.
Without the stressed-out haze of yesterday's exhaustion.
Sea Ranch is a large tract of land, all 16 miles of it, that is under covenant. This means that all the homes are designed according to this particular style, apparently called "Industrial Agricultural". It's a concept community, started in 1964 with the original ambition to restore the then compromised natural habitat of this coastline. There is a covenant to maintain the ethos of 'living lightly on the land' and the unique design style is intended to harmonise to the landscape, staying true to the original buildings from when this was actually a working ranch.
We are definitely seeing some VERY cool places on this trip.
It makes me realise how much is in store for us to discover when
we do the Charity Drive!
Which I PROMISE YOU, will not include this next stretch of road...
Sorry, but NO ONE between Point Arena and Jenner
is allowed to Invite us Forward if it means having to do this road again.
You can still nominate your charity - it's just that we'll do your event
at a more inland location.
To put some perspective on just how hairy this section of Hwy 1 is, this picture was taken from a pull-out on the road shoulder. There is a barrier here!
NO WAY would MPJ have stood there without one.
The cliffs are hundreds of feet above sea level, and much of the road has no barrier on the south-bound shoulder.
You are literally driving with absolutely nothing between you and the sheer drop cliff-side.
So, cut to the chase, here's a video that MPJ took to try and capture something of how crazy this coast drive is.
Check out the fact that these giant birds (maybe ospreys?) are wheeling about at, what is for them, the top of the cliff.
If you listen carefully, underneath her desire to sound all chipper, you can hear how anxious MPJ actually is...
Well, that was the last moment of Jani being able to cope with this drive.
As we came around this bend, and she realised there was a constant ribbon of cliff-side road ahead, her anxiety blossomed into a full-blown panic attack.
At first, she did not really realise what was happening, but as she talked to me (by talking out loud she was trying to calm down) I could hear the escalation of FEAR in her voice.
She understood she was in real trouble when she realised she had slowed Bartholomew right down to 10 miles per hour, and whenever she had visibility she would move into the North-bound lane so as to hug the wall-side rather than be on the cliff-side.
Luckily there was not much traffic, and whenever there was a straight enough stretch she would slow to a virtual stop and let any cars behind her pass.
MPJ has never had a panic attack in her whole life. It took her completely by surprise and, as she gripped the wheel as if she was about to fall off the world, she realised that there was no way out of this other than to just keep driving.
I was busy doing my doggie-best to draw off as much anxiety as I could.
It was AWFUL.
Heart pounding, sweat inducing, shallow-breath-panting, nasty horrid FEAR.
And the road just went on, and on, and on, and on...
Ohh Blessed Be, we are surrounded by land on all sides, we are at a stable, low elevation, following alongside the Russian River, and there is not a cliff in site.
Total abject RELIEF.
From Jenner it was just a short hop along route 116, with time enough to pull in to the Armstrong Redwoods, pretty much the last chance to see these magnificent trees before heading further South.
It is so hard to get the true perspective of these giants on a phone camera, so these signs sure do help to explain just how gigantic these Venerable Old Trees really are.
Just to add to the perspective, remember when we started our California adventures and we hiked in to the Boy Scout Trail?
Well, Boy Scout tree is 31 feet in diameter!!
That's more than 2 1/2 times the size of either of these two,
which means it must be over 3000 years old.
One of the best things about Northern California has been this chance to be with these giant trees.
After Hwy 1, the 116 was sheer bliss; flat, cliff-less bliss, with wide shoulders, wide lanes and a light and very civilised flow of calm traffic. We sailed the remaining few miles in to Sebastopol, on our way to spend a few days with Jani's friend Ruth - another one of her Amazing Chinese Medicine colleagues.
And so begins our sojourn in Sebastopol, staying with Ruth and her husband Ross, their daughters Tula (age 5) and Lily (age 12) as we sank into a quiet 2 weeks of living in one of the most lovely communities we could hope to find.
And they have dogs!
With delight, we landed into welcoming arms and the chance to let the Precipitous Drives of the California Coast (and Washington State Forests) be ever so gratefully behind us.
Nothing ahead but blue skies and the joys of discovering Sebastopol...