Fort Ross to Tomales, CA

We came down the Sonoma coast today, including a delightful climb and curvy descent towards Jenner, and a very windy finish.

After a breakfast of hot dogs and chili, round two, we hit the road. We quickly passed Fort Ross State Historic Park, and decided to pop in and see what we could see. Fort Ross is a former Russian colony from the mid 19th century, and some of the buildings are still around in various states of restoration. We just went around the parking lot, but looked at a fenced off windmill. Later, from the highway, we could see the chapel and other buildings.

We stopped a bit later at another state park for a bathroom break. There were even flush toilets, so pretty luxurious. While we were stopped, a motorcyclist stopped and chatted. He had a K9 Caddy, a motorcycle trailer for dogs. It looked pretty deluxe.

Then it was on to the main set of climbs for the day. It took us up into the fog 600 feet above the water, with steep grass brown grass hills surrounding us. A flight of thirty pelicans flew out of the fog to pass us by. Another touring cyclist came down the hill, and stopped in a turnout ahead of us. We called out greetings, and he asked if he could take our picture. We were already past the turnout, and stopping while climbing isn’t really much fun, so if he took any, they would have been action shots.

Once the climb was done, it was time to go back down. The road cut over to the inside of the hills, and we could see how we were about to wind ourselves back down in a Z. Beautiful car commercial stuff, at least when you aren’t worried about falling over the edge.

We got sandwiches in Jenner, then hopped across the street to the boat launch, where they had some picnic tables set up. We watched people kayaking in Russian River, which looked like fun. Just as we finished, the wind picked up. It was mostly a tailwind as we continued southeast towards Bodega Bay, but would randomly gust in any direction. We passed a section where the coastal erosion was enforcing it’s claim on the land. As we approached, I could see piles of rubble at the bottom. One lane was closed. Several buildings were condemned. Others had already fallen, leaving parts of the foundation behind.

We took the Highway 1 tour of Bodega Bay, which at about 1000 residents is a lot bigger than most of the towns we’ve been through. Their road maintenance leaves something to be desired, however.

After Bodega Bay, the highway cut inland. The hills became much lower, gentle rolling ones. The road became much straighter. We passed a lot of livestock. Mostly cows, but some sheep and horses, too. Even though we haven’t ridden this road, it felt familiar. We’re close enough to home, it’s the same climate and terrain. The wind continued, with more random gusts, pushing us around.

We made the turn after Valley Ford to stay on Highway 1. The road became narrower and traffic declined. The wind continued, roaring in the trees and howling in the power lines. We were sheltered by the hillside, mostly, as we climbed. Then, as we crested, we were hit by the strong cross. The gusts kept us on our toes. Leaning down helps.

We had one final climb in the last mile. Objectively it wasn’t particularly hard, but I was tired and ready to be done. We crested again, got hit by the wind again, and coasted to our hotel in Tomales, the Continental Inn.

Tomales is a small town, about 200 people, but has a number of food options in the little downtown district. Unfortunately, it seems to thrive on the weekend crowd. So we went to the open cafe, and started a tab. By the time we left, we had gotten dinner, sandwiches for lunch tomorrow, muffins for breakfast, and ice cream for enjoying outside.

On our after dinner walk, we explored the Catholic church nearby, found the regional history museum (only open weekends, which meant nobody could deny our speculations on the history of the church building), and a surprisingly great playground just a few doors down from the hotel.

Tomorrow we cut further inland, as we head to Corte Madera for our final rest day north of San Francisco.