Fort Ross Lodge, January 2003 — The Big Guy likes to visit the California coast during the winter because there are fewer people around and, as a general rule, the ocean tends to be calmer. That means it’s much easier (and more productive) to fish for perch and rockfish from the beach or from a rocky point.
In the “old days” we would camp at Bodega Dunes campground during these trips; but as we got older we had more fun overnighting in various motels and inns along the coast Highway 1. These ranged from the upscale to the slightly quirky — in one place with a panoramic view of the sea near Jenner, we had the distinct sensation that the floor of our small cabin was tilted down toward the jagged rocks and pounding surf below us; it probably didn’t help that there was no TV in the room for distraction.
On this particular January trip, we were staying at the Fort Ross Lodge, and we treated ourselves by splurging on one of their cabins on The Hill. On Sunday morning, the day we were leaving for home, we woke up to a small herd of deer right outside our door, including a couple of big bucks.
It was a good thing we had a great hotel room, because the Friday we arrived turned into a bit of a nightmare. The Big Guy was determined to get some fishing in (nothing unusual there), so we hiked down a cliff on a nonexistent trail littered with broken glass and ending in thick layers of slippery ice plant. By the time he was ready to leave, the sun was going down and we had to negotiate our way back up the cliff in near darkness.
We were both cold and hungry — and soon unhappy when we found the driveway to our favorite local restaurant was chained and padlocked, the entire place dark and deserted. We ended up eating dinner in our room on The Hill, making a meal of the emergency supplies we’d brought along on the trip. It was after we’d eaten that we found the deer ticks attached to us that we’d picked up while slogging through the brush.
Thankfully, the rest of the trip went much more smoothly. Our fishing spot on Saturday was much more accessible and relaxing. We were near Fort Ross State Historic Park, but didn’t go inside this time. There’s just something about the weathered look of the buildings inside the fort that always makes me feel happy, even from a distance.
Another pleasing little detail was the stile in the fence separating Highway 1 from the fields and the trail to the fishing spot. As I climbed over it, I couldn’t help thinking about the all the stiles in nursery stories from my childhood. If you’ve ever wondered what a stile looks like, this one is a great example!