Posted from Glen Ellen, CA
Sunday, July 14, Bastille Day, seemed like a good day for a road trip to the Pacific Coast. We met up with our friends, Penny and Gil, in Santa Rosa for the 20-mile drive to the Bodega Bay area. They were the kind recipients and temporary guardians of the 45-pound box of Bill’s, uh, travel necessities. (Is cargo too strong a word?). Our most intrepid friends who once spent about four months on a round-the-world trip with minimal luggage, they were gracious enough not to laugh. While the weather inland was warm, sunny, and with a cloudless sky, the fog had nestled over Bodega Bay, a shallow, rocky inlet of the Pacific Ocean. The bay, about five miles across, is a marine habitat. Fishing, boating, and shellfish harvesting are daily activities.
Beyond the bay lies the Sonoma Coast State Park. High above the Pacific Ocean, the Bodega Head Nature Trail hugs the craggy, rugged, coastline, affording simply breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean, Bodega Harbor, and the town of Bodega Bay. Far below, the rough waves crash against jagged, protruding rock formations as they make their way to strips of sandy beaches and secluded coves. Standing amid the fog in this vast expanse alters your sense of space. Depending on the time of year, the ocean overlook at Bodega Head is the place to be for watching gray whales migrate between the Bering Sea and the lagoons of Baja California. According to the signpost along the trail, it’s one of the largest of all mammalian migrations. The whales feed in Arctic waters on small crustaceans and tube worms from April to November. They dive, roll on their sides, and draw bottom sediment and water into their mouths. From December to April, it’s winter mating and calving off Baja. The round trip averages 10,000 to 14,000 miles, and takes two to three months. Sometimes the migration patterns overlap, and the whale traffic flows both ways. Once hunted to the brink of extinction, the whales have made a remarkable comeback, with their numbers averaging between 19,000 and 23,000. Their life span is about 50 years.
Bastille Day also called for dinner at a French restaurant, and Bistro des Copains in the town of Occidental fit the bill on the way home. What a paradox that a highly rated French restaurant — 27 out of 30 by Zagat — is in a town with a population of about 1,100.