Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Jilly Does Cali, Part 4: The Sea Ranch

Thanks so much for following along on this trip and for all of your comments.  I'm a little behind on responding, but I'll get there!

Part 4 of my Cali trip recap takes us up to a little community along the coast in northern Sonoma County called Sea Ranch.  Throughout my trip, I had mentioned to many people I encountered that Sea Ranch was my final destination for a wedding and I was surprised that no one in CA had ever heard of it!  Admittedly, it is a very remote, non-commercialized locale, but I think that is the appeal for those who vacation there.

Ok we're on Day 9 of the trip now...

I am headed to SFO to pick up and reunite with two very special east-coasters: my sister and our mutual friend!

The girls both arrived around 1:30pm and since we had heard Sea Ranch was only a 2 hour drive from San Francisco, we thought we had all the time and daylight in the world to explore the city before heading up there.  [This turned out to be a false assumption, but at the time we were clueless and carefree!]

We headed north and ended up parking in a non-descript area of the city which had some interesting restaurants.  We walked for a few blocks to check out the food offerings and decide what we wanted to eat, all the while catching up, reminiscing and generally acting quite giddy.  We ended up with the most random assortment of food items: mediterranean tomato and cucumber salad, hummus/pita, and Mexican fish tacos. But then we had to find a place to eat these treats.  We located a park on our GPS and upon getting there discovered it was a DOG park.  My sister still thought it was a good idea to sit in the grass and eat our food.  For obvious reasons (ie. dog feces), the 2 sane people in the party rejected this idea, and we found some concrete pillars to sit on while we ate. 

After eating we headed back to our car, which was parked in a Safeway parking lot.  We had heard there was a market near Sea Ranch where we could buy groceries, but thought maybe we'd pick up a few things here just in case.  So by the time we left SF, it was around 4:30.  We still thought we had plenty 'o time!

We stopped at the Golden Gate Bridge lookout after crossing it so the girls could get a good view:

It was another clear, fogless day in SF.

And then we headed on our merry way up Route 101.  And hit complete traffic deadlock...for miiiiiiiiiiiiles.  It quickly became apparent we would definitely not be arriving at our destination in 2 hours.  After a couple hours on the road, we decided to make another random stop-off in a town called Cotati for some more groceries.  This turned out to be the wisest decision ever (because by the time we would arrive in Sea Ranch the only market near town would have been long closed), but then we got lost getting back on the highway, so it also cost us an additional hour of driving!

By the time we reached the coastal portion of Highway 1 it was completely dark and we couldn't see anything, a vast difference from when I drove the coastal portion of the same highway through Big Sur.  This portion was also fairly windy and it was late at night so I as the driver had to be pretty careful.  Meanwhile, the jet lagged girls were fading fast on me.

We finally arrived 5 HOURS LATER only to discover we had to drive to the nearest town of Gualala to retrieve the key for our rental cabin, and then backtrack to said cabin.  When we finally got in our house it was 9:30pm, pitch black and freezing outside.  There are no street lights in Sea Ranch.  But when we unlocked the door to our cabin we were in sweet, sweet heaven.  It was so nice and cozy!  We unloaded all of our bags and groceries, ate food and then proceeded to pass out.

Day 10, Sea Ranch:  We slept in and then ate our ration portions for breakfast.  This became a running joke because we only had so many eggs and sausages per person/per day! Hahaha  My sister did the math and made sure each person ate only their share every morning. She was always the math whiz.

We decided to take a little walk/hike around the area to see what we had missed in the dark.  Here are a few shots of the "neighborhood":

And just a random baby deer in our front yard!  We saw them roaming all over the grounds and even had a big buck cross right in front of us on a walk one day.

Cali girls

The coastal views from everywhere in Sea Ranch are amazing.  Luckily it was another blissfully clear day so these shots came out incredibly:


Even our little cabin, which was one of the cheapest ones available, had an oceanfront view!

Later that evening, we were invited to a BBQ at the bride's family's cabin and so we finally got to see our friend and bride-to-be!!  I hadn't personally seen her in 2 years.  She usually flies back East for Christmas every year, but we missed her this past year.  It was great to finally meet her fiancé and 1 year old daughter.  The food at the BBQ was prepared by the family and was incredible.  We had such a good time catching up and meeting everyone else who had flown in for the wedding.  We even made new friends who drove us back to our cabin so we wouldn't have to walk back in the pitch dark, freezing night.  They saved us from running smack into some wandering deer or raccoons.

Day 11, Sea Ranch:  Wedding Day!  Our friend who was staying with us was a key member of the wedding party, and was also singing for the wedding, so she had to be out of the house fairly early this day.  My sister and I, on the other hand, had not a care in the world so we sat around drinking and tried out the hot tub.

And then took a nap.  VACATION MODE in full effect.

Soon it was time to get ready for the wedding.  It was being held at a vineyard up the mountain and wasn't really driveable, so they were running shuttles to and from the cabins.

It was surprisingly much warmer at the vineyard when we arrived for the afternoon wedding, which I thoroughly enjoyed.  The sun was blazing hot and shining down on the outdoor altar, and the pictures I took of the ceremony came out unexpectedly with rays of sunshine filtering down on the bride and groom.  It was really neat.  It was as if their marriage was being condoned by the heavens!

The reception was also outdoors and the setting was gorgeous.



The wedding was a gooooooood time and I was so happy to be there celebrating with my friends and sister.  Something the officiant said during the vows stuck with me.  He said something along the lines of 'thank God Olivia decided to move across the country all those years ago, met her fiancé out here and made this day possible'.  You just never know what's going to happen when you make a leap of faith.  It made me have faith in possibilities unknown and what's to come!
After the reception, we waited awhile for a shuttle and then went to an afterparty for a little, but couldn't hang.  So eventually we called it a night.
Day 12, Sea Ranch:  Our last day!  ie. the day we realized tomorrow we'd have to return to reality.  We spent mid-morning doing some more exploring and hiking around Sea Ranch and found steps down to the beach, where I said goodbye for now to the Pacific Ocean.

Later, we stopped by our friend's cabin again to hang out and chill with her and tell old high school stories.  FUN!!!!!!  It was such a good reunion.  I can't believe we're all in our 30's.  Talking about high school doesn't seem that long ago when we are all together, but it really was.  It's mind blowing how quickly time flies. 
When we got back to our cabin, we sat in the hot tub drinking wine and talking about life, love and the pursuit of happiness for far too long.  Eventually, we got out and napped.  HUGE life accomplishments happening here.  That night we chilled out, packed and thought about how lucky we were to all be together for this event.
Day 13, Sea Ranch:  We got on the road early at 6am.  Ok we were late.  6:30am.  I had no idea how long it would take us to get back since the ride there was a bit chaotic.  Thankfully the return drive to SFO was much easier and since it was morning, we could now see the coastal views on Highway 1.  They were amazing, just like Big Sur.  We made it to SFO in just over 3 hours and then it was time to hug our goodbyes, and board our respective planes back to our homes.  And just like that, my 2 week trip to California was over.
It had been an amazing, epic, incredible trip for me and the ending could not have been sweeter.
I don't know if she knows this, but I will forever be grateful to my friend Olivia for inviting me to her wedding.  If it weren't for her, I never would have planned this incredible solo road trip up the coast of California.  Who knows when/if I ever would have made it out there.  If it weren't for her, CA would still be just a pipe dream and I would not have discovered all the people, places and things I did because of it.  We all miss her, but thank God indeed that she moved across the country and started the domino of events in her own life and in others'.  She is a true friend and a true inspiration.  Love you Olivia!
Have you ever gone to a destination wedding?
Ever heard of Sea Ranch, CA?
What is the longest amount of time one should stay in a hot tub?!


  1. Sounds like you had an amazing trip and really connected with CA! :-) The wedding looks like it was gorgeous, btw!

    I've not ever had the fortune of attending a destination wedding, but this made the idea appealing, LOL. My ex-H is getting married in Mexico, but somehow I don't think I'll be getting an invite. :-D

    Hot tub....oh how I love a good hot tub. We always make sure everywhere we go has one for our trips. I've stayed in for about 30 minutes before. So relaxing on a cool morning or a late evening!

    1. Thank you! I loved each and every part of the state I visited. I hope to live there one day!
      Haha, yeah probably wouldn't even be that enjoyable to attend the ex's wedding!
      I can't remember the last time I was in a hot tub, but I sure made it for up during the wedding weekend!

  2. Beautiful, gorgeous, simple, and so obviously about them. What a fantastic wedding, trip, and time with friends! We had a destination wedding of sorts, lol, even though it was at home! But neither Alex nor I nor his family and our friends lived in Atlanta, and I planned most things from afar. The only true destination wedding I've been to was the one last year in Seabrook, where the entire bridal party got INCREDIBLY ill.

    1. You all got SICK!?!? Ahhhhhhh what happened?! Luckily no one at this wedding got sick. We just got drunk on wine and the natural landscape around us!

  3. Sounds like an amazing time!!! Loved that wedding location.

    And the leap of faith is so true. I made the leap of faith to move from NYC to MD and met Rob 2 years later...

    1. Oh I love that story. Sometimes a big change can lead to other big changes, like a domino effect. I'm hoping for that!

  4. What a beautiful wedding and such an incredible trip. I'm so glad you made this happen!

    1. Thank you! It was a trip I had daydreamed about for years. And I kind of couldn't believe I was there when I finally got there!

  5. What a stunning wedding venue. I've never heard of Sea Ranch but at 2hrs from SF, not a bad place for a weekend getaway I'd say. Glad you got to see the lovely Golden Gate Bridge on a fogless day :)

    1. Well, it was more like 3-3.5 hours north of the city. We were a bit misinformed! Ha But its a scenic drive. And yes, I couldn't believe how beautiful the weather was while I was there! Everything was clear and gorgeous.