One of the things that most often surprises the unsuspecting about Sonoma is the sheer size and scope of its boundaries. In fact, even certified Sonomads like myself can still find themselves jolted by a sense of awe at the recognition of just how vast Sonoma County is – which is exactly what happened to me post-lunch at the popular Fremont Diner on Day 18 as I began the trek from one end of the county to the other on the final 48-hour leg of my Sonoma excursion.
The destination on that particular day was the Sonoma Coast and my faithful GPS was as dependable as ever when it calculated that my drive to the Timber Cove Inn on Highway 1 would take just under two hours. Gobsmacked, I looked at the route three times to make sure I hadn’t input something incorrectly before I realized that the address and route were indeed correct and began my journey without further procrastination.
Thankfully, the drive out to the Sonoma Coast is, by and large, a scenic one that winds and twists along primarily two-way roads through acres of vineyards, towering Redwoods, rolling hills and sprawling farms before culminating in some of the most staggering views California has to offer. Not that there’s a scoreboard to be kept, but if there were to ever be such a thing, the stretch of Highway 1 that is the Sonoma Coast would have to rank high among the Golden State’s most notable natural assets.
Because it was mid-afternoon by the time I arrived at the coast, I was able to take a leisurely drive up to the Timber Cove Inn, stopping at various points along the way to take in the magnificent views the drive affords, which really is the ultimate motivation for wandering out to this part of Sonoma. Only a scant few hotels and restaurants populate this stretch of coast which is more about escaping into the beauty of nature than anything else.
At the Timber Cove Inn, rooms offer the rustic and rugged charm of a lodge or cabin gifted with a bird’s eye view of the Pacific Ocean and the jagged rock formations that line the coast. Miles away from much of anything and just as far away from cell phone service (which is non-existent along the coast), the Timber Cove Inn invites guests to leave whatever world they may know behind and relax into one where cow crossings seem as common as the sounds of waves crashing against the shore. This experience in conjunction with the postcard perfect sunsets that the Inn’s ocean view rooms offer are, in and of themselves, reason enough to spend an evening in this most enchanted cove.
After a quiet dinner and an early night in Timber Cove, I headed back down Highway 1 after breakfast the following morning and booked into the creekside Rosewood Suite at the Jenner Inn. Anticipating the freedom of the day ahead, however, I had made an appointment for a little pampering at Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary over in Freestone on the Bohemian Highway. A Zen oasis that sort of appears out of nowhere in the middle of Western Sonoma County, Osmosis has become a regular stop on just about every visit I make to Sonoma County. I like to think of it as an escape within an escape. Spend a few quiet moments after a treatment in the spa’s mystical meditation garden or lounging on one of the massive hammocks in the hammock garden and you’ll grasp the quirky eccentricity that makes this place so very special. (To read a full account of one of my most recent Osmosis experiences, click here)
Following a quick stop at the neighboring Wild Flour Bread Bakery for a selection of scones and sourdough bread prepared in the bakery’s famous wood-fired brick oven, it was back off to the Jenner Inn to enjoy those sweet and savory treats while watching the sun set over the Russian River before tucking in early in order to wake up in time to enjoy the serene morning views of the Russian River.
Next stop Oakland for breakfast at one of my favorite discoveries of 2014 before rolling into Carmel for Martinis at Clint Eastwood’s spread and a stay at Doris Day’s Cypress Inn. But before we head off, here’s a look back at days 18 and 19 on the Sonoma Coast:
(Additional photography by Rob Musick)