Big River Estuary Hike

This past Thanksgiving we needed to walk off some of the great food we ate so we decided to take what turned out to be an amazing walk. I call it more of a walk because the road is mostly level, with gentle hills along the edge of Big River for the first seven miles. You’ll pass an abandoned quarry in the first mile. At 4 ½ miles, there’s a small laguna at Dry Dock Gulch where you’ll find wood ducks, blue herons, and other birds. There are huge blackberry bushes which must be filled with fruit in lat summer. The trail is incredibly quiet, you can occasionally hear a harbor seal down in the water and birds chirping but that is about it. The stillness is wonderful. No matter what level of hiker you are this walk has something for everyone. Dogs on leash are welcome also. If you Google Big River Estuary you will find lots of history on this landmark conservation project. Trust me….you will love this hike.

Access: go south on Highway One past Main St, and turn left on the north side of the Big River bridge – the sign says “Big River State Beach”. Go down the hill, and bear left (east) to the gate. 707-962-0470 or 937-5804

Car Camping at Harbin Hot Springs

Recently I decided to pay a visit to Harbin Hot Springs just outside Middletown in Lake County. This beautiful property was almost lost to The Valley Fire of 2015.  With an estimated half-million Harbin trees burned, it has been a priority for Harbin to protect and ensure the long-term safety and health of land, groundwater, and wildlife. Since I had not visited during the properties heyday, I was able to enjoy the property without comparing it to years past. This particular trip also marked my first attempt at truck camping, which is an option on the property as well as tent camping. There are also some little cabins for rent. No matter which option you choose, this place is a wonderful retreat from daily life
The hot springs themselves are clothing optional…and as far as I could tell everyone there went with that option. There are multiple hot spring pools ranging from very very hot all the way down to a bracing cold plunge. There is also a lovely big swimming pool, a nice large sauna and and a beautiful sun deck for relaxing. There are hiking trails and lots of sweet quiet spots for relaxing and just being alone. It feels like a lot of the guests have been coming here for years and the whole place had a very gentle and quiet vibe. 
Mercifully, with the exception of a little spot in the parking lot cell phone use is strictly prohibited, as is sex in the pools, drugs and alcohol. To further enjoy the feeling of wellbeing I splurged on and hour massage with Christina, who I would highly recommend, and who has been at the property for many many years. She weathered fires to continue practicing in the place she loves and is an excellent masseuse. Be sure to ask for her if you go and tell her Carolyn from Geyserville said hello. 
I do have to confess to sneaking in a bottle of the new Denier Handal Rosè of Sangiovese ( available at ) and having a little glass with my dinner from their Dancing Bear Cafe. While not yet in a permanent location as of this writing, the food was really really good! I was not expecting that at all and ended up having lunch and dinner on the property. All in all I would highly recommend this spot, especially if you can visit on a week day and avoid the crowds. Trust me on this one….I think you will enjoy it.

By Carolyn Lewis

Sunrise from the camper

Taking a Hike

Sonoma County offers some of the best hikes around. Here are a couple of our local favorites.

Taylor Mountain Regional Park – Panoramic views make this a great hike for those who want to see panoramic views from 1,000 feet. Open daily from 7 am until sunset. Start at 3820 Petaluma Hill Road in Santa Rosa.

Sugarloaf Ridg State Park – This hike offers 25 miles located in the Mayacamas Mountains between the valleys of Napa and Sonoma. There is something for every skill level from meadows to steep climbs. Open daily 6am to 8pm. Start at 2605 Adobe Canyon Road in Kenwoood.

Secret Sunset Spot

We locals have a favorite spot to watch the sunset around here and its magical. Wind you way up Geysers Road, just a quick turn of Route 128, until you get to the highest point in the road. You will see the Hawkeye Ranch gate and near it a beautiful old oak tree. Take a seat under the oak and watch as the sunset unfolds across the Alexander and Dry Creek valleys. Wine optional 🙂

Geyserville History Museum

Are you a small town history buff? if so do not pass up a visit to the newly opened Geyserville History Museum. Owned by town historian and defect mayor 80 year old Harry Bosworth with his daughter Gretchen you will find lots of amazing memorabilia and historical artifacts housed inside this 1902 building in the center of Geyserville. Enter through the charming Bosworth Store and check out the large array of hats for sale. Open 11AM to 7PM Thursday through Sunday or call 707-857-3463 for more info.

OMG this Ramen Rocks!

If you are a ramen aficionado then do not miss this sot. Ramen Gaijin in Sebastopol is the real deal. This spot brings together authentic Japanese ramen recipes and techniques with super fresh local ingredients for a distinctly Sonoma County style Izakaya experience. While the ramen itself is crazy good….you can also make a meal of the various skewers and yakitori. We strongly recommend sitting at the bar if you can. The smells from the kitchen are hypnotizing.

Meat, Meat and More Meat

Do you love Salumi? If so you will really enjoy this gorgeous shrine to meat of all kinds. Opened about a year ago….Journeyman Meat Company, owned by Pete and Kathy Seghesio, Healdsburg locals, is a combination butcher shop, salumi counter and wine tasting bar. Ask for the Sicilian style Terrona which is imbued with Parmesan… cannot be beat. Or order one of their wonderful hamburgers..and learn what a hamburger should really taste like! If you find yourself in Geyserville you can also buy and sample their Salumi at Locals Tasting Room. Enjoy!

Really Good Fish Tacos

Do you love fish tacos? There are lots of good spots to get them around Sonoma County but one of our favorite is at Handline in Sebastopol. Made from locally sourced rockfish and fried in a very light beer batter with all the right accoutrements. What really sets these tacos apart however is the fact that the all important tortillas are made in house from scratch! Go check this spot out….you will taste the difference. There are plenty of other fun things to do in the quirky little town….so fuel up then go exploring.

Best Green Matcha Latte

Feeling like a coffee break? If you are in Healdsburg then be sure to visit Plank Coffee. This place not only has a great vibe, friendly owners and baristas but also make excellent food. Try the Greens Sandwich and pair it with a Matcha Latte. It’s the perfect afternoon pick me up. Slightly off the touristy Healdsburg Plaza but well worth a little detour we think. This great coffee shop also has a Cloverdale location with sweet little outdoor tables right on the main drag. They have a super selection of sweet treats too. Enjoy!

Roses, roses and more roses

If you find yourself in Healdsburg during the months of April and May then be sure to check out this little known treasure where you can enjoy perfume harvest tours complete with a full demonstration of a rose distillation to rose water and rose oil. The aromas will stay with you even after you leave….trust us on this one.

A great nursary with a large and sumptuous selection of exquisite roses, available April thru May plus a few special events in Fall. 

Display gardens connected by a Rose Alleé of 8 arches displaying 600+ rose varieties for you to visit and enjoy. Garden tours available on special request.

Open Hours
This lovely display garden and nursery are open during the SPRING April through May on every Saturday and as well as every SUNDAY from 10 am to 5 pm. During the FALL we are open some Sundays from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in September and/or October.

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