Can It Really Be this Cold in July?

The Russian River flows  southward from the mountains of Mendocino County in Northern California. Once in Sonoma County, it turns west and meanders its way to the Pacific Ocean. It is 110 miles long and traverses some of the most spectacular scenery in the United States.

In the last 100 years the river has nurtured the vineyards Sonoma County is known for. But for centuries before the grapes came to California, its valley was home to the world’s most magnificent trees–the redwood.

We spent last week in the area and Northern California is a strange and foreign land where sweaters are worn in July and fennel grows wild on the side of the road.

The beaches we’re most familiar with are the white sands and blue water of the Gulf–a far cry from the cold, rocky shores of the Pacific. The next two pictures are from Shell Beach.

Seals are not a common sight in Franklin either. This is at Jenner, where the Russian River meets the Pacific Ocean.

Later that day we drove down to Point Reyes which holds the distinction of being the foggiest place in the U.S. It is also right on top of the San Andreas fault which runs between these blue poles. When the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 occurred, a fence very near here moved 16 feet.

But nothing about this area is as iconic as the trees. We were in a cabin on the Russian River and these trees were on the property.

Redwoods spread by sending out shoots. This is a fairy ring–a circle of trees that have grown up around a mother tree.

One day we went to Armstrong Woods–a huge forest of redwoods. Remember the where the Ewoks lived in Star Wars? This is where they were filmed.

Of course, no visit to Sonoma County is complete without at least one winery visit. We had plenty to choose from.

And if you’ve ever been on a vineyard tour, you know that this is the best part:

It’s easy  to see even now the allure that California had on visitors decades ago. With its huge trees, rocky shores and climate that changes from mile to mile, it is completely foreign to our Southern-bred selves. It is a wonderful place that I hope to visit again and again.


Filed under Travel

12 responses to “Can It Really Be this Cold in July?

  1. Katie Barbarossa

    What a great trip!! And yes, even in sunny Southern California, yesterday was the first real sunny and warm day in a long time!! Even the 4th of July, which is normally nice and toasty, was overcast and even a little chilly… I guess summer is a little late this year.

  2. this makes me want to visit. very much. i’ve been in love with SanFran for years – and rarely venture north, but you’ve convinced me…

  3. As I mentioned in my last comment, I spent some time up there. It was astonishingly beautiful but I didn’t want to live in a cold weather climate year-round. So I never considered a relocation.

  4. Niece Whit

    Next on my list: Northern California! B-e-a-utiful!

  5. Julie

    A fairy ring of trees! Fantastic–I just wanted to climb into the middle of that ring in your photo to see what magic thing could happen.
    As for that photo of “husband” between those posts–I KNOW exactly what he did either before or after the photo was taken. He grabbed one of the posts and pretended the ground was shaking. Am I right?

  6. Misty coastline, seals, rolling wooded landscape, wine – oh, it looks absolutely GORGEOUS! (yes, I’m shouting). This makes me so sad that my only experience of the USA so far has been Orlando (not my kind of place at all), when there are so many other nicer, more interesting places to go. I wouldn’t even mind the mist and drizzle now I live in a guaranteed hot summer location.

  7. All of a sudden, this past week, it turned hot as hell in SoCal! After weeks of cold, misty weather that felt more like Portland than San Diego, suddenly we might as well have been in Tucson! Sumpin’s going on and I blame Al Gore!

    Back home to South Carolina next week, and then a visit to Nashville/Smyrna/Franklin/Brentwood to see our son and DIL.

  8. Katie–We learned that when the weather people say “high near 80” they mean 65.
    DF–You should do it. It’s spectacular.
    Whit–It really is gorgeous. And you don’t even need your passport.
    Julie–Actually he didn’t. But’s lie and say he did.
    PG–I hope you’ll come back some day. There is so much to see. Our history can’t compare to yours, but the scenery can’t be beat.

  9. It’s so unfortunate that California is sometimes dismissed as shallow and uncultured because of LA. People constantly tell me they don’t see me as the type who would like California, and all I can say in response is, “Redwoods.”

  10. Hi, I did a land art project in Germany ( and was looking up examples of full grown trees. I found your picture here. May I use ie on my site as an example, and link to you from there?

  11. Sure–but please just use the trees…not the ones with our photos.

  12. I live in Finland, so it would not be practical for me to travel to California to take my own picture of the trees.
    Thank you

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