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.