Walking Sea Ranch & Turning 55

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I’ve celebrated another birthday at Sea Ranch and so far 55 agrees with me. Yes, I’m falling apart…

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…but slowly.

I managed a zipline course just days before my birthday which included both fear and fun in exhilarating measures.

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I decided to walk the length of the Sea Ranch bluff trail while on vacation, something Rem suggested and reminded me I’d done a few years ago. With my Fitbit I could log my steps and mileage and Rem agreed to drop me off and pick me so I wouldn’t have to backtrack. It is a beautiful way to experience the coast.

Sunday, March 1

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Walking north from the Sea Ranch Lodge on the first day I soaked in the gorgeous ocean views, the soothing sound of the waves, and the familiar smell of salt air and sage-like plants along the trail.

The trails here often seem like something out of a fairy tale, with bridges crossing small creeks, tunnels formed from wild hedges and seals barking on the rocks and in the water below the bluff.

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Rem and I weren’t sure our cellphones would work so I’d picked a spot to meet about 4 miles up the coast, where a short trail linked the bluff and the end of the aptly named (and currently blooming) Wild Iris street, near the White Barn.

Distance: 4.21 miles. Steps: 8,600.

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That afternoon, Rem and I baked my birthday cake, using the recipe I’d previously made as cupcakes: Chocolate Cake with Guinness. I remembered it being a delicious, moist cupcake, not too sweet, with a deep chocolate flavor and a slight earthy quality from the stout.

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Monday, March 2

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We started my birthday by driving down to Shell Beach (the beach closest to the house) to watch the sunrise. Low clouds thwarted that idea but once up and out, I decided to walk south from Shell Beach to meet up with where I’d ended the day before, Wild Iris. There are numbered trail posts that help to match your location with the map, though they don’t indicate distance, which is too bad.

Rem headed back up to the house and I headed down the coast for the first of two walks that day.

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Walking along I enjoyed some of the Sea Ranch architecture. Houses are in shades of grey and brown, like driftwood. From the street side, this one is tucked down into a berm and the grassy roof helps it to blend into the surrounding landscape.

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From the side you see skylights and the grass roof.

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From the ocean side it looks more conventional, with more skylights and plenty of windows to enjoy the view.

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Another house reminded me of photos I’ve seen of African rondavels.

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This house has a wall that is almost all glass. A little greenhouse-type structure in the corner protects the hot tub from chilly coastal winds while retaining the view.

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Once again, Rem and I met at Wild Iris. Back at the house I made one of my favorite breakfasts: a fried egg sandwich with bacon on a toasted English muffin, and Rem gave me the birthday card he’d made.

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Cheeky. But he can get away with it since 1. I love that he makes me laugh and 2. He gave me a spa day at Imperial Spa  in San Francisco for my gift.

Sitting in the window seat reading and crocheting on my very-slow-growing scarf was an important part of my morning.

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…as was putting together my birthday cake. I split the two cake layers to make four thin ones and layered them together with semi-sweet chocolate ganache.

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Buttercream frosting with instant espresso powder was the finishing touch. I did a crumb coat (thin layer of frosting to keep the crumbs in place), let it sit in the fridge a bit before swirling on a ridiculous amount of frosting. The leftovers went into the fridge to eat sandwiched between graham crackers.

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After lunch (open faced tuna melt with Swiss cheese), I went on the next bit of my walk. I started at the trail head by Shell Beach and headed north again.

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Rem and I met at the corner of Tide Pool and Sea Drift, not far from the Del Mar Center.

Distance: 4.73 miles. Steps: 10,728.

I brought The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman along on the trip and picked out “Flat Roasted Chicken” for my birthday dinner but instead of the tiny potatoes she fixed with it, I’d been wanting to make hand cut pasta for ages. So we did! I’ll write another post soon with more details on the spatchcocked chicken and fresh herb pasta. Suffice to say, it was a red-letter day dinner.

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It was ambitious and we were both tired after the busy day, but it was fun cooking together and both dinner and dessert were delicious. Rem surprised me with another gift certificate (for art supplies) and we finished the day with a soak in the hot tub.

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Tuesday, March 3

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Walking north from the spot I reached on Monday, I noticed the different textures of the landscape I was passing through.

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The views are often breathtaking and the path continued to unfurl like a story, hiding then revealing portions as I walked.

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I passed one of my favorite Sea Ranch homes, one whose interior I’d love to see, as well as others that caught my eye for their charm or quirky design.

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This huge play fort is carved out of trees and hedges and is large enough for me to stand in without stooping.

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For the 50th Anniversary of The Sea Ranch, historical trail markers such as this one have been added alongside the path.

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Although it isn’t part of The Sea Ranch, I wouldn’t consider this bluff-trail walk complete without a coda: the portion in Gualala Point County Park. I gave a small mental cheer when I passed the last numbered trail post, but continued on.

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I thought of my dad along this last section, remembering one summer when we both had our bikes at the house. We rode at different times of day, and would leave small offerings for each other at the last sign on the path just before reaching the beach. A pine cone or two stacked pebbles would be arranged for the other person to find on their next ride.

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I looked for pebbles to leave and thought about all the feathers I’ve found since he died. I hadn’t seen any feathers on the bluff, although until then I hadn’t been looking for them, and thought it would be nice to find at least one small feather.

Sure enough, I found just that: a tiny white bit of down, about the size of my thumbnail. I kept looking and found a second and then third itty bitty little feather. It made me laugh because if you asked my dad for a small portion at a meal, he would dish up about a teaspoon of lasagna or a single strand of spaghetti. Somehow, those three tiny feathers made me think he was saying, “One small feather? Here you go, is this small enough?”

Coming to the last curve, I took in the last gorgeous views.

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I found several small pebbles and left them at the sign by the beach.

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Walking back to where I was meeting Rem I saw several clusters of daffodils I’d missed before. We have daffodils blooming at home in San Rafael in two planter boxes on our patio. There are also daffodils in bloom in front of the Sea Ranch house and many other homes here, which makes me happy because they always remind me of my birthday.

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Distance: 4.66 miles. Steps: 10,323. (The extra part, in Gualala Point County Park, was 1.46 miles and 7,011 steps, which is reflected in my total distance).

This walk felt like a gift to myself that I unwrapped as I walked along.

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Thanks for stopping by.

8 Comments

Filed under Cooking, Life

8 responses to “Walking Sea Ranch & Turning 55

  1. well… I am totally jealous of your day!…It sounded so wonderful…
    Honestly…I am so glad it was SO GOOD!…
    What a lovely post!
    Happy Birthday!

  2. Julie

    What a wonderful Birthday!!!

  3. Joan Stotko

    I love your beach pictures. It reminds me of the beach in So. Cal of course yours are more beautiful and at least I can remember the ocean and the fun my 4 girls and their father and me used to have.

  4. Pingback: Birthday Dinner Recipe: Fresh Pasta | dianne faw

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