The hubs and I took a much-needed vacation and drove up to Fort Ross CA for a mid-week getaway.
About 45 minutes above Bodega Bay, Fort Ross is an unincorporated town named after the Russian fort established there in the early 1800’s. It is considered part of Jenner, CA but is 12 miles above the actual town of Jenner.
If you truly want to get away from it all, this is the place to go. The town is small (population: 100 something) and well off the beaten path. It only offers one gas station/deli, a few motels and a couple of restaurants, but what it lacks in variety it more than makes up for in quality.
We stayed at the Fort Ross Lodge, which I said before, is in Jenner, but not the actual town of Jenner, but about 12 miles of windy roads above Jenner, which I didn’t realize because I didn’t bother to read the confirmation email that the nice people at the lodge sent me, so I figured it was in the town of Jenner. Needless, to say, we were pretty confused when we went through Jenner and didn’t see the lodge. So after another 12 long miles of where-the-bleep-are-we’s, we were very relieved to see the lodge sign.
Fort Ross Lodge offers beautiful grounds and very comfortable rooms, most with a wood fireplace and some with outdoor private spas. (If you’ve never sat in a spa overlooking an ocean sunset, you don’t know what you’re missing!) The staff there is friendly and helpful, and on our arrival pointed out various places to dine and visit while we were there. They even have WiFi service, which is something you wouldn’t expect in such a remote area. However, cell phone service there is spotty at best, and from what I was told the only service that even works in that area is Verizon (which fortunately we have). But we couldn’t get cell reception in our room; we had to walk out to the cliffs overlooking the ocean to get a signal. There are no in-room telephones, but there is a pay phone next to the office.
Our first day we decided to drive north up the coastline and sightsee for a bit. We ended up stopping at Salt Point State Park, where we walked the hiking trails along the beach and snapped the photos below. Any of the state parks in the Sonoma county area require an $8 parking fee to park in the designated areas, but once you purchase a parking permit, you’re good for all the state parks for the day.
After a few hours of roaming around the park, it was mid-afternoon and we were pretty tired and hungry. We decided to continue up north to the town of Gualala to eat at the Bones Roadhouse. If you like good barbecue, then you’ll love this place. Not only is the food (and beer!) great, the place seems to attract an interesting mix of travelers sharing their travel-war stories, which added to the fun atmosphere.
With full bellies, we headed back down south to the lodge. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to stop and visit Stewart’s Point Store and Retreat on our way back, which offers glamping-style canvas cabins (I’ve never tried glamping, but it looks like so much dang fun) along with many other al a carte services geared toward helping their visitors to relax and unwind.
After we rested up a bit, we decided to go out for a little late din-din. The closest place was the Timber Cove Inn about a mile north of us, so we decided to give it a try. If you are the type of person who easily gets lost trying to find a place, you don’t have to worry about missing this one- there is like a 1,000 foot totem pole in the back of the inn which I’m sure can be seen from space.
The restaurant is fine dining, but it has a warm atmosphere and the staff are very friendly. The menu offers a good selection of food, including some vegetarian dishes. The food was excellent, the dining experience enjoyable, and most importantly, there was no stuck-up people there to piss us off.
The next day we decided to visit the Fort Ross State Park. Now, I absolutely love old historical places. Not only because I love history type stuff, but because old historical places tend to be dilapidated because they’re old (obviously), and because they are dilapidated they also tend to be somewhat creepy. And I ADORE creepy stuff. The park isn’t super-high on the creepy scale, but it does offer a sense of eeriness especially the fort’s graveyard that is separated from the fort by a ravine. It does offer a small piece of interesting history that most people would never know about unless they toured the park. If you ever decide to visit here, give yourself a good part of the day to do it- there’s a lot to see here, and it also offers some nice beach access with some of the best shell and rock hunting opportunities I’ve found in California, though actually keeping the rocks and shells is illegal, so of course I would NEVER do that.
After a good day of touring the fort and exploring the beaches, we decided to catch an early dinner and get in early for the evening. We went to the Ocean Cove Lodge Bar & Grill which offers casual dining with a great view. It was warm enough to eat outside on the front patio amongst the flower garden and hummingbirds buzzing around the feeders. The clam chowder was to die for and if you order any of the several fish-and-chips selections on the menu, you won’t be disappointed. It made for a nice ending of the last night of our vacation.
I hope you enjoyed this and I didn’t bore you to death, so if you’re still alive, feel free to leave me a comment.
Karen Goodman says
What a fun day! I love the close up pictures you got of the rocks and the chow hall. Road trips are so fun. I need to do more of them.
Michelle @ The Painted Hinge says
Thanks Karen! 🙂 And by all means do more road trips- they are good for the soul!
Kati Aho says
Hi Michele – just ran across you page looking for photo of my great grandparents house – the Call house. My mother (Laurie Carr Horn, 97, lives with me and is still sharp), me and some family members are going up to the house on Sunday. My Mom’s Mom – Laura Call Carr was one of the children of GW and Mercedes Call. I spend a lot of time at the house in the 60’s when I was a kid. My great Uncle Carlos – my grandmothers brother lived in the house at that time. It was pretty fun to visit… Maybe I’ll see you up there some time.
I can only imagine what it would be like to spend time there as a kid. It is an wonderful house (I love older homes) and it couldn’t be in a better location. What an amazing family history! Thanks so much for sharing it! And yes, you just may run into me up there sometime! 🙂