Roaming About

A Life Less Ordinary

Weekend Adventures in the Area – Sonoma County

Mark and I never go on vacations. We do travel a lot between places with our car, but the last time we had a real holiday together, as in taking a plane to a destination solely for sightseeing or vacationing, was back in… never actually. For me, it must have been when I was still living in Belgium, working as a teacher, before 2003. If you don’t count the city trip I did with my mom to St. Petersburg, Russia a year and a half ago. Yes, we do fly to the East Coast or Belgium once in a while to visit friends and family and we went on a five-day camping trip in 2015, but it is not the same. I hear some of you scoff, when silently mumbling something like “How about those eight years you were sailing in the Caribbean and the South Pacific?” or “What about that yearlong of gallivanting by RV in Central America?” Again: not the same. Leading a certain lifestyle, when working many hours a day at our computers does not equal vacation. 🙂

There are three reasons we never buy a plane ticket to go have fun in a new country. The main one is our business The Wirie, which requires a lot of work and attention. Even during the weekends. If we were to take off for a vacation, Mark would have to deal with his job and that would kind of ruin the general mood of traveling without worries. When your product is your baby, you can’t just let go of the responsibility or chance disappointing (potential) customers. That’s just how it is with us. The second reason is that vacations are expensive. Budget-minded me trying to have one would mean planning a trip on the cheap, which would cause more hassle and less comfort than a vacation should be. The third reason sounds a little bit contradictory… While it seems like I am complaining about never going on a holiday, I actually don’t think we need vacations right now. We move from house sit to house sit, ideally in areas that interest us, and are able to explore different regions of North America on the weekends. This perfectly fits our schedules and gives us a sense of new adventures and explorations that vary with each new location. It is quite satisfying actually.

Bodega Bay

Without further ado, here are some photos and areas we have visited over the last month with our current dog Lola while house sitting for two months in Sebastopol, California. Lola mentioned the redwoods and the beach in her letter last week, but here are some other sights.

Town of Bodega

This is a cute town, famous for film locations in Alfred Hitchcock movies. We drive through it on the way to “the beach”, meaning the area around Bodega Bay.

Bodega Bay

This wide, well-protected bay attracts a lot of tourists and is only a 25-minute drive from our current house. Bodega Head offers walks and expansive views over the ocean and Doran Beach provides miles of walking on the sand.

Pinnacle Gulch

This is our “go-to” place with Lola. A lovely walk leads to a quiet, undiscovered beach, where we can play with her off leash and listen to the waves. It is quite scenic as well.

Taylor Mountain Regional Park

The owners of our current home left us a regional park pass, so we are trying our best to visit as many of these as the area provides. Taylor Mountain is located near Santa Rosa and is happily combined with a grocery run in “the city”.

Laguna de Santa Rosa Trail

Another convenient stop on the way to the Santa Rosa Trader Joe’s is this easy walk in the countryside.

West County Regional Trail

One afternoon, we wanted to do something close by that provided easy exercise. We decided to walk part of this biking trail that runs all the way to Santa Rosa. We only followed it between Sebastopol and Graton, and back. It was nice, but a bit too busy for our liking.

Stillwater Cove Regional Park

On another sunny day, we ventured a bit further afield, driving north along spectacular Highway 1 – famous for the scenic views of the Californian Coast (more about that in a future post) – and to hike in this park, which has trails in the woods and along the shoreline.

As you can see, there really is no need to go on a vacation with weekend options like these. 🙂

Are there any interesting parks in your area?

38 Comments

  1. How annoying that last comment went before I finished it! LOVE the beach dislike your lack of holiday! Your business would definitely be in demand down under ☺ Loved reading more about you both! Suz 🌻

    • Apologies Liesbet for my last comment, didn’t come across as I intended!! Totally shattered and will leave commenting when we are settled into our next housesit in a week or so 🙂 Enjoy your visitors. Cheers, Suz

      • Don’t you love it, when you try to comment and it all of a sudden “sends” or the connection has issues or you lose the whole text? 🙂 No worries, Suz. Enjoy your next sit and the views of the mountains…

    • Thanks, Suz. We have quite a few customers in Australia. Unfortunately shipping down under is extremely expensive. I”m sure we could grow The Wirie into something big and commercial (would be better for the savings account), but we take pride in our personal customer support and the fact that it is a small family business. Sometimes, we contemplate these things, though, especially when we take complaints personally, when things out of our hands go wrong (and we get blamed) and every day resolves around the business…

  2. It looks wonderful in this area, especially the beach, and very dog-friendly. A great place for Lola to show you around :o) xxx

    • Funny you mention that about Lola showing us around… The owners wrote us in an email that they hope she can show them around and bring them to all the new places she has explored with us. We love having her around and just returned from a long weekend in a national park with her. There were some challenges, but she comes first and she rules!!! And, the scenic photos with her in it are quite special. Stay tuned! 🙂

  3. Such a beautiful area! This particular sit seems well-suited to you. Who needs a vacation when you have so many places to explore close by?

    I didn’t know that there was a bike trail from Sebastopol to Santa Rosa… that I must do sometime. I used to love going to Santa Rosa (mostly for business), but I’ve heard that it has grown quite a bit since I’ve been there.

    Lola looks like she is having a great time with you two!

    • You are (and were) so right, Janis. We love it here, and if the owners ask us back, it will be the first sit for which we would consider returning! 🙂 The parts of Santa Rosa that we have driven and walked through do not seem very appealing and I do think it has grown substantially over the years.

      The bike path is nicer to bike on than to walk. Mark and I started talking about getting electric bikes after learning about this trail! (We decided we did not want to extra responsibility and “burden” – and expense – right now).

      Lola is having an amazing time and so are we! Stay tuned for more blogs about the area – and about Yosemite NP! Hopefully next week. Busy times!

  4. Looks fabulous! The town is so picturesque and I totally want to go on all those walks!

    • Northern California is huge and diverse, but the particular area we are in now has so much beauty and activities to offer that we wouldn’t mind staying longer. Or, coming back. All that is missing is an ocean view. 🙂

  5. Looks like a great area to spend a couple of months. I think you two would really enjoy Phoenix for a month or two, but NOT in the summer. The regional parks are beautiful and shopping is never far away.

    • We would like to house sit in Arizona, Ingrid, ideally in the spring or fall. Lining things up is hard, though, and as of now, we don’t even have anything booked for the summer. Waiting for that ideal house and pet sit in the Pacific Northwest, since we still have time… I’m glad to read that you are back out west, with all its ruggedness and beauty!

  6. Your reasons for not currently going on vacation make perfect sense to me. Looks like you and Mark are finding some good work-life balance. Love the photos – especially the last one of you and Lola!

    • In general, we are quite happy with the balance. But, of course, it would be nicer to not have to focus on work so much. It is truly hard to take days off, other than the weekend, as we have experienced the previous days, when we wanted to go on a multiple day sightseeing trip to Yosemite National Park. More beautiful photos coming up whenever I get to writing about this fantastic weekend. 🙂

  7. Your pictures are so good and show beautiful details of these places! Too many people equate leisure with vacation in the formal sense. You and Mark truly live a leisurely lifestyle and have built that lifestyle around your business and vice versa. I’m always telling my students, leisure is where you find it…and you really have.

    • I think it comes down to priorities as well and, being able to say “Wow, it is so nice outside, maybe we should go for a walk with the dog and then get back to work.” The flexibility to do that is nice, but there are drawbacks of owning and running your own small business as well, of course… Thanks for the compliments, Terri. It means a lot, coming from a leisure specialist! 🙂

  8. What a beautiful area! Lovely pictures.

  9. You have an incredible ‘backyard’ Liesbet. I totally agree – why go on ‘vacation’ when you have a doorstep like that. But the images from your Russia trip are forever etched in my mind. When you do go on vacation, you do it right.

    • You know how we talked about our watery backyards, right? The views here are quite different, but enjoyable nevertheless. And, we don’t have to rock back and forth to be able to enjoy them. Can you tell we are not missing the boat life (yet)? 🙂

      Like many things in our lifestyle, the vacation thing is a toss-up, and we can’t really do the “real” thing anyway, so we try to find alternatives that still make us feel happy and realize that we are enjoying life.

  10. This post makes me wish we would have been able to spend more time in Bodega Bay when we came up the west coast in 2008 — it’s very beautiful.

    Stephanie @ SV CAMBRIA

    • Bodega Bay is the closest to us place on the ocean and while there are a few nice spots, we find other parts of the coastline along Hwy 1 more scenic. It does, however, look like it is incredibly protected to anchor. Although, Mark seems to remember from sailing in the Bay area, that it is very shallow. Glad you enjoyed your time here, Stephanie. You’ll have to come back overland one day! 🙂

  11. This was our home turf for over thirty years! Thanks for the photos of HOME and the outsider perspective. So glad you enjoyed it. If you are still there, don’t miss the Armstrong Redwoods in Guerneville!

    • Hi Laurie! What a wonderful area to live in. So much to see and do. The only problem we see is that many places are far away from each other and require a lot of time in the car, as we experienced showing visitors around the last ten days. Mark, Lola and I did visit Armstrong Redwoods a few weeks ago and then went back two weekends ago to visit again with my family. A very inspiring place! Thanks for swinging by, and stay tuned for more photos of the area – and beyond – soon. 🙂

  12. You and Mark have found a way to weave travel, work, and vacation together so that you can have the kind of life you want. Although your work travels with you wherever you go, which gives you freedom to travel, it also means that you can never really get away from work. What beautiful places to hike in that part of California!

    Jude

    • You hit the nail on the head there, Jude! We are looking forward to an era where we both could become freelancers (popular ones at that, ideally :-)), so we can 100% decide when to work, on what projects and for how long. And, make a decent amount of money, of course. Aaaaah… That’s what dreams are for, right? In the meantime, we try to enjoy a decent balance and keep wondering about that honeymoon that has never happened (yet) and more global explorations in the future.

  13. A quote a keep going back to (it’s almost a manta now) is an old one attributed to mark Twain “Make your vocation your vacation.” I think I’m making progress. But you both have obviously become experts. Really glad for you.
    And love the picture of St. Teresa of Avila church. The tilted perspective sure gives it the Hitchcockian feel.

    • I do love that quote from Mark Twain! Although, the connotation of vacation is nothing close to the reality of anything to do with vocation, in my opinion. Going on a vacation would mean breaking away from thoughts and actions that revolve around work. BTW, I hope you had a wonderful trip abroad. How about “Make your hobby your vocation?” I am jealous of people who managed to pull that one off. We are trying to find a healthy balance, though, and keep saying (for many years already) that, when we are not happy in our current situation (like still being on our boat after 7.5 years), we have to change it. Easier said than done, perhaps, but the fact that we are still living an alternative lifestyle as house and pet sitters, must mean that we are still happy. 🙂

  14. Gorgeous photos. It looks like vacation scenery to me. 🙂

  15. Wow, those areas are beautiful. I went to Santa Rosa when I was a teenager, and for a long while I fantasized about moving there. It is a lovely place.

    • If you liked Santa Rosa, Holli, you would love Sebastopol! So peaceful and pretty out here. And, it never snows. 🙂 As a matter of fact, I think it would be a perfect place to find a quiet studio and write books. The atmosphere is very liberal and artsy as well.

  16. I love your lifestyle of what we call “sequential living” … there is something super freeing about not owning a house and not having to pay rent, nor utilities and never have any house bills for anything. We had that for over two years and I have to say I loved it. Ben prefers to have a home base, primarily due to work, which is obviously much harder to do when you change homes every month or so.

    That part of California is just SO lovely. Love the pics of the beach nd how great that it is so close to your current place. Seems like this home sit is a huge SCORE. Well done you guys.

    Peta

    • I’m glad to know that there is a term for our lifestyle: “sequential living”. I love it! 🙂

      A home base can be nice, but luckily, we still have our parents’ homes, for now (that time is dwindling fast, though). I don’t think we could get used to having to pay those bills again after over a decade “on the go”. I never owned a house or anything substantial, but Mark did. He is not too antsy to go back to that. 🙂 Work (mainly our business) is why we prefer the longer sits and ones where the time zone is not off too much from the East Coast. This will be hard on our visit to Belgium in May/June. Homes with two desks/offices and fast internet score bonus points (like this one).

      You are correct, Peta, this home ticks a lot of boxes, not in the least the “amazing, sweet and lovely dog” box.

  17. I have to say it doesn’t look too much like work, viewed in these photos. I don’t think you have it too bad 🙂 🙂 Good luck to you!

    • Trying to make the most of our weekends, Jo! And, no, we don’t have it bad at all. Just need to learn to handle the work stress a bit better. 🙂

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