clam chowder, a crab sandwich, a hike, and some quiet

I’ve now been back living in Sonoma County for a year and ever since I moved back we’ve been wanting to get down to Spud Point Crab Company to get a crab sandwich and some chowder. Unfortunately, the lines can be very long on the weekend so we often pass it up in favor of something cooked out of our camper van. Fortunately, we both happened to be free on a Friday, a not so busy day on the coast compared to the weekends.

When a three day weekend is on the calendar, I find it nice to really take advantage of the first day. It sets up the stage for a fulfilling weekend. One of those weekends where you wake up on Saturday morning thinking it’s Sunday only to realize you have another day to enjoy without the pressures of work. We decided to take full advantage of our Friday and head to the coast for a rare meal out and a nice quiet hike.

Mallory taking Betty down for her first taste of ocean water at Coleman Beach, Bodega Head.

For us, it’s pretty simple to get to the coast. It involves no turns, just a willing old van. Lately I’ve been having a mysterious power draw while the van is off so I was happy when I turned the key and it started after two weeks of being parked. With Betty in tow, we loaded up the van for a trip to the coast and to catch that elusive crab sandwich that has evaded us for so many months.

We’ve been in the middle of a little oh so common January heat spell which made for a powerful sun that burned off any fog by the time we reached the coast. It was a beautiful day on along the coastline with offshore winds spraying off the lip of crashing waves. We passed Goat Rock State Park where there are opportunities to rock climb and skirted by Salmon Creek where a few surfers were out catching waves. A couple miles passed Salmon Creek and you come to the turn for Bodega Head. Previously, a place for potato farms,once a proposed nuclear site and now a state park.

Along this road you’ll drive along Bodega Bay, a pocket of protected water from the crashing waves of the Pacific. Crab pots stacked high on both sides of the road, harbors with new and old fishing boats, a few seafood restaurants, kayakers deploying crab traps and fishermen trying their luck from the banks. It’s a beautiful place that can get pretty busy on the weekends but was only moderately active on this Friday before noon.

Mallory chomping down on Spud Point’s crab sandwich.

We decided we would hike before our meal in the state park that you can find at the end of the road but those plans changed when we saw no dog signs. Coleman Beach allowed dogs so we stopped there and Betty got her first taste of ocean water. The wind was strong, enough that it blew us right back into the warm confines of the van and down the road for an earlier than expected meal at Spud Point. Surprisingly, there was parking and there was only one person in line. A rarity and it seemed our time had finally come. Two New England style clam chowders and a crab sandwich to split. We drove up the road to a pull out and enjoy our meal looking out over Bodega Bay. The clam chowder had a kick and was quite delicious. The crab sandwich was delicious too but maybe not as good as I remembered. Side note, these days, we often struggle to eat out because we can cook up some pretty good meals at home that can match what we get at restaurants (at least to our palates!) and save money while doing so. Still, we were satisfied and our bellies were warm. It was a nice treat to enjoy together and Mallory got to have her first taste of Spud Point Crab Company.

Crab sandwich from Spud Point Crab Company.

We then took Coleman Valley Road, a well known road in these parts that starts on the cliffs at the coast and rises through farmland while offering scenic vistas as far as the eyes can see. Off this road, you’re able to access one of the trailheads into the Willow Creek preserve. Here we got to enjoy a nice 6.5 mile loop that gave us respite from the constant wind we experienced on the coast. The trail is surrounded by Oak, Fir, and Bay forest with ferns and mushrooms coating the understory. One thing we noticed relatively quickly was the absence of noise. This was a hike that was truly medititave. Big breaths, sighs of “I’m here,” were common as we weaved our way through this beautiful preserve.

Trailhead sign for Willow Creek preserve off of Coleman Valley Road, Occidental, CA.

After the hike we dropped down into the small town of Occidental before making our way to Mimi’s Ice Cream in Sebastopol to top off an excellent day with Mimi’s Mud (Mallory’s favorite flavor of ice cream). A beautiful start to our three day weekend.

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