Saratoga, CA: Memorial Day Celebrations

I’m constantly sharing places that I visit but today I thought I’d share my town with you. In my opinion, I have the best of both worlds. I live in the midst of Silicon Valley ~ high tech capital of the world ~ and yet the town I live in, Saratoga, CA, is still reflective of small town America.

Saratoga was established in the mid 1800’s and is listed as a California Historical Landmark. The quaint downtown offers numerous restaurants, coffee shops, boutique stores, a couple Inns and some wine tasting rooms.

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A little fact I like to share is that Hollywood scouted Saratoga for one of my favorite movies, It’s a Wonderful Life with Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed. Who doesn’t want to live in Bedford Falls?! See images of Donna Reed on the cover of Life Magazine and checking out the town (here).

One of my favorite reasons for living here though is that connection to community and the small town feel and spirit that is still apparent here…and no more so than during a holiday. So what better way to pay my respect to our veterans than to attend Saratoga’s Memorial Day Parade. The parade commenced at the WWI Memorial Statue at the beginning of town…

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…and then with a short walk through a historic neighborhood we headed to the local cemetery to begin the memorial.

The Madronia Cemetery

Future Silicon Valley Entrepreneur selling lemonade and dog sitting services (dogs not allowed in) at the gate to the cemetery.

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Town Spirit

Token dive bar everyone likes to hang out at with a great history.

So the next time you’re in or around the Silicon Valley, you might want to check out my idyllic little town…stay at one of the Inns, have dinner on a summer eve, and then head up to an outdoor concert series at The Mountain Winery. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

And lest you think we’re stuck in the past…the City Council did manage to pass this!

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See you in Saratoga!

(click first image for slideshow – additional images below)

 

 

Monterey, CA: Whale Watching

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Sailors enjoying the day.

Spring in California is an incredible time to go on a whale watching excursion. The whales are still migrating at this time which makes for an active outing.

It’s a misconception that if you don’t go at a certain time of year you won’t see a whale. As a matter of fact, the company I usually use for whale watching, Sanctuary Cruises, guarantees you will see one any day of the year or your next trip is free. I can attest that I have gone at different times of the year and have seen whales each time. It’s the type of whale you see that will vary during the year.

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Bodega Bay, CA

If you find yourself in the San Francisco Bay Area, a fun little road trip is to head north on Hwy 1 to the small town of Bodega Bay. Many of you will be familiar with Bodega Bay because of it’s Hollywood history. This small town is where Alfred Hitchcock’s iconic movie The Birds was filmed with Tippi Hedren.

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The original schoolhouse and church still stand proudly in the midst of town.

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Point Arena Lighthouse

I don’t think I’m alone when I say that I’m obsessed with lighthouses. There is something so eerie, mystical and ruggedly beautiful about them. The Point Arena Lighthouse in Northern California is no exception.

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This lighthouse is located on the stunning rocky coast of Mendocino County. Come take a tour with me…I hope you’re not afraid of heights.

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The Sea Ranch, CA

At the risk of repeating myself I will once again say, Northern California has some of the most beautiful coastlines in the world.

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DSC_6632There are a variety of towns along the California coast where the ocean views will take your breath away. Some of them are world-renowned such as Pebble Beach and others are unknown, tiny towns guarding their anonymity from the masses, yet all share the same stunning seaside.

Less than 3 hours north of San Francisco, between Bodega Bay and Mendocino, is the environmentally-conscious, unincorporated community of The Sea Ranch (yes, “The” is a part of the name but it is usually referred to just as Sea Ranch).

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Sea Ranch spans over a 10 mile range and offers a 19-room lodge, Sea Ranch Lodge, with a fantastic restaurant called the Black Point Grill. It is also an established community of approximately 1800 residences, with the majority of these homes being vacation rentals.

Sea Ranch is noted for its distinctive architecture which consists of simple straight-lined structures clad in wooden siding or shingles with large picture windows. There are specific guidelines to be met when building within The Sea Ranch and all exterior architectural designs are subject to a review process for approval. The beauty of these strict guidelines is that it has created a cohesive and homogenous environment that gives this community a serene and peaceful feeling.

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I’ve stayed at the lodge before which is lovely, however on this visit, I decided to rent an oceanfront home (The Woodland). The vacation rentals throughout this community are individually owned and managed by several different realty companies and a quick Google search for Sea Ranch vacation rentals will pull up numerous property options. A tip for you, this is an extremely large community and the homes are located on either side of Hwy 1, so if your desire is to be by the water with access to the walking trails be sure to confirm that the property is located on the west side of Hwy 1.

Staying at Sea Ranch is the perfect place to decompress and rejuvenate your soul. The view below was what I woke up to each morning. This photo was literally taken from my iPad while I was still in bed. Who wouldn’t want to wake up to this each morning? It was a great way to start the day.

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The sunsets were even more spectacular. It was such a treat to go to sleep to the sound of the crashing waves against the rocky cliffs.

There are miles and miles of walking trails along the water’s edge and through the woods.

Sea Ranch is also a very dog friendly environment so don’t forget your furry babies.

DSC_6504Should you feel like exploring beyond Sea Ranch, there are numerous interesting places to visit such as the lighthouse at Point Arena, the town of Bodega Bay where Alfred Hitchcock’s movie The Bird’s was filmed, the charming town of Mendocino and for meal options, gas and groceries visit the closest town of Gualala (the G is pronounced like a W).

Here’s another insider tip, almost everything closes down by 8:00 pm in this area. You will want to be sure that you have visited or picked up any items from the grocery store before this time or you will be out-of-luck. As mentioned above, the Sea Ranch Lodge has a wonderful restaurant but because it’s the only eating establishment within The Sea Ranch it tends to be quite busy and reservations are highly recommended. There are restaurants in Gualala but even those close down early. I was looking for a place to eat after 8:00 pm and the restaurants were in the process of shutting down. I luckily found one pizza place that had one medium dough left to make a pizza…so keep that in mind.

Sea Ranch is an amazing place to restore and rejuvenate and I look forward to returning soon.

Here is a gallery of all my images.

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