At the end of May we spent ten days in San Francisco and Sonoma County. During our three days in Sonoma, we took a drive from where we were staying near Healdsburg to Bodega Bay. We’d been there together once before, four years ago. Then we’d driven directly up Hwy 1 from San Francisco and stopped for lunch at Lucas Wharf. But we’d continued inland to Yountville in Napa, leaving behind Sonoma’s more rural and unpolished beauty. I was so smitten with the wine country that I immediately started imagining what it would be like to own a home there, and I found a house looking directly out onto the coastline of Bodega Bay. It had been built in the mid-70’s and was going for what seemed like a too-good-to-be-true price, possibly because it was built partly on stilts and risked blowing up onto the highway. There weren’t any interior shots — always a bad sign — , only beautiful views of the wild coastline and the rough water. I’ve had a thing for Bodega Bay ever since that first lunch, when we were still getting to know each other, and my flirtation with problematic real estate (which never got beyond the internet stage). So I was happy to see more of the coastline as we drove down past Fort Ross and started looking out for our old lunch spot, the name of which we no longer remembered. We stopped at the first wharf restaurant we came to, but it was larger and spiffier than we remembered; it just didn’t feel right. We got back in the car and found Lucas Wharf just a few hundred yards farther down the road. It was a sunny but cool and very windy day, although in Bodega Bay it’s frequently windy. The hostess showed us to the same table we’d sat at four years ago, overlooking the wharf. There were two brown pelicans fishing out in the Bay, gulls malingering on the dock and, inside, two young blondes at a table behind Jim. They’d arrived in a white BMW just as we were parking, and they joined some other people and ordered a bottle of white wine for their table. One of the blondes swished her ponytail up into one of those temporary buns blondes with ponytails are always unconsciously constructing with distracted twists of their left wrists. Everyone had large black-rimmed sunglasses. The blonde table seemed a little incongruous in this otherwise mostly empty, slightly threadbare restaurant. I had a grilled squid steak sandwich and remembered once I took a bite of the cole slaw how good I had thought it was four years ago; but unlike four years ago Jim and I decided to forego wine with lunch. After we finished we drove back up Hwy 1 several miles in search of the narrow, winding Coleman Valley Road, which heads back inland to Occidental and the Russian River Valley. I craned my neck to spot the suspiciously cheap beach house but wasn’t sure I’d found it. On the other side of the highway were sleek, modern one-story houses and beyond them, up in the village of Bodega, steep narrow streets and small cottages. Jim says it’s often foggy here, and you can tell that the wind blows often because the dark cypress trees along the coastline are stunted and twisted. I don’t like strong winds, but maybe it’s a combination of the ocean, the rocks and the alliterative name, “Bodega Bay,” that still makes this place seem so romantic, worth the risk of shaky foundations and fogged-in days.

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