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Day 195 - Sonoma Valley & Coast (Photo's Added)

Today we visited Glen Ellen, including Aunt Evelyn's place, Jack London's ranch & musuem, a winery and Jack London Village with wine & cheese tasting (unfortunately not together)

sunny 60 °F

We got up this morning to occasional light rain, which continued throughout the morning. Mom was her usual perky self (perky in the morning anyway) and started off the day by collecting sand from the Sonoma River for her friend back home.


There weren't many campers in the park other than a CCC crew, but we did have some really cool neighbors - Pierre and Jeanette are from Canada, travelling by small RV through the USA. They've really been enjoying staying in the state parks, as have we, although for them they are quite a bargin with the exchange rates being what they are now.


While not that high compared to many places, Sugerloaf Ridge is the highest point in Sonoma County and the headwaters for the Sonoma River. Because there is so much fog and rain in this region, the rocks and trees have a lot of moss on them. I liked the scenery a lot, so did Mom.


Once we made it off Sugarloaf Ridge State Park (a bit of a mountain drive), we headed back to Glen Ellen in the Sonoma Valley. Both Napa and Sonoma valley's are parallel North/South valleys north of San Francisco bay. They get a fair amount of rain since they're not too far from the coast, but also lots of sunshine, so just about everything grows well in this area. Based on the number of vinyards we saw in Sonoma Valley, it looked a lot like the Napa Valley.


Just for fun, we drove down Warms Springs Rd and actually found the house Aunt Evelyn used to live in (a bit abandoned and overgrown now of course). I remember the bridge and creek here as well as the drive up to the house.


Aunt Evelyn died in 1979 and it looks like the house hasn't been used since she was there. Although I stayed there a couple of times and also visited a few more, I don't remember the details very well. According to my Uncle Bill, the house was in poor condition even when my aunt and uncle lived there, so maybe it's surprising that anything is left at all?


Evelyn Weinman, my great aunt, was an artist and specialized in pen & ink drawings (although she could also paint of course). Many of her works were of local scenes around Glen Ellen. Unfortunately, I don't have copies of very many of her drawings or paintings, but Mom says one of the things she drew was the Kenwood Depot. We passed this was on the road to her house, so I stopped to check it out. It is also a registered historical place so might have been worth a shot even without the family connection. A sign on the station indicates "great quantities of stone used for paving the Embarcaredo and Market Street were shipped to San Francisco" from this station.


So after this little side trip, we were ready to hit our first major tourist target of the day - Jack London's ranch. We spent quite a bit of time here, visiting the Museum and the Wolf House ruins (his dream home, but it burned down about a month before they were going to move in). Jack London is the author who wrote "Call of Wild", among other books. He lived in Glen Ellen from 1905 to 1916 when he died in his cottage from Kidney Failure. After he died, his widow Charmian, built a new house on the property she called the "House of the Happy Walls". She lived here until she died, after which the ranch became a state park and the house became the Jack London Museum.


Although the building is still a museum, some rooms still show the style enjoyed by the London's in their personal home, including the window seats in the living room, the living room itself and the dining room. It's hard to see in this view, but on the floor behind the dining table is a fountain.


While Charmian's house was it's own design, there are elements of it that are similar to the Wolf House that was to be Jack London's dream home. It was started in 1910 and was very near completion in 1915 when it burned down, one month before the London's were planning to move in. The park ranger says they now believe that rags with linseed oil were being used on the woodwork for the new home. They were left in a bucket and caught fire. Although London intended to rebuild, he died in 1916 before any serious work was done. The ruins are all that's left of the wolf house.


Jack London's grave is on a small hill close to the Wolf House ruins. His ashes are buried under this rock, as he'd requested.


After visiting his grave and the ruins to the Wolf House, I also hiked by this lovely vinyard. I doubt if it was there when Jack London lived on the ranch, he desparately wanted to make it a working ranch so I suspect he raised cattle rather then grapes, but who knows. The vines make a lovely scene anyway.


We ate lunch at Jack London SHP, then headed back down the road. Based on the scenery there, I can see why he fell in love with the area. This was the view we had from the parking lot as we ate lunch.


Just down the hill a bit from Jack London's ranch is a winery the visitor's center in Sonoma had recommended. The grounds were very beautiful. Mom elected to stay in the RV while I indulged in some wine tasting. I skipped the tour of the vinyards however so Mom wouldn' thave to sit in the RV too long (not sure why, it's got heat, food, things to do, etc.), but without the tour I didn't get any pictures of the place worth uploading.

Then we heaed to a place we'd also heard about from the Sonoma Visitor's Center, they recommended a shop that had a brochure for a free chocolate tasting - which we felt we couldn't pass up. It turns out this is in a small shopping mall called "Jack London Village", that also has an Olive Oil tasting shop and Cheese tasting shop. We tried the chocolates and bought a little, but we really liked the cheese shop!


So having yet again emptied our wallets, we hit the road and headed to where Hwy 1 starts up again north of San Francisco in Novato. We saw quite a bit of Heather, which really added a splash of color to the landscape.


This took us over some very rugged, winding and narrow road past Muir Beach. I stopped at an overlook above Muir Beach - quite impressive and very windy.


I hiked out to the end of the viewing platform of course, but Mom refused to go any closer to the overlook than this - the rail near the parking lot. That's fine, we each enjoy the trip in our own way.


We also stopped (briefly) at Stinson Beach. This is run by the National Park Service and didn't require us to pay to stop there! We later encountered county beaches that didn't charge for short visits, so National and Local are visitor friendly and CA State beaches - $$$? Anyway, as many beaches as we've stopped at during this trip - I never seem to tire of them. These are of Stinson Beach:


And, in honor of making it back to the coast again - one more shot of Stinson Beach...


From here we drove up near Point Reyes. Mom found a State Park called Sam P. Taylor SP about 6 miles inland, where we stayed for the night - lots of redwoods & a lovely creek.


Miles Driven - 88, Cumulative - 18,385
Camped at Samual P. Taylor SP, near Point Reyes, CA

Provisions Obtained: Gas $35.81 for 10.11 gallons at 128,242
Misc. Chocolates, wines and cheese - some for consumption later
Jack London books

Posted by jl98584 18:14 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel

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Glad to see you are slowly chipping away at getting the photos uploaded. Hope you get caught up before you get home. Else you may never! (Bet you have a ton of stuff to do when you get home). Thanks for the great trip record all these months. I've enjoyed it!

by TexasRTJ

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