For several years I have heard my California cousins talk about their experiences of renting a house on the Pacific Ocean, and I knew it was something I would love to do. I had the opportunity to do just that last month, when some of my girl cousins in California planned a 5-day trip to Bodega Bay, California. This group of siblings and sibling "wannabes" has a tradition of getting together for a trip when one of them celebrates a significant life milestone. Some of their past trips have included going to LA, to be in the Tonight Show audience; going to Chicago, and being in the audience of the Oprah Show (they were there the same month that Oprah gave a new car to every audience member, but alas, it was not the day they were in attendance!) Last year, they all went to Las Vegas---I did not get to go on that trip, and I have heard very little about it---no doubt, due to the travel motto for Las Vegas! The first trip I went on with the gals was a cruise to the Mexican Riviera, and it was a WONDERFUL experience! The last trip I went on with them was to the Portland, Oregon Rose Festival. That too, was a fantastic time of estrogen-infused entertainment! In my opinion, however, my best "estrogen expedition" with these ladies was this one that centered around a Monday through Friday rental of the house pictured in this collage. It was as close to the Pacific as one can get, without actually being IN the water! The middle photo of the property shows that it sits on a narrow bluff between the famous California Highway One, and the roaring surf below. The bottom two photos show our choices for scenery: The right photo shows the magnificent green hills of Sonoma County that were visible from the kitchen corner window, and the photo on the left shows the magnificent ocean that was visible from virtually every other window in the house. As you can see, even the hot tub in the bathroom had an incredible view of the ocean coast line! Not seen in the photo, is the "throne" of that particular bathroom, that also had the same fantastic view!
Because we had incredibly good weather when we were there, we could take advantage of outdoor activities available at our doorstep. This included watching sea gulls and pelicans on the ocean side of the house (upper left photo) and wild turkeys on the side of the house looking out over the hills (upper right photo). The middle photo shows my favorite part---walking on the ocean beach below the house. (I have been a shell collector since I was ten years old!) The lower left photo shows my cousin Debbie gathering us a bouquet of calla lilies, which grow wild in the ditch lines of that area. The lower right photo shows another favorite outdoor activity---sitting on the deck and solving the world's problems as we looked at the beauty in front of us.
This photo collage shows some of the other activities we enjoyed: reading, putting together a jigsaw puzzle, playing dominoes, scrapbooking, playing cards, and CELEBRATING LIFE!! The lower right photo shows the stimulus for this years get-together: The matriarch of the family---Martha----celebrated her 70th birthday this year! She chose her favorite flavor of cake---carrot cake---for her birthday cake, and we all enjoyed joining her in celebrating another year of life.
This photo collage shows another big part of our get-together, and that was food preparation. The top left photo shows our grocery shopping expedition in Petaluma, where we ended up with two carts filled to the max, with foods that would nourish us for the next five days. My cousins had planned a menu, resplendent with "California cuisine" (note the fresh artichokes steaming in the middle photo), but also with a nod to our "Granny Keeling" who would make us "chocolate gravy" for breakfast, when we came to visit her. The lower right photo shows cousin Brenda stirring up a huge pot of this "Keeling Comfort Food", (beside Brenda, the photo shows Cousin Debbie taking the hot biscuits out of the oven) and the left middle photo shows how our Granny served this special version of Southern cuisine---over hot biscuits, with a pat of butter. Although she made her own butter (which us kids called "cow butter"), we settled for a store-bought version of the real stuff. Granny Keeling was also famous for her popcorn balls (maybe that was the start of my popcorn addiction), and cousin Debbie is becoming equally famous for her Caramel Corn, infused with sliced almonds and dried cranberries (lower left photo).
As I write this, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for God's many blessings in my life, not the least of which is a wonderful family. Likewise, I am thankful for his beautiful creation called "The Planet Earth", and for his awesome creation of the human body than enables us to see this beauty, and HEAR it as well! I echo the praise of King David in Psalm 98:7 that says "Let the sea roar, and all it fullness. . . Let the hills be joyful together before the Lord." If you would like to experience this joy in a similar location, check out http://www.coastalvistas.com/ for information on rentals and prices. Then gather up your loved ones, and experience an expedition you will never forget!! Miles of smiles! Tricia