The Sonoma Coast State Park, Pure Bliss for Max

Comment 1 Standard

Max and I found dog heaven on a recent trip along the California coast. The Sonoma Coast State Park offered a choice of more than half a dozen different beaches, all of them dog-friendly,

The seventeen-mile stretch of sandy beaches, secluded coves, and craggy rocks that form the park is located less than a two hour drive north of San Francisco. oOn our late January trip I searched for a beach with just the right kind of access. The parking lot needed to be close to the shore. Yes, lazy me wanted an easy stroll to the beach, but that wasn’t the only reason. As soon as Max exited the car and sniffed the sea, he would be prone to leaping off tall rocks to get to the water, a feat he tried some years back.

On that initial visit Max was an energetic two-year-old  who had never before seen the ocean. His enthusiasm knew no bounds. We had parked high above the sea and descended a narrow trail to reach the beach a thousand feet below. Scrub brush enclosed the trail most of the way so Max couldn’t see the water.

  • img_1408But then, when the trail widened atop a huge boulder, the ocean came into plain sight. There was also a remaining drop in elevation of twenty feet between us and the beach. The sight of Pacific Ocean triggered Max’s instinctive love of water. He flew into the air straight off the rock.

I stared at Max, frozen in shock. My mind registered the seconds between his leap and his landing as a slow motion movie. My heart pounded with fear that many of poor Max’s bones were about to shatter. To my amazement, he landed, shook himself, and raced to the surf. He happily immersed himself in the sea.

Over and over, Max ran into the waves and back to me, wagging his wet tail with joy. The ocean was his holy grail and he had found it.

img_1404But this year, Max was older and calmer. The trek to the shore was uneventful. I walked along the sun-splashed sandy beach while Max sniffed at the kelp and crab shells.

Intrigued by the magnificence of the surf crashing ashore and curling back to the sea, I failed to notice the black sand beneath my feet was wet for a reason. With little warning, one of the mesmerizing magnificent waves rumbled toward us nonstop. Foaming saltwater swirled wildly over and around my previously dry feet and legs. All the warnings to be aware of the dangers of fast moving waves are true. Fortunately, this was a fairly small wave.

While I scampered away from the ocean, Max pranced away without even getting wet. At the end of our morning at the beach, Max was sandy but perfectly dry. This year I was the wet one.

Many websites offer helpful information. This one is comprehensive:  The Sonoma Coast State Park.

The Tideline is edited by Marianna Shearer.

Winter with Max at the Russian River

Leave a comment Standard

Winter is an ideal time for a getaway to the dog-friendly Russian River area north of San Francisco. Max and I have a tradition of visiting friends near the small town of Guerneville each January. We indulge in simple pleasures– walks, naps, reading books, and eating well.

We take daily treks on a path alongside the river. The trees, bushes, and spindly saplings are so thick we can’t see the river along most of the path.

Whenever we reach a clearing and the sandy river’s edge comes into view, Max wades right in without hesitation. He swims toward the mallards that paddle about and feed in the middle of the river. The ducks always fly away and land downriver. But that never seems to stop him from greeting the waterfowl. He returns  to the shore dripping wet and wagging his tail like a flag.

We meander under towering redwoods, California laurel, Pacific madrones, and Douglas fir trees. The flat trail offers an easy hike. Now and then we sight a tall great blue heron standing in the shallows.  I hold Max’s leash and keep him close so he won’t try to visit the heron.

photo-max-hike-russian-river

Max likes taking walks along the Russian River.

One year our hosts pointed out the ospreys nesting in a tree on the river’s edge. Like us, the pair returns annually to nest by the Russian River.

On clear nights the moon splashes light on the river and the stars sparkle in the inky sky. Max and his canine buddies Jack and Bandit sleep while the rest of us talk into the night.

Our friend’s home, Dream Weaver, may be booked through Russian River Getaways at  http://www.russianrivergetaways. It’s one of the many dog-friendly accommodations near the Russian River. You’ll enjoy lower rates and miss the summer crowds when you visit the area in the winter. See you at the river!