Dogtown, California

Dogtown, California. Population 30, oops, I mean 33

For an anniversary surprise I booked a weekend away in Dogtown. Everybody I told had no idea where Dogtown was. In fact I had never heard of it until I picked up a book at Point Reyes Books in Point Reyes Station on our last visit. It was called ‘The Dogtown Chronicles – Our Life and Times with Sheep, Goats, Llamas, and other Creatures’ by Doris Ober. It was a fascinating read about a couple in Dogtown and their animals. When I went online to find out more about Dogtown, I found a vacation rental, The Loft at Woodville Ranch, and decided it would be the perfect location to spend our anniversary.

Update 1/21/2013: Sorry to say that the loft is no longer available.

(Click on the photos for larger versions)

Where is Dogtown I hear you ask? It is on Highway 1 just north of Bolinas. When we set off after the rush hour on Friday morning, Tom had no idea where we were heading. After crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, I told him to take the Highway 1 exit towards Stinson Beach. That narrowed the choice of our eventual destination.

The forecast for the weekend was not very promising. Rain was likely Saturday, Sunday and Monday. That Friday morning it was overcast and once in Marin it started to rain.

We stopped at the Pelican Inn for a drink and hurried inside out of the rain. The Pelican Inn is the nearest to a British pub I’ve seen in California. The bar is small and the furniture, with its pew like seats around the wall and small round wooden tables, feels like home away from home. The barmaid even knew what a shandy was without me having to explain how to make it. On the walls were black and white photos of the Royal family from a few years ago. A sign in the restroom amused me which warned that the plumbing was ‘Authentic English Tudor style.’ Obviously tongue in cheek as there was no such thing as plumbing in Tudor times. A mass communal pit would have been more authentic.

Bolinas Lagoon

The beautiful Bolinas Lagoon

It had stopped raining by the time we left The Pelican Inn and we enjoyed the ride along Highway One. The road twisted and turned with occasional glimpses of the ocean. Even though it was still overcast we were able to see the Farallon Islands quite clearly.

Tom thought our destination would be Stinson Beach but we drove straight through. The tide was in and the Bolinas Lagoon was full. It was an amazing ride driving the length of the lagoon and observing all the birds on the water. We drove past the turning to Bolinas and Tom was puzzled. Where else was there to go? The next stop, he thought, was Olema.

When I saw the small green sign which announced we were entering ‘Dogtown – population 30, I told him to get ready to turn left. Then when I saw the sign saying ‘Woodville Ranch’ I asked Tom to turn into the drive. We had arrived. To the left stood the main house and ahead was the barn. Our home for the next three days would be the loft above the barn.

The Loft at Woodville Ranch

The Loft at Woodville Ranch. Beautiful setting, beautiful place. Everything was perfect.

We knocked at the door of the main house. The door opened and Anne Sands greeted us. She took us to the barn and showed us the loft. On the way we saw the beautiful Arabian horses who reside there. The loft is a marvelous place – long and with lots of windows. At each end there are long windows which stretch from the ceiling nearly to the floor. In the bedroom, a four poster bed and antique furniture. There was a full size kitchen, a small eating area and a sitting room. Everything you could wish for in a holiday home.

Anne explained that there were a couple of stores in Bolinas, including a co-op behind the community hall which sold local organic produce. I asked about nearby walking trails and she showed me some beautiful, hand drawn maps of the property and surrounding area. There were a couple of trails on the property and many more in Point Reyes National Seashore.

After we’d settled in, we drove into Bolinas along Mesa Road. One of the maps was of Bolinas and showed that the Coastal Trail starts at the end of Mesa Road. Mesa Road turns into a gravel roadway running past the Point Reyes Bird Observatory and ended in a car park. We ventured only a little way along the trail. We would have liked to have gone further as it looked interesting but we thought it was gong to rain. We did go of on a short spur which led to a fabulous view from the top of a ridge overlooking the ocean. The Farallon Islands, although still visible, were slowing disappearing into the mist.

trunk of a eucalyptus tree

Foot of a giant prehistoric creature or the trunk of a eucalyptus tree?

We felt raindrops as we made our way back to the car and we were able to reach it before we got too wet. When we got to the sign for the bird observatory I noticed it said ‘Visitors Welcome’, so we turned into the driveway. At the end was a car park and a Visitors Center. Inside there was a lot of information of the work they do there to catch and band birds. They use a misting net. Most mornings the activities can be viewed but not at 4 in the afternoon unfortunately. We walked around the small museum with, amongst other things, a collection of bird skulls. On display were the skulls of a pelican right down to a hummingbird. It was amazing to see how small and fragile the skull of a hummingbird is. They also have guided bird tours from time to time. We plan to return for another visit sometime.

Back in Bolinas we found the co-op where we bought some organic carrots for the horses.  Feeling hungry, we went to the Coast Cafe for an early dinner but unfortunately it was closed.We went a nearby store and asked if they knew what time it opened and were told 5 o’clock. By this time it had started to rain in earnest and we did not really want to hang around for three quarters of an hour until the cafe opened. We decided to buy some food in the store and returned to the loft to cook our own supper. Earlier we had bought a dozen eggs from Anne and with an onion, a large potato and some mushrooms we made and enjoyed an omelet.

We spent a cozy evening watching a DVD and listening to the pounding rain outside. We wandered whether we would be able to get out for a walk the next day or whether the rain was set in for the weekend. We retired to our marvelous comfy bed for an early night.

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2 Responses to “Dogtown, Marin County – Part 1”

  1. Anne Sands says:

    Dear Guests!

    We are glad you enjoyed your stay with us and liked your review very much. However, we no longer offer a vacation rental in the Loft. We now have full time tenants.

    All the best,

    Anne & Russ

  2. That’s too bad. Lucky tenants as it’s a beautiful spot. Thanks for letting us know.

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