Fishing Boat Runs Aground on Sonoma Coast


Last weekend while driving up the Pacific Coast Highway, I spotted a fishing boat that had run aground south of Salmon Creek. While I braved walking across the hot sand, my wife stayed at the car and overheard two men talking about the incident.

Apparently, the captain of the boat was drunk when he grounded the 54-foot fishing vessel called the “Verna A II.”A surfer spotted the boat At 2:30 in the morning and helped the captain ashore.

When the authorities arrived, the captain was arrested because of a previous warrant for his arrest. But the man escaped while making a trip to the restroom.

A few hours later, the police found the captain buying more booze at a local store.

Pacific Grove, California

Last weekend Marilyn and I drove down to Pacific Grove for a long overdue get away. We had a blast at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, hanging out in coffee shops, eating tasty foods, and walking along the Asilomar beach.

Marilyn in PG_s

At The Works coffee shop, I had a slice of Pumpkin Cheesecake and a pot of peach white tea while sketching Marilyn.

Marilyn in PG reading_s

Sketch of Marilyn reading at The Works coffee shop in Pacific Grove.

Richard drawing Marilyn

Marilyn took a picture of me while I was sketching her and drinking coffee, of course.

Asilomar beach_s

The rocky coastline of Asilomar Beach is one of my favorite places to be at sunset. It was very windy when I sketched this and I’m surprised I got anything down on paper at all.

Point Reyes Lighthouse

Over the weekend my wife Marilyn and I headed to a birthday party in the coastal town of Inverness. After a beautiful drive through the Sonoma countryside, we met with company on the patio of Priscilla’s Cafe. After greetings and birthday wishes, lunch began with a round of raw oysters, pints of ale and fresh squeezed lemonade. Afterward, I dove into fish tacos made with fresh local snapper and stacked high with avocado, salsa fresca and crunchy lettuce. What a treat.

After lunch, we drove out to the Point Reyes Lighthouse on the tip of the nearby peninsula. On a previous drive some years ago, Marilyn and I had almost made it to the lighthouse at sunset, only to end up turning back to make our dinner reservations.

This time we were determined to see the lighthouse. After a forty-five minute drive and one wrong turn, we arrived at the gate. From here, a foot path led to the visitor’s center located a half mile away. Stoically, we decided to hoof it.

Unlike the sunny skies of Inverness, here a cold wind blew thick fog that dampened my glasses, limiting vision to about 20 feet. I wondered if we would see the lighthouse or just bump into it. The wind whistled through twisted, windblown cypress trees lining the path.

At the visitor’s center we learned to get to the lighthouse itself, we had to descend a 308 step staircase, and that closing time was 10 minutes away. Racing down the first 200 steps, we finally saw the lighthouse come into view. Marilyn stopped, saying she’d rather wait for another time to go on, another day when we’d have time to explore. I felt disappointed, but had to agree. This turn of events gives us a great excuse to continue the adventure soon.

With only a few minutes to spare, I decided to do a quick sketch from my place on the stairs. Since the lighthouse was partially covered in fog, I chose not to use pen and ink, reasoning that the softness of watercolor would better represent this moody weather.

Running out of time, I walked back up the stairs and found Marilyn at the visitor’s center looking at guidebooks. Together, we headed home where I put the finishing touches on the painting.

The Seagull at Doran Beach, Bodega Bay

If you’ve ever seen Alfred Hitchcock’s movie “The Birds” then you’ll probably understand the experience my wife and I had today at Bodega bay. While enjoying a pick-nick lunch on Doran beach, seagulls showed up one by one and surrounded us from all sides. They stared. They glared. And when we looked away, they stepped closer. The first bird to arrive (sketched above) told me mater-of-factly that he was sick to death of seafood and wanted to eat my turkey sandwich.

View from Cafe Aquatica in Jenner

The cliff-lined Sonoma coast is breathtaking all year long, despite the driving rain of winter and wind-whipped summer fog. Today, as I drove up Highway One, clouds hung low, but the wind was calm, a good-enough day for a sketch outing.

In the tiny town of Jenner, I stopped at a little shop for a bag of nuts to snack on until lunch. Across the street, Cafe Aquatica bustled with customers, an acoustic guitarist sat on a bench, strumming away. I wandered over to the entrance to scan the posted menu. Lavish descriptions of soups, sandwiches, coffees, and teas, made my bag of nuts seem just like, well, peanuts.

Weaving my way through the busy cafe, then outside to the wooden patio deck, I found an empty table with a bay view. Surrounded by the outdoors, I pulled out my watercolors to sketch. A salty ocean breeze kept me cool as the sun parted the morning fog, warming my skin. Even though I was sketching alone today, I felt in good company overhearing the conversations of diners traveling along Highway One, discovering the California coast for the first time.

Camping at Stillwater Cove


My wife and I hadn’t gone camping in thirteen years but last weekend, with the accompaniment of our good friends Jennifer and Matthew, we decided to give it a go. We drove west from Healdsburg to highway 1 and then north, up the rocky Northern California coast until we reached our campsite at Stillwater Cove. The campground was nestled among ancient redwood trees and was close enough to the beach that we could hear the ocean breeze whistle in the treetops.

After popping our tents and removing the coolers from our car, we went on a hike. We walked along well groomed trails, the redwoods towering above us created an almost cave like experience. After crossing a couple of old wooden bridges, we followed a creek, populated with ferns and wildflowers until it opened up at Stillwater Cove. Two Rubber boats lay beached on the sand like sea otters with their black rubber skin glistening in the afternoon sun. Several divers removed abalone from the boats and started to pack up their gear.

We sat on the beach for a while, taking in the ocean view. Several pelicans flew overhead and then scooped close to the ocean looking for fish. I pulled out my watercolors and with the bright sun in my face, attempted to capture the delicate colors of the windblown landscape while the others napped in the afternoon sun.

After heading back to camp, we nibbled on Humboldt Fog goat cheese, kalamata olives and slices of juicy peaches while preparing a dinner of Greek tomato salad and grilled chicken and vegetable kabobs. Lagunitas IPA Beers were passed around and with a blazing campfire to keep us warm, we skewered some marshmallows and made the obligatory, but tasty, s’mores (s’mores are toasted marshmallows and warm chocolate smooshed between two graham crackers).

As night fell, we sat in a semi circle around the fire and told ghost stories until my wife started getting the creeps and told us to stop. She then threw a napkin into the fire and I watched as the flames consumed it. The remaining charred paper lifted, with the help from the heat of the flame, and drifted like a spirit into the darkness.



Sonoma Coast, California

The WorldWideSketchCrawl 30 was today and My wife and I drove out to the Sonoma Coast for inspiration, food, and fun in the sun. Northern California is a great place to live because every year in January we get a mid-winter break from the cold and rain. Today the Temperature was in the low 70’s and there was barely a breeze. Even at the coast, the weather was terrific. No Jackets required.

Along the way, we had lunch in Guerneville at a restaurant called Boon. We chose seats out on the patio to enjoy the view and weather. I ordered boon burger with grass fed beef, fiscalini aged white cheddar + wild arugula on a toasted milk bun with house-made parmesan herb chips for only $11. Marilyn ordered a wild arugula salad with fennel, lemon vinaigrette + shaved vela dry jack ($8). We shared. We laughed. We had a great lunch. Now if we could only get them to turn the music of Nirvana down a notch or two . . .

After our leisurely lunch we landed at Goat Rock beach along California’s Sonoma Coast. We were able to take off our shoes, walk in the grass, and let our minds drift in and out with the tide. I painted two watercolors. What a great way to spend a Saturday. Can we do it again tomorrow?