|View from cottage porch, Bodega Bay, California|
There is no one at the motel office desk. There is only a hand-drawn sign:
MANAGER IS OUTSIDE AROUND BACK ON ACCOUNT OF NICE WEATHER
We walk around back and are greeted by a woman who appears to be in her fifties. She is smoking a cigarette and could be a character from Golden Girls. Her voice is Bea Arthur, but her disposition is Betty White.
A basset hound toddles at her ankle as she moves about the yard.
“That's Barney,” she says by way of introduction. “He won't bite.”
I reach down and offer the back of my hand, a non-threatening gesture. Barney responds with a disapproving bark.
“It's the hat. He doesn't like hats.”
My Portland Beavers cap has become ubiquitous on this trip. If Barney doesn't like my hat, he doesn't like me. This is his territory, so I respect the decision.
After checking into our cottage, I ask about dinner options. Barney's mom has a few suggestions, the easiest of which is the Sandpiper next door.
“You'd better hurry, though. It's open till 8, but sometimes they close up early.”
There are places closer to downtown, but those involve driving. She does mention one restaurant just down the hill that might work.
“Can we walk there?”
“Well, I wouldn't recommend it. Especially if she's getting dressed up. But if you do, head down this road here, take the second right, then cut through the fence...”
I nod my head. It sounds complicated.
“But I wouldn't recommend it.”
Sandra and I settle into our cottage, which overlooks the water and is as old school as its keeper. It's a tiny room with tile floors and a wooden porch that we share with our neighbors.
Bodega Bay's population is shrinking. The 2010 census had it at 1,077, well down from 1,423 in 2000. Much of Alfred Hitchock's The Birds was filmed here. Originally settled by the Russians in the early-19th century and called Port Rumyantsev, it is now a quiet town that feels far removed from everything. When non-Californians think of California, they do not think of a place like this, although the same can be said about most of the state.
After a brief respite, we stroll to the Sandpiper. Sandra has flat bread with pesto, goat cheese, and bay shrimp. I have fish and chips, and a Lagunitas IPA. We share a bowl of clam chowder. We are seated at a window overlooking the bay, next to a table full of commercial fishermen talking about the day's haul and dreams of a brighter future.
Back at the cottage, we open the half-empty bottle of Merlot we'd bought in Paso Robles and sip it in plastic cups while gazing at the water below from the porch. One of the many advantages of summer is that the further north we travel, the later the sun sets. We are rewarded with the gentle hues of twilight, what Sandra calls “Parrish time” after the palette favored by famed painter Maxfield Parrish.
It has been a long second day. Hard to believe that tomorrow night we still won't be out of California. But we'll worry about that after getting some sleep.