Penngrove, California: Population = 2,522, elevation = 85 feet, Average January low temp = 39.2º, Average July high temp = 78.6º, Average precipitation = 26.65
From Eureka, we got onto Highway 101 again and continued our run down the West Coast. The road passes through spectacular mountain passes and next to expansive ocean vistas. It varies from freeway to two lanes to flagmen controlled, one lane construction sites. It is a beautiful drive, but if you are in a hurry, take a different highway.
On the descent from the coastal mountains, we learned about micro-climate. There is a layer of cold air that the ocean creates that chills the coast. The first of the coastal mountains scrapes off some that layer so more hot air from the inland mixes in. The higher mountains stop what is left of the cool air and the temperatures climb. Penngrove lies in the Petaluma Gap, a break in the coastal mountains that allows the cold air in. In a week of record-setting heat, our garden-level rental in Penngrove was cool and comfortable when nearby cities were scorching hot.
Our stay in Penngrove is not the same routine that we have been going through for these (almost) two years. We are starting to look for a place to settle. We know what we like as far as city size, climate, geography, infrastructure, and so on. Now we are going to visit cities that fit our criteria and see how good a fit they are. Rural Penngrove is located in an area where several of the nearby cites look like good candidates.
Sebastopol is a small city to the Northwest of Penngrove. We did a quick tour of the town and found a nice shopping area, some parks, a couple of breweries, some great food, and some fun street art. In a good news / bad news way Sebastopol is only 20 minutes from the ocean at Bodega Bay. Good news because it is so close and bad news because the traffic going to the ocean often clogs the town to a near standstill.
East of Penngrove is wine country. This is the heart of Sonoma County and home to hundreds of vineyards. We picked a Saturday to drive out to the town of Sonoma. Our route took us over the high hills that parallel the coast, past hundreds of acres of vineyards, along narrow twisty roads, and finally to Highway 12, the Wine Highway. Saturday was probably not a great choice, as the Highway was solid traffic for miles. The town itself was busy, but not jammed. It seems a nice little town, with a big town square and lots of quaint, touristy shops. There were even a couple of breweries amidst all that wine.
There is too much to see and do around here for just one blog entry, so I will add another chapter later. To be continued…