The past few days have been hot here. Like, high 90’s, maybe 100 degrees hot. I’m from a land with an average temperature range of 55-75, so needless to say, I’m not happy with heat (or cold). So this past weekend, Matt and I did what people have been doing for centuries, we went out to the coast to escape the heat. Normally when we go out, we like to go to Shell Beach- its one of the closest beaches, free parking, and they allow dogs. Because of these desirable features, it does get busy. So, knowing that about a billion other Sonoma County residents had the same brilliant idea that we had, we opted to head north to escape the crowds. While on the drive there and consulting my Regional Parks map and my Sonoma Coast State Beaches map (I am a total map hoarder, and probably the last person who still has maps in her glovebox….), we aimed for Stillwater Cove, one of the last of the Sonoma County Regional Parks that we hadn’t visited. I didn’t know anything about it, and prior to consulting my maps, had never heard of it; but because it was a regional park, we could park for free with our pass, and we knew that dogs were allowed. It wasn’t close, north of Fort Ross but still south of Gualala, but the drive was lovely. Once we got past Jenner, there wasn’t many cars on the road and the weather was fabulous. Stella took her banishment to the backseat with only some protesting, and spent most of the time either looking like the saddest dog in the world because she wasn’t riding shotgun, or peering over my shoulder and moving her nose as fast as she could to absorb the new smells coming in from my window. The cove has no direct parking. If headed North, you come to the park’s driveway before you see signs for the cove. Once we drove into the Regional Park, past the (as we discovered) campground into the day use area, you then walk down a lovely forested path. Once crossing Hwy One, there is another short path that brings you down to the rocky cove. Other than a few other beach goers and a couple of abalone divers hauling out when we got there, the beach was pretty much empty. We spent a great time wading in the water, climbing rocks, and searching for little pebbles and shells. After spending the afternoon here and absorbing the perfect weather, we headed back to the car via expanding the cove trail into a 1 mile loop though the park that followed a creek (that OMG YOU GUYS, still had water in it!!!). Unlike most of the parks and the forested lands in our area, it was only logged once in the 1880’s, so many of the large trees remain. We took a 2nd detour, albeit only a few hundred feet, and checked out the Fort Ross one-room schoolhouse but in 1885. Even in the deep shade of the trees, the temperature was fabulous, and I loved being “back at home” in the redwood forest. With the pup dog tired out, the sun moving towards the horizon, and the fog bank moving in, we headed back home. Our adventure was a success, and I found a new favorite spot. As always, I love to hear from you! Leave me a comment! How was your weekend? What do you do to escape the heat?