At least a few times each year, I head up the Pacific Coast Highway out of Bodega Bay, across the Russian River at Jenner and then north to Fort Ross. It's just under 23 miles, but the drive can take an hour or more depending on how much traffic there is and how fast it is moving. On Sundays, it's mostly moving slow, but as you thread your car around the tight curves, the slower pace allows you take in some incredible views.
After a few weeks of stress, including having to unexpectedly and expensively replace my laptop, I needed to decompress and figured that the traffic on the PCH would be lighter on Super Bowl Sunday. It was. The road was wide open. The sun was shining through cloudless skies. Only a light breeze. Perfect!
My destination was the State Historic Park at Fort Ross. I love this place because it has history, it's peaceful, quiet and the ocean views are stunning! I brought my little Pentax ME and normal 50mm lens with me because the simplicity of the ME fit the feel of this day perfectly; wonderful, carefree photography. I shot Kodak Portra 400 exposed at half the box speed.
Fort Ross was a thriving Russian settlement from 1812 to 1841. After the Russians left, the property changed hands several times until George Washington Call purchased it in 1873. Call housed his family in the various fort buildings for several years, finally building a house in 1878. I'd walked past the little Call house on the property during previous visits, but it was never open to the public. I found out that it was open for docent tours the first Sunday of each month, so on this visit I got lucky and took the tour. Here's a shot of the sewing machine near the front door.
Call ran several businesses at Fort Ross including a general store, saloon, hotel and a lumber business. He built the first schoolhouse in the area and even strung telephone lines, establishing the first party line phone service on this remote part of the Sonoma coast.
The Call family occupied the house until 1972 when son Carlos, the last occupant, passed away. The property was then sold to the State of California. The house sat vacant for many years with many of the family's possessions safely stored in the attic. The Parks Department restored the home and volunteers give tours.
A house has to be built well to survive the wind and battering rain of the Northern California coast. This house felt solid and safe. With a few modern conveniences, I could feel quite comfortable moving right in to the Call House today.
Out the front door, flowers blooming on the path to the Pacific.
That narrow strip of pavement you see in the foreground of this photo is a very old alignment of the Pacific Coast Highway which, at one time, ran right through the fort. It's a foot path today. As I headed down to Fort Ross Cove, I looked back to get this shot of the Call House.
An old fence
And Fort Ross Cove
As I snaked my way back down to Bodega Bay, I thought how perfect this Sunday was. The weather was just wonderful. I had selected just the right camera to help me decompress. I learned some new things about Northern California history. I got fresh air and exercise. Photography had brought me back to center again.