June 27 – 29
Joanna had a 1:00pm appointment at one of her favorite stables, Ricochet Ridge Ranch, the next day, just north of the Fort Bragg city limits. She has ridden here a number of times before and likes the general sense of freedom they give you on the horse (you don’t have to just amble along) and the spectacular beauty of the surroundings. Here is the review she wrote for Trip Advisor:
A Repeat Visit Doesn’t Disappoint
Had a wonderful one-hour beach ride with the new owner of the ranch. The horse was beautiful and willing and when added to the gorgeous scenery and great pictures it made a day to remember. I was originally hoping for a three-hour ride but waited too long to make a reservation and the stable was fully booked on the two days I would be in the area. The staff went out of their way to contact me; I had limited cell phone reception and arranged a private ride just for me. I can’t wait to go back and believe me, this time I will call ahead!
We were a little early and with time to kill, we stopped off in Fort Bragg to check out The Outdoor Store, a shop I’d spotted thinking about the items we’d need to replace if the food bag wasn’t located back at the Best Western. We parked in front and entered, admiring the sizable amount of inventory they had packed into a small space.
My first stop was the cooking and utensils section and I selected a set of the cutlery we’d need to replace, then worked my way to the back of the shop. Earlier in the trip, while loading the bikes on the Yakima Ridgeback Hitch Mount we own I brushed up against the chainring on my bike and imbedded a swath of chain grease over a good-sized patch of my shorts. There was little chance that we’d be able to get the stain out, so I wandered over to the men’s clothing section to check out their stock.
To my surprise and delight they had a pair of North Face Paramount shorts, the same short-only version of the zip-off pants I’ve owned for a number of years. As luck would have it, they had them in my size and after trying on a pair, decided to buy them. Just then, my cell phone rang and it was the Best Western Petaluma, letting us know they had our food bag and would be happy to send it on. We thanked them profusely and asked that they send it to my brother’s place in Bend, not quite ten days out.
Relived to know we’d not have to replace the contents of the bag, I replaced the cutlery set and checked out, enjoying a friendly chat with the sales clerk, then drove back up to Ricochet Ridge Ranch in time for Joanna’s appointment. The plan was that she would ride for an hour or so while I would take my bike up Highway 1 some distance that would get me back to the ranch in time to pick her up.
In previous trips I’ve ridden around Russian Gulch and up to Fort Bragg but have not done the stretch of coast north; not knowing what to expect I set out and immediately encountered a rolling road that hugged the contours of the land, meaning it was full of short sections that were quite steep. With the clock ticking, I kept heading north, stopping now and then to take a picture from yet another breathtaking viewpoint.
At about 30 minutes out I hit a good spot to turnaround, stopped to take a picture looking south and then rode back to the ranch, the return a bit easier due to a moderate tailwind. Joanna hadn’t returned yet, so I put the bike on the hitch rack and using the doors of the car to shield me from onlookers, changed out of my cycling kit and into my regular clothes. Not long after she arrived and we drove back into Fort Bragg for our anticipated stop at the North Coast Brewing Tap Room. We were seated inside the dining section of the bar at a table that would allow us to spread out, drink some beer, work on the blog and eat some good food.
North Coast makes a couple of unique beers that are among my favorites, PranQster and Old Rasputin, a Belgian style golden ale and a Russian Imperial Stout, respectively. While we enjoyed the first beer apiece, we caught up on internet related activities and then ordered to a bowl of their clam chowder and the Jumbo Shrimp and Chips (wild-caught Jumbo Pacific shrimp deep fried in Scrimshaw beer batter, served with house made tartar sauce, cocktail sauce, coleslaw, & pub fries) to split.
It was all we could have hoped for and accompanied by those two great beers, a treat we’d been anticipating since we first made our reservation at Russian Gulch. The next morning, we thought about taking another ride, but lingered in camp and honestly, the short ride I’d taken the day before had left me unenthused about riding more.
So, we opted to take a hike on what we thought would be a short trail, up Fern Canyon to the waterfall. Thinking it would just a couple mile jaunt, we didn’t take any water or food (what else is new?) and so trudged on, wondering when we’d get to that damn waterfall. As it turned out, we did just about six miles round trip and if not for a generous soul who gave us a Cliff Bar and some water along the way, one of us may very well have perished.
Returning to camp, we relaxed a bit and then made our way back to Mendocino to pick up supplies for dinner. While Joanna spent some time on the phone talking to her Mom, I ducked into Patterson’s Pub, a cool bar next to the market to ensure that I was sufficiently hydrated after our earlier hike. I sat at the bar and ordered a draft (I can’t recall but two guys next to me were drinking Old Rasputin) and part way through the drink, Joanna showed up to join me.
Sufficiently re-hydrated, we hit the market for dinner ingredients, then drove back to camp to cook it up, cleaning up early in anticipation of a mid-morning start for the drive up the coast to our next destination, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. Our return to Russian Gulch was all we could have hoped for, triggering old memories and generating new ones. One could easily spend a week here, riding bikes, hiking trails and of course, drinking gallons of North Coast products. Maybe the next time we return.
Ricochet Ridge Ranch: https://horse-vacation.com/
The Outdoor Store: https://www.fortbragg.com/listings/the-outdoor-store/
Yakima Ridgeback: https://www.yakima.com/ridgeback
North Coast Brewing: https://northcoastbrewing.com/brewery-taproom/
Patterson’s Pub: http://www.pattersonspub.com/