Category Archives: Sonoma County CA

Coleman Valley Road: Beauty Before Breakfast

Just a mile or two north of Bodega Dunes Campground along Highway 1, there’s a turn-off for Coleman Valley Road. Most drivers, mesmerized by the beauty of the Pacific coastline, drive right by. But signs that read “Winding One Lane Road” are like catnip to us. It takes longer than half an hour to drive the ten miles between Highway 1 and the tiny town of Occidental (not counting all the times we stop to take yet another photo) but it’s our favorite drive in Sonoma County.

On one of those rare days when the weather is clear, the views of the Pacific coastline are spectacular.

Magnificent view of the coast looking towards Jenner from Coleman Valley Road

However, this is what it looks like today.

Fog in the coastal range along Coleman Valley Road

We start out a little disappointed that we can’t see the gorgeous view, but as we drive through the coastal range, we begin to appreciate this gentler, more elusive beauty. Cattle appear like apparitions in foggy pastures.

Cattle in the fog along Coleman Valley Road

When we crest the coastal range, the fog begins to clear. The landscape changes from pasture to forest. Redwoods line the road and form a living canopy over us.

Redwoods along Coleman Valley Road

Finally we reach our destination: the tiny town of Occidental. Howard’s Station Cafe in Occidental is hands-down our favorite restaurant for breakfast. We love to sit at one of the tables on their front porch, chat while we sip our Taylor Maid coffee, and linger over a hearty breakfast. Besides omelettes like my favorite Smoked Salmon Omelette Florentine, Howard’s has the best Eggs Benedict, banana-walnut or blueberry pancakes, and an excellent breakfast burrito. If your tastes run more to “healthy alternatives”, you can order dishes like Tofu Rancheros or Organic Brown Rice Scramble. And I haven’t even started on their extensive espresso and juice/smoothie bar!


And did you notice? There’s an excellent Patrick Amiot “junk art” sculpture of a train and its engineer right below the Howard’s Cafe sign.




Junk Art In Sebastopol

Mike & I love “junk art” – scrap metal, bits & pieces of broken machinery, damaged household items, and other “junk” transformed into three-dimensional artworks. Luckily, the nearby town of Sebastopol and the surrounding area is a junk art mecca.

The front yards of the houses along Florence Avenue in Sebastopol are filled with junk art scuptures by Patrick Amiot (who lives and works in Sebastopol). You can drive slowly down Florence Avenue to see the artwork but we prefer to walk so we don’t miss anything.

But not all junk art in Sebastopol is found on Florence Avenue.

Junk Art by Patrick Amiot in front of the Sebastopol fire station

Junk Art by Patrick Amiot in front of the Sebastopol fire station



You can see this sculpture in front of the fire station on Bodega Avenue




and this wonderful Noah’s Ark can be found in front of the Community Church.