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Jenner Jottings -Tim McKusick - July 2016


Jenner Jottings -Tim McKusick - July 2016

M y work takes me all over Sonoma and neighboring counties, often times driving the rural back roads in search of the perfect ‘retreat property’ for clients wishing to escape the stress and pressures of city life, some seeking retirement and relaxation and some searching for a week-end get-away, with the goal of being able to re-charge their ‘bliss-batteries’ to get them through another week…

Even though I have lived here my whole life, and have traveled these roads for decades, I am still in awe on a daily basis on the shear rugged beauty that surrounds us, and the rich and varied landscapes available to us within minutes of our city hubs. Some roads follow old stage coach routes that were originally the Pomo Trails by our earliest residents. Some parallel the creeks that feed our life-sustaining rivers, starting high in the remote hills in areas unseen by most city dwellers.

A recent ‘retreat quest’ took me from the hills of the Dry Creek Valley, upstream above the Warm Springs Dam to the streams that feed the lake and then over towards the coast by late afternoon.

My clients, he, a historian at a college on the east coast and she, a nurse in the Oakland CA area, were looking for a quiet property for meditation. She had fond childhood memories of Music Camp at Camp Cazadero and her family cabin nearby and our initial searches started there. But the right property had not ‘revealed itself’ as of yet. When we thought we had found a good property, it would turn out a hunting/gun club would be nearby, etc…But they knew they would know it when they had found the right one…

With his school over for the summer, they called me to renew their search and we set up a couple days to search Sonoma and Mendocino counties’ coastal and inland areas…We worked out a list of properties that looked promising and we set up our rendezvous over in the Healdsburg area. Early the morning of our date, as I prepared to head out, I checked the ‘hot sheets’ one more time… Interesting, a new listing in the coastal Sonoma hills. The grainy aerial photos didn’t look too promising as a retreat, but I made note of it for my clients…

After a morning of touring muddy roads high overlooking the Dry Creek Wineries, and an early afternoon cruising canyons above Lake Sonoma with a very accommodating Healdsburg Realtor, we set out for the coastal hills along the ever-narrowing Skaggs Springs/Stewarts Point road…our GPS was set for some remote Annapolis properties, with this new listing in the Coastal Sonoma hills as an alternate.

We were pretty much out of cell phone range our entire day, unable to connect with the agent with the new listing, therefore lacking precious directions and a needed gate code…The Annapolis listings did not sound ideal, but worth visiting to make sure we had explored all options for our first day so we proceeded west through the ultimate backroad Sonoma County experience that is Skaggs Springs Road.  

In what seemed like the middle of nowhere, my cell phone lit up with a text from the agent with directions and gate code! As quickly as it appeared it was gone; out of cell range again. I pulled over and flagged down my clients who were following behind…we decided to alter our plans and seek out this interesting new listing.

 Deep in the heart of the Coastal Sonoma Hills, about 30 minutes from any significant intersection, we found what we thought should be the property. An unassuming driveway in an area of few mailboxes or neighbors. We tried the code on the old numeric padlock, and bingo! It opened. In the late afternoon sun we walked down the winding narrow driveway, not really knowing what to expect. As we continued on, a small structure with crisp, clean lines appeared, tucked into the oaks on a knoll just around the corner…What is this? A neighbor’s home?

As we approached this small structure which was obviously sited years ago with loving intention, they knew immediately that this is the place! The quiet meditation cabin they had envisioned and dreamed about for years was there before them!

We spent a magical couple hours discovering the secrets this Gem held, agreeing over and over how special the experience was. As we headed out into the setting sun holding the find close, we paused at an overlook where it seemed like you could see endless mountain ranges north to what had to be the Yolla Bolly Wilderness. With the tall trees bathed in the warm glow of the red sun and the shadows lengthening, there were satisfying smiles all around. These experiences are what make sharing my home County so easy for me.