After our experience with the breakfast buffet at the Best Western in Florence we decided to forego the one in Arcata.
We found a Starbuck’s in Eureka for our caffeine fix and then headed to the Samoa Dunes Recreation Area just outside town. We had to drive through a heavily industrialized, run down area to get there, and after the first beach access we found was littered with broken bottles and trash, we weren’t sure if the beach was a good place to take the dogs.
The next place we stopped was across the street from a paper plant, but it was much cleaner so we decided to give it a try. When we reached the beach we were pleasantly surprised. Although not as pristine and scenic as the other off-leash dog beaches we had been, it was clean, wide, flat, long, and more than adequate for the important task of wearing out the dogs.
As with most of the beaches we had visited, it was almost deserted. The only people we saw were one surfer and a couple from Utah who had never seen the ocean before. Although both the air and water were cold, the woman plunged into the surf fully clothed to celebrate her initial encounter with the Pacific.
Miguel had never seen a surfer before so he freaked out when the guy emerged from the surf clad in a wetsuit, but after a few seconds of barking he was OK.
During the first part drive to Gualala, our next destination, we drove through groves of huge redwoods, some of which were easily 10 feet around and hundreds of feet tall. Then, once we reached PCH 1, we made our way to the ocean where the road hugged the coast and provide spectacular views.
We made a quick stop at MacKerricher State Park where unfortunately dogs had to be kept on leash, but the scenery provide sweeping views of the Pacific and its rocky coast. We also saw several seals swimming in the water and flopping around on the beach as well as one that used its flippers to cover itself in sand while laying the sun.
Since it’s Memorial Day weekend the park and beach were packed with people and its roads were crowded with cars, so it wasn’t the best place to take the dogs, but they were already tired from their morning romp, but between their morning romp and the warming temperature they didn’t mind walking on leash.
With the dogs thoroughly tired out we made the rest of the trip to Gualala where we stayed at the St. Orres, a well-known dog friendly destination. Built 35 years ago perched on a hillside about the Pacific, the St. Orres is nestled between dozens of redwoods. Guests stay in small cottages scattered around two open areas among the trees. The architecture of the main building and the sauna/hot tub reflect the Russian influence on the area. Think turrets.
The cottage had a bed, sitting area, bathroom, and a back porch looking at several nice looking redwoods. We decided to eat at St. Orres’ restaurant, and it was one of the best meals either one of us ever had. Everything looked and tasted delicious, and the service was exceptional. After dinner we managed to drag ourselves back to our cottage, and we all quickly feel asleep.
While the vast majority of our stay was top notch, I do have a couple of issues with the St. Orres.
First, I don’t think the facility has been upgraded since it was built over 3 decades ago. The furniture and bathrooms could use a makeover.
Second, while it bills itself as dog friendly, the St. Orres does nothing for your dogs other than charge you $30 for each one you bring. No treats, no gift bags, no real acknowledgement that you have a dog with you. Our cottage only cost $155, so they charged more than 25% extra for our dogs. For that they could spare some treats.
But overall, we loved staying at the St. Orres and will do it again if we’re ever in the area again. Tomorrow, we go to the home of Clint Eastwood, Carmel, CA.