Russian River Memories

Before the COVID-19 pandemic closed California’s restaurants and shops, Max and I planned to spend a long weekend dog-friendly Guerneville, the historic town nestled on the Russian River about sixty miles north of San Francisco. The visit would be a repeat of past trips to the same rental house on the river with a group of friends and their dogs. We intended to dine at local restaurants, shop in the town’s boutiques, see the art galleries, and indulge in doing a lot of nothing — walking, reading, and napping. Staying at home these days, I spent some time mulling over memories of past visits.

We took daily treks beside on a well-worn path near the riverbank. Along most of the walk, we caught glimpses of the river only when there was an opening in the thick growth of old oak trees, manzanita bushes, and spindly saplings.

When we reached a wide clearing with a sandy beach, we noticed six mallards paddling in the middle of the river. With Max headed their way, the ducks lifted off and landed downriver. Max’s endless attempts to greet waterfowl up close failed, as is always the case. succeed. Nevertheless, he ended this adventure, like others, by returning  to the shore dripping wet and triumphantly wagging his tail like a flag.

On these outings before the pandemic, we meandered under towering redwoods, California laurel, Pacific madrones, and Douglas fir trees along the river. The flat trail offered an easy hike. At another learning, we saw a tall great blue heron standing in the shallows.  I held Max’s leash, thwarting any possible attempt to visit the heron.

On a recent trip, Max carried his lime green stuffed alligator to the car for our drive to Guerneville .We picked the pet-friendly Cottages by the River for this weekend getaway. Max was greeted with his own welcome box that included a towel, water dish, and dog biscuits.

Max likes taking walks along the Russian River.