|Built in 1871, the farmhouse at Howard Creek Ranch sits on 60 acres along a remote stretch of the Mendocino coast.|
|Sunny and Sally Grigg in 1975|
After her friend’s baby was born, Sally made a list of everyone she knew in rural California. At the top of her list was a friend who was living on a commune on the Mendocino coast. Being young and foolish, she hitchhiked her way from San Francisco to the northern-most stretch of coastal Highway One with her Great Dane. “I did not know exactly where I was going, but I had directions of sorts,” said Sally. “What an incredible ride. The scenery was spectacular. I arrived late in the afternoon on July 21, 1973. The farm overlooked the ocean and was covered with blackberries and tall grasses. There was an old farmhouse, an enormous barn falling in on itself, and many small cabins and tepees. All were occupied.”
|The beach, located a short walk from Howard Creek Ranch|
For the rest of the summer, Sally and Sunny were inseparable. “We hiked up into the mountains, investigating everything. We walked up the creek, sunning ourselves on sand spits, sitting on rocks in the wilderness, finally making it all the way to the headwaters of Howard Creek. It was an idyllic time. No responsibilities and no worries, just young love in the summer time, just us in the wilderness,” said Sally.
|Grazing sheep at Howard Creek Ranch|
|Sally's flower garden at Howard Creek Ranch|
|The Walden Room at Howard Creek Ranch|
|The bath for the Walden Room|
Sally greeted me on the farmhouse’s wide, wrap-around veranda wearing her long, formerly-blonde hair pulled back in bun. As she graciously toured me around, I was struck by how time seems to have stood still. It’s as if Sunny and Sally shipwrecked on a deserted beach with a boat load of antiques and built their life here from the ground up.
|Solar Room at Howard Creek Ranch|
|The beach lies just beyond the bridge for Highway One|
Howard Creek flows between the farmhouse and the carriage barn, but the two are connected by a 75-foot swinging bridge. The enormous barn has the ramshackle look of a half-finished project, and in some ways it is, but step inside the myriad of guest rooms housed within, and you’ll discover the imaginative flair and extraordinary craftsmanship of Sally’s husband Sunny.
Sunny was busy cutting wood with a table saw just outside the barn as Sally and I crossed the bridge. He has been continually building and renovating the 60-acre ranch for over 40 years. The easy smile and twinkle in his eyes suggested that he’d likely be at this for another 40 years.
The labyrinth of rooms inside the barn feature inlaid redwood and Douglas fir floors, intricate tile work, handcrafted redwood trim and wall paneling, handcrafted bed frames, and whimsical panels of stained glass to complement the walls of windows and large skylights. The rooms are eclectically furnished with handmade quilts, vintage lamps, antique armoires, and other curiosities. Some of the rooms also have wood burning stoves and kitchenettes with microwaves, refrigerators, and coffeepots. From the barn, the beach is just a short walk across a grassy meadow and beneath the bridge for Highway One.
|Sea View Cabin|
Howard Creek Ranch
40501 North Highway One
PO. Box 121
Westport, CA 95488