Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Antioch Ranch - Post#1

Antioch Ranch – October  2011
Earlier this year, Alene and I were considering where to go for our vacation.  Our ‘usual’ getaway up on the Fort Bragg/Mendocino coast we’ve used for the past 2 years was booked, so Alene began a search online for places to stay in the Fort Bragg/Mendocino coast area of California.

On a whim, Alene searched on the Mendocino Chamber of Commerce, to see if there were any recommendations there.  One of the first hits she got was Antioch Ranch, a Christian retreat run by Jerry and Pat Westfall, tucked into the coastal mountains about 6 miles off the Pacific ocean near Mendocino.  After looking at their website, AntiochRanch.com, and a phone conversation with the owner’s daughter when I called, we decided to book our 9-day getaway with them.

The ranch, we’ve discovered, is about 20 acres of mountainous land on which Jerry and Pat have, over the course of about 50 years, built 5 homes, a cottage, and various sheds, workshops, and pump houses. To call it a ‘ranch’ is a little bit of a misnomer, but whatever you call it, it’s lovely.

After driving from Sacramento to Fort Bragg, we made our way south on Highway 1 to Mendocino, then turned inland on Comptche-Ukiah Road for about 5.5 miles, finally pulling into Antioch Ranch’s long dirt driveway.   We found our way to the main house, knocked on the door, and met Jerry Westfall. 

Jerry is a slight man of about 80 years, with bright eyes and a ready smile.  He certainly doesn’t act or look 80, but has the energy and drive of a much younger man.  He walked us across the small clearing around which three of the homes on their land sit, to the house we’d be staying in, the “Southwest” house.

Alene and I with Jerry and Pat Westfall

There, we met Jerry’s wife, Pat, who was busy putting the finishing touches on house cleaning prior to our arrival.  We made better time than we’d anticipated, and were about three hours earlier then Jerry and Pat had expected, but they were gracious nonetheless. 

The home itself is adorable, and very much exceeded our expectations, but that wasn’t the nicest surprise.  Jerry and Pat themselves were the most gracious, accommodating, and kind hosts I’ve ever met.  They made Alene and I feel right at home immediately, and their love for God and Jesus shone through their conversation from the very start. 

It seems Jerry and Pat had the dream of this ranch, this Christian retreat, since the mid 1960’s, and have worked since to make it happen.  They bought the land sometime in the 60’s and throughout the 70’s hosted hundreds of hippies and travelers at various times. They had what they called a “hippie ministry”, a time when many, many hippies of the 70’s came to know Jesus as their savior. (Over the course of our stay we actually met a few former hippies who had nothing but wonderful things to say about Jerry and Pat). With the labor and love of many they ministered to, they built the homes that are on the grounds now. They have variously renovated and improved the homes to the quaint, quiet, and very cute homes they are today. 

Today is Wednesday as I write this, and already we feel almost at home here.  Jerry and Pat have stopped by a few times, Jerry to bring a couple of games he thought Alene and I would like, and Pat to check on our stay, and each time they wound up staying for some time, chatting about their life, about God and their ministry here, and their history, and listening to our story, too.  They’ve made us feel very much like family, and that is no small thing in our busy, bustling world. 

There are three homes for rent at the ranch right now, ours being the “Southwest”, a 2 bedroom house with a full kitchen, bathroom, and living room with a wood stove.  The others are the “Americana”, with 2 bedrooms, a full bath, kitchen, and a huge living room/great room with a piano, wood stove, foosball table, and seating for over a dozen people.  The third house is the “Hammer House”, which is a 3 bedroom (they are small, but there are three of them), 1 ½ bath, 2 story house with a full kitchen, washer and 
dryer, and a lovely living room with a wood stove. 

All of the homes are just adorable inside, and make one feel comfortable from the moment you step inside.  They are not lavishly appointed, but simply, functionally, and tastefully.  They have all the comforts of home, and all the quaint charm of the country. 

I want to thank Jerry and Pat for making us feel so welcome, for making Alene and I feel like family, and encourage anyone who wants a quiet getaway, and to meet a wonderful Christian couple, to look into Antioch Ranch.  

I’m certain Alene and I will come again. 

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