Alegria del Mar (Joy of the Sea) is a handmade home two miles south of Trinidad, California on a marine terrace with spell-binding south- and west-facing ocean views. The house gazes down the coast in a great arc toward Cape Mendocino, westernmost tip of California. Our unusual southern exposure provides expansive views of a dozen lines of breaking waves, a pristine perspective where the forest meets the sea. Here stands a two-story, two-thousand square foot home situated on three-quarters of an acre of gardens and woods. Alegria features hand-hewn salvage redwood beams, cherry window sash, red oak floors, natural cedar siding, and cathedral ceilings. The house has two bathrooms and sleeps up to nine persons in two large bedrooms and sun-splashed guest spaces. A spacious kitchen offers stunning views of the garden and sea with room for two or more cooks, a cherry and walnut bar, and a handmade cherry dining table that comfortably seats eight or more.

     Outside are extensive Monet-style wildflower gardens, a secluded patio with Adirondack chairs, and a seaside perch 250 feet above the sea. It's two minutes and two miles to Trinidad markets and restaurants and one minute from the freeway, but the soundscape is oceanic. And it's just a five- to ten-minute drive to expansive beaches, state parks, vast lagoons, hiking trails, secluded coves, and dramatic offshore sea stacks. Ten minutes north is Patrick's Point State Park, and a short distance more to Prairie Creek State Park, the centerpiece of Redwood National Park. For cultural amenities, just head south 15 minutes to Arcata, a lively college town that is home to Humboldt State University.

     Alegria is a truly international house reflecting the wide-ranging interests and far-flung travels of a family of explorers. It features folk art collected the world over and canvas-mounted photographs from trips to remote corners of the earth. In addition, it includes works by Alegria's resident artist, whose paintings and photographs starting at ages nine and ten are featured in the living room and upstairs bedroom. Alegria is a one-of-a-kind treasure -- warm, cozy and inviting, with a eagle's eye view of infinite horizons.

 

About Mark and Maya Sommer

     Father and daughter Mark and Maya Sommer have lived in Alegria, their family home, since 1995, when Mark and his wife built it with a small crew. By the time she was fourteen Maya had visited five continents, staying with Mayan Indians in Guatemala at age 2, traveling to Tunisia and Northern Italy at 5, riding elephants and floating down remote rivers in Laos at 11 and riding camels in Burkina Faso at 14. 

     Mark is an explorer, storyteller, filmmaker, author and public media journalist. Until his retirement in 2012, he was host and executive producer of an award-winning, internationally syndicated weekly radio program, A World of Possibilities, and a globally syndicated columnist for Inter Press Service in Rome. He has authored three books and hundreds of articles in major newspapers worldwide. From the seventies to the nineties, Mark and his wife built and maintained a self-reliant organic homestead they constructed from the ground up in the deep woods of Northern California. Living an hour's drive from their mailbox and seven miles from the nearest phone line, they raised most of their food and generated electric power from solar panels and a waterwheel.

     Traveling the world for both work and pleasures, Mark has explored both indigenous and advanced cultures. In the course of his travels he has become interested in the extraordinary capacity of some individuals and communities -- often those with few material advantages -- to turn adversity to their advantage and tragedy into opportunity and ultimately a gift. This quality of resilience is the theme of his current work. His website, Hearts Broken Open (www.heartsbrokenopen.com) features multimedia stories of personal, social and natural resilience. Mark currently divides his time between Trinidad and the San Francisco Bay Area, where he celebrates the Bay Area's vibrant mix of diverse cultures and urban nature on a second website, I Found My Heart in San Francisco (www.ifoundmyheartinsf.com), a multimedia love letter to Northern California.