Off again on another October adventure we go! Since I typically post something travelly directly to social media, I thought I would try, perhaps for at least a week, putting the few pictures and thoughts out in daily blog form rather than a daily photo and long blog weekly. Shall we try? Let’s shall.
Traveling Like a Well Oiled Machine
The Fun Car, aka the red Subaru, aka O’Hara, does like to go. We are the kind of people that have packing down to a science, have taken photos of the insides of suitcases and the back seat, so that we know the most efficient way to strap down that laundry basket full of extra shoes and warm coats, and have tucked away the extra book we may never read, the ear muffs (going north in October!), and a kite or two (coast). Last year, it was 8500 miles down and across from Albuquerque to the Upper Peninsula, from California to Ontario. This year, we are far less ambitious and only look to go Moseying up the Left Coast, San Francisco to Victoria, Canada.
The coast does not disappoint. The first day will be home up to Mendocino, a traverse through the vineyards north of the Bay, cutting through multiple tall tree groves and farmer’s markets. The outside temperature, reported by the car, starts to drop degree by degree as we pass westward by the Schultz Museum in Sonoma and the Navarro River Grove. The road is very twisty; apparently, we did not take the usual way through Willits. Instead we are winding, and winding, and winding up 128 through teeny towns of Philo and Boonville. The problem was that I was driving, at my request, and in this unusual move, KK started as navigator rather than as Formula One racer. Hence, we apparently took a wrong turn at Albuquerque.
KK does point out that Boonville had such an unrecognizable dialect at one point that its citizens were used, like the Navajo, to transmit messages in World War III. Trivia rescues the navigational faux pas. All grumpiness from the windy roads disappears as we see the vast ocean at last, and the grasses bent with wind.
She Wrote of Mendocino
Mendocino has grown increasingly popular in the last few decades because of its picturesque stature and reputation as an artist’s community. The TV series Murder She Wrote was filmed here for twelve years, and you can take a tour visiting the Jessica Fletcher house and hot spots from other films like Racing for the Moon and even parts of East of Eden. My wife the writer set one of her books here, Making up for Lost Time. It has our souffle recipe in it, so there’s a well-thumbed copy in our cookbook library.
The town itself has good food—we devoured a huge slice of broccoli quiche and a reuben panini—with stomachs growling from a wee bit of a late start and a slightly-longer-than-expected drive. Then, Mendo Chocolate Company down the boardwalk topped it off with a salted caramel and chunk of coffee toffee.
The Northern Vortex
I was surprised that the town still had a homespun feel to it, not yet crammed with signs. Unlike Sedona and Juneau, which have been overrun in the past decades during high seasons, Mendocino is not yet plastered with advertisements for crystals and meetings in the vortex. There are shops along the main drag and plenty of real estate signs, but there’s clearly been growth limits enacted. I expected it to look a little rode hard and put away wet after the summer blitz of people, but mostly it seemed empty. A few teenagers pass, jabbering about the stupidity of taking Spanish in freshman year, and I’m reminded that school is already well under away. I wonder where the locals go to school here, in a town that seems to embrace only a few houses, bistros, and then the bluffs.
A walk on the bluffs after lunch is just what the new age healer ordered after an afternoon of driving. Blaf is a Dutch term, referring to a type of ship with a wide bow and broad beams, like these hills, that thrust out into the ocean water with impudence and strength. The wind has us immediately reaching for long sleeves. Caution and creaky knees keep us from climbing too far down the slippery, sand over to the rocks. I keep wanting to yell, “Heathcliff!” The sun is glinting blue off the tidepools and, and all you can hear aside from a few afternoon gulls and car doors slamming is that sliding pull of waves, crashing, and crashing against these bluffs.
We wend a couple hours further north before stopping for the evening. In Fort Bragg, I do find the influx of growth I expected. The place is crammed with Subway shops and traffic. Passing back into the woods, there is the One Log House and the Legend of Bigfoot Gift Shop. Confusion Hill, a local attraction that sports pre-boxed ice cream sandwiches and dirty fun house mirrors, seems to have more billboards advertising the place than the place itself. Signs of tourist roadside Americana put me back squarely on vacation. I will just hold on to the memories of the bluffs.
Tomorrow: Humboldt and on to the Redwoods!