Last year we rented a house on the ocean in Mendocino for three days. That turned out to be such a great location, and house, and time had by all that we returned this year, this time for six days.
We broke up the 3-hour drive to Mendocino with a picnic in a scenic little hollow (even more scenic if one ignores nearby Highway 101 and the logging operation across the road).
From that point we traveled a two-lane country road past 50 miles of lush Anderson Valley vineyards and a stand of coastal redwoods,
The first evening.
Someone built a fire, Susan hauled out a turkey pot pie saved from Thanksgiving, and someone stacked presents–a stack so tall you probably can’t even see a Christmas tree behind them.
What better place for chillin’ than a fireplace on Christmas Eve?
In the morning the early risers hiked several miles to the Point Cabrillo lighthouse and snapped these shots. The turkeys below right were in a neighbor’s yard. In another yard a great blue heron landed, and Daniel shot a video of it snatching a vole out of the ground. It’s quite a show. Copy this link and paste it into a new browser window : http://www.youtube.com/watch?edit=vd&v=fK62c-KTujQ
The next sighting was from the living room, where people began to see whales going south. Try convincing yourself that the white speck in the middle of the two photos above is a 50-foot-long, 30 ton gray mammal. (Clicking on the photos will enlarge them.) To be fair, sighting them is easier when you can see them move, jump, and spout, and certainly no one can blame you if you think I’m just pulling your leg. This is the Web, after all.
Around mid-day we walked the Mendocino headlands and saw more.
Hardy peasant fare: crab, crab cakes, crusty bread, artichokes, salad, apple crostada.
The following day, a Panadoro (legal in Italy):
Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens.
This haven was founded 50 years ago by a couple of gardeners and later purchased by California’s Coastal Conservancy. Given that it’s the end of December, it was remarkable (a) how good the plants looked and (b) how mild the weather was.
We begin with Jesse and Dan reenacting the statue scene from “Last Year at Marienbad” and Susan inaugurating the newest sagging fashion–sagging sunglasses.
Now that we have seen some culture, let us look at some nature.
It was hard to look at those shrooms without getting hungry, so we followed a trail to the end of the park and had a quick bite.
After the meal, we tried standing (right) and then moved on to plan B.
McKerricker State Beach.
From this place logs were hauled onto ships headed for San Francisco and beyond. The third photo down on the right was taken around 1900 from the spot in the shot on the left.
Jesse and I biked a few miles up an old logging road, along a scenic little river called Big River–everything’s relative. We came across some ancient sacred stone sculptures that must have belonged to Pomo Indians.
Other diversions: puzzles, cards, and the iPad.
Jesse’s the only one in the group with an iPad. Though I had never used one, very early on I realized the risk of its spoiling our entire week in the wrong hands. So I made sure it stayed in my hands as much as possible.
Below, I’m carefully guarding it from Susan and Martha.
Here just checking the battery:
And finally a little speed-typing:
As the week wore on, I more or less adopted it and gave it pet names–mostly derived from Anglo-Saxon and French (as in “pardon my French”)–and it seemed to respond better the more loudly I uttered them.
The week ended quickly. Everyone agreed that the six days had passed as quickly as our three days there the year before. But, given the choice again, I’m sure we’d all opt for six instead of three.