Mendocino Majesty and Beyond

Early Saturday morning we made our way back to Mendocino for breakfast and Operation, Exploration, this time in the sun!  We found this amazing bakery/coffee shop “Good Life Cafe and Bakery” that sold fair trade coffee and home-made Quiche, breakfast burritos, and everything else under the sun – gourmet!  Looked like a “family affair”, Mexican perhaps?  We sat on stools by the window so we could people watch while we ate our burritos.  To our left on the street corner, we spied two angels with scythes (long blades usually carried by the Grimm Reaper) high a top a building that resembled a church.  I wasn’t sure I wanted to know the story, but the birds had no trouble keeping their company.

I noticed a sign across the street in front of a Victorian style, white house.  After breakfast, it was our first stop, and we read the sign; Sallie Mac.  Would you believe it’s French inspired?  Amazing, I found three chandeliers I wanted to buy on the spot, but didn’t.

We rounded the corner and on to main street, through book stores and gift shops, a particular ladies boutique packed full of “one of a kind” designs, made in L.A.  Lloyd found a plaid skirt Julie might like – not.  Hand crafted wood furniture, the finest we’ve ever seen, leather, wool – everyone knits or crochets in Mendocino, I’m convinced.  One particular kitchen wares shop had two vintage french chickens resting a top a high shelf.  I never knew I loved that stuff, I know now.  The only trouble is, my kitchen has no pink in it, one was a soft pink, the other a pale blue.  I’m going to miss their tiny heads and friendly disposition.

Once we had walked through every last shop, garden, gallery, connected path, back alley and side street, we hit the board walk that lead to a well-worn path, just past a white picket fence.  First the path wound its way through sea grass which then became overgrown with a plant that looked like wild raspberry, tangled and twisted, taller than my head and shoulders.  No wonder I had a hard time finding a beach.  No guard rail, no sign, just a tree, not sure what kind, but its canopy looked manicured and majestic, even if it was hanging in limbo between cliff and sky.  Speaking of “majestic”, “The Majestic” was filmed in Mendocino, so was Alfred Hitchcock’sThe Birds“.

the cliffs of Mendocino

There to the left of the tree was a young man-eating a bag lunch.  He looked lonely and I wanted to strike up a conversation, but I concluded if he wanted to talk, he wouldn’t be out here hiding under this tree!  To the right we spied hundreds of hand dug stairs in the side of a jut out cliff, leading down to a small sandy patch, you might call a beach, if your beach towel’s short.  Keeping my bad knee in mind,  we took pictures instead, besides there was no hand rail.  At the other end of the path, back through the white picket fence, lay a preserves shop where Lloyd bought his favorite; orange marmalade – home-made in Fort Bragg.

One more coffee for the road, from the same bakery and a plan to take the “coastal view” out-of-town.  As we got in the Envoy I looked up to see Elvis and Marilyn staring down at us from two upper story, Irish Pub windows.  The coastal view exit did not disappoint and we marveled at the parts of Mendocino we had to leave undiscovered.

Point Cabrillo, California

On our way back north, just before Fort Bragg we took a two-mile hike out to the Lighthouse at Point Cabrillo and got an hour’s worth of California history; ship wrecks, gold, Chinese imported artifacts mixed with native treasures.

Back out on the highway, I kept my eye out for another sign I had seen the night before – Caspar.  We took the turn out and wound our way down to a lovely hide-a-way beach, got out of the vehicle and walked out onto the sand.

Next up, north and out of Fort Bragg towards Eureka California, but we had no idea what lay before us.  Just a mile out-of-town, the coastal 101 took a hairpin turn, and straight down to reveal yet another breath-taking stretch of beach, rocks and tidal pool.  Quickly we pulled off the road and ran out onto the beach, snapping pictures, watching the waves crash ashore and felt the mist tickle our skin.

Just north of Fort Bragg, California

After a leisurely walk in the sand, we returned once again to our vehicle.  Before we jumped back in, I asked Lloyd to take a picture of how the trees formed a canopy over the highway up ahead.  We thought Eureka was just up and round another bend, but like I said before, we had no idea what we were about to experience…..

A natural “tunnel like” entrance to the Redwood Forest
formed by the tree canopy converging


Connecting the Dots, Point to Point!

Point Arena, California

Our initial plan was to drive from Sacramento to Eureka, California, then due north from there, but after talking to Cory, “Disney on Ice” Show Director, we changed our plans.

We took Interstate 80 west and then highway 37.  Our first stop was Point Reyes, where we bought a coffee from a quaint bakery and asked for directions from a jeweler who informed us we were standing on the San Andreas Fault.  And may I say – sunshine all the way from there, through the Sonoma Valley, trying to decipher between salt water from fresh, farmland from marsh?

Always thought purple was a man-made color, but apparently it’s another one of God’s specialties and he paints some of the flowers here in California – purple.

We thought we’d stay in Bodega Bay, but decided to go further up the coast, destination Mendocino.  Tuned the radio to a local station called; SKUNK, and hummed along to “Heh There Delilah”.  Who sings that song?

Passed quite an expansive development on Pebble Beach, called; Sea Ranch.  All the houses are built with the same materials, color and style.  Must look up that development when I get a chance.

Took a two-mile detour out to Point Arena lighthouse, by this time the fog and rain had socked us in and the lighthouse looked more like a forlorn statue than an angel of light.

Somewhere we happened upon Point Stewart where family had begun resurrecting an ancestral landmark.  Walked into a converted house to find an incredible Deli with mixed gift-wares and antiques.  I had chicken cranberry salad on rye, Lloyd had a marinated beef sandwich, of which we cannot remember the exact name.

Stopped at a vista point before Mendocino and sang along with Huey Lewis and the News.  Lots of Cypress trees, one particular root system fought with a fence, not sure who won.

Passed a sign “Tsunami Hazard” as we descended rather rapidly into a low-lying area of the highway.  Construction slowed us to a halt where we were warned our wait might be as long as fifteen minutes.  Work on the bridge ahead.  The good news, the highway worker was friendly, the bad news; the sign read “bridge completion 2014”.  We might be a while.  I decided to text our children and let them know we were alive and well, but there was no service.  We sat on the road in the middle of what seemed to be “nowhere” rocking to “Keep on Rocking Me” by the Steve Miller Band.

On down the road we drove, past a beautiful grove of Cypress, all in a row, towering over us like guardian soldiers.  On our left, we whizzed by a large barn like shop with a funky name; Sisters……., we decided we missed out on a rather hip flea market, or large garage sale.

We rolled into Mendocino early enough to still see, but too cold to walk around and find a place to stay, so we pressed on to Fort Bragg for lodging with the hopes of returning in the morning.


Volcanoes Sleep Here

Arrived in Bend, Oregon, Saturday evening, population 80 thousand.  Checked into hotel, then down to Deschutes Brewery for a late dinner, Pork Tacos and Mirror Pale Ale – Wow!

Leaving Bend, Oregon was similar to leaving Banff, Alberta without the Rockies, and at first the trees looked as though they had more room to breathe.

Up ahead I spied a small rounded foothill which looked as if it were neatly wrapped in trees.  As we sped by, I was startled to find its south side nothing but black lava, with a high thick crust running along the highway – lava land.   Who knew?

It only made sense to read two or three signs for “crater” lakes, shortly thereafter.  Traveled through several different National Forests, and they did become thicker, more dense, the farther we drove.

Soon a heavy, thick fog enveloped us as we approached Klamath Falls, remnants of a shoreline made us wonder what we were missing and I checked the map to measure the lake.  Took a detour through town, searching for nostalgia, but found empty buildings instead.  No doubt the economy’s cruel fingertip had found this place as well?

Once again descending into a valley to cross the Oregon/California border, where we maneuvered through road construction, under a very warm sun, through a tiny town called; Doreen, felt like Mexico.

Miles of grass greet us, surrounded by desert prairie foothills and then a marker; “Butte Valley National Grassland” with another sign I’ve never seen back home – “Blowing Dust Area”.  What makes the soil here unwelcoming to even one tree root?  Perhaps it’s the wind that blows any potential seed away?

There to our left in the distance, an incredible surprise rises up to break the skyline!  A majestic King cloaked in a white cape, towering from his throne on the horizon.  I scan the highway for a sign, a name.  We are leaving the valley and ascending, climbing to 5,000 feet.  No doubt on the other side we’ll see.

Mt. Shasta, California’s Jewel in the “Ring of Fire”

Mount Shasta, California‘s precious jewel in the famous “ring of fire”, standing 14,152 feet at its summit.  We pull over to take a picture and marvel at the view!  Sunroof open we press on to Weed, California for lunch.