Ramblings From The Road
Just recently I took a short vacation. I went with my friend
Barbara to my beloved Northern California. Oh, how I love my beloved Northern
California. Now, I want to live there! It rained the whole time...and
snowed... who cares?
Our first stop was the Madrona Inn in Healdsburg. This is a beautiful Victorian mansion set up on a hill with an unbelievable restaurant featuring fine California wines. Geez, I sound like a tour guide, already...I should have my own TV show like that tall skinny guy from New York. Anyway... I'd eaten there once before and wanted to return to eat, and sleep in the mansion. It was the same chef. Hallelujah! The food was still unbelievable and the maitre d' was French. I felt so, I don't know... of another time and another land. Our bedrooms had fireplaces and so I burned my logs and read Steve Martin's "Born Standing Up". He's from California. I was kind of like... keeping in the groovy CA vibe, you know what I mean? The next day after thanking them profusely and begging to be chambermaids in the mansion, we drove Route 128.
Route 128 is the last bastion of developing vineyards. But, do you know what I love about California, and I suppose humanity in general? Amidst all the beauty, there are still big slobs who own land. There were some serious junkyards, I'm telling you, on Route 128. But they could have been artists, what do I know? There was scrap metal... why, they could have been metal sculptors. I hope so, or maybe I don't. I love a rebel anyway you slice or trash your lawn. But this is truly a spectacular road that I recommend highly. The Navaro River empties into the Pacific Ocean right in front of your eyes. There's the river, and all of a sudden, there's the ocean. Oh my God! We gasped.
We continued up Highway 1 to Mendocino and the Heritage Lodge, again, another spectacular small hotel set on a cliff. They upgraded us to a 2 bedroom cabin that overlooked the crashing Pacific. This is the hotel where they filmed, "Same Time Next Year." We were in the cabin right next to that one, so if you know the movie, you know what the scenery looks like. Such nice people, and P.S. that's all we encountered, nice, nice people. Is it California? Katrin thinks so. She was treated nicely in LA and that's goin' it. Ah... Mendocino, that's where I really want to live.
It's a small village on the bluffs over the Pacific, founded by New Englanders coming out to seek their fortune during the gold rush. So, the town is clapboard houses and windmills without their blades just all over the place. I wonder what it looked like when the town was generated by the windmills. It's quirky with the smell of eucalyptus and pines all over the place. Oh, I love it.
We went to have lunch at Café Beaujolais and were told we were too late. Now, having said everyone was so nice, this particular woman was gratuitously nice. She treated Barbara and me like babies because we didn't know that the Café Beaujolais closed at 2:30. I let it go, but didn't like her much and we moved on to what the bell girl at our hotel said was the hipper place to eat, Patterson's Pub. I felt just like one of the residents. Why? I don't know.. I wanted to. That's why. Delicious food, Irish Pub, handsome guys. Mendocino, I think, is an artist's haven, a large community of painters, writers, and actors. I think it's a most vital place to live.
We journeyed up Highway 1 and started going through the Redwood Forests. And we saw houses in the woods inhabited by either mountain men or..... were meth labs. I couldn't tell. This area is what I've romantically envisioned wacky or whacked out California to look like. We drove through the original Drive Through Tree . We laughed so hard at its insanity that we drove through it three times. We went to Confusion Hill but I'm not going to describe it so you 'll have to Google it. When we looked at the pictures there were orbs in it. Like I said, whacked out California.
My favorite winery was the Pacific Star winery in Mendocino County. It was so funky, so isolated. We were greeted by two pet sheep and mud. It was cold and rainy and there was nothing fancy about this place. Someone came out and said, "Want to taste some wine?" We went into this cave-like area where they were boiling huge Dungeness crabs. I said, "Where you'd get those?" They said, "In the ocean." We joined the Pacific Star Winery club.
Trinidad!!! The place I've wanted to see since 1996. I read an article about the town in the LA Times Travel section when I was shooting a movie with Kellie Martin. We stayed at the wonderful and extremely thoughtful and caring Trinidad B&B. And this is a shout out to Jason, our host. I can't tell you why it was perfect except to say everything was perfect. The mind blow here, having grown up on the water, is how you call part of the Pacific Ocean Trinidad Harbor. Yet, there it was, a fleet of independent small boat crab fisherman, moored in the Pacific looking like a New England harbor town. It was everything I wanted it to be. Our favorite moment, though on this whole trip was this: our dear host Jason warned us against going into the local bar, Ocean Grove Lounge. Too smoky, locals, and not the kind of bar we women should be going into. So we made a bee line for the place.
We walked in and there were three guys in the bar and they were watching... Miss America. They were spot on for the runner up but they didn't pick the winner. A masseuse, a sound man/oceanographer, and the bartender. Craigen, Tim and Tom, the locals we were dissuaded to encounter. After we cried for the winner we talked politics. Adam walked in, the local chef. All in all, this was an American journey that did my heart such good and reminded me why I love America and the people. Those pot spot smoking, meth lab inhabiting, eucalyptus sniffing, politically active, connoisseurs of the senses, and free.