I am Back....and with Pictures!

Me on the Mendocino Coast

Yes....I am back. The Holidays were filled with preparations, things to do and people to see. I am very sorry that I was away so long, but I have much to tell and to show! In retrospect, it was clear that I needed to recharge and renew. Which I did! And I am happy to share some of my adventures with you now.

The Holidays are always so busy. We have an annual Christmas Eve party at our house every year with friends, neighbors and extended families....so there is much to do to get ready. Add the usual gift buying, baking and the like and it was barely controlled chaos. But in a good way.

After the Christmas rush and after-Christmas sales (which seemed critical to my teenage daughter's well-being), Tim and I took a little "us" time and drove North to one our our favorite getaways: Mendocino.

Mendocino from the Headlands

Mendocino is one of the most picturesque California coastal towns. An Art mecca for the last 50 plus years, it started as a logging town back before the Civil War. When the logging dried up, it became almost a ghost town in the 30's and 40's until artists found their way there mid-century. There is strict control now on growth, and this control keeps it perfectly beautiful.

As soon as we hit the highways, the cell phones and radio were turned off and a little CD music put on. As the miles slipped by, so did the pressures and stress of the previous weeks. We stopped along the way in Healdsburg for lunch (more later on that!) and got to Mendocino in the late afternoon (it's about a 4.5 hour drive from Sactown). After checking in at the Sea Gull Inn, a very sweet Bed and Breakfast in town, we headed straight for the beach.

Here is just a taste of the spectacular scenery Mendocino has to offer:

Trail to the Big River Beach Area.

The sun was ebbing and it was just beautiful. I hope you don't mind a little vacation "slide show". The photo opps were just too perfect.

Ahhhh! This is why we came.

Mendocino is visited by travelers from all parts of the world. Is it any wonder? The journal in our room was filled with notes by travelers from Germany, Switzerland, the UK, and South Africa.

The sunset was breathtaking. Everyone on the beach stopped and faced West for this one.

Tim and I on the beach. Sigh.

The scenery in general is stunning, and cameras are in the hands of every person we passed. This time of year is particularly good for a little less bustle, a little more serenity. Although when we passed the smaller B&B's, most were full to capacity. The weather may have kept some indoors: breezy and quite cold, but beautiful just the same.

The town of Mendocino is full of charming architecture. The vernacular is decidedly Victorian: simple farmhouse as well as decorative gingerbread:

Mendocino Presbyterian Church

The Mendocino Presbyterian Church is one of the first buildings you see when coming into town. It is the oldest California Presbyterian Church built in 1868. The congregation, which started about ten years prior to this final structure is celebrating it's 150 year anniversary. For a bit more info on it's history Click HERE.

The Masonic Temple Building

The Masonic Temple Building was built in 1866 from local redwood. The cupola sculpture "Time and the Maiden" of "Father Time and the Virgin" was carved from a single piece of redwood. The second floor is still used for Masonic meetings, while the first floor houses a bank. More HERE.

Picket Fences abound in this village. Just one example.

Driving around, we came upon this "cottage" outside of town. The main house was quite large and there was a pretty guest house which may have been newer as well. You can get a sense of scale by the little rose arbor to the left of the main house and the chairs and table outside of the guest house. This house was situated right on the cliffs above the ocean.

This is one of the many B&B's throughout the town. I thought this a good example of the town's architectural style.

There is much to see around this part of the California coast. Our second day, Tim and I were going to take full advantage. Rain storm or not. We came prepared. Just up the coast from Mendocino is the Point Cabrillo Lighthouse, in operation since 1909:

Point Cabrillo Lighthouse

Point Cabrillo is the location where the Frolic, an opium running schooner fresh with a new supply from China shipwrecked in 1850. Important because this particular shipwreck was to ultimately lead to the founding of Mendocino. A little more HERE.

From the lighthouse, we went up the coast a little farther to Fort Bragg. Also an historic town, Fort Bragg is the home of Glass Beach and the Skunk Train. Glass Beach began it's life in the 40's as a local dumping ground. Now, having been cleaned up since the 60's, it has become a beach full of tumbled polished glass, which has made it an attraction world wide. I have quite a bit of beach glass from it myself. The Skunk Train is an historic locomotive train which takes travelers on a trip from the coast up through the redwoods mountains east of Bragg.

Fort Bragg Museum

After lunch at one of the local haunts topped off by the best Ollalieberry pie I have ever had, Tim and I headed back toward Mendocino stopping at the Mendocino Botanical Gardens on the way.

Heather Garden at Mendocino Botanical Gardens

We had the place virtually to ourselves because of the rain, which was OK by us. The heather was in bloom, and a few other surprises were there just for us.

A Walk though the Woods to the Ocean.

A fairytale garden of flowering vines and toadstools rings. Magical.

So....after our 2 mile trek through the gardens, which were gorgeous even, or because of, the rain, we were ready to warm up with some Chai tea and a game of cribbage back at the Sea Gull Inn. The Sea Gull had small, but charming and very comfortable rooms with wonderful breakfasts brought to the room by the proprietors themselves: Ayla and Jim Douglas. BTW, the rates cannot be beat, and the location is perfect!!! Walking distance to everything in town.
Thanks for a perfect stay, Jim and Ayla!

The Sea Gull Inn

Breakfast #1: Baked Eggs with onions and mushrooms, baked pears with cranberries and orange-cranberry bread. A side of fresh yogurt, coffee, tea and fresh-squeezed orange juice. Everything was delicious!

Breakfast#2: Freshly baked raspberry scones, fresh fruit and yogurt, tea, coffee and fresh OJ. Ditto on the deliciousness!
So, you might be curious about the other meals in town. We had a beautiful and perfect meal at Cafe Beaujolais, probably our favorite restaurant in town, although that is really a tough one since there are many great places to eat.
Tim started off with their award winning crab cakes, and truly, I have never tasted better....perfection! I started off with the Butter- Braised Beets, Sunray's Harvest Micro Greens, Crispy Polenta, with Herbed Formaggio and Tarragon Vinaigrette. "Delicious" cannot do it justice.
Tim had the Petaluma Duck Two Ways, Crispy Skin Breast and Leg de Confit with a Celery Root Purée, Wilted Kale and a Local Huckleberry Sauce:

And I had the Niman Ranch Filet Mignon with Truffle Mashed Potatoes, Broccolini
Cabernet Butter, and a Point Reye's Bleu Reduction. OMG, my mouth is watering just think about it.

Somehow my photos do not quite do these meals justice. They were truly wonderfully prepared.

If you do take a trip to Mendocino, please do not miss Cafe Beaujolais.

And then there is the shopping. The main street is lined with shops and galleries which will please any taste. One that had the most charming windows was Seasons, which was decked out for the holidays:

(I love the building with the shingles on one side and the siding on the front)

The tree in the window was so pretty!

Another favorite is the Golden Goose with it's beautiful linens, accessories and antiques. Sorry no direct website, but you can read more HERE.

This trip does seem to have a fairytale quality to it with the mysterious oceans, pirate shipwrecks, the magical Botanical Gardens and the Golden Goose. So it would be only natural that I find a Dragon is residence:

I found him at the Highlight Gallery. I took this picture since I had to prove to my girls that dragons do, in fact, exist.

And what of the other locals, besides the dragons, you might ask? Mendocino has a year long population of only about a thousand....but that is only if you do not count these characters:

Mendocino was a wonderful way to refresh and look forward to a bright New Year.

I wish you all

the most Brilliant of New Years!!