Friday, September 14, 2007

Mendocino Getaway

This last weekend was our 3 year anniversary and we decided to go away for the weekend, but couldn't decide on where. I finally told Bobby to just surprise me. I love surprises and Bobby always does them so well. So, obviously, by my blog header you can tell that he took me to Mendocino. Whenever Bobby wants to surprise me as to where we are going we leave very early in the morning so that I fall asleep. That way I never know where we are going until we arrive there. I think that it's most fun that way. On Saturday morning I awoke in Clear Lake, and having never really taken that stretch of road north before, I had NO idea where we were going. I was becoming increasingly more excited because the temperature was dropping and I was very ready to get out of the stifling Sacramento heat! We finally passed a sign that gave away our destination, Entering Mendocino County. I could have done back flips! This is exactly where I had wanted to go!

As we drove the winding road from Willitz to Mendocino I looked out the window at the superior height of the redwoods surrounding us. The forest was so lush and green, and ancient. The scenery made you feel as though you were taking a drive through some sacred forest, it gave a sense of quiet, solitude, and grandeur. Not a place that a car should be speeding through, but there we were... The trees slowly began to thin and gave way to a beautiful coast line. Fog was rolling in and it cast a spell of beauty over the redwoods brave enough to get close to the high bluffs overlooking the ocean. I was awestruck.

We pulled into the town of Mendocino, so charming with it's Victorian style bed and breakfast inns and storefronts. The seaside town was founded in the 1850's and is a haven for weekenders and hippies with their dogs. We stayed in a cottage behind a bed & breakfast on the main street. It was called Apple Cottage, and there was an apple tree outside the front door. The cottage was very cozy and just perfect for a small family. We had brought Rowan with us on this trip, but we would have had room for Chandler as well. Next time perhaps. It was a one bedroom cottage with small square windows throughout. The bedroom had a four poster queen sized bed which led to a small bathroom with a shower. The bathroom was connected to both the bedroom and a living room/kitchen/dining room with a fire place. In the living room there was another bed (a day bed), a small couch, and a table with two chairs. There was also two other small tables and two more chairs in the room. This made it almost impossible for us to put up the pack 'n play or put the stroller in doors, but we moved things a bit and managed to make it work.

We began our first day by having lunch at the Bayside Cafe. We had to bring the stroller up two flights of stairs, but the climb was worth it. We sat on the patio which gave a view of the entire bay. It was a great setting for lunch, unfortunately, the birds thought so also. Although these birds were only small sparrows, they swore they were falcons. Relentless in their endeavour to snatch away some morsel of our food I was hunched over my plate like some protective dog, batting my fork this way and that secretly hoping I might stab one of the sky rats. To add to the scene, about 5 minutes after entering the coastal haven, my sleek hair that had taken me close to 40 minutes to dry and straighten frizzed out so that I resembled a member from the Clan of the Cavebear. And then, to my right, what was that sound? Some crazed animal? Perhaps a wild boar, or a silver backed gorilla? No, the deep guttural grunting was coming from my clearly emaciated son demanding I feed him more quickly! So, with my free hand I had to shovel creamed sweet potatoes and green beans into the widely open mouth of my starving child as fast as I could. Should I for any reason slow down the pace at all, I was immediately reprimanded with grunts and screams sure to annoy any other luncheon guests. My poor unfed 22 lb. 8 month old. Surely this must be the same amount of food that a baby hippo or elephant has to eat. Are they this demanding? At one point I glanced across the table, oh yeah, I'm hear with my handsome husband. "Isn't it beautiful out here sweetie?" (insert loving smile).

After surviving lunch we decided to take a stroll through the town. We quickly discovered that Mendocino is a cell phone free town. On nearly every store was a sign posted "no cell phones". With a small liberating feeling, we switched off our phones and enjoyed the afternoon peeking into the small shops which lined the main drag. We found a candy store filled with wonderfully fatty treats. I quickly bought a bar of whipped rocky road fudge and to my delight it was everything that my taste buds had ever hoped for. In the next shop I found the exact pair of my favourite earring that I had lost the previous summer, and in the next shop I found a beeswax lotion bar to keep my skin happy. In the next shop we had a tee-shirt made for Bobby. It's a long sleeved blue tee with an orange rearing horse on it. Under the horse read the words, "Italian Stallion". We thought it was hilarious.

By 3:45 we found ourselves exhausted and headed for our little cottage so that we could have a chance to relax. Of course, if you are a tiny baby and you have just had a four hour car ride, a one hour lunch, and a two hour shopping outing, you don't want to be in your car seat anymore. So forget relaxing, it was time to let baby stretch his legs and crawl around the floor. It wasn't until dinner time, at the very elegant, and very pricey McCallum House did Rowan begin to fuss and let us know that he was tired. I spent half of the dinner sitting at the table alone while Bobby tried to soothe the tired beast outside. I had our food sent back to sit under a heater until he was able to return. Finally, Bobby was able to return to his seat, but with the baby still awake. Our food was brought out and we enjoyed a VERY good meal. At most expensive restaurants, you eat your food but left wanting more. Not this place, the serving sizes were very generous and we actually had to get a box to take food home. Rowan was very tired, but unable to fall asleep because believe it or not, we were not the only people there with an unruly child. A table away from us were two women and a man with one-year-old Wyatt. Apparently, they didn't think that it was rude for their child to bang on the table with his spoon or to shriek loudly. The other table in the room didn't seem to mind because they were talking SO loudly that they probably couldn't hear him anyway. That left us in our corner, trying to have a romantic anniversary dinner. Rowan eventually fell asleep and it was time to leave. The grounds outside the house had a beautiful garden and I was able to take a minute while leaving to thank Bobby for our delicious dinner and enjoy the atmosphere outside. We went back to our cozy cottage, made a fire and were soundly asleep by 10:30.

The next day we decided to venture into Fort Bragg. This town had none of the charm that Mendocino held, it seemed run down and tired. However, it did hold it's secret treasures. Our first destination was Glass Beach. Most beaches that you go to are covered in sand, but not this one. From a distance it seemed covered in smooth rocks, but upon further inspection you find that it is actually smoothed glass. For some reason TONS of glass was dumped onto this area and over the years the waves have softened the edges to create beautiful gems in the sand. We laid out a blanket and rested on the shore. Rowan might as well had been at Disneyland! He thought the glass pearls were the best thing he had ever seen. He would spy a stone and pick it up, only to see a larger stone and abandon the first to go for that one. This continued on while Bobby and I were able to look through the many choices to see which ones we wanted to take as our own. I especially liked the blue glass that seemed to only be in smaller pieces, and I was very excited when Bobby found a small piece of blue china. After around a half an hour we decided to get going. There were a lot of flies and some ants and a crazy squirrel that kept getting a bit too close for comfort. We went back up to the main street and did a bit of window shopping and decided to have lunch at the wharf. Again, we decided that it was best to sit outside so that we wouldn't disturb any of the other patrons if our baby decided to act up. Something somewhere doesn't like us sitting outside. Instead of birds, this time we were assaulted with a plague of wasps. Our server assured us that we would only be stung if we shooed them away and that it was best to just let them crawl on us and our food. We enjoyed the calamari and left without injury.

We returned to our cottage where Rowan finally laid down for a good long nap. We sat on the edge of the bed and played cribbage. I beat Bobby the first time, only to get owned on the second round. By that time the baby woke up and we decided to take a walk before we found a place to eat dinner. We found ourselves on the other side of the town at a restaurant called The Moosse Cafe. We requested a table on the patio and finally enjoyed a meal with not only wonderful food, but wonderful atmosphere as well. I fed the baby quickly, as soon as we sat down, so he was happy and quiet throughout the meal. We were placed under a heat lamp and he was quite comfy in his warm stroller. We were the only ones on the patio and it overlooked a garden and then the coast. We shared a salad and then a plate of lamb with kalamata olives, mashed potatoes and broccoli. It was exactly what I had wanted for my weekend, to have such a restful afternoon and such a pleasant dining experience. We retreated back to our nest to light a fire and play a few more rounds of cribbage before the sandman knocked us out by 10pm.

The next morning Bobby woke up with an angry cold. As he was not feeling very well, we packed up our place and loaded the car. We took a drive around the peninsula to see the part of the coast that we had not discovered yet. There is small drive that winds around the bluffs to give breathtaking views of the rocky coastline. It was a nice way to end the trip and we began to drive home back through the redwood majesty we had come from.