Around mid January the travel bug bit me. I had no major trips planned but I wanted to get away for a few days. We had been to Carmel and Monterey many times, I was tired of Calistoga and Palm Springs, and when Dean was playing softball tournaments we had driven to the Central Coast and Santa Barbara. I envisioned something new.
|A view of the Santa Ynez mountains near Santa Barbara from Dean's van (c1994)|
I checked my book shelf and pulled out Karen Brown's guide to Charming Inns and Itineraries in California. Karen Brown recently closed her business and took down her web sight which I had consulted often over the years. She always came up with good ideas, especially in Italy. A special favorite was the Masseria Marzalossa in Puglia.
This time I decided on a short trip up the coast through the Anderson Valley and north to Mendocino, and I waited until April. What luck! After the winter rains the hillsides were amazingly green and the streams and rivers were flowing.
Just after Boonville, we spotted these spectacular blooming cherry trees at Scharffenberger Winery and stopped for a picnic and tasting of their sparkling wines. Our vacation had officially begun!
In Mendocino we located our B&B—the Agate Cove Inn—and then browsed around the charming little town in a light drizzle.
Water towers like the one above dot the landscape and add to the Mendocino charm.
We had a super meal at the old victorian Café Beaujolais. I remember when Margaret Fox opened the restaurant and published her Café Beaujolais Cookbook . I finally made it up there, and though she sold the restaurant years ago, the new owners have maintained her level of excellence and she is often spotted dining there. We had an amazing salad that consisted of three smallish heads of romaine lettuce artfully presented in a creamy dressing followed by wonderful duck in a light orange sauce. Too bad we forgot a camera!
We arrived to this view in the breakfast room of the Agate Cove Inn. It was a pleasure to linger over breakfast searching for whales in the cove. A few days before they had spotted baby whales playing among the nearby rocks after a storm. We weren't so lucky.
Russian Gulch State Park on a cool, windy spring day
Here's a short video of the sink hole in Russian Gulch
We wandered for hours in the notable Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, rated fifth in the nation.
|I loved this wooden " bench" wth the high far end.|
Next we headed to Fort Bragg for fish and chips at Sea Pal cafe in Noyo Harbor on the Noyo river. We shared our delicious, crusty lunch with enormous seagulls. Other than that, Fort Bragg was a disappointment, except for the farmer's market held inside until May. We just stumbled upon it. Where else can you find a legendary blind accordionist accompanying produce shopping.
I loved this metal moon at the entrance to Luna Restaurant in Mendocino
Heading back to Berkeley, we stopped at Hendy Woods State Park and were greeted by the ranger who had just heard that her colleague had spotted tracks of a mother and baby mountain lion. The cub, who had been walking alongside the mother, was estimated to be two months old. The rangers were overjoyed that the lions were reproducing in the park, so we hurried in and found the prints on mud-slurry covered concrete next to the picnic tables. As you can see, this was an ideal situation for preserving animal tracks!
Then we took a trail through the magnificent redwood forest
We concluded our road trip by getting lost on our way out of the woods. We finally located Hwy 128 which meandered through gorgeous green Anderson Valley and we celebrated with more wine tasting at Handley and Navarro Wineries. I'm waving goodbye at Handley vineyards.