What to do with a spring break? OK, well, you can't really call a week
off in the middle of February a 'Spring Break'. But it's a week off school
in the second semester, so we may as well enjoy it. Meredith needed a break
from her busy work at school, and Mike needed a break from his hectic life
... umm ... oh, never mind. Mike just wanted an excuse to go see a beach.
Having never been before, we decided to go visit Mendocino. Sad but true tale: Mike, whose brain was evidently starting to rot as a result of his unemployment, initially tried searching on the web for 'Mendicino lodging'. More sad, but still true: dozens of results showed up, many from web sites for businesses unable to spell the name of the city they call home.
In the end, we decided to stay at Nicholson House Inn, (1) because it was fairly inexpensive, (2) because one of the rooms had a kitchen, and (3) because its web site could spell the name of the city correctly.
Day 1 -- Monday, February 19, 2001
We got off to a later start than we had intended. Perhaps if we had actually done any packing the night before, we would have made it out earlier. Or perhaps not.
At any rate, we finally got out of the house just before noon, and drove by Clarke's to pick up some food for the road. Shortly after leaving San Francisco, it began to rain. This would prove a familiar sight over the next several days. Very familiar.
This trip was also notable for being the first use of the bike rack to transport the bicycles farther away than Shoreline Park. As long as you didn't look back at the bikes swaying back and forth on the rack, it went fine. Mike tried his hand at singing, "The bicycles, my friend, are swaying in the wind", but Meredith deemed it a poor attempt at songwriting.
We stopped in Boonville for fuel -- hi-octane gasoline for the Acura, and Gatorade for the driver (Mike -- Meredith would rather have drunk the hi-octane gasoline). Mike continued to drive, as the roads were, to say the least, rather curvy, and Mike is blessed by not getting carsick.
We finally arrived in Mendocino, about 4 1/4 hours after leaving Mountain View, and got settled into our room at the Nicholson's Inn. We had picked the room 'Presbyterian View', more for the fact that it had a kitchen than for any particular desire to view the local Presbyterian Church. In the end, what we ended up viewing most of the time was rain. Meredith quickly made friends with the local black-and-white cat, and Mike spent a lot of time sighing resignedly. Fortunately, this cat did not trigger an allergic reaction.
We tried to eat dinner at '955' (named for its street address), right next door, but they were closed. Instead we enjoyed dinner at Cafe Beaujolais. It was quite tasty, even if they misspelled a French word (coeur) on their menu. So much for hoity-toity.
Day 2 -- Tuesday, February 20, 2001
We woke up, ready to attack the day -- to go for a walk, a bike ride, anything. Instead, we discovered that it was raining. Hmmph.
Mike discovered that while he had brought coffee beans, a thermos, and a french press, he had somehow forgotten the bean grinder. This was a crisis, so we soon braved the drizzle and went heading out for a nearby bakery. We walked back to our home to enjoy our food and beverage, by which point it had actually stopped raining. We ventured out to walk around Mendocino -- and it started raining. Hard. Oh well. Meredith got to look at overpriced hats, but that was about it.
Later in the afternoon, it finally stopped raining, so our intrepid travelers hopped in the car and drove a few miles down the road to Van Damme State Park, where, we had read, some interesting bike trails could be found. What we instead found was several closed trails, presumably because of all the rain that the area had seen recently. We biked to the beach across the street and wandered around there for a while before returning. Meredith found some pretty, shiny shells and molted crabs on the rocks. We considered biking down the highway, but biking along the side of a twisty, curvy, slick highway in the rain wasn't entirely appealing.
We headed up the coast a few miles to the bustling metropolis of Fort Bragg. The east side of the road had stores like Rite Aid, Safeway, and Rite Aid (again). The west side of the road had Historic Fort Bragg. Weird.
We dined at North Coast Brewing Company (on the east side of Highway 1), then stopped off at Safeway for some groceries for our kitchen -- and some ground coffee beans. Sadly, Safeway offered more root beer selections than the North Coast Brewing Company (although, according to Mike, their beer wasn't half bad). Oddly, this Safeway actually had good coffee (Thanksgiving Coffee). After returning to Mendocino, Meredith successfully challenged Mike at Trivial Pursuit. It should perhaps be noted that the only time Mike has beat Meredith at Trivial Pursuit (if you don't count that time playing the Star Wars edition) was when Meredith had a temperature of about 102 degrees. Meredith lost her title in Yahtzee, though, due to Mike's unbelievable luck with any game that doesn't involve remembering a lot of names.
Day 3 -- Wednesday, February 21, 2001
Finally, a day without rain. We walked down to the beach, then walked back to find some lunch, then went back on bike. We rode around town for a while. Going up one of the many long, steep hills, Mike discovered that he was out of shape. Meredith thought at first that she was in even worse shape, but then discovered that it was just a temporarily stuck front gear. What a relief!
We poked around Main Street for a while. Meredith found lots of science books for her kids at Out Of This World, and Mike found some interesting beverages at the store for Fetzer Vineyards. Meredith also purchased a "Make Your Own Root Beer" kit for her upcoming party. It should be ready in about two weeks.
We walked our purchases back home, then walked back to retrieve the bikes. Unfortunately, it was up hill all the way. Mike discovered, to his shock, that he wasn't in any better shape by then than he had been earlier in the day. Meredith discovered that she still remembered how to use the front gear, so all was well.
Meredith cooked dinner, or tried to. She had planned to make chili, only to discover that the "spice rack" had no onion powder, garlic, cumin, or chili powder. We had pasta. Mike lounged on the couch and read (finally) The Gift by Patrick O'Leary. meriko had lent us the book some time ago, and Meredith had immediately read it and loved it. Mike read it front to back in a single evening. If you haven't read it, and like fairly tales, you should definitely pick it up -- it is really worthwhile.
Day 4 -- Thursday, February 22, 2001
Today we set off to visit Beth, a co-worker of Meredith's, who was staying for a few days in Boonville. We drove under gray skies, though, oddly, there was a patch of clear, bright blue sky off to our left as we drove. Very strange looking.
We ate lunch with Beth, then went for a walk. It seems that the patch of bright blue sky had been consumed by the encroaching darkness, and it started raining. Fortunately, Beth had a dryer, so we were able to avoid completely freezing to death in our wet clothes. Meredith had a lot of fun playing with the dogs, Banjo and Matilda, and Mike used to wood-burning stove and remembered how to start a fire.
The drive between Boonville and Mendocino, most of it on Highway 128, is pretty curvy. Meredith was thrilled to finally get back and off those roads, but wasn't really looking forward to traveling on them a fourth time tomorrow.
Dinner that night was at '955', the restaurant that we couldn't get into our first night here. Dinner was quite tasty. The sign on the door bid us 'Bon Appetite'. What is it with people in this town and spelling?
Day 5 -- Friday, February 23, 2001
We arose and packed the cars. Mike managed to get both bikes off and back on the trunk-mounted rack without losing a piece of skin this time, for which he was grateful and proud. Amazingly, it wasn't raining. Figures that our last day here would be nice.
We poked around for a bit, stopping in at Red Rooster Records and at Ocean Quilts Mendocino, before heading out of town. The record store was amazing -- it made Meredith realize the holes in our own collection.
About seventy miles later, we stopped in Cloverdale for lunch. We ate at 'Pick's Drive-In' -- basically a drive-up hamburger joint. We were wondering what kind of a town Cloverdale was, when, as luck would have it, a bunch of teenage girls showed up just as we were about to leave:
"Is it easy to get a job here? How much does it pay? $6.25? Wow, that's great!"
That was as much of a view of Cloverdale as we felt we needed, so we left. The town's motto is, "Where the Vineyards meet the Redwoods". We think they met but didn't really get along very well. Maybe they should divorce.
Ah well. We finally arrived home, safe and sound (if tired), and with neither of us on crank or in jail. It's the little things. . .