Saturday, November 04, 2006

Mendocino: Weekend Heaven

Our favorite respite for recharging for a weekend is Mendocino. Only a few hours away, and blissfully out of cell and wifi range, it's an enforced relaxation that almost always becomes just what the doctor ordered for relief.With work so crazy, 2 bike accidents in two weeks caused from fatigue from said job, and a general burning out, we headed up the coast for some rejuvenation.

Instead of heading up 101, we chose to go the more leisurely Highway 1 route this time. Sure, it took 4 hours, but we had no traffic, stunning scenery and small towns, and watched the sun dip into the Pacific for a sunset that lasted hours. And we still got to Mendocino in time for a patented sumptuous meal. This time, we stayed at the Mendocino Farmhouse, a B&B deep in the Redwoods. Usually, we stay at one of the fine inns in town, but this was too good to be true, and it didn't disappoint. Our own converted Barn (the Cedar Room), with exposed stone fireplace, and the snugness of a personal lodge. Margie, the owner, left a note on the door welcoming us (she knew we'd be late), and we dropped off our bags and headed into town.

First stop, the Mendocino Hotel for a nice meal. Unfortunately, Amy was still suffering with a cold, and decided I should share in the experience, so our appetites were not what we normally have, but we muddled through a delicious meal of chicken and rockfish. I was tempted by their amazing Scotch selection for dessert, but without Lloyd there, it's a glass that will always be empty to me. We headed back to the Farmhouse, lit a fire, and were out cold.

Next morning, we arose...well, I struggled with various bike-crash related ailments and the new cold in full bloom. But, we did head to the Farmhouse for breakfast: homemade Blueberry pancakes, and a wonderful conversation with the other two guests about the whole Mendocino and Fort Bragg area. Margie was the kind of innkeeper I dream of: friendly, GREAT cook, and leaves the guests to their own. She's not trying to mother you, like so many other B&B owners do: she knows you are there to relax, and lets you do just that. The Farmhouse grounds are incredibly large, and feature forests, lakes, and gardens: wonderful to look at while having coffee and breakfast.

We headed up to Fort Bragg and Noyo Harbor this Saturday. Noyo is actually fascinating: a working fishing harbor, with dining to boot, that opens to the Pacific. There's a lodge there I'd like to stay next time; it was not quite open. Fort Bragg offered it's usual appeal of small coastal city that's been decimated by the loss of the logging and fishing businesses, but is recovering with tourism and retail. Heck, even a Starbucks there through, and all. A stroll through the town, a book to read, then back to the Farmhouse for some rest and relaxation.

The Japanese Maple in our private meadow waved goodbye to us as we headed to town for dinner. This night, the MacCallum House was our destination, one of Lloyd's favorites. Unfortunately, the cold robbed me of most of my taste senses, but the spicy Thai chowder and Scallops kept me busy, while Amy tackled the Liberty Duck. While the food was good, it was VERY overpriced, and the restaurant itself was surprising: they seated us directly by the kitchen, with many other open tables (yes, we had reservations), and the service was just OK. Not what I'd expected from such a revered and recommended place, but it may have been an off night. The Cookie Platter for dessert helped Amy get past it. We walked through the evening streets, then headed back to the Farmhouse for a fire and more needed sleep.

Sunday morning breakfast had eggs, prepared any way we wanted, English muffins, GREAT sausages, and potatoes, not to mention GREAT decaf coffee. We chatted with Margie a bit more, then packed up our stuff and left the Farmhouse, rested. We headed into town for browsing, buying and noshing, stopping at the local chocolatier and gadget shops. The weather was turning the way I love it up there: cool and grey, and the view from Town was perfect. After a couple of hours, we headed out of town, back South, definitely rested.

Next stop, Alexander Valley.

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