Once again we are spending Thanksgiving around Bay Area not-backpacking. Last year we went to Mendocino. Also due to the same reason. How sad. Perhaps I should figure out some sort of interesting route in the Southwest that could be done in 3 or 4 days. Winter is not the nicest time, but going there during the best time – March – is a bit difficult (vacation time).
The Thanksgiving Day itself was spent in semi-idle resting. Rita had some patients in the morning and we went to see the Hunger Games afternoon to the local movie theater which was for some reason working. At least there were no problems with tickets.
Friday, November 28
We visited our friends for a post-Thanksgiving gathering and then headed to the rain in Mendocino. Rita wanted to try different places instead of the lovely Fensalden Inn we stayed in last year. As a result she picked two different places – one in Mendocino proper and one in Fort Bragg. None of them B&B, which was sad to me. All hotels, in the world, are more or less the same. B&Bs at least have some uniqueness in them.
Since we started a bit late right after sunset I had to drive through the night into the upcoming rainstorm on the never-ending highway 128. That drive is nice in good weather. But with the wall of rain in the dark it wasn’t much fun. At least it was empty except for several frogs who enthusiastically tried to cross it. They were really lit up in the headlights. I hope I didn’t kill anyone. Eventually the drive ended at the expansive Mendocino Hotel, which was the accommodation for the day.
The hotel was very old bar/staging place/hotel. It was also probably brothel at some point. Old, of course, was by Mendocino standards. It had a lively restaurant with was bustling with activities at the dark time when we arrived there. At some point the owners also acquired some more places around because our humble room was in a house across the street. There was nothing special about it other than color broken TV and working fireplace. The hotel provided two of those per-packaged artificial logs and matches. The logs were easy to light, but they didn’t really want to create a good fire.
Saturday, November 29
Since this hotel didn’t provide any food in the morning we had to scramble. The good thing was that Mendocino had several very nice coffee shops within walking distance. Well, technically the whole town is within walking distance.
Mendocino is tiny. There is a nice ocean view trail, lots of little galleries and specialty shops, and some restaurants. That was pretty much what we were doing there the first half of the day. I liked some works. There were many very beautiful photos. Some were just weird or too expensive. After lunch we visited the currently being held art festival. Then headed North to Fort Bragg.
By this time the short late November day was already over. But it was just the right time for the attraction of the day – Festival of Lights in Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens. They really lit up the place with very elaborate and creative light installations. Some of the stuff, like this dragon, was also moving. The garden also had a large fire pit with provided marshmallows to roast. There was also a pavilion with guitar music and hot cider and vine. Very nice. Good thing that by that time the on and off rain of the day had subsided.
The difficult part was to find a place to eat. Mostly because of too much information. One can pull up Yelp and find several places around. But then their rating were that good, which may or may not be true. People like or not all sorts of things. Eventually we settled on Herons by the Sea for some seafood. There wasn’t a whole lot of choices and I didn’t want to drive South to the fancier places there. The food in Herons by the Sea was OK, that is after we found the place. I just had this slight suspicion that it wasn’t the best quality and probably laden with chemicals. Like the Mexican cooks there didn’t care for it. The place also looked shabby and cheap – like a McDonald’s.
Sunday, November 30
Morning in rainy Fort Bragg was a bit slow. The whole downtown was close aside from one or two places that were packed with hungry people. The wait time was about 30 minutes. I was tempted to just drive down to Mendocino for their food. Yelp again directed us to this highly recommended place called David’s Restaurant. Yes, it was highly efficient and clean. But the food was just regular diner food same as in Denny’s. The people there all seem to know each other. I had an impression that they all came to this place after Sunday church. After this we headed South.
The rain stopped and left this beautiful clear weather. It was like it washed away all the dirt and smog. The sky was the usual after-rain eventful – clouds and some sun. Much more interesting than clear blue.
The main goal, aside from getting home, was to stop for some mushrooms. There should be lots of them with all that water. There were some at this park with a beach access, but the main place to see was the Salt Point State Park. This was the place we visited 2 years ago and gotten some training on mushroom picking.
Well, we were not the only people with mushroom picking idea. In fact Mendocino had some sort of even just a week prior all about mushrooms. There was even one place serving wild mushrooms soup, but they were out when we asked them. But this also meant that the Salt Point State Park was stripped clean. We could see trails that people made in the grass. I did manage to find two Boletus and many slippery jacks. Enough for one dinner, if I knew how to cook them best.
There was one park ranger who stopped to probably check on Rita in the car while I was coming down the hill. I was afraid he’d give a ticket. But he checked my two mushrooms and said that it will be enough for a dinner. He was the one who mentioned about all the people in this park.
Then it was all drive back. Good thing it was still light so that I could enjoy the ride. We stopped at Bodega Bay for gas. The gas station was old. The station attendant used binoculars to read the numbers of the machine from the shop building.