2000: California Coast

Mendocino

July 17

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I'm up before 6 a.m. (!@#%!!) without my blackout drapes. I slept fitfully, but feel rested nonetheless. One thing we should have brought more of: BLANKETS. The weather continues to be overcast, gray and cold, making it hard to get out of bed.

The rocky Mendocino coast.

We strike out early for Mendocino, thirty miles north back up the hairpin road. It's a little easier the second time. Mendocino is a charming coastal village, artsy and popular with the trendy set.

We park The Borg Cube on a side street (a full BLOCK of a side street) and strike out for a stroll in town. A local directs us to the Bay View Grill for breakfast, where we feast on omelets, rye toast, and blackberry jam.

Garden entrance. Daisies.

A few miles north, we visit the Mendocino Botanical Gardens, a 45-acre preserve of incredible flowers and trees. Can I hire one of their gardeners?

We spend over an hour exploring the trails and streams in the garden. The dahlia garden is particularly spectacular, with blooms the size of dinner plates gently probed by industrious bumblebees.

The tour ends in a covered area containing dozens of pots of tuberous begonias, with some of the most beautiful flowers I've ever seen. A sign tells me they are easy to grow - ha-HA, they've never met Carolyn of the Black Thumb!

Bees having lunch. Ferny flowers. Dinner plate dahlia. Dahlia bed. Interesting leaves.

On the road again, we must choose between an unknown 50-mile stretch of Highway 1 up the coast, or a longer drive on Interstate 20 back to Highway 101. We chicken out and opt for the longer, but seemingly safer route.

The climb from the Bay Area has emptied the belly of The Beast, so we stop for our first fill-up. Before The Beast is sated, the pump stops automatically at $50! Rather than re-initiate the flow, Mike accepts this limit and we leave with lighter wallets.

Highway 101 into Humboldt County is an interesting mix - stretches of freeway, then sections of 2-lane road through rugged and beautiful mountain passes. We encounter several construction zones; the two-lane road requires stopping vehicles in one direction while a "follow-me" truck brings through the opposing traffic. Like Merlin in the spell of Nimue, we follow when summoned, and are thankful we have no deadlines to meet!

While Mike does most of the driving, I am free to pop in and out of my seat searching for snacks or visiting the on-board potty, which is mighty convenient. I'm learning to navigate the sways and dips of the moving coach; perhaps my next career is airline hostess!

I enjoy a small but significant triumph: I find (and silence) a killer rattle, well-hidden in the stove hood, which has previously eluded and tortured me as we drive. I pinball back to my seat and exude a satisfied "Ahhhhhh!" at the rattle-relief.

We begin to see small, scattered patches of coastal redwoods, beautiful but small compared to what will come later. By early afternoon we have reached the southern end of Humboldt Redwoods State Park, a major stand of the magnificent trees.

Giant Redwoods RV Park in Myers Flat is our target for the day. At first sight, we are apprehensive - the quarter-mile road into the park is littered with run-down mobile homes. But the park itself is pleasant enough, shady and sheltered near the rocky bank of the Eel River. It does, indeed, have its own giant redwoods - four, to be exact - but rather than parking beneath them, we choose a larger space screened by stands of bamboo and with empty spaces on either side.

In the office we meet Max, a Jack Russell terrier, and his owners Rose and Jerry, who have just arrived. We take a tour inside their rented 38-foot diesel pusher; I especially like the TV mounted in the bedroom ceiling, at just the right angle for napping/viewing! To our chagrin, we learn they have rented this luxury-filled behemoth for less than we paid for our Class-C Minnie Winnie.

A walk down by the river, grilled chicken for dinner, and relaxation round out the day. Tonight I steel myself against the cold by sleeping in sweatshirt and sweatpants.