I’m sure whatever part of the California coastline you are lucky enough to frequent can become your favorite part of the world. But having sampled a bit recently, we have to say that the North Coast, starting in Bodega Bay and moving up the Pacific Coast Highway, is wonderfully spectacular.
We left Sacramento early this morning and worked our way north, making one mid-morning stop at the Kruse Rhododendron State Preserve. This is a lovely forest which we had completely to ourselves. Deep glades filled with second-growth redwoods, hugely luxurious ferns, and wild groves of California wild rhododenra – just past their prime bloom week – were wonderful to see and smell. Yes, you have to inhale it deeply to fully appreciate the smell of rich and fertile nature producing some of her glories.
Speaking of glories, a word here about the California state flower – the poppy. Yes, I am well-known to love the color orange. But I am over-the-moon passionate about the color of this poppy. It is just stunning, wherever it grows, whoever it has as neighbors. This is a color that Benjamin Moore must try to duplicate. And since I can’t get enough of it, you have to learn to love it too, in all its orange wonder:
Our main stop for the day was the town of Mendocino. I was dreading something like the cloying consumerism of Carmel, and hoping for the lighter touch of Santa Barbara. What we got was something very different.
This town has a very New England flavor – and architecture that hearkens more to Nantucket than California. It also had a grit and an earnestness that was very comfortable and cozy.
We had lunch at the Mendocino Cafe, and a very nice lunch of a burrito and rockfish sandwich it was. However, if we lived in this town for a week, they would discover that we are imposters who giggle at the raft of free-trade, shade-grown, gluten-free, and totally organic foodstuffs that pervade the shops and restaurants here. We would be thrown out once our true food preferences were known. But we pass among these people as sympathizers, and wait for more forgiving communities on our trip in order to indulge our less-than-savory passions for gluten and its evil companions.
We walked through several lovely art galleries and strolled the side streets, enjoying something that looked more like home, but that had a style all its own. Here’s to Mendocino – discovered by interesting people who like to make their own beauty, rather than buy it from name brands.