Wednesday, October 12, 2016

A Quick Trip to Mendocino County, CA

In September I spent a long weekend in California to visit a friend and attend a mutual friend's wedding together. On Friday I flew into Santa Rosa, just north of the Bay area, an airport experience that I highly recommend.

At Sea-Tac you walk onto the tarmac to board, which goes really fast since you can board on the front or back of the aircraft. Your "carry-on" goes onto a cart on the side of the plane to get loaded underneath, since the overhead bins are tiny. Then there is complimentary beer and wine. When I asked the flight attendant if there was Wi-Fi, she smiled sympathetically and said, "Um, no, hon." The time from when the plane touched down in Santa Rosa to me being outside in the pickup area was about six minutes.

Eli picked me up and we drove through the golden hills of Mendocino county to her house in the little city of Ukiah. On Saturday morning we had some time before the wedding, so Eli took me hiking near Lake Mendocino in the pleasant late-summer heat.
Eli and her husband are commercial bee keepers and sell their honey locally. We stopped by the farmer's market and I got to see their vendor's booth.
Then we hit the road to drive to the tiny coastal town of Elk.
On the way to the coast we drove through Anderson Valley, which is know for its pinot noir grapes. I wanted to stop at Anderson Valley Brewing Company because I really love their sour beers that get distributed up north, but unfortunately we didn't have time. We did have time to stop to taste some pinot noirs, which I especially appreciated since Eli was five months pregnant and not drinking.
It's a good friend who takes you wine
tasting when she's not even drinking
After Anderson Valley, we drove through an awe-inspiring forest of Redwoods along the Navarro River. It was clear, hot, and sunny, probably in the 80s. As soon as we crossed the river to pick up Highway 1, we definitively entered a coastal micro-climate; it was thick fog and the temperature dropped about 25 degrees. The ceremony was on a small hill above a barn right on the coast, and it should have had a stunning view of the ocean. It was completely foggy but incredibly beautiful in a mysterious, ambient way.
The bride walked down the aisle to a Talking Heads song, and the ceremony was heartfelt and lovely. The reception was in a big wooden barn, complete with vintage furniture, a big fire pit, yard games, and signature cocktails.
With Eli: awesome friend and fabulous +1

Friends and family giving toasts
The next day we stopped for breakfast at Queenie's Roadhouse, and I ate possibly the best huevos rancheros of my life. Then we ventured up the coast to explore the town of Mendocino.
It was still foggy, so we drank hot chocolate, checked out cute shops with local goods, wandered around the headlands over the beach, and then drove back to Ukiah... where it was as hot and sunny as we had left it. We had a mellow, post-wedding recovery day of hanging out. I read on the deck and ate fresh figs off their tree while Eli's husband harvested grapes from the yard. Then Eli whipped up a delicious dinner and I got ready to fly home on Monday.

Big congrats to Adam and Ashley, and big thanks to Eli for the wonderful visit!