Monday, November 24, 2008


It hasn't all been politics lately. My husband and I went to Mendocino the other week, to celebrate his birthday; and I didn't even take the computer. No connectivity for three days. We drove up the coast on Highway 1, because it was clear and sunny; we stayed in Ft. Bragg, in Weller House, which used to belong to a lumber baron in the Good Old Days, and which is distinguished by the ballroom (paneled and ceiled entirely in redwood) on the top floor.

We spent 2 full days just poking around the Mendocino coast: we walked around Cleone Lake in MacKerricher State Park, and later poked through the park's fabulous tide pools. Even with a digital camera, it's remarkably hard to get a reasonable still shot of a hermit crab in a tide pool, because the only thing you can see about them is that they move. Next time I'll have to try video; I think my new camera can do video.

The next day we spent the morning in the Mendocino Coast Botanical Garden, wandering around checking out the fall plantings and trying to see some of the 4 species of hummingbirds that frequent the place. We drove into Mendocino and had lunch at the Cafe Beaujolais, then hiked out to the newly restored Pt. Cabrillo light station. They have an inn there, too. On a sunny warm calm day, what a wonderful way to spend an afternoon, to walk out to the point, gradually getting better and better photographs of the Fresnel lens. If you've never seen a Fresnel up close, on a sunny day, you've missed a treat - they shine like jewels in the light station tower. What a place this would be to stay if you want to be "away from it all", and yet you're just outside Mendocino.

The economy isn't being kind to the tourist industry here. We walked into Cafe Beaujolais and got a table, no reservation; I remember when you had to reserve 6 weeks out. We drove into Mendocino at 3 in the afternoon and got a parking place on the main drag. None of the restaurants we ate in was full; the Rendezvous Inn and Restaurant in Fort Bragg, where we ate Thursday night, had only 3 tables full, and the food was fabulous - this place is Zagat rated #1 in Mendocino County for food. The Rendezvous dining room is also fully paneled in redwood - another lumber baron leftover. An added treat: we could walk to it from Weller House.

Saturday night we got a surprise. Remember the ballroom on the top floor of Weller House? The manager of Weller House is a tanguera - she dances the tango for fun. And Weller House was the site of an evening of tango, with a couple of local people providing live music. This isn't the exhibition dance in Tango Forever, which I haven't seen - this is people who dance the tango for fun. They must have had 15 or 20 couples, too, some of whom came a considerable distance - it was quite an evening. The women who danced that night had the most sculptured calves you could imagine, tango is really good for the leg muscles! Most of them wore 3 inch heels, too. In fact, most of the women dressed up for the tango, in elegant cocktail dresses; the men, I'm afraid, were more casual. I saw one guy take off his running shoes and put his leather soled dancing shoes on over his white athletic socks. Sigh. The men generally danced very well, but style? No so much.

I watched them dance for most of an hour, just watching feet. The patterns are hypnotic.

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