Thursday, May 5, 2016
Once upon a time Jason and I owned a Porsche 911 Cabriolet that we drove down Highway 1 when I was six months pregnant with Isaac. That's a story within itself. I gripped the door handle in one hand and my poor belly with baby Isaac in it as Jason careened us around corners. We camped our way down the coast from Seattle to Sebastopol (where the air hung heavy with the smell of ripe peaches) except for one night that we stayed in a B&B in Mendocino. We have fond memories of being there. I remember walking out onto a bluff in the dark with gigantic, roaring surf below. It was magical.
We wanted to share that experience with the kids so we were contemplating a stay in a B&B in Mendocino. A side note here: A Porsche is not exactly the most comfortable car to drive (extremely bumpy and loud) but it handled the corners with grace. This may come as no surprise to you but it is utterly and absolutely exhausting to drive the camper van up Highway 1. Highway 1 is so twisty and narrow, and up and down, that I am seriously beginning to question our sanity. (I think I am sensing a recurring theme here?) When we arrived in Mendocino we really just felt like camping so we tried to get a site at the state park campground. Being a weekend we had no luck so we drove to a nearby commercial campground. We drove through the campground and picked out the least crappy site. I was being kinda snobby because the campground was kinda crappy. The sites were crappy and crammed together and the whole campground had a, for lack of a better word, redneck feel.
We stopped the camper van by the office as we tried to make up our mind about what to do when an old grizzled surfer guy approached us saying, "Montana," you know, in the way that every person from outside of the state says it, "Moooontana". The conversation went like this:
You from Billings?
Butte? (At this point I knew he must be a character if those were the only two towns he knew in Montana.)
His story goes like this. I have omitted all of the colorful language so feel free to insert expletives where you see fit. He turned down a scholarship to play football in Billings back in 1973 because he was a surfer from SouthernCal and he couldn't survive the cold winters or the big farm boys creaming him. Instead he went to Spain and played rugby at some crazy-ultra-orthodox-Catholic-opus-dais school that he said made BYU look like Berkeley. You can imagine how well a long-haired surfer from Southern California (and all that that implies) would do at a school like that. He then proceeded to tell us drunken story after drunken story about his time in Spain while moving closer and closer to the van until he was casually resting his arm in the window. All the while I just stared at the scar tissue around the miniature dagger that was stabbed through the middle of his ear. Generally we enjoy talking to interesting people but I can only listen to so many stories about alcohol and pot before I am ready for it to end. When he started talking about how he made himself a priest suit to sneak into the girls dormitory I started to actively pray for him to leave. Miraculously my prayers were answered and he finally left.
How can he remember so many drunken stories from a time before we were born? It makes me feel inadequate and worried about my own memory that a grizzled, pot-smoking surfer who is three times my age remembers more about his inebriated freshman year of college than I can about last week. It was a surreal scene watching his leathered face in our window as a guy in a tank-wheelchair controlled by a hand grenade on a stick rumbled by in the background. We took this as a sign that we should stay in a B&B for the night. Not being ones to argue with the winds of fate we dialed the Didjeridoo Dreamtime Inn and secured their very last room. I hardly slept a wink as inebriated, ancient hippies partied through night. Mendocino is beautiful but weird.
The next day we desperately needed a day of rest. The epic Highway 1 driving had totally drained us so we spent a mellow day in Mendocino. We explored a gorgeous bluff above crashing waves before finding a sweet campsite in a state park campground where people seemed mostly functional. We spent a relaxing evening around a fire before snuggling into Sylvia for a good nights sleep.
Click here for photos.