Road trip to Mendocino

Fun fact: This Lady has a family member in Mendocino.

Since we moved to California, Dave and I have done our best to see and do as much as we can on the weekends.   (A quick review of this blog would certainly support that claim.)

This weekend was a great adventure, in which we traveled to a new part of the state.  On Saturday morning, we woke up early, packed an overnight bag and hit the road to the little town of Mendocino in Northern California.

To get to Mendocino from San Francisco, you drive through redwoods, mountains, valleys, a few small towns and by the gorgeous wineries of Anderson Valley.   We loved seeing the rolling hills of grapes going straight up the mountainside at each little winery, but didn’t want to delay our arrival by stopping for tastings this time.

As usual, Dave was the driver for the day and had his hands at “ten and two” on the steering wheel during the second half of the route.

The trip there is about three-and-a-half hours and concludes with a very entertaining 60-mile stretch up a thin, winding road with no stops.  This particular part of the drive takes you the last leg into the town of Mendocino and offers absolutely zero cell phone service.  I would not want to drive it at night, because it was a little scary during broad daylight.

We weren’t just going to Mendocino with no agenda.  In fact, we were visiting my lovely first cousin, Karen, her husband, John, and her kids.

My cousin moved to California with her family more than ten years ago, so I haven’t seen her much over the years.  It has been absolutely wonderful to reconnect with her now that we live in the same state.  Although we’ve gotten together twice since I’ve been here, I hadn’t yet gone to visit the place she calls home.

And the place she calls home is amazing.  They have an incredible, yet comfortable place on a large piece of property, which just so happens to overlook the Pacific Ocean and some rocky cliffs.

Unfortunately, it was foggy when we arrived, and we soon learned that many days of the year are spent in a haze of cool fog on the coast there.  It’s quiet in Mendocino, and when you stand outside, all you can hear are birds chirping and waves crashing.

We pulled up to my cousin’s home just before lunchtime.  We went inside, got a tour, and then sat at the kitchen counter while she prepared us a delicious Mexican lunch, complete with fresh avocados, salsa and beans.  After lunch, we went into the main downtown of Mendocino, just moments from their house, which is a tiny little area with a New England feel.  There are quaint shops, cafes and B&Bs in white, yellow and pastel-colored looking home-like buildings, all located within a small walking radius.  We went in into a bakery to pick out some after-dinner sweets, then drove around a bit to explore.  The town is close to the coastline, but because of the fog, we couldn’t see very far out.

The rest of the afternoon and evening was spent hanging out at home.  There was a lot to see and explore within the home, since they have completely redone it and customized it to their liking.  Have you ever sat down on a heated toilet seat?  Just one of the many great features …

My cousin and her husband are members of an Anderson Valley winery called the Roederer Estate, so they are stocked with the winery’s signature sparkling wine.

Once the evening rolled around, they brought out the largest bottle of wine I’ve ever seen.  Throughout the course of the night, we emptied that thing in a true team effort.

It was a fantastic, relaxing evening.  We caught up on life, looked at photo albums of their many trips to Asia, ate some delicious grilled food, listened to music and hung out.

To finish off our visit, on Sunday morning, we went to brunch at the Mendocino Hotel (another charming little place in the heart of the downtown, which looks like it belongs in a Disney theme park).  Then, just before noon it was time to say our goodbyes and begin the trek home.

I’m sure we will visit Mendocino again, and we’ll most definitely stop at some of the wineries on the way up.  While there isn’t much nightlife (unless you get invited to my cousin’s house with us, of course), Mendocino provides a great place to relax and unwind.  It’s coastal, it’s chilly, and it’s foggy, and it’s a great escape from the City.

Another weekend of exploring the Golden State on the books.

Mendocino
What an incredible view from my cousin’s backyard.
Mendocino
One of the few usable shots from our 10-minute cousin photo-shoot.
Mendocino
World’s largest front door, worthy of a pic.
Mendocino
It took two people to hold this huge bottle of sparkling wine.
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