Friday, September 28, 2012

DAY 37- Fort Bragg to Sonoma

In Fort Bragg, I woke up in the creamy Bed and Breakfast room well rested.  I could have sworn I had heard the ocean the night before and only being a few blocks from the ocean that could have been possible but by morning the traffic in the area picked up and the light hum of vehicles was the sound wafting its way up to the second floor window.
Photo- The covered patio area at the Atrium Garden Inn.

I went down to breakfast through a wonderful covered patio area.  If it had been warmer out, I would’ve loved to have breakfast and spend time out here.  Instead, there was an adorable dining room set up with several smaller tables and a side board area in another room with breakfast being served.  It was a help yourself to fresh fruits, yogurt, breads, English muffins, sausages, and an egg frittata with cheese, hash brown potatoes, and a bit of spinach.  All of the décor felt like the pages of Country Living magazine right down to a baker’s rack decorated with fall leaves and glass pumpkins.  It was just adorable but yet very homey feel to it.  Ginger, some poodle breed of a dog wandered around happily saying hi to all of the guests in a very well behaved way.  There were two other couples both of them from the San Francisco Area.  They were giving me all kinds of suggestions for exploration in San Francisco when I eventually got there on my travels.
Photo- The well-behaved welcoming Gracie at the Atrium Garden Inn in Fort Bragg.

After thanking my host Gail at the bed and breakfast, I did a couple blocks backtracking to go to Glass Beach.  It’s called Glass Beach because there used to be a bunch of colored glass on the beach; but there isn’t much anymore because everyone has picked it up.  Back in the late 50’s early 60’s this stretch of beach had been a garbage dump and there was one large bowl area where the glass was left.  The combination of salt water and waves had formed interesting shaped formations/rock of the colored glass.  Now all you can see is smaller rocks of glass and interesting rock formations off of the beach.  There are several areas where they are rust rocks that used to be appliances and time/ erosion have changed it.
Photo- Glass Beach on a foggy morning.
Photo- Smaller colored glass rocks among regular rocks.

I walked around the beach and did pick up a few smaller glass rocks but overall I ended up watching the birds.  There was a gull walking among a group of other smaller birds.  The gull strutting and the other birds running down as a wave would recede and then running back up the beach as a wave rolled in.  Meanwhile, the gull kept the same slow strut at the same line across the beach.  It almost reminded me of a drill sargent walking in front of a line of new recruits that you see in movies.  I was chuckling because if the gull would have hands they would’ve been intertwined and relaxed at his back as he strutted along the beach.
Photo- Sargent Gull and the recruits.

Next, I drove down to the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens which my host Gail had suggested I visit.  It’s advertised as 47 acres to the sea.  It was wonderful walking through the gardens.  The attendants at the entry recommended visiting the Display house because the begonias were in full bloom there and also said that the Dahlia Garden was a must see too.  It’s a ½ mile walk from the front entry to the back cliff area where there’s an ocean overlook.  There were art and sculptures all throughout the garden some were for sale and some were not.
Photo- Just inside the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens.
Photo- A humming bird taking a rest at the Botanical Gardens.

I meandered through and found the Display House with begonias galore in bloom along with several fuchsias.  I even found one called a “Pee Wee Rose”.  Hey that’s as close as to Pee Wee that I’ve come on my BIG Adventure!
Photo- Here's Pee Wee-- the only one I've found on this adventure so far!
Photo- Color galore in the Display House.

Photo- The Dahlia Garden in full bloom, and yes, you can bring your dog on a leash too.

The Dahlia Garden was wonderful and I overheard a man tell another couple there that there were over 130 different varieties of Dahlias in the garden and about 300 plants.  The colors were very vivid and the shapes and sizes made me pause while I walked along through the garden.  In general, as I left the front entry area and worked my way back towards the ocean overlook the plant moved more into larger varieties and eventually trees as I got further back.  Then you got closer to the ocean and the landscape just opened up.  Unfortunately, it was very foggy this morning or the view would have been amazing.
Photo- The foggy cliff area overlook at the back edge of the Botanical Gardens.

I drove further south to the town center of Mendocino.  It was pretty foggy as I drove along and when I got to the town it was still pretty foggy but I could imagine the picturesque town would have been adorable.  In fact, if you have seen the TV show- “Murder She Wrote” you would recognize quite a few of the buildings; that was where the outside scenes were filmed.  I would have stopped but the town was packed and parking was near to impossible, but it was about noon-ish so I imagine everyone was having lunch.  I slower drove around for a look and then got back one to Hwy 1 heading south.
Photo- A foggy drive along Hwy 1.

As I headed further south the road got windy and turned a lot.  On top of that there was a great deal of fog.  I pulled over a few times into turn out areas to let the locals zoom right by me.  I went over a couple of bridge areas where I couldn’t see the other half of the bridge which I found a bit unnerving.  But I pressed and it started to clear a bit as I got onto Hwy 128.  Shortly, after that I found myself driving on the second curviest road I have ever been on.  The first being that 28 mile section just north of Fort Bragg.  I will say that this one didn’t have the climbing but it had some good sized redwoods that you were driving through.  One false move and I could see myself SPLAT right on to a Redwood tree; just like the cartoons.

Eventually, I got to Hwy 101 which was in one of its interstate sections.  I relaxed a bit but I really just needed to calm my nerves after the fog and then the curvy roads.  I took an exit in Cloverdale and stopped at a Starbucks for coffee and a very berry coffee cake. Yum!  Then, I drove down the street to a gas station. 
I couldn’t remember if California was a self-serve or if they had to pump your gas like in Oregon.  So when the older gentleman attendant asked if I needed help when I pulled up, I said Sure.  He got the pump going and then started cleaning my windows but then got interrupted by some fella in a truck nearby.  He asked a younger guy to finish helping me out.  The young man finished cleaning my windshield and then walked around the car.  He asked if I needed anything else.  I said no and got in my car and proceeded to drive off.  Then I hear this thunk.  He pump was still in my car but was done filling.  I stopped and another guy from a pump over put things right and said that it looked as if everything was okay.  I screwed on the gas cap and closed the door.  All of the attendants looked busy and I just decided to drive off.  But that was a bit embarrassing.  Guess I need to make sure before I pull out of a gas station the next time.
Photo- My late lunch stop.

Next, I pulled off in the town of Healdsburg.  I went down to the town center and parked.  It was a cute area where there were shops off a main town park square.  I ended up having a late lunch at a place called the Bear Republic Brewing Company.  I had some pork nachos and a beer. 
Photo- The cute downtown area of Healdburg.

When the nachos arrived they had so many jalapenos that a man down the bar made the comment that was a heartburn waiting to happen.  I just chuckled and said yeah it might be.  He was an older man with a white handlebar mustache.  He was in heavy conversation with a younger guy about a fishing trip he was planning on his motorcycle to a local spot.  He was talking about how to load a small trailer on the back of his bike.  It was rather amusing to listen to because he was talking about loading a small boat and gear onto this trailer.  Meanwhile, I had a picture of a Beverly Hillbilly’s version of him on a motorbike going down the road.

It was about 5pm that I got to the Sonoma Creek Inn where I would be spending my next two nights.  I got checked in and then proceeded to have a bit of a meltdown overload.  I was looking at all of the brochures that I had been given upon check in and also checking stuff online and OMG!  There’s a lot of stuff that you can do in the Sonoma Wine Country area.  I got overwhelmed with trying to figure out all of what I wanted to do.  I also got a couple of coupons from the Inn for free wine tastings too.

I changed and got myself calmed down.  Then, I drove over to the Sonoma City Plaza area, which is its downtown.  I found a parking spot and proceeded to walk around and look.  Most of the places were closed because it was almost 7pm.  About the only places that were open were the restaurants.  I decided to focus on getting something to eat and proceeded to look at menus outside the restaurants to see if anything appealed.  Some of them were pretty fancy and sounded good but after my little meltdown I really felt like something mainstream.  I ended up at Mary’s Pizza Shack which is a local Italian chain restaurant that started here in Sonoma.  I sat at a table just off of the bar area and ordered a chicken lemon pasta dish and a diet soda.  This was enough excitement for me for the day.  I went back to the Inn and crashed.

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