Mendependence Day

Since Fort Bragg declared their independence from Independence Day by recognizing the 4th of July on the 2nd instead, that left the actual holiday as just another not-so-manic Monday.   The town of Fort Bragg was eerily quiet.   So I decided to take a drive and check out nearby Mendocino.  (Now, it’s going to take me yet another week to get that “Mendocino, Teeny-bopper” Sir Douglas Quintet song out of my head!)

Several of the locals told me, “Do not miss the Fourth of July parade in Mendocino!”  But I have never been much for small town parades….too much like the life I left behind in rural Texas.     Cheap Made-in-China flags and bunting lining the streets.  Out of tune horns playing in the discombobulated marching band.  Or maybe it’s bad memories left from my High School days when I rode in the town parade on the hood of a sedan as Vice President of the Spanish Club.  I wore a big billowy skirt, and every time the A-hole driving the car would gun it, I would have to grab hold, letting go of my skirt which would then fly up in the wind.  Adolescence is agonizing.

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So I decide to skip the parade, much to my disappointment later when I learn the Mendocino parade is a bit “unconventional” as parades go.  I arrive in town late in the afternoon to find the “parade” still going on.   People are in costume.  There are signs around town advertising “Mendependence Day.”  Sheriff cars are at the four corners.  And one could start to imagine feeling high just from deep breathing.   (Sorry, no photos…I am trying to blend here.)

Mendocino is famous for its water towers, built at the end of the 19th century.  Since the town has no fresh water source, many are still in use today.

Mendocino is famous for its water towers, built at the end of the 19th century. Since the town has no fresh water source, a few are still in use today.

I can’t see any parking signs in the historic downtown area, so I ask someone who looks like a local, “Do you think it’s okay to park here?”   The man responds, “I think you can park just about anywhere you want in this town.”  My kinda town.  ;-)

In between Fort Bragg and Mendocino is also the charming Point Cabrillo Light Station, built in 1906 and recently restored.

In between Fort Bragg and Mendocino is also the charming Point Cabrillo Light Station, illuminated in 1909 and recently restored.

I can't decide which version of the photo I like best, so I am posting them both.  the first reminds me of summer, the second of fall.

I can’t decide which version of the photo I like best, so I am posting them both. The first reminds me of summer, the second of fall.

The lens room contains a rare English-made third order Fresnel lens.  (Most were made in France.)   The lens room is only open for tours eight days a year.  I was booked to visit on 11th June, the anniversary, but had to cancel due to repair delay.

The lens room contains a rare English-made third order Fresnel lens. (Most were made in France.) The lens room is only open for tours eight days out of the year. I was booked to visit on 11th June, the anniversary, but had to cancel due to repair delays.

Giving the Light Station some competition for beauty are the recently restored Keeper's Quarters.

Giving the Light Station some competition for architectural appeal are the recently restored Keeper’s Quarters.

Head Lightkeeper's House, now available as a vacation rental.

Head Lightkeeper’s House, now available as a vacation rental.

First Lightkeeper's House, now a museum.

First Lightkeeper’s House, now a museum.

In addition to being turn-of-the-century picturesque, Mendocino is one of those cute little artist towns with great streets for walking. There are galleries, a huge health food market, cute coffee shops, and even a tent for local theatre performances, all within a few blocks. And it doesn’t hurt that it is flanked by beautiful bluffs of the Mendocino Headlands State Park. It’s a town worthy of its “Mendependence,” and certainly worthy of a longer visit than one afternoon.

Next time I will think twice before I ignore the advice of the locals…lest the parade pass me by!

In between Fort Bragg and Mendocino is the beautiful Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens.

In between Fort Bragg and Mendocino is the beautiful Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens.

Forty-seven acres of oceanfront gardens.

Forty-seven acres of oceanfront gardens.

Soothing balm for the soul.

Soothing balm for the soul.

Not only do the flower gardens offer a zen-like experience, but the cliff-side trails are equally compelling.

Not only do the flower gardens offer a zen-like experience, but the cliff-side trails are equally compelling.

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Path down to the Cliff House.

Path down to the Cliff House.

Inside the Botanical Garden's Cliff House where one can watch migrating whales or crashing waves in warmth!

Inside the Botanical Garden’s Cliff House where one can watch migrating whales or crashing waves in warmth!

Although it's disappointing not to be here when the vast collection of rhododendrons are in bloom, the dahlias are stunning!

Although it’s disappointing not to be here when the vast collection of rhododendrons are in bloom, the dahlias are delightful!

How does Nature know exactly how to symmetrically paint the tips of the blossoms white?

I adore how the Intelligence of Nature knows exactly how to symmetrically paint each tip of the blossoms white.

Blossoms are bigger than my hand!

Blossoms are bigger than my hand!

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Festivities and Fog in Friendly Fort Bragg

I was supposed to be in Portland for the 4th of July.  I’d had reservations at the Columbia River RV Park alongside Jim and Gayle since last April.   But all that was not without a hitch….a broken hitch, that is.  My 3 week delay while waiting on frame rail extensions derailed that plan.

But as every fulltimer knows when facing a major holiday Continue reading

Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off…

According to the great George Gershwin, some of my friends and followers may want to call it off after this post.  Seems when it comes to “oysters versus ersters,” people tend to disagree.  In fact, they fall into one extreme category or the other.  They either love ‘em, or they are repulsed by the very thought of ‘em.

I got a taste of my first oyster at Felix’s Oyster Bar in New Orleans on yet another family road-trip.  I have been slurping the slippery suckers straight out of their shell ever since.  Continue reading

Getting to the Point

I have a very definite purpose for visiting Point Reyes, and timing is everything. The Point Reyes Lighthouse is only open for visitation Friday through Monday. Though visiting on the weekend is the worst possible time as far as crowds, the weather seems perfect. If I wait until Monday, the last open day while I am here, I could risk being denied the opportunity to visit if the weather turns. The lighthouse sits prominently perched along the steep rocky shoreline known as the windiest point along the Pacific. If the wind gets high enough, they shut down the 300 stairs leading down to the lighthouse. Continue reading

Point & Shooting in Point Reyes

I arrive at the Olema Campground on the outskirts of Point Reyes National Seashore, just 40 miles north of San Francisco on the same day as my new Canon G7X camera arrives via FedEx from Canon Service Repair. It’s an eagerly anticipated arrival! I have been without a decent camera for five weeks now. Oh, sure, I had the trustworthy little $99 Canon ELPHie, Continue reading

Be Sure to Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair

In the days of my youth, cross-country roadtrips with my family typically coincided with my Dad having just bought a new car. Dad was a stylish man and always preferred the Chevrolet Impala. My first trip to California at four years old was in a 1957 golden Chevy Impala with the dramatic, sweeping “bat wings” on the tail. My second trip would be in the more conservative 1966 marina-blue Impala Sedan. It was the summer of 1967 Continue reading

Pinnacles National Pork

I leave the cool, clear, high elevation evergreen forests of Sequoia National Park where I have been running the heater every morning to take the chill off, and drive down over 6,000 ft to the Central Valley where it is hot, dry, and straw-colored.  As if that weren’t shock enough to my system, all of California is suffering a heat wave this week.  I’ve gone from snuggling under a down comforter to “hot, hot, Africa hot” in under two hours.

I am off to visit our newest National Park, Pinnacles, newly anointed in 2013.  The road through irrigated farm land and nut orchards is pot-holed and heavily trafficked by trucks.  It seems like I will never get to the turnoff Continue reading

Finding Solitude Amidst the Sequoias

After four quiet, serene nights in Kings Canyon’s Azalea campground where I enjoyed a spacious pull through with my entire passenger side windows and doors opening out into the forest, I move just 18 short miles “across the border” to Sequoia National Park.   I figure as a self-proclaimed National Park junkie, I need to sleep in both camps.

But it’s approaching the weekend, and I read online that weekends come at a premium in Sequoia NP, so I go online and find Continue reading

A Sign in Kings Canyon

Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks are two separate parks managed as one.  They sit shoulder to shoulder along the edge of the Sierras.  It’s tough to tell where one park ends and the other begins.  In fact, it can be a bit confusing, as the first point of entry into Kings Canyon is Grant Grove, a large grove of sequoia trees, and home of the General Grant Tree, “third largest tree in the world.”   To an analytical left brainer like myself, I think “Wait, shouldn’t you sequoias be over there in Sequoia National Park?  😉 Continue reading