Wednesday, December 20, 2017


Relaxed browsing in the village…

Mendocino, California is one of those quaint, picturesque villages one visits for a summer afternoon, first thinking, “This is lovely!  How wonderful it must be to live here!  I wonder if I could…” and leaves thinking, “So many people!  The shops are so crowded!  And no place to park! And the prices!”

The key to visiting Mendocino, we discovered yesterday, is to visit on a mid-week winter day.

The rolling ocean keeps the temperature temperate.  Its constancy provides ever-changing details to the rugged coastline while offering a lullaby-like symphony to accompany one’s strolls on the boardwalks and into and out of the shops.

Midweek, the hordes of out-of-towners are thinned to a smattering.  Clerks have time to visit rather than hawk.  Many ask where you’re from – “Cloverdale” – and what brings you to town – “Browsing” – and where else have you lived – “Rocklin.”  “Oh, Rocklin?  My niece and her husband live there.  Do you know the fill-in-the-blanks?”  Rocklin has 100,000 plus residents.  We’ve been gone from there about three years now, but we respond, “Why, yes.”

The loveliest collection of sea bluffs in creation stand walking-distance from the village’s little down town.  

Edward enjoys the adventure, stimulated by smells uncommon back home and scurrying critters the size of squirrels that might not be squirrels. 

But the feral cats are definitely cats and, I’d sure like to get one, he thinks as he tugs on his leash.

A few tenets underpin our quest when finding gifts for family and folks...

·      If it can’t be plugged in, that’s good.
·      If you have to read it, that’s good.
·      If it was made by a real person – not in China – that’s good.
·      If it is purchased from a small businessperson, that’s good.
·      If it’s local, that’s good; the localer the better.

Towns like Mendocino offer, with a high degree of probability, goods that meet these criteria.  (Although, some quaint little shops push Mendocino-marked knick-knacks that are produced in factories in places like Shenzhen.  Caveat emptor.)

At a leisurely pace, we wander in and out of galleries, the book store, the toy store and the tavern, chatting with the non-harried friendlies behind the counters, enjoying longing glances at artisan work we could never afford or, thankfully, find room for, and reveling in a misty fog that turns into a gentle, long-awaited rain, all the while serenaded by the lullaby of the sea. 

Too soon we depart thinking, “This is lovely!  How wonderful it must be to live here!  I wonder if I could…”

© 2017
Church of the Open Road Press


  1. I hit that section of Cali. SR 1 last summer on a long ride over the week of July 4th: I wasn't much taken with Mendocino (though it might have grown on me had I spent some time there), but--I'll tell ya--everything north to Rockport and south to about Bodega Bay... What spectacular scenery and charming towns. And Point Arena--ahhh, Point Arena: I had an amazing dinner there, a magical evening wandering nearby beaches and whatnot, and a restful night in a little inn at the wharf. The following, foggy morning I toured the lighthouse before aiming my ride at San Francisco and then spending that night in Placerville. These are some of the memories keeping me warm this winter. :-)

    1. Agree with you, Ry. CA 1 is one of the most beautiful rides anywhere, I believe. Great chowder house out on the pier in Point Arena, by the way.

      Mendocino used to be a wonderful New Enland-esque village, before it was discovered. More than a few Hollywood films have been on-located there. Now, it seems, the only time when one can enjoy its bucolic-ness is mid-week during the off-season. It's the only time I'd recommend stopping for a look-see.

  2. It sound as though it is like a lot of picturesque coastal towns along Hwy 101 (1) - swell right up with folks during the weekends and warm weather. We don't go to the coast near as often in the summer even to wander the little shops and galleries.

  3. Mendocino has a wonderful July 4th parade; patriotic, small town, quirky. A bit like those Chester parades you're familiar with, but with a hippie/tie dye flavor! We stumbled upon it in 2017, but will probably make it an annual event now that we are residents of Mendocino County. (J.McCoy)

    1. Hey Janet! What a delight to see your comment! We have a mutual friend in Warren Bird from Cal Saw. Now that we're living in "the North Bay," - actually the northern-most portion thereof - I'd love the opportunity to get together and "catch up," perhaps at that Fourth of July parade in Mendocino? - D