Wednesday, January 24, 2018
MORNING AT THE DAVENPORT ROADHOUSE AND INN
Cup o’ joe on the veranda –
turn of the LAST century style
The Davenport Inn and Roadhouse is located in an early 1900s brick building on the east side of the Cabrillo Highway. Across the road, a little used, if not abandoned, rail line traces north south from Santa Cruz to the cement plant on the other end of town. Behind it, a long, low warehouse with an orderly shingle roof, aging corrugated siding and old six-panel wood framed windows obscures much of the view of the Pacific, but from the upstairs veranda a glimpse of breakers and cliffs is clear to the south.
My wife hosts a “girls’ weekend” at home, so I’m asked to make myself scarce. I’ve decided to secure a rustic, cozy room in a little town I’d only driven through before for a couple of nights. The pillow-topped queen bed is soft and inviting, but I find that there are no Kleenex for my convenience and no television so the book I brought along to finish reading, I might actually finish reading. The outlet on the bathroom counter next to the coffeemaker doesn’t have power to charge my iPhone, but the one next to the bed has a power strip attached into which the bedside lamp is plugged. There exists no switch on said lamp, so in order to turn it on or off, one has to flip the toggle on the end of the power strip which lays on the floor near the bed.
This morning’s coffee provided comes come not prepackaged but in a handsome, old-style tin and is sourced from a local roaster – a small company dealing strictly in fair-trade beans – and is free, which, to me, is the ultimate in fair trade. I load the tiny Mr. Coffee with grounds and water and transport it to the lower level of the bedside table where its cord could reach the power strip, the toggle of which I have to trip to the on position, thus activating the lamp. This prevents one from the dangerous practice of trying to brew coffee in the dark.
I am absorbing the blended aromas of sea breeze and fresh brew, when the magic becomes clear: It is a special gift to hole up in a hundred-year-old building so nicely preserved. The quirks of a duplex outlet on the fritz or a light requiring an odd procedure to engage is just part of the enchantment. A century ago, these conveniences would have been unheard of. I recline on the bed taking note of the brick walls, mortar for which was probably milled and mixed just up the road, and of the clear grained redwood forming the room’s ceiling. Not bad, I think, beginning to doze until the Mr. Coffee burbles.
Moments later I’m sitting on a willow bough rocker on the upstairs veranda and writing these notes as I enjoy – and I mean that seriously – enjoy a cup of dark roast.
A low 8:00 AM January sun glares off the southward stretching pavement of the Cabrillo Highway. Saturday morning traffic is sparse and the crush of the waves on the sea cliffs some two hundred yards away is a pleasant constant. The coast in the area is one-time sea bottom. Striations of limestone and sandstone push upward as a result of the on-going and eons-old collision of the North American and Pacific Plates. The ocean gnaws at the cliffs. I’m hearing the same sound as did the Ohlone natives, a string of lighthouse keepers, the railroad workers who hammered tracks to ties northward and the folks who built this hotel a hundred years ago. I suspect that time means nothing to the sea.
From my willow rocker, I note a backlit and silhouetted someone walking atop the bluff across the highway to the south. I promise myself I’ll check out whatever trail that someone is on before I leave town.
Perhaps I’ll do that now. I’ve finished my coffee.
I look up from tying my sneakers in preparation for my sojourn across the highway and tracks and over to the bluff to find a couple of Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s SUVs have just pulled into the wide spot in front of the warehouse. Out of these two police cars emerge three police officers who discuss something for a minute or two and then head through a break in the stunted cypress and onto the railroad tracks and off toward the bluffs. Figuring this might be Davenport’s biggest crime of the last 50 years and not wanting, personally, to be in the newspaper story about it – my apologies, here, to Arlo Guthrie – I decide to postpone any trek to the sea cliffs and, instead, brew a second cup of coffee, hoping that lone hiker hadn’t somehow slipped and fallen into the surf below.
Were that thought a reality it would have proven an awful way to start my day. Worse, undoubtedly for him or her.
But it’s just an excuse, I know. Sitting here on the veranda pretending it is 1910 all over again is more than fine and I’m happy to let my Saturday unfold slowly.
The Davenport Roadhouse and Inn is a rare throwback to earlier times and a wonderful place to stay. A little history can be found on their website: http://davenportroadhouse.com/about/history/
Church of the Open Road Press