Monday, November 17, 2008

Mendocino twilight and a day at the beach

Few pictures in this missive today; we drove 101 south through the Avenue of the Giants, stopping for chai and a break in Garberville (isn't Garberville a town in Pynchon's Vineland by another name?). How can I get a residency in this town? It sure looks as affluent as one might assume given the dominant hemp related industry here. We decided there wasn't enough time to enjoy going down 1 to Mendocino (the town); so took the inland route and checked Trip Advisor for restaurants in Ukiah.

Driving through the California oak hills at twilight, we couldn't tell whether the oaks were affected by what we had heard about blight. Crusing with Silk Road music and Pearl Jam, we arrived in Ukiah around 6. We had read about Patrona in Trip Ad. [see the review we wrote] and got the last table available just by walking in. Isis of the table was surely with us. The food was carefully made and well presented, service appropriate and sensible. We had no wine due to driving, but they pride themselves on their locally stocked cellar. More than made up for a dismal lunch. We also checked in with Robin. Thousands marched in Seattle from Capitol Hill to Westlake Center (downtown shopping center) to protest the unfairness of Proposition 8 in California.

We arrived in San Leandro and checked in close to 11, buzzed on coffee, channel surfing and scanning google and al jazeera for news. It's very quiet at this inn, despite proximity to the airport and being in the middle of the Bay Area because the rooms are so effectively soundproofed. And Oakland airport is not super busy; so when it's not travel time, with the deck door open over the marina, the sound of birds and water is very relaxing.

We left for El Granada to visit friends Marguerite and Ray, whom Jim has known since childhood. Another childhood friend, Ron Federighi, had died earlier this year, while living and working in Thailand and in the absence of any family organized memorial (probably postponed due to complicated transportation issues), Jim and Ray spent time in their own grief visiting Ron's old house in Moss Beach and the marine reserve there. We were not the only ones in sunny nearly 80 degree weather who wanted to go to the beach on Sunday. The sign on highway 92 once we crossed the Hayward/San Mateo bridge indicated it would take 72 minutes to get to Half Moon Bay. It was slow going, but we have Air conditioning. Alice channeled her mom in thinking she was safe to come to California in November, could avoid the heat, as Eleanor had said when visiting us in December 1991 or 2 during that crazy blizzard that shut the city down and left kids stranded along hilly bus routes, "there's a reason I left Connecticut: the snow. I'm not coming back to Seattle again this time of year." Well, guess I'll have to fly or train it in the winter if I want to avoid the problematic Siskyous, because November is now off the list of acceptible months for visiting the golden state.

We walked along the absolutely packed beaches from Marguerite's and Ray's house to Sam's, a very popular fish place, advertising its food as from sustainable fisheries, but everything was flown in from far away: ahi, lobster, etc. Guess there's no more sustainable fishery in the fishing village of Princeton, site of our memorial lunch after a visit to Pescadero beach after my father died in 1982. All those stories are now shriveled in the sun and walked over by extreme surfers, picnic goers and the madness of crowds. But it was great to see Marguerite and Ray, admire Ray's growing car collection and discuss San Francisco eating options with Marguerite. We are trying to encourage Ray to join the Albuquerque Jim table at the 40th high school reunion. He is stubborn, but we have optimism in Marguerite's winks and smiles. The sunset, too, was stunning, although I'm sure the colors were improved by the smog everywhere.

On our way back to San Leandro, we had dinner with raconteurs and bon vivants Jim Chanteloup and the fabulous Cookie Wong, serious musicians. They took us to Divino (second night in a row for Italian, but it was real Italian [review also in Trip Advisor]) and we discussed friends, politics, the economy and family. Jim C is also a long time friend of Jim's, and Cookie, formerly of San Francisco, is now the toast of the peninsula: they put a band together to play for Bob and Nancy's wedding in Belmont in 1995?, and it was terrific.

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