Another (spectacular!) off-grid experience with amazing folks


Well, another day, more mind-blowing experiences.

Yesterday I took the Greyhound from Eureka to Willits. We went through some beautiful forest scenery; I was wishing the bus windows were clearer so that I could see better. But it dropped me in the Taco Bell parking lot in Willits, and my Servas host Kitty Norris picked me up there. She had insisted on driving me to her and her husband Creek’s place, saying the road there was too treacherous to cycle.

WOW, was she right. I have never in my life seen a road so twisty, steep, narrow, potholed, and all-around terrifying as this one! It was scary even to be in a car on it. But, after five roller-coasterish miles, we made it to their unbelievable mountain sanctuary. (They rent it out on Airbnb, too; take a look at these photos, in addition to mine.)

We arrived shortly before sunset, so I made a point to quickly snap the above photo.

The house itself—built in 1982, designed by a student of Frank Lloyd Wright—has been their home since 1992, and they have poured countless hours of sweat and heart into making it the amazing place it is today. It is solar powered (quite a theme here in northern California, as regular readers of this blog will notice) and surrounded by 180 acres of wooded mountains. The interior and exterior contain many Asian-inspired design elements, since the couple have enjoyed traveling extensively in several Asian countries, and learning about the various cultures. Of course the Japanese-garden-styled grounds caught my eye.

Last night, after it got dark, the sky was wonderfully clear and full of stars. Creek set up his telescope on the deck, and helped me to see Saturn, complete with its rings, and Jupiter and its four moons! It was a magical experience.

Today, Kitty took me on a hike in the woods. We didn’t spot any bears, mountain lions, bobcats, deer, or rattlesnakes (all of whom they have captured recently on their remote trail cameras along the path we took) but we did find many varieties of photogenic mushrooms, and some staggeringly beautiful mountain views—including one rocky peak (see the photo of me atop it) which is the highest point west of Hwy 101 between Oregon and Mexico!

The November trees and leaf-covered forest floor were wonderful, and the rain held off until tonight.

They have magical plum trees here, too—French prunes!—and I got to sample some wonderful preserves on my PB & J toast breakfast. We also had some fresh-that-day oyster mushrooms last night, which I genuinely enjoyed despite my general aversion to mushrooms.

This place has been a wonderful retreat for these past two nights.

Tomorrow, I will head down the road to Redwood Valley, just north of Ukiah, to stay with a friend of a friend (and someone Kitty and Creek know as well—small world!) and his wife, who both sound like very talented artists.

I’m loving northern California just as much as I had hoped I would.

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