“Talk to me of Mendocino”

11/7/21

Disclaimer: I’m a bit buzzed as I write this, on the eve of my birthday, from a can(!) of pina colada I bought on the Skunk Train today and saved for this evening. Glad I did: this thing is strong, and no way should I have gotten back on my bike after that, had I indulged on the train!

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

One of my fondest albums from childhood was Kate and Anna McGarrigle’s eponymous debut album. (Please check it out; you won’t regret it.) One of the tracks from that album that has always stuck with me is a short, lovely song called Talk to Me of Mendocino. All these years, since age 4, I have wondered about Mendocino, California.

The town lies just south of Fort Bragg, so I had hoped to visit there today. I did make it—just barely, before the new standard-time sunset arrived—so I wanted to share the above pic with you all. I really wish I had had time to actually explore the town. Perhaps another time.

But today was filled with other activities, so I’m satisfied now, at the end of the day.

This morning, I cycled a few blocks north of my Motel 6 on Hwy 1 (yay, the fabled Hwy 1!) to the Skunk Train. I had first heard of this excursion railroad some years ago, when my Oregon friend Rhonda told me about it. It felt like a bit of a splurge to buy the ticket, but this was my birthday weekend, after all, and how could I find myself in Fort Bragg without experiencing the Skunk Train?

I’m glad I did. The train took us from the coast into the redwoods, and then we disembarked for about 25 minutes to wander in wonder at the forest.

When the train returned us to downtown Fort Bragg, I visited the Edgewater Gallery, because I wanted to see some of my previous hosts’ Spencer’s and Esther’s artwork. It was cool to see their ingenious creations on the walls.

After that, I pedaled to just south of town, where the enchanting Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens lie. The gardens stretch all the way out to the ocean, and I was captivated once again by those rocky shores, with the surf crashing and lapping the rocks. To get there, I walked along beautiful wooded—both pine and deciduous—paths, and through a lovely small cactus and succulent garden.

After the garden, I made haste to Mendocino, to visit the Harvest Market natural foods store. When I arrived about 45 minutes later, I had a heck of a time finding bike parking, and ended up just locking the bike to itself in the parking lot, since it seemed a pretty safe location. When I emerged from the store with my tasty vegan treats, a man commented with a chuckle that the bike looked “short.” As per usual, I offered to demonstrate the full fold for him. He was duly impressed.

Daylight was fading fast, so I donned my front and rear lights and set out north for the hotel. I did stop a few times along the way to catch the gorgeous sunset over the shore. Wow.

I get up at the crack of dawn tomorrow to head south and east to Santa Rosa on a bus. I’m so glad I took this excursion to Fort Bragg!

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