The twisting road of life…

Leaving Ukiah this morning, headed for Mendocino, I chose to take Mountain View Road – much to Vanessa the GPS gal’s dismay. She gave me two right turn choices that I refused, and soon we were on a narrow, twisting, steep uphill two-lane road into eucalytus, pine, and spruce forest.

After what seemed like four miles but was only 1-1/2, I started wondering if I should turn around and follow orders. But I felt committed to the route, which would take us over the Coastal Mountain Range to PCH (Pacific Coast Highway, also known as Highway 1) to Point Arena and on to Mendocino.

We continued…

Then, about four miles on I saw a warning sign: CAUTION NARROW ROAD NEXT SEVEN MILES. What the? It’s already narrow… uh, it just got really narrow…

We drove uphill on this incredibly narrow two-lane road. No shoulders to speak of – they were totally eroded on the cliff side, and the road was so close to the uphill slope that you could probably reach out and touch it from the passenger side.

For my friends who live on Cape Rosier, imagine your narrow road, but put it on the side of a mountain, with sheer dropoffs through the trees and NO GUUARDRAILS!

I never got higher than third gear, with a lot of second gear as well. Once in a while I would catch sight of the dropoff in my peripheral vision and cringe. Fortunately, we didn’t meet another car coming the other way. Of course, I also had the sinking thought that absolutely no one I know had any idea where I was. If we went over the side…

Okay, I know it wasn’t likely to happen. But it was like when you’re watching a horror film and someone is about to go into the basement and you’re shouting at the TV: Don’t go in the basement! I knew I wasn’t going over the edge. And another part of me was certain that I was going over the edge.

All in all, the drive was beautiful, but I didn’t really appreciate it until we were well on the other side of the range and almost down to PCH. And, of course, we left the sunny valley on the east side of the mountains for what looked like cloudy weather when we were about halfway through the mountains. It turned out to be a beautiful sunny day on the coast, but I had that moment when I thought Damn! I should have stayed where I was!

I stopped to take this picture of Mountain View Ranch – well after we had come out of the twisty, perilous road through the mountains. What a view these folks have from their place!

The coast at Point Arena is stunning, with sheer cliffs, bold rocks, and high surf. There really wasn’t any good place to walk Max, so we made a brief stop there and headed north towards the town of Mendocino.

For $7 you can climb to the top of the light. I couldn’t imagine that it would be that much more stunning than the view from where I was standing.

This sign at the edge of an organic beef farm on the road to Point Arena cracked me up.

Along the way, we stopped at Navarro Beach and had some fun playing ball in the sand. I’m trying not to get over confident about Max’s willingness to stick around me when off-leash, because past experience has shown him to be unreliable in the sticking around department. However, today on the beach, he stuck!

Max at Navarro Beach.

Mendocino is the quintessential California tourist town. Sitting on a bluff, with gorgeous views south along the coast, it’s filled with art galleries, shops, restaurants, and charm. Not as dog friendly as I’d expected, we were turned away from one café but located Frankie’s – just off the main drag.

I ordered today’s special slice of thin crust pizza: homemade pesto, spinach, caramelized onions, red peppers, and mozzarella. To wash it down, an Old Rasputin stout from North Coast Brewing Company, a brewery in Fort Bragg – about 20 miles up the coast.

Max and I spent about a half hour on their deck while I ate and chatted on the phone, then we walked around town for a little while before heading off in search of tonight’s bed. I had a reservation at a Motel 6 in Arcata, but I was yearning for something more…

I stopped at Starbucks in Fort Bragg to get a decaf latté and use their WIFI to search for that something more here near Mendocino and I found Little River Inn – which I had seen on our way north this morning.

They are definitely pet friendly, and had an ocean view room available for us, so we turned south and got here about 3:30. Our room is fabulous, with a king bed, fireplace, lots of space, and our own private porch overlooking the Ocean and the beach at Little River.

Our lovely room at Little River Inn.

Max on our porch at Little River Inn just before sunset.

There was a bag with a towel, sheets to cover the furniture if needed, mutt mitts (for poop cleanup), and a bowl in the bath with a small package of dog treats! This is the most dog-friendly place we’ve stayed yet in terms of providing amenities for the dog – but since it costs about three times what a La Quinta or Red Roof would be, maybe it should have doggie amenities!

After I had our things in our room, Max and I went over to the office where he was greeted with treats, love, and admiration. To top it all off, I was able to bring Max to dinner at a table in the parlor of the main lodge!

The sunset view from our porch at Little River Inn.

This morning, as we drove through the early light up the mountain road, I felt as if I had been blindsided by the beauty. Frost on the shady sides of the road, dewdrops glistening on the trees, and always, always, the soft rounded brown hills just beginning to blush green.

I wanted to write a haiku. I wanted to find the words to describe the beauty, my feelings of joy and gratitude for being alive and for being able to make this journey. I felt as if I had been out here forever. It was as if I had no home, just the road, the car, our belongings, and my companion.

I felt exhilarated by the gorgeous light, the incredible majesty of it all. I wanted the road to go on forever, and I wanted to reach its end. Here’s my attempt at haiku:

Twisting mountain road,
Dewdrops glistening on trees.
I weep at beauty.


About Maureen Farr

I am a graphic and web designer – and the publisher of the print version of Arts Guide, a free guide highlighting the arts, dining, events, and more on the coast of Maine. In addition, I am a visual artist working in mixed media and encaustic, as well as creating found object jewelry. I am currently at work revising a short novel that I wrote as a participant in the 32nd Annual 3-Day Novel Contest.
This entry was posted in California, California Coast, California Wine Country, Coffee, Eating out on a road trip, Musings, On the Road, Random thoughts, Traveling with a dog, Traveling wth a poodle, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to The twisting road of life…

  1. I like your haiku! It’s funny, but when I see really beautiful things, I always want to wrote them too! (I don’t usually do it because mine are quite lame in comparison!)

    What a beautiful leg of your journey you’re on now! Wish there’d been a good place to walk Max on Point Arena–I would love to have seen more pictures–it looks beautiful!

    And what a fun place that inn sounds like! (But as you said, it probably should be at those prices!)


    • Maureen Farr says:

      Yeah, the inn has been great except they didn’t pick up my breakfast order left on the door last night… I guess I wasn’t meant to have overpriced eggs benedict! although, after last night’s dinner, they would no doubt be fabulous.

  2. Evelyn Hannah says:

    How wonderful, like a storybook place, California has so many unique and wonderful places. Safe Journeys
    Evelyn and Bree

  3. June Kellogg says:

    Loved all of it Maureen, especially the photos of Max, and the ” I weep at beauty” which is something that happens to me an awful lot lately. Have a wonderful day on your journey. June

  4. hank says:

    used to live at frazier ranch, right on friggin little river, i think, about 4 or 5 miles north of fort bragg.

  5. hank says:

    i’m lyin to ya. it’s just on the other side of mackerricher state park, Camp 2 10 mile road, georgia pacific industrial road.
    bout where i said, 6 miles n of ft bragg, but looking at the google, seems it’s been developed… and i can’t find a name of the river, but it’s sizeable, with a good sized bridge… we used to surf at the beach. right past us was abelobadiah creek, with another little commune… then newport, westport.wonder where everyone is now? that was ’73/’74

  6. Brenda says:

    What a trip! I love your descriptions–that scary ride with sheer dropoffs! Max is so elegant and dashing. A winning companion. Glad you’re having such a momentous time.

  7. Joni says:

    I have been to these places many times with great joy, I might add. and had the same feelings, because of the beauty, the dryness, beautiful hills and with my dear high school roommate Bethany, now departed. Brings back great memories. Thx for you emails. I’m right there with you! Joni

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