Slow down summer! My hair has been in a dirty ponytail for weeks and I don’t have to be anywhere before 9. This is living.. So the trip I mentioned a few weeks ago continued up to Mendocino. North of SF you see a lot more green and drivers let you change lanes on the freeway. Definitely out of LA. I like it aesthetically up there more, though when I have lived in No. Cal. I did miss the dynamism of LA.
We stopped for lunch at a small, old town, Hopland. So many towns up there you could scamper around and make a trip out of.
Eventually we got to our prize, Dr. Dean’s home. Many acres of nature and fun. The smell is always striking as is the quiet. The constant noise we experience in cities makes us deaf and crazy, yet I don’t notice it till I’m far away. There was a fawn born on their land days before our arrival. Breathtaking to see such a deer and we hoped her mom would be able to protect her from other wildlife…not always the case.
Last time we were there they were hollowing out a great old redwood stump for their grandkids to play in. This trip it had been masionized.
The kids loved it and it was no surprise when I saw recorded on the Edell’s DVR “Extreme tree houses”.
Rex wants them to put in an elevator. One morning he got up early to speak to the carpenter working on it. He was trying out his favorite joke.
Rex: “why are you under there?
carpenter: “I’m working.”
Rex: “But, Why are you under there?”
It took a while but finally pay dirt.
Carpenter: “Under Where?”
Rex “I got you to say underwear!”
Trying to be a good guest I made an error that is causing me discomfort still. I decided to repair the wood borders of the path to their river spot. I moved a bunch of sticks that had been the border of the path, but had moved during the winter. I went near one shady spot at the base of a redwood to pull up a longer downed branch to make a border and then felt pain. I looked down and there were yellow jackets all around me. Mark had been stung on an off beaten trail the day before and Dean’s wife Sharon had told us the best thing to do is run. I did just that. Into the river. I pulled out a stinger when I got there. It was much worse than a bee sting. My arms and ankle swelled and got flushed. The cold of the river worked as an analgesic.
I sipped a beer and tried to calm myself. It felt bad. By dinner I was a bit better and Sharon gave me two Benadryls to help. Before desert I was face down.
Dean: “You can’t handle that! I knew you when!” Sure, in my twenties my ability to process foreign substances was far greater. I crawled to bed. “Get up” Dean exhorted me. “We got s’mores ready for the kids.”
Okay, I staggered to the gathering, but after shoving one melted marshmallow in my mouth I limped off to bed and sank.
A week later back home the swelling returned. My hair follicles burst upward and the itching was intense. A non drowsy antihistamine helped, but now back to acupuncture and Chinese herbs, which is the biggest help for my annoying skin.
Another way we try to be good guests is we cook. Well, easy when you travel with Mark Peel sure, but I jump in as well. It’s easy with Sharon’s garden and she went to Fort Bragg and got a whole, fresh wild salmon that Chef Peel did his handiwork to. You don’t get salmon like that everyday! Melt in your mouth.
There was a cauliflower dish I am refining I enjoyed and one morning made these scones. Some mornings you need something fresh baked! They have yogurt in them so they are a little less decadent than a normal scone. I put orange zest in them, but I want to tweak some more and add more orange flavor and some whole wheat flour.
Better than a bottle of wine as a host present, Mark brought the fixins to make a tree swing. I swooned when he put ours up. Using a sling shot and some creative thinking he did the same for Dean and Sharon. He spent days searching for the perfect tree.
On the trip I didn’t let my damaged skin get me down. It’s always hard to leave their paradise, but a dose of reality in the country marked our departure. They are off the grid so we took some trash to the dump for them when we left. The chain smoking ladies in pajamas and their tatted up men folk dropping of their waste showed us we were not at Kennebunkport. (Note: file that character away for a sketch one day)
Caught lunch on the way
and then a big, good smelling whiff of nature when we rolled into Marin County to stay with our friends and my god daughter. Next day headed to Santa Cruz, saw another friend and then took the kids to Santa Cruz beach Boardwalk.
Back when I was a little kid we use to “summer in Salinas”. ( Yeah, not the Cape) We would spend a couple of weeks with my cousins after our Yosemite camping trips. My folks barely slowed the car as they push us out and speed off to Monterey for a couple of nights of child free time. At the time I thought, “Why do they need to leave us behind?” Now, of course, I get it!
My cousins were hilarious and we loved going to the boardwalk. It could never be built today. Coastal commission, what have you , so it’s great to walk on it’s creaky boards and smell the frying of corn dogs. When I was little — I was the youngest of all the cousins I tripped over a $5 bill. The cousins and my sisters surrounded me. “If you don’t buy us tickets with that money we all have to go home.” Oh, sure, I don’t want to go home.
Cut to I’m playing skee ball with my kids and you have to spend about $800 in tokens to earn enough tickets to redeem for a fruit shaped eraser. The kids were a few tickets short when I — NOTKIDDING- FOUND A $5 BILL!! I bought tokens and won a few more tickets for my kids. Still not enough for a back scratcher though. One thing that is different so many years later… the rides where I have to go in loops make me VERY ill. I can feel the plaque on my brain crumbling. I’m sure I’ve sped up aging on a tilt a whirl. Mark and Rex are the daredevils in the family.
We stayed so late we couldn’t make it far down the 101. So our one non coach surfing night was in a hotel in Salinas. You know how I said you can find so many towns in Sonoma and Mendocino that you could explore and enjoy? Salinas not so much. 35 years later and gentrification never stopped here. I found a good little coffee place down town, but most of the patrons looked like they would have been friends with my uncle. The only hipster in the place was the barista. There were empty store fronts nearby. I once asked my cousins, “what do you do in Salinas?” They replied, “Go to Monterey.”
We stopped back at Vines on the Marycrest and I stocked up on more wine. I had given out most of my host presents and now I needed a gift as I went back to the noise of the city. For the smell maybe I should tape a piece of lavender to my upper lip.