Sunday, October 7, 2007

Ft. Bragg Vacation

For the most part, my husband and I enjoyed our time in Ft. Bragg. Thursday morning we packed up and hit the road out of town. Of course, here's one of the first stops that any trip requires:

After we "fueled up," we headed west, traveling on the north side of Clear Lake. That stretch is one I've always disliked because it is mostly comprised of a string of vacation "resorts" (that look to be in great need of repair) and mobile home parks (also in need of repair). The general feel is one of economic depression. We were pleasantly surprised to see that in the several years since we last traveled that route, quite a few improvements have been made. Many of the old "resorts" are gone, and many of those that remain have been repaired and repainted. The leaves on the trees were turning to yellow with a few touches of flaming red here and there.

We stopped in Upper Lake to visit a "quilt shop" that really wasn't--it was more of a craft and gift shop with a back room that had several bolts of cheaper quality fabric. Across the street, though, we found an antique shop where I bought a wooden rolling pin and a large-ish wooden spoon/scoop. I had been looking at a craft magazine on the drive; it had several ideas for painting wooden items, and I thought that scoop would be perfect for a craft project.

We arrived in Ft. Bragg around 4 p.m. and headed directly to Sew and Sew, the quilt shop that Su Bee first told me about. I didn't take any photos there, but it was a nice shop with a great little annex full of sewing machine "stuff" and thread. The personnel were very friendly and helpful and told me what I'd need to get started on the punch needle embroidery kit that I won from Sharon over at Red Geranium Cottage, so I didn't leave the shop empty handed!

After my quilt shop "fix," we headed over to the Holiday Inn Express to check in. I think I mentioned that I had a hard time deciding where to stay and settled on the Holiday Inn because I figured it was "safe." Well, we were given a room on the third floor with a king bed, two upholstered chairs with foot stools, a table and chairs, a dresser, and a large bath room and dressing area. Best of all, we had this view from one of our windows:

The funny thing about Ft. Bragg is that much of the land in town between Highway 1 and the ocean is privately owned by a lumber company, so unless you're staying in the north or south side of town, views of the ocean are limited. Although the ocean looks pretty far away (that's it past the bridge in the distance), we were very happy to find we had any view at all! And it wasn't something I even expected since I hadn't booked one of the rooms with a "view" of the gully/canyon that leads under that bridge.

After checking in, my husband and I headed out to dinner. The restaurant we picked was one that was highly recommended in some of the guidebooks and reviews I read, but truly the food wasn't anything to blog about--acceptable but nothing out of the ordinary.

The next morning, we headed south to Mendocino. If I've ever been to Mendocino before, I was too young to remember. What a cute town! If I had the money, I could easily just stay there! Where Ft. Bragg had little view of the ocean, Mendocino is built on the headlands with a view everywhere you look. Many of the houses were built in Victorian times, and there are shops and restaurants everywhere.

We first went to the Mendocino Art Center where they have a gallery and studios for classes. You'll remember that my husband likes to make things with leftover bits and pieces of "stuff," and we really liked this bench, which is just up his alley!

I think I'll continue to encourage my husband to learn more about welding, because I'd just love to have a garden dotted with rusty metal "garden art." (See that bird cage in the first photo? There's a metal bird in the cage that's pretty fun!) Oh, and speaking of gardens, many of the shops had small garden plots that were just beautiful--the tallest, hugest cosmos I think I've seen, along with delphiniums, dahlias, and fuschias--all huge and lush. Among the shops we visited was a quilt shop, but again, they had little in the way of fabric. Still, they had lots of neat gifts and things, and I managed to find a couple items to bring home to add to my fall decorations.

Around mid afternoon, we headed back to Ft. Bragg and down to Noyo Harbor for a late lunch. We had driven down there the evening before, and I noticed that a small restaurant all the way at the end of the small harbor seemed to be doing a booming business, so that's where we went for lunch.

Cute, right? We could have dined out on the patio, but it was a little bit chilly, so we opted for a table inside, right in front of a window looking out on the harbor.

As we were looking over the menu, I heard several other diners talking about how good the restaurant's Asian slaw was, so we ordered their "ultimate tacos"--beer battered prawns with avocado and slaw. I think that was probably our best meal of the trip!

After lunch, we wandered around a few of the little shops in Ft. Bragg and sampled a beer at the North Coast Brewing Company. Also, on Su Bee's recommendation (thanks Su!), we headed over to the Mendocino Chocolate Company to select and bring home a few mouthwatering truffles! Yum! We also picked up a couple things at a butcher/smoke shop to bring home to our son who loves hot stuff! He took care of our pets for us while we were away, so the least we could do was bring him home some Cajun Death Jerky and this Hot Ass Sausage.

I think you'll appreciate that my husband said he personally wouldn't want to eat any sausage with the word "ass" in it for fear of what it might contain, but we don't think that will bother our son.

On Saturday, we packed up and headed out of Ft. Bragg. Our route took us through the small town of Anderson where we stumbled upon a farmers' market. Of course, we had to stop and load up with fresh produce. Further along, we came to the wine country, where the vineyards were dressed in their best fall colors--what a beautiful sight to see the rolling hills looking like a patchwork quilt made up of grape vines in green, yellow, and brown! Our last stop was the town of Calistoga, where we walked along, window shopping, until we came across a restaurant that looked promising. There we dined on clam and corn chowder soup for lunch.

I had planned to stop at a quilt shop in Napa, but when we went looking for it in the downtown area, we found most of the streets were roped off for some kind of event, so we continued on our way. The only really disappointing part of the trip was that for some reason, my husband had very little appetite, so our dining experiences were somewhat limited and frustrating. He said he felt fine, but he just wasn't hungry. By the time we got home, my own stomach was somewhat uneasy and still is, so I think we may both have had a little bit of a bug.

Although our time away was fun, it's nice to be back home again. Since I'm off work until Tuesday, I still have time to do some quilting, cooking, grocery shopping, and blogging. Oh, yeah, and the house could use a little bit of cleaning again, but I think I'll just ignore that for now. I'm off to the Sweat Shop--it feels like it's been a long time since I've been there!


Erin said...

Kim it sounds like you and your husband had a nice road trip! Glad you enjoyed it and got to bring home some nice things!

Yvonne said...

Nice views! My hubby would love that rusty garden art stuff too. Have fun in the sweat shop!

Su Bee said...

That sounds like a pretty nice adventure - at least nothing ghastly happened! I agree - the town of Mendocino is a living postcard, just beautiful. I'm going to have to take Hunny to see the sculptures - I haven't been there in a long time and didn't know they were there. Welcome home!

Tazzie said...

Thank you for sharing your mini break pictures with us, it sounds like you had a really nice time.

mar said...

sounds like a wonderful, relaxing weekend. now go sweat!! ;-0

Sharon said...

Great pictures. Very pretty. That area really is nice. And I see you ate at "my" restaraunt Sharon's by the sea. I hope you found your dining experience most enjoyable.
I hope you had a nice time on your mini trip. You deserve some time off.
I can't wait to see your needle punch project.

Vicky said...

Okay, I'm official jealous! Your trip sounds awesome! Great blog!

Patty said...

Glad you decided to try the needle punch! Now I can wait for a blog about it before I sink my own money into another

The trip sounds like a great getaway and something we should all do more often!

I'm not so sure about the rusty bench. My neighbors might not see the "art" in it and call code enforcement to see what "those rednecks" are up to this time! LOL

Nicole said...

Great trip! And a perfect time of year for it as well. Have a happy rest of the week puttering at home.

Carole said...

Sounds like a nice vacation! Hope you didn't come down with anything and are feeling much better! Thanks for sharing!