Date: Tue, 10 Dec
1996 21:20:26 +0000
i have no idea why the concept of the parade of lights in fort bragg appealed to me so much, but it did. and we went.
saturday morning was blustery, but himself insisted he was up to the drive and that he too was eager to see the parade of lights. uh huh. we made it to hopland, through increasingly heavy rain. stopped at the real goods store and did the minimum of shopping and not the tour.
continued north on 101, since the scenic route wouldn't be visible. stopped in ukiah for a late lunch and it took quite a while to find a place that even served sandwiches. the staff at the coffee shop kept talking about their trips to walmart.
the downtown was pretty deserted for a december saturday afternoon, with a forlorn little trolley crusiing emptily up and down main street. i'm sure the parking lots at the mall were full.
as we drove over to the coast, we agreed that the scenery would undoubtedly be beautiful, were one able to see it.
one look at the motel where i'd made reservations and we decided to cancel and search for other lodging. found a place called the wharf on the noyo river just south of town. tres sam shepard. a big old restaurant and bar with hundreds of commemorative bottles on the rafters and lots of fried stuff on the menu. the rooms were downstairs, and each had it's own tiny little deck right on the river, with views of the harbor and the river mouth.
himself looked longingly at the bed (not me, just the bed), but suggested we head into town, even though there were a few hours before the parade. by this point, i'm feeding him lots of cold meds and even suggesting we skip the parade. no, he wants to see it (after driving all this goddamned way is unspoken but does hang in the air).
downtown fort bragg is much livelier than ukiah. the rains are livelier here too. we wander in and out of stores, watching the clock, and finally head into the shelter of a warm bar and brandy. this cheers up rudolph the rednosed boyfriend, since the back bar is incredible and the brandy is warming.
and then, an xmas miracle. the rains stopped, the winds stilled, the parade began. all, um, eight trucks of it. but it was festive, and camp, and still fun.
then we had a remarkably good dinner, about 40% of which himself later admitted to tasting. nothing like plop plop fizz fizzing alkaseltzer plus into your water glass at the table. but we did get to sit right by the fire and it turned out the chef used to work for some friends of mine at clancy's in new york. so we chatted and i tried not to feel guilty cause himself wasn't home in bed. himself had steak au poivre and i had lamb shanks. good winter food. a quiet night back at the room, although the storm was spectacular.
sunday morning we drove down to mendocino, through a somehow ominous break in the storm. halfway through breakfast at the mendocino hotel, himself admitted that all he wanted was to crawl back into bed. i convinced the deskclerk that noon wasn't too early for a check-in and we took the only room they had with a tv that was ready. it was lovely. (think red lion inn, bonnie). gorgeous furniture, a window seat, and a fireplace that was soon blazing (and showing me how our wood stove suffers in comparison). tea, fresh orange juice, and the remote in hand, himself brightened considerably for the ten minutes he managed before going back to sleep.
i cruised the shops but no xmas goodies jumped out at me, or at least none that i could afford. there was one humidor i looked at but there were no decimal points between the 1 and the three 0's that followed it. i did buy himself a good sport present, though - a muffler. i walked around for a few hours, checking on the decibel level of himself's snores periodically. mendocino is nice and small that way.
himself managed to stagger out for a walk and a trip to the fudge store just before dark. he admitted the fresh air was helping, and we strolled into the wind for a while.
another early and good dinner at the mac callum house, then back to the delights of the fireplace. the wind was fierce and the room was cozy. we tried not to remember how many times we'd heard the locals wonder if the power would go.
the storm was at it's most intense yesterday morning. after coffee in the room, we hit the road. himself's knuckles were literally white for quite a while. we knew there was a road, and a sky, and an ocean all quite near us. we couldn't distinguish one grey area from another. it was eerie, and scary, but lightened a bit when we turned into the alexander valley. at least we could tell the trees from the road. the drive back took twice as long as it should have, but was blissfully uneventful.
i cancelled my plans to go to sf last night, having had enough of being blinded and splashed by passing semis for one day. himself feels much better today, but paled when i suggested we make the parade of lights an annual tradition.
hold back the edges of your gowns, ladies. we are going through hell.