So today was the day that the weather truly crapped out - wind, rain and cold. When we stopped for morning tea in Boonville it was 6 degrees and rainy. But it didn't matter because it was mostly a driving day ... although it did make the driving a bit hairy. We still felt we'd missed out on the spectacular central California coast, so we decided to leave the main highway and take the road out to Mendocino. Which is apparently beautiful and a holiday destination!
Perhaps not so much on the day we were there. It was scenic, but stark. We stopped and had lunch in a very warm and pleasant cafe that welcomed refugees, and vegans. We are neither, but appreciate the gesture.
The road into Mendocino had been reasonably windy and narrow, but the road north back to the highway was terrifying! I thought something named Highway 1 would be quite a serious road, but no. Apparently they number them in chronological rather than priority order. Luckily there was almost no other traffic, but the road was littered with trees and debris, and there is a definite lack of commitment to safety rails. When you drive on the wrong side of the road there is quite a strong temptation to go too far from the middle and end up on the shoulder ... and this road had no shoulder. Just air. I was a passenger, and mostly closed my eyes. We made it.
This is a clean up crew with a tree that had come down over the road. It was massive! Some of the trees were huge. We were very excited to rejoin the 101 (the Redwood Highway! Woohoo!) and start seeing the enormous trees by the side of the road. Even though we were only a couple of hundred miles north of San Francisco it started to feel really remote, and gave us a sense of the scale of the place. We weren't even at the top of California, and then two more whole States before Canada, which is a completely country ... seriously it felt like we were in Alaska already. Wildnerness.
Which made it very pleasant to arrive in Ferndale, to the Gingerbread Mansion Inn, which was truly awesome. I have never seen such a ridiculously over the top Victoriana-stuffed house in my entire life. It was magic. They still had it decorated for Christmas and it was hysterical. Ferndale is completely packed full of these Victorian houses - it's like it got built, then everyone left, then came back ten years ago and did it all up. This is the house over the road from the Gingerbread, which presumably someone just lives in. The whole town was like it.
We arrived in time to take a walk around town in the daylight and take in the sights. It's flat, with wide streets, and rainy ... it reminded me of a posher Waihi. For those who know Waihi. Afterwards I sat by the fire with the local paper ....
And then it was time for social hour - where the guests congregate for wine and cheese and pleasant conversation. This happened at a couple of places we stayed and I really like it - broke up our own company a bit and you never know who you're going to meet. And pretty much our only chance to chat to actual Americans while in America! Lovely. They didn't mention kangaroos and we didn't mention Trump.