Monday, April 12, 2010

Day Two, With Beads

We got up early, not wanting to spend any more nanoseconds than necessary in that hotel room.  The "free" breakfast buffet was mediocre. We fled as quickly as we could with rain starting as we pulled out. Sunday morning traffic was light through San Francisco, I always like that drive up 19th street to the Golden Gate Bridge. Though I still maintain that the bridge is a myth created for movies. There was some race going on when we crossed, with dozens of runners with numbers pasted on their midsections, all soaking wet.

North of SF, the rain got heavier. We had thought about eating at a restaurant in Santa Rosa but the timing was wrong. There was another one in Healdsburg we'd considered, but we were still too full. We did get off the freeway, to discover that Healdsburg is a really nice little town, very wine-oriented and a bit touristy with lots of good-looking stores, galleries, and restaurants. We found Bovalo, where the net told us that the Black Pig Farm sells their (reputedly) wonderful bacon. Very expensive bacon. The kind where they name each pig, massage its butt daily and bring it tea and slippers nightly until the Day of Piggy Reckoning.  

We will sample this bacon later this week, and report on it's bacony goodness. We will also arrange some future trip to spend some quality time in Healdsburg. Nice place. We'll be back.

Driving up the 101 in the rain was oddly nice, except for the crazies who didn't think hydroplaning applied to them. We saw one car off the side, actually perpendicular to the freeway and nose down in a ditch. Oops. I guess the laws of physics still apply.

An aside: Yesterday in the SJ Valley, we also saw an off-the-road car. It was a restored jalopy-type vehicle, but the front axle had entirely separated from the body, the body was upside down and about 60 ft off the road, and there was a med-evac helicopter down in the farm field next to the accident. This didn't look good. "Med-evac" is one of those words you really don't want associated with you. Like "torso" or "burned beyond recognition."

Back to the 2nd day... we got off the 101 onto the 128 at Cloverdale and headed up into the mountains. I love this drive, it's like coming home. We see all the farms and wineries, the wild turkeys, and the deer. With the rain, all the small creeks were running like mad. After Booneville and Yorkville, outside Philo (all of these are pretty much wide places in the road) we stopped at Gowan's Oak Tree, an apple stand. In the fall they have tons of different varieties, grown right there. Now, not so much. End of season leavings. But we got some nice jelly. A little farther on, we stopped at the Rock Stop.

This is the part where the beads come in. Last time we were here, two years ago, I hadn't revived my interest in beads. We got a wonderful ammonite fossil that time, and had a grand time talking with Sam Gitchell and Heron Nelson, the owners. They were just as glad to see us, and remembered us and the ammonite.  What fine and friendly people!

They've got lots of semi-precious and stone, shell and bone strands, but along with that there are all sorts of mineral specimens that can be used in jewelry. There are tables and tables of beads and high quality cabochons and pendants at really amazingly good prices.  I got 3 pairs of small ammonites in beautiful colors (better than the one in the photo). There were high-quality lapis rounds for less than I've seen it anywhere, and some nice "smoky citrine." I found "chrome diopside," beads of an unearthly green like I've never seen before and had to have those. 

We also found and bought a wooden bowl Sam had taken in trade from the artist, a guy from Washington state who had been traveling through and traded for some jade. This bowl (pictures later) is made of Norfolk pine wood, but because of the wood, or perhaps the finishing, it has a unique chatoyance, which is a shimmering, reflective quality you sometimes see in gems and minerals (such as labradorite), but never in wood.  

Oh yeah, and we got a big hunk of labradorite with amazing aligned streaks of chatoyance. 

We talked some photography with Sam and Heron, about the web and my jewelry. They posed for me. It's so nice to see people living their dream, and I get the impression that with the Rock Stop, they are.

It's not a standard bead shop. They have absolutely no beading supplies, but what they do have is mineral beads, strands, gems of all descriptions and utterly unique items that the imaginative beader would go nuts for. There were some ethnic necklaces and a lot of ethnic silver pieces. There were some nice samples of bead-weaving in the store, though Heron said she doesn't do this herself any more. There are hidden items all over, under the tables, behind stuff. You have to look closely so as not to miss anything!

They're only open Saturday, Sunday and Monday so time your trip! And allow at least an hour to browse thoroughly.  They have shopped and explored the world, and brought the choice bits of it back to this beautiful place beside the road. Stop here,  you'll be glad you did. Your credit card balance may not be so glad. 
It's a short hop from the Rock Stop to the coast, no more than half an hour. We had to pull over and drink it in.

Then we drove immediately, without stopping, to Fort Bragg, for lunch (long overdue by this time) at the Laurel Street Deli.  They have the best chili-burger that John has ever tasted, and their soups, sandwiches and salads are absolutely home-made and delicious. Yum. They're a regular stop for us, and the desserts are totally wonderful. Not as good as the bread pudding at the Garage, but still great.

After that, back to Mendocino and picking up the key to the house. More on that later. 

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