Saturday, September 25, 2010

Vacation Roundup

I got home to discover that about half of the photos I took didn't come out well. Right now we're not sure whether it's the camera or the photographer. Since some of the pics are good on either the top or side, but pink/purple and blurry in the rest, I'm suspecting the camera.

Anyway, a review of the vacation (food has already been blogged about, in great part) with photos that did come out.  So just a bit of food to start off with.

Taylor's Automatic Refresher is no longer Taylor's, though they've left the sign out front. The same family owns it, and the food is the same, but now it's called "Gott's Roadside." We suspect that it's time to try some of the other places in St. Helena and surroundings in Napa. If we're going to pay $40 for hamburgs, fish & chips and a drink, perhaps we ought to revise our expectations upward.  The food is good, very good, but there are so many neat places for foodies nearby, it's time to stop restricting ourselves to Taylor's.  Especially now that they've ditched the really cool name, though the motto "Tray Gourmet" is clever.  Not clever enough, though.

Next, we have John in his happy place. This is the front deck (well, the front if you count as we do, with the ocean being in the front yard, not the street side) of our rented home in Mendcino. It's directly across the bay, as you can see in the second picture, taken from the Mendocino Headlands park, looking back at the house, which is marked by a "V."

To the right is the hot tub, which John used frequently throughout our stay. We didn't get many starry nights, as there was a lot of fog early in the trip, but it's a pleasant spot. Okay, beyond pleasant. Heavenly.

One day we spent at the Botanical Gardens in Ft. Bragg.  This is a wonderful spot at any time of year, but in the fall, especially so. Though there is no classic east-coast-type fall foliage, more is in bloom than in any other time of year. They have an extensive heather garden, and most of it was blooming. The dahlia garden was extraordinary. We enjoyed it in the sun, and as we were leaving, they were setting up for a wedding there. What a fabulous place to get married. Flowers by God. 

The purple tree is a particular favorite of mine, the glowing of the sun through the leaves is extraordinary, and the contrast with the black-eyed susans (another favorite) is superb.
We spotted a small lizard on a lovely piece of driftwood in the underbrush. He seemed happy to pose for his portrait, sitting still while we crawled under the grasses and got his close-up. 

Nearby is what the garden calls "The Show House" where they shelter tender plants and gather potted species for show. I'm not a particular fan of begonias because often the plants themselves are unattractive. But I was blown away by the incredible blooms that jammed this place. Part of it was fuschias, but those were near the end of their season. Most was taken, on benches and hanging above, by humungous begonia plants. Some of the stems were 2 inches through. Some leaves were 6 or 8 inches in size. But the blooms were overwhelming. I took a few long shots, but they didn't come out, so the close-ups will have to do. I'm particularly proud of the first one, this orange, ruffly beauty.

The variety of the blooms amazed me. Some were single, others doubled or more, solid colors and variegated, blooms small to enormous. That orange one is about 12 inches across. No kidding.

Here's another picture from the Headlands, one where the sea cave whooshes out spray every time a wave enters it. None of my pics of the sea cave blowhole, which is further inland and open to the sky, came out. Drat.  Also the camera apparently thought I was taking pictures of grasses, so the sea cave itself is out of focus. Nice grasses, though!

Another day we walked the first 2.5 miles of the 10 mile path from Pudding Creek to MacKerricher state park. These lovely little poppies greeted me, along with ducks, deer, some very sassy squirrels, and a snake in the river we crossed over. That was fun, watching the snake swim.  The surf that day was great along the coast. I took this picture, thinking all the time that people would be amazed if I had turned around and shot inland. Where you would expect large, expensive, scenic homes, there is the butt-ugly back end of a cement plant in Ft. Bragg. Sigh. I'd build a house there.

These sights and sounds and surroundings are why we want to live in the Mendocino area. Soon. As soon as we can accomplish it. It was very tough coming back into LA, with the noise, the traffic and everything.  We have a real need to go back.

Next, I struggle with the camera to show the beads that were brought home!

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