Tuesday, November 01, 2005

WEDDING TRIP - Mendocino

For our "northern California honeymoon" we visited spectacular Mendocino County. Mendocino is a large, rural county about 3 hours north of San Francisco. Its primary agriculture is wine production, though it's not nearly as touristy as Napa and Sonoma counties (closer to San Francisco). Most of the area is heavily forested and undeveloped, and reportedly a large number of marijuana farms are tucked away in the wooded hills.

We spent our time in two picturesque towns. First was Ukiah, located in a wine-producing valley a couple of hours from the coast. Here we stayed at the famous Vichy Springs resort.

At Vichy Springs, we enjoyed their famous hot mineral baths. These particular baths have been popular for 150 years, and the list of distinguished guests includes 3 US presidents as well as famous authors Mark Twain and Jack London. One eason for their popularity is that they are the only naturally warm and carbonated baths in North America. When you sit in the bath, your body is covered by tiny, stimulating bubbles, almost as if you were in a warm champagne bath. Very nice!

Somebody bring me a pillow!

At Vichy Springs, we enjoyed a beautiful hike through the autumn forest of inland Mendocino.

Our hike took us to a pretty little waterfall, where Carley went for a quick swim in the icy cold water

Rob "goes for a ride" on a rusted-out old truck we found out in the woods

Carley poses for a "calendar shot" with the truck

In Ukiah we visited the Parducci Winery and tasted several of the excellent wines that this area is famous for. In Mendocino, wine-tastings are free, unlike the more touristy Napa and Sonoma wineries. At this winery they even gave us a free bottle of wine as a gift after we told them we were on our honeymoon

Grapes ready for the harvest at Parducci Winery


The second part of our California honeymoon brought us to the beautiful little coastal town of Mendocino.

The tiny town of Mendocino clings to the cliffs in the distance

Here we stayed in a luxurious little cabin at Sweetwater Spa.

Carley enjoys a glass of wine on the deck outside our sweet little cabin at Sweetwater Spa, in Mendocino

The view from inside our cabin at Sweetwater Spa. From the large picture window we could see the ocean beyond the trees. In typical fashion, almost the whole cabin is constructed from the prized local redwoods, which are endangered from over-utilization. Even the wood for our fireplace was redwood. We did have a minor guilt trip over all of this, but then we just had another glass of wine and forgot about it. After all, this was our honeymoon, right?

The 2-person jacuzzi in our bathroom at Sweetwater Spa. Red wine (Zinfandel in this case) is a good accompaniment to a jacuzzi session.

We hiked around several spectacular parks along the Mendocino coastline...

...including Glass Beach in the town of Fort Bragg

A couple of seals chilling on a rock at Glass Beach

The beautiful Mendocino coast

A beautiful secluded beach in Mendocino (the water was far too cold for swimming here!)

A river meets the sea at Russian Gulch State Park, crossing under the coastal Highway 1

The ocean has carved a tunnel under the land here...

...which emerges in this inland crater called a "blowhole"

Rob poses with the "blowhole" tunnel

These little sea plants called "sea palms" grow on numerous coastal rocks in the Mendocino area. They are a local delicacy, and we enjoyed a gourmet vegetarian meal one night that featured the sea palm in a Japanese fusion-style of cuisine.

The prevailing political attitude in Mendocino County. At least sanity prevails in this part of the USA!

Go back to the wedding page
Check out our "southern honeymoon" in Mississippi and Tennessee