A few miles off California’s rocky North Coast just west of Mendocino lies the a spot that geologists call the “Triple Junction” where three tectonic plates in the earth’s crust both converge and contend.
For First Nation people who have foraged along this rocky coast for roughly ten millenia, it might be the spot where Abalone Woman, also called Changing Woman, came to escape the clutches of Eagle to find sanctuary facing westward, towards the source of a deep and transformative power.
“Eagle came down the coast, so they say
Came down where she sat, facing west,
He whipped her with fire on the coast, they say
Then flew back, they say, to the ridge,
Then Eagle looked back, he looked west, they say
And saw she was sitting there still.“
In 1860, when only stagecoach service first connected San Francisco to the Mendocino Coast the trip was reputed to be a bumpy, dusty, and rather unpleasant affair. In 1878, so they say, when weekly ocean-going steamship service finally linked the cities by sea, visitors still had no wharf upon which to disembark. Instead, women were hoisted over the railing and down the side of the ship in a makeshift “chair” . Men weould climb down to the shore using the ship’s rigging.
Today, the serpentine route from Anderson Valley up through the hills and down to the foggy coast lulls visitors with lovely verdant vineyard views like these ojust outside the town of Philo, the Greek word for love.
Boonville Hotel’s Table 128 is a roadhouse restaurant that serves family-style prix fixe dinners. On weekends during the warmer summer month, Paella is prepared here and served in the courtyard.
The town of Mendocino was founded in 1850 as the site of a sawmill. At the time, old-growth redwood forests covered more than 2,000,000 acres of California and huge numbers of redwood logs—some more than 16 feet in diameter—were transported in massive flows down Big River towards waiting ships at sea. Some of these giant logs, called “Sinkers” never made it down river but sank to the bottom.
Around the turn of the last century a local doctor named Arky Ciancutti who lived by “Smuggler’s Cove” at the mouth of Big River, over heard some bridge workers at a local bar When they spoke of finding redwood shavings in their drill bits. Arky, an avid arbophile, realized he had struck paydirt. Acting swiftlyon the tip, he spent the next winter out on the river in a pontoon skiff. Using nothing more than a 5-ton hand winch, he salvaged several hand-sawed redwood logs, known as “pumpkins”, from where they had lain on the river’s bottom for well over a century.
With this precious trove of tightly-grained redwood, rich in blond, burgundy and cinnamon hues, that Arky built the unique structure that is now the Brewery Gulch Inn.
Just behind the Inn lies a misty field where one can stand quietly ato listen to the wind.
The Inn’s nightly dinner buffet includes vegetarian options and is accompanied by some stellar local wines such as PIinot Noir from Fathers+Daughters Cellars owith its bright berry aromas, notes of cherry jam and cola on the palate, and a lively mineral-tinged finish.
Bounteous breakfast options at the Inn include omelettes made of local organic eggs along with seasonal berries, heirloom tomatoes, and house-made pastries.
Other breakfast treats include this lovely Mango Lassi enlivened by lime juice, calamansi, and cardamom.
Consider having lunch just a five minute drive down the road at Stanford Inn‘s superlative vegan restaurant called The Ravens. The restaurant sources all its produce directly from the rich soils of the Inn’s certified organic gardens which have been in continuous cultivation on thishistoric site for well over a century.
Just a twenty minute drive up the coast, a few miles past the sleepy town of Fort Bragg, the Inn at Newport Ranch sits perched on a grassy bluff staring out over the vast blue Pacific.
The bluff was once the site of the small town of Newport which once served as a loading site for loggers. A system of chutes and pulleys once hoisted logs, cargo, and travelers down the cliffs and onto to the decks of Doghole Schooners. As Fort Bragg’s harbor to the south grew in stature, the town of Newport dwindled in importance, eventually disappearing into the mists of history.
Today, vistors to the Inn at Newport Ranch can rove the coastal trails and hills of the property and give themselves a rich and lasting sense of the beauty and character of the site. There are also momentous sunsets to enjoy at dinner each night, and a hot tub on the rooftop to sip wine and watch the stars.
Ten thousand years before Europeans set foot on this coast it was a popular gathering spot for salt, mussels and abalone. Yuki people once called this mussel-gathering site Lilem, and ancient middens full of mussel shells from their seaside feasts still lie buried among the rocky outcroppings.
The Inn’s menu features seasonal local fruits and site-grown produce including Kale, squash, potatoes, peas, chard, arugula, broccoli, beets, cauliflower, carrots, radishes, and a variety of herbs and edible flowers. Amazingly the bounty is all culled from brimming garden boxes tended by the Inn’s talented gardener Felicia Brown.