Through the Gate


Fort Bragg is a rather unremarkable place so we took aim for Mendocino a bit further down the coast. We also wanted to see the ‘Pygmy Forest’ at Van Damme State Park (no, not that Van Damme), and after a while we started seeing signs for it. It turned out to be a bit tricky to find the forest though, but after some more dirt road rallying we finally found it. We walked out and found a sort of bridge walkway leading around the area; supposedly the soil and the roots were too brittle to be walked on. It wasn’t all that interesting really though, looked mostly like a regular Swedish bog (mosse), albeit dry. There were some really good berries though and a tree which trunk was scarlet red.

We get back on the road and continue towards Mendocino (which is supposed to be a very pretty little town that has banned fast food chains and all such stuff and has featured in ‘Murder She Wrote‘ according to the guidebook). And we drive, and drive, and drive. after a while we make the annoying discovery that Mendocino was actually before the Pygmy Forest and we’ve missed it by… well, a lot. We had planned to stop for lunch in Mendocino but since that wasn’t likely to happen anymore we stop at a very oddly placed Indian restaurant (a mile south of nowhere really, well Jenner to be specific). The food was great and we tipped profusely before getting back on the road.

This portion of the coast sees the road snaking along up and down steep hills resulting in a road so tightly winding so that the GPS thinks we’ve turned around when we’ve simply rounded a very tight curve. So the afternoon is filled with an incessant ‘Recalculating’ heard from the GPS. After a while the road turns inland and the landscape shifts to big grassy hills with lots of cows. After a while we realize that we have missed yet another turn since it’s now only interstate all the way to San Francisco. Defeated, we decide to just take the interstate and it’s not long before we see the Golden Gate. We exit the interstate just before the bridge and get a few pictures at sunset in front of the bridge (from that viewpoint where everyone take their pictures).

Afterward I face that rather frightening prospect of navigating to the motel in San Francisco rush hour traffic. It goes rather well though (despite me running a red light when desperately trying to change lanes) and we find the motel (good thing we got the GPS though, I doubt it would’ve been as smooth if we were driving by map.). But the motel we had a good coupon for was of course full, so we had to head out once again to check out our backup alternative. This took us more or less to the other side of town and it too turned out to be full. But since parking was free after 6 pm we decided to walk to the next one (it didn’t seem that far). The map though, only showed major streets, not the minor ones, and we ended up walking almost a mile before finding out that this one was full as well.

After getting back to the car (and getting a compliment for my green pants from some homeless guy) I finally realized we have phones here in the 21st century. The first place I called actually had a vacancy and we immediately headed over there. We had to haggle a bit since the guy wouldn’t give us the coupon price for all the five night we had planned to stay. But in the end we got a rather good price; $87 including tax on average for five nights, including a Friday, which usually is when they charge premium, especially since the guide book reckoned that we’d have to pay over a hundred per night (excluding tax, which is to be the usual way of displaying prices here, seems odd to me).

To our annoyance the WiFi didn’t turn out to work (for us at least, the manager had a WinXP laptop that worked), so that’s why there hasn’t been much posting lately.

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