Mendocino Retreat: Day 1, 3/13/21



This is my week off between jobs. My last day at Disability Rights California after being HR Director there for 6 years was Friday, 3/12; I’ll start as Chief HR Officer for One Community Health on 3/22. I’m super excited about that for many reasons – least of which it’s essentially across the street from my house. Before any of that was even in the works, Ash had made arrangements to spend all of March at a retreat cottage in Mendocino. He’d been wanting to spend some time developing a writing concept and a friend of his connected him to Ricci’s Art Farm. Ricci has a place that she likes to rent to artistic types and the during-the-week rates were ridiculously low. Ash took it for the whole month and rented out his space in San Francisco to a guy who needed a place to stay for awhile. So, without any planning, I have a place already set up to enjoy the week in between jobs (a requirement in my book). It also gives me another entry for my Life in Northern California blog. Everybody wins.

This is my 5th time to Mendocino I believe, although the most I’ve ever stayed before was 2-3 nights, and this is the first time I’ll blog about it. The first time I did it in a day trip. It’s a 3.5 hour drive in good traffic so i Do Not Recommend that. Yesterday I left my house about 6:45am, made a couple of stops along the way and got here just at 11am. The first stop was Costco in Cordelia – one of my favorite places to get gas, this stop has become almost required going either in or out of the Bay Area. It’s easy freeway access off of Green Valley Road, and has a Starbucks in the same shopping center so that’s become part of the tradition. Fill up, empty out, fill up. Perfect.

Sidewalk shot of Plank, a coffee shop in Cloverdale

Ash requested that I stop at a coffee shop in Cloverdale, called Plank, on my way up to pick up pecan sticky buns for him. It had a nice selection so why not – $54 later I had a box full of treats that would last a bit, including dog biscuits for Paul.

I’d gotten there probably around 9:00am, and stayed awhile to enjoy a latte and a pastry. That’s my box of goodies on the table on the far left.

Getting to Cloverdale is pretty easy: 80 to 37 to 101. From there on, the drive slows quite a bit – 65 miles of windy, hilly roads on 128. But a beautiful drive; I pulled over to get a shot of a vineyard just so I’d remember to mention it!

Cottage on the left, hammock in the right foreground, ocean in the background.

Ash has been here since March 1. All he would really say about it was that it was “rustic” and would complain about the cold. (I always knew Sacramento was much hotter than San Francisco. I never realized it’s also much colder until I met Ash – unless of course you’re on Twin Peaks at 1am in September, but that’s another story. Literally.) He’d sent a few photos but they didn’t really prepare me for what I was about to step into. And I mean that in a good way.

The “farm” is literally that – with chickens and everything. At some point I’ll take photos of some of the rest but for now I focused on the cottage. This is the view of the outside as I’d approached. He’d sent me a video of the ocean with that hammock in it but somehow in my mind it was much farther away – I didn’t realize it was just steps from the place.

inside shot of half the space with stairs to the bedroom loft in the background

It’s essentially one decent-sized room that’s living/kitchen/dining and a small bathroom in the corner to my left, and a bedroom in the loft.

A couch against a wall of windows probably 20 feet high

Lots of natural light!

an "above" shot with the couch in front, the deck past the windows and the ocean beyond that

This is the view from the bedroom.

outside shot of the full cottage and deck, which includes a wicker love seat and chair

Is this the back of the cottage of the front? Not sure, but it gives you a decent perspective on the size.

This was taken from that chair in the shot before. This is where I sat later in the afternoon getting the photos uploaded here.

I unpacked, Ash completed some writing he was working on, we visited with Ricci a bit and gave her some of the goodies I’d brought, then headed into town about 12:30 to find lunch.

The town is maybe a 10 minute walk from the cottage down Little Lake Road. These were the first houses we saw and, while most don’t have this much yard, this is typical of the style you see here. And many of them are from the late 1800’s.

Mendocino Community Center

We went to Café Beaujolais for lunch, a Mendocino staple. Everything still in pandemic mode, you order at that window there on the right where those 2 women are standing…

…and eat in the lovely garden in the back. That’s our table in the foreground with the iced teas. Center of the photo is Ash with Paul, who had to socialize with the other dogs before he’d settle down.

Ash got French lentil soup which was light and savory. I got the carrot ginger soup which was rich and creamy, with that teeny bit of spice you can only get with fresh ginger.

We split a pepperoni and artichoke pizza.

There’s a lovely path along the headlands that is the point of Mendocino for me, and Ash hadn’t done it yet so we headed there after lunch for a slow stroll with amazing views everywhere you look. I deleted more photos than I posted.

stairs climbing down the cliff on the right, to a beach center and left, ocean in the background.

This used to be a harbor – along the path you could see the huge chain links that used to moor the ships. So they’d dock here and use the stair to get out.

brooder shot of the beach showing crystal blue water along the edge, turning a deeper blue as you look beyond the beach

I couldn’t get over how blue and clean the water is.

There’s my ice plant at the bottom, one of my favorite things about the Northern California coast.

cliffs in the foreground, rocks in the middle, land in the background, ocean in the middle

OK, you get it, it’s pretty.

I have to say I’m pretty happy with this photo – a classic shot of the town along the cliffs, with people walking along the beach far right bottom, and along the unpaved cliff path left center.

Blair House, a bed and breakfast - white house with lots of gabled, white picket fence in the foreground

One of the things Mendocino is famous for is it served as the filming location for Murder, She Wrote (Angela Lansbury, 1984-1996), set in the fictional town of Cabot Cove, Maine. Blair House, a bed and breakfast (one of Many in this town) served as the house of Angela’s character, Jessica Fletcher.

We got back to the cottage and just hung out the rest of the day. Although we’d sort of planned to go out for dinner, we hadn’t made reservations yet, and after a Ash called a few places it was clear that wasn’t going to happen. But we were pretty stocked here anyway, I was certainly feeling very lazy so it all worked.

a tray of crackers on the left, with 3 kinds of cheese plus pecans on a cutting board

Ash asked if I wanted some cheese and crackers before we eat and this is what he puts in front of me. “This could be dinner” I say. That’s a white English cheddar, a very sharp Stilton (is that redundant?), gouda, and some pecans.

Spaghetti and shrimp using a jar sauce, cauliflower roasted with mint and honey, garlic bread made from the loaf of Austrian sunflower bread we picked up at Café Beaujolais. And that’s just what we had in the house. Ash likes to eat and cook, can you tell?

All made from a tiny kitchen.

Cookies I’d gotten from Plank that morning for dessert: Butterscotch chocolate chip, walnut chocolate chip.

A required selfie at the end of the day since I realized when I was almost done with the photos for the blog that we weren’t in any of them.

Ash put the cookies in the oven for a bit to warm them and got the chocolate to melt the perfect amount.

Did you remember to change your time? Thankfully most clock-items I rely on (phone, computer) change automatically. What I first thought was 8 hours of sleep was only 7, but that’s still a lot for me so not complaining.

It is supposed to start raining today around 9am and not stop the rest of the day. We’ll see how that impacts our day but it might literally just be a retreat and we never leave. Which would be OK with me. So I may or may not write an update for today, Sunday. We’ll see how that goes.

5 thoughts on “Mendocino Retreat: Day 1, 3/13/21”

  1. ourcrossings says:

    Congratulations, Steve! I’m wishing you lots of success and happiness in your new job. Best of luck to you! Aiva 🙂

    1. Steve Haas says:

      Thanks so much! I appreciate your support 🙏

  2. Anonymous says:

    Yes…how does your day look tomorrow…I am open all day I think…or Wednesday morning works too…

  3. Jon Scott says:

    I love the Northern Coast of California…what a treasure where you’re at and I can’t wait to meet Ash…your blogs are such that I feel like I know him and love him…enjoy your BIG between jobs rest…

    1. Steve Haas says:

      We should find some time to Skype this week and you can meet him.

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