Monday, May 14, 2012

A Weekend In Mendocino

I could tell you about how we checked the weather online before leaving for Mendocino and it said the highs would be in the mid 90s all weekend.  I could tell you about how I packed my skimpiest clothing in preparation for what would probably be a sweltering weekend at the beach.  I could tell you that the weather in actuality was highs in the low 60s with heavy fog all weekend.  And that the warmest thing I brought with me was a sweatshirt.

Then I could tell you that mid-way during our canoe trip up Big River from the sea, our dog Poppy decided she needed a potty break.  We pulled to the side of the river.  I was in the front, and therefore the one to haphazardly struggle my way out of the teetering canoe, followed closely by an overly enthused Labrador.  My feet immediately sank six inches into mud.  I tried to keep images of leeches out of my head as I struggled to free myself from the goop without falling.  The dog did a happy dance around me.  She thought it was a brilliant idea to get out of the boat and tromp around in mud.  After she finished with her potty break, she couldn't get back into the boat on her own.  I had to lift her, so she and I became a slippery tangled mess of mud, legs, and arms.  She managed to squirm back to her space in the middle of the boat by somehow sliding her entire body across my seat.  I stood horrified, calf-deep in mushy river bottom, looking down at my now mud-covered seat.  In a pathetic attempt at keeping my bottom dry, I laid my only sweatshirt across the muddy seat and sat down.  Once we were moving again, I carefully dipped my feet over the edge of the boat to rinse them clean.  I tried very hard not to think about piranhas and anacondas.  My imagination had just gone through a circuit of scary movie scenes involving people in boats and the creepy, violent creatures they encountered:

Swiss Family Robinson anaconda attack

Bogart and Hepburn in The African Queen after tromping through leech infested muddy waters
I mentioned to Ralph that if he ever fancied visiting a jungle, he could expect to leave me at home.

The outgoing tide made the ride a mostly pleasant one and once we passed an invisible barrier, we exited the foggy micro-climate of the sea-side and were met with a spectacularly sunny day.  The highlight of the trip was a row of seals sunbathing on a sandbar in the river.  They raised their sleepy little faces to watch us drift past.  One of them even appeared to wave as we paddled by.
We took a redwood canoe with outriggers to keep us from capsizing.
The return trip was much more difficult, the tide was actually working against us.  We didn't have the wind on our side either, it was frigidly blowing in our faces.  I finally resigned to the mud and put my mud-covered sweatshirt on over my life jacket and sat back down on the still muddy seat.  When we got back to the fog-enshrouded dock where the next happy couple waited to be loaded into a boat, I awkwardly climbed out of the canoe onto the dock on my hands and knees, hair wind-blown, head-to-toe mud, sweatshirt stylishly layered over top of life jacket, freezing cold.  I didn't have to look to know the couple's smiles were rapidly replaced with worried frowns and knitted brows.  I realized I was reenacting the last scene in a horror movie.  You know, the scene where the only surviving victim hobbles to safety.  Needless to say, I hid my muddy bottom in the car while Ralph paid for the boat.

I could also tell you about how Poppy did this at the beach:
This is why I love her

I could tell you all of that, but I won't.  This is a food blog.  I'm here to tell you about the gluten-free vegan muffin we had at our hotel restaurant.  We stayed at the lovely and very dog-friendly Stanford Inn.
medocino ravens restaurant

We ate several meals at their vegan restaurant, Raven's Restaurant.  I must say it was nice to eat fresh veggies from the inn's organic gardens.  The blueberry muffins were my favorite thing they served.  They tasted healthier than the usual white flour version, but were good in the way that olive oil muffins are good.  You taste the difference, but love them for what they are.  I think these muffins were made using polenta.  I'm going to be doing some experimenting with polenta this week.  I'm now determined to come up with a gluten free muffin that tastes as good as the ones we had for breakfast yesterday.

We also had a really good vegan dish at a french restaurant called Cafe Beaujolais during our stay in Mendocino.  It was breaded and fried tempeh with a spicy coconut sauce and rice.  I was curious about how they made the vegan breading (Okay, I was skeptical.  I was convinced they used eggs), and so asked the chef.  He said he dips the tempeh in coconut milk, then dips it in cornstarch, then rolls it in polenta, and finally fries it in oil.  Again with the polenta.  I'm very excited to try out this breading method at home.  


  1. Ah, so now you can empathize with my stepping out of our canoe onto a rock, and realizing I was stepping on a baby copperhead, while the boat drifted downstream with my other leg!

    1. I don't think I can even begin to understand what that would be like! My snakes were only imaginary ones. What did you do?!


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