The clouds loom and linger overhead as the sea crashes against the black volcanic walls of the western pacific shore. The gray in the billowing celestial tide is rich and strangely comforting as it blankets the earth with sheets of cool coastal rain.The green blades of grass standing at perfectly level attention in the courtyard outside our window are evidence that this gift of water is an ongoing one. The distant thunder of crashing waves serenades the trees standing century all around us.
This is not the California most outsiders envision. One might even assume it to be more the musings of Charlotte Bronte than the fast-paced detached nature of the Los Angeles region and its ilk. Despite the slight chill in the air, there is a warmth to this place that brings a calm. A soothing that calls one in to just sit, wait, and watch. And, for a moment, you forget the currency of time.
Were staying at the Little River Inn in Mendocino County. To our west, we are met by a view of the rolling Pacific Ocean with its green waves and sea foam. To our east, we are cradled by the Mendocino Headlands State Park, populated by seemingly endless evergreens shrouded in mist. This ethereal environment brings me back to living in the Northwest. Of course, something else entirely has brought us back to this place.
Just a few miles into the woods and hills to our east is where Chelsea was born. Brought into this world through the same mist, she lived there for three years without ever “officially” existing, as her parents were of some of the last remnants of a commune.
We’ve come back to find the place Chelsea first had as home.
As we walk around the old handmade grounds, the mist again welcomes us and watches over as it wafts through the pines towering overhead. The rain continues to patter on the ground, branches and roofs as we walk around admiring the uniquely built homes scattered through the old goat farm.
Chelsea finishes her dose of sentimentality and the time has come to return to our temporary home at the Little River Inn. The boys are hungry and dinner is on all of our minds.
“Room service,” Chelsea utters as we head down the hill.
So room service it was! The boys were too high-strung to sit in a room meant for a more civilized mood. As the gray continued its patrol out over the horizon and the music of the sea continued to play, we enjoyed the Flat Iron Steak and discovered the wondrous decadence of Millionaire’s Bacon; strips of half inch thick, rich, caramelized ham with a touch of spice.
We went to sleep that night, enjoying the cool breeze through the open patio door.
Morning appeared out of nowhere, as we again lost ourselves in the enveloping calm of this place. We decided morning was our best chance to enjoy dining in the Little River Inn’s restaurant, with the boys starting on an even keel.
The large window on the south side of the restaurant was dressed like a picture. Ferns and rhododendrons were the subject of art and I myself felt a nostalgic pang, as I had not been around this vegetation for some time.
For some strange reason, the bar reminded me of reading Moby Dick as a boy. Perhaps it was because it was cozy and reminiscent of the early 19th century. Its windows gazed out upon the open sea as though they were meant for a person to find a place to have a drink while waiting for someone to return.
Though we may have been nearly 700 miles from home, the Littler River Inn was a place that made itself seem familiar. It welcomed us and invited us to stay, with a personalized note from the fifth-generation innkeepers, a jetted tub, warm fireplace, biscuits for our dog. Everyone there felt like family, like they came from our past…and in a way, they did.
As temporary as our stay may have been, the memory will be left forever.