This weekend’s 50 degree swing

Welcome to the North Coast, where temperatures can swing a full 40 degrees in a single day, and where you can drive 45 minutes to escape sweltering heat and arrive at a foggy coast.

Saturday: Ukiah, 109 degrees

When I woke up at 8:00 it was 70 degrees, and it shot up to 100 by noon. The only real option on a day like this is to wallow in water, and luckily we had been invited for a dip at the Magruder ranch in Potter Valley. After buttoning up the house (I drew blinds I didn’t even know we had) we poured ourselves into Carson’s sweltering truck and headed out to Potter Valley. This is the site that greeted us:


Game on! A 10 minute walk through bull-inhabited fields brought us to this sweet spot next to a small dam. After a few minutes in the water it was easy to forget how hot it was, but getting out of the water reminded you right quick.

dam swimming

After a few hours we loaded our goods back onto the ATV and then had the idyllic experience of floating rather than walking back to the house. Regal oaks framed the sky above us, and swallows dipped around us as we slowly floated by. There were a few “butts up!” sections and Susan’s tube was sacrificed to a shallow rocky outcrop. We had to convince some cows to let us pass; lots of laughter and a few wipeouts. I could have floated down that river forever.

Sunday: Mendocino Coast, 60 degrees

Although it dropped down to a manageable 90 degrees in Ukiah, we decided to spend the day on the coast. We took the 253 to the 128, stopping briefly in Boonville and driving through the campsites at Hendy Woods (I want to go back and hike!) before hitting Husch winery for a tasting and a walk through the vines. It was pretty sunny even a tiny bit inland, but as soon as we hit the coast the grey sky melted into the grey sea.

We started in the town of Mendocino, a gorgeous Stepford-esque town geared toward tourism. After a somewhat frustrating meal we rewarded ourselves with fudge from the Mendocino Chocolate Company (yum) and then fulfilled a classic coastal stereotype: we bought Mendocino sweatshirts. It was cold, ok? Our new sweatshirts happily donned, we took a short drive and then walked the 1/2 mile path to Point Cabrillo lighthouse in all our matching glory. (Carson: “You know we can never wear these at the same time again, right?”)

Point Cabrillo

This is a lovely little spot. Carson told me that east coasters like seeing west coast light houses because they’re so short. We have high cliffs so there’s no need to build a tall lighthouse, unlike the low, flat Atlantic beaches that require high structures. I’d never thought about it before but realized he was right after thinking about the lighthouses I’d seen back east.

Us Point CabrilloFor some reason Carson loves white/light colors, and somehow I let him talk me into a white sweatshirt. Rather than letting it sit untouched in the back of my closet for fear of stains, I fully plan on dyeing it once it turns grey from use.

Point Cabrillo landscapeFrom there we went to Caspar beach and watched the surfers while eating a little snack I’d packed for us – farmer’s market tomato and cucumber slices with cheese and salami (plus a beer for Carson). Then we drove home via the 20 and barbecued a flank steak I’d marinated that morning. Topped off with a garden/market salad, it was the perfect meal to end a lovely day.

Monday: Thunder and a chill

Rumbling thunder woke us at 5 am, and it was still going at 7:30. I wish it had kept up all day! Alas, I’m happy for a little rain and overcast skies since I thought we’d seen the last of days like this until the fall. I lit my new Mandarin Lavender soy candle (part of Carson’s anniversary gift to me) and I’m bundled up in my new sweatshirt, drinking coffee and procrastinating on the work I have to do before heading to San Francisco later today. I’m on the planning committee for Taste of Mendocino which is tomorrow at the Golden Gate club in the Presidio. More on that later I’m sure. And hey, if you’re in the Bay area, join us.

I hope you all had a great weekend!


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