Mendocino is a little coastal town north of San Francisco where he spent many a childhood summer camping with his family. As for me? I'd never even heard of the place when we started dating, and 10 years later I still hadn't been. So we decided for our 4 year anniversary we would spend a long weekend checking out this place we were supposed to be wiling away our golden years.
We decided to roadtrip that sucker so Thatdog could come with us. Early on a Thursday morning we dogpiled into the car and then we peoplepiled in, ready for the 12 hour drive.
We did our typical route up to the Bay Area, crossed over into Marin County, through Sonoma County, and that's when things started getting new and exciting for me. We wound through dense forests on narrow roads. There were so many trees that it grew dark and cold as we drove.
Once we were through the forest though, we saw the light. And the coast! And it wasn't long before we pulled into our home away from home for the next few nights. Inn at Schoolhouse Creek. So called because it was...an inn...on Schoolhouse Creek. So called because the first school house in the area was built here, beside a creek.
The "main house" where we had breakfast and our afternoon wine and snacks.
During breakfast the innkeepers put out birdseed on the tree stumps outside those windows so we had loads of woodland creatures joining us - bunnies, squirrels, birds, even some families of quail!
And then our rooms. Thatboy and I stayed in one of the rooms built during the crazy motel phase of America so there were three rooms in a row, but all looking out over the ocean.
Thatboy let me pick the room, and he was glad he did - wood everywhere, a huge deck, and a fireplace that functioned as a heater. Everytime it got cold, it would just turn on! And even though it was August, it got plenty cold.
And the Inn especially catered to its four legged guests. Upon check in, That dog was given a special goodie bag.
Thatdog LOVES his new tennis ball. I think he knew it was a special present, because he hasn't ripped it into pieces like most of his toys. And the goodie bag wasn't the only pet friendly aspect.
There was a giant field for him to run around in. And chairs for when he got tired of running.
And a hammock that sat beside the creek. Thatdog was a little nervous about this swinging thing, but he eventually got the hang of it.
Because his mom and dad make him do all sorts of things he hates. And they're mean enough to hold him on a hammock until he realizes it's not going to eat him alive.
And there were loads of other things to amuse us - I just love giant chess sets. Except I can never remember how to play chess. I've been taught a million times, but it goes right in and right out. I think I remember the horsie moves in an L shape....
And there were the resident donkeys...who were much less interested in Thatdog than he was in them.
Once we were all settled in, we headed out to dinner at The Moosse Cafe - a dog friendly restaurant in Mendocino. Well, the patio is dog friendly, so we got to sit outside with a view of the garden.
One of the attractive things about Mendocino is that it is known for both the wines and beers produced in the Anderson Valley. We knew we were going to do a lot of partaking in both. So Thatboy started early with one of our favorite breweries from the area - Anderson Valley Brewery.
Anderson Valley Brew Co is a "green" brewery, using solar power to make its beers. The entire area is very organic and eco-friendly. But it's especially nice when a beer can have a social conscious AND be good too. The Oatmeal Stout is a nice sweet dark beer. I had my 10 miler the next morning, so I only had a sip of Thatboy's, but I would have had more as it lacked the overly hoppy flavor of many of Southern CA's microbrews.
I mentioned earlier that it was cold, even for August. We came prepared in our winter coats, especially since we figured we'd be dining al fresco with Thatdog. It's a good thing we did. Thatboy and I split some mushroom barley soup to warm up! It was absolutely perfect timing and temperature.
Thatdog didn't get the benefit of soup and you could tell this was another one of those moments where he was questioning our sanity for being outside in the cold when we had a perfectly nice room with tennis balls we could be sitting in.
For dinner, Thatboy had salmon with wild mushrooms in a curry sauce. He loved it so much he kept trying to get me to try his sauce - but I declined because of the proximity to the fish. For some reason proximity didn't bother me too much with his mushrooms though. SO delicious and buttery.
I had the crispy organic chicken breast stuffed with a citrus-fennel and olive butter, served with thyme-scented couscous, baby carrots, sun chokes and a tomato-balsamic relish. Now, I love vegetables pretty much any way they're served, but the balsamic relish was to die for! I love the sweet vinegary burn. And as someone who doesn't usually like chicken skin, I was planning on giving it to Thatdog for a special treat. Until I had a bite. And then it was much more "one bite for me, one bite for you."
We were tempted to get some dessert to go home, but we were tired, and full, and knew that we wanted to take advantage of something else our Inn had to offer.
The creekside hot tub! Because it's set away from the rooms, the hot tub is available for dipping pleasure 24 hours a day. And that fence area meant Thatdog could join us! The only problem was we couldn't find a light anywhere, so it was a very dark dip - and that also meant we couldn't keep a good eye on Thatdog. So we made it a quick dip and headed back to our room to enjoy the fireplace and some wine. After all, it was just our first day and we were itching to start the real exploring the next day.