Yes, it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything! Last week, my friend Tania Marie and I traveled to the Mendocino Coast for some much needed rest and relaxation. She had just finished the fourth in a series of five major paintings, and I still hadn’t officially celebrated the release of Schizandra and the Gates of Mu. I only had a few days for this getaway, so we picked somewhere close and dear to my heart. (Some of you may remember how much fun I had in Fort Bragg/Mendocino on my birthday last year.)
We truly experienced a magical, mind-blowing trip this time, much of which I am still processing. I’ll give you a bit of a recap here, though:
OK, first and foremost, Tania and I wanted to eat. We had originally planned to go to Santa Cruz, CA, but when we learned that their raw food restaurant had closed, we opted for Fort Bragg, home of the Living Light Culinary Institute. For those of you who’ve never heard of Cherie Soria, the founder, she has trained most of today’s top raw food chefs. You can find an interview of Cherie and her husband Dan here. I’m a bit spoiled in Sonoma County with both Cafe Gratitude and Seed Restaurant in close proximity, and Tania frequently visits L.A. with its enormous raw variety. We wanted to enjoy ourselves this trip and not worry about the food.
We began with a gas stop in Healdsburg. Yes, Tania has a hybrid, so maybe we didn’t really need gas, but we did fill up — both the Highlander and our bellies. Cafe Gratitude in Healdsburg called. We each got a large juice (I Am Worthy and I Am Healthy) and then noshed on our favorite: I Am, I Am — chocolate ice cream inside chocolate cookies. Sufficiently fueled, we hit the road for the two hour drive to our ocean getaway.
We arrived forgetting where we planned to stay, so we stopped at Harvest Market to “use the facilities,” buy some lusciously fresh figs and figure out our next stop. I must note here that Harvest Market is perhaps the friendliest, loveliest place I have ever grocery shopped. The staff literally escorted me to the restrooms, held open the door, and later directed me knowledgeably through the aisles to find water and MSM. Everyone smiled, and the store offered a nice combo of both natural products and reasonably healthy “normal” items, so a family could conceivably do all their shopping in one place. The staff also gave accurate directions to our hotel (we found our reservations but still didn’t know how to get there). Yes, Fort Bragg’s fairly small, but I always appreciate good directions!
Once settled, we headed over to Living Light for a pre-beach-meal. We ended up eating at Living Light’s Cafe at least once per day, guzzling Green Giant Juice and their “tuna” sandwiches. Holy wow, do those taste real. Better than real. I never liked tuna sandwiches until I went raw, but these really hit the spot. Their Taco Salad was yummy, too, but we kept returning to the tuna. And the cacao. Oh, dear me, do they ever have a delicious cacao pecan bar!
On the first night, we ate at a place in Mendocino called Raven’s, because we had heard they offered one raw entree, appetizer and dessert per evening. The food was OK, but the atmosphere exquisite. We felt grateful to have any raw options at such a classy place with a view. From our window seat, we watched hundreds of ravens fly in front of the sun as it set above giant redwoods and the pristine coast. As we continued our dinner (flax crackers with a carrot spread, a delectable gazpacho, sprouted quinoa “enchilladas” and a very satisfying peach cobbler), the staff lit a cozy fire, and tiny white lights outside illuminated the archway leading into Raven’s and the Stanford Inn. It felt like Christmas! We went to our hotel and slept like babies.
We stayed at Shoreline Cottages, on the outskirts of Fort Bragg, closer to Mendocino. Truth is, we got a screamin’ good deal and our little trip only cost us $111 each for two nights’ lodging in a 2-Queen room. A little wink from the universe. We would stay there again. I loved all the eco-toiletries, and natural fabrics. I have never slept in a more comfortable bed!
My only complaint is that the “beach within walking distance” involved some substantial hiking down slippery, semi-flooded out steps near someone’s house. We had perfect weather — seventy degrees and sunny our whole trip — but large pools of water still made the steps a bit difficult to navigate. When we did arrive at the “beach” we found we could see the ocean, but a giant pool of water separated us from the actual coast. It looked like we could possibly walk the long way around, but the area felt isolated for two 100-pound-ish women walking alone. In the distance we noticed two large men drinking and eyeing us, so we promptly flitted up the steps and drove to Mendocino’s headland trails along the coasts.
I had never seen the headlands on a sunny day, and I would just go straight here next time. Absolutely stunning! We walked for hours each day, and often marveled at our “luck” in choosing Shoreline Cottages for their low cost proximity to Mendocino’s amazing views.
For all our fun and relaxation, Tania and I both felt some sort of calling to the Mendocino Coast specifically at this time. We had planned to go earlier, and events intervened to make that impossible. We had planned to go later, and intuitions intervened to make that really not seem wise. We planned to go other places, and information came through via email about various restaurant closings. It sounds mundane here, but the number of nudges we received had become so diverse and so frequent that by the time we arrived, we felt an air of expectation. Just what might happen to us on this strangely orchestrated getaway? Tania wanted information for her next painting, and I had reached a point of “stuckness” for Schizandra and the Peruvian Jaguar (book 2 in the series). I felt like I had too many plots and too many characters and how in the world would all of this integrate into a single novel?
The first night, when we returned from Ravens, my laptop died. I have an odd relationship with my laptop. It’s almost like a “familiar,” responding to my moods, insights and energy. It died when I released my first ebook, first book and second ebook, only to be resurrected by a new Motherboard, a $111 computer repair, and a new power cord. I’ve found that whenever I start to “download” a bunch of potentially overwhelming information into my brain, my laptop goes funky. Well, my laptop died. I suspect I caught a trojan due to the hotel internet system’s lack of a firewall, because I just landed on a website and the laptop froze, then shut off, then on, then off, then on, until I could manually turn it off. Annoying, yes, but I also experienced it as a blessing. Having the laptop offline made me feel more cocooned in the magic of the Mendocino Coast.
After a juice and lunch at Living Light, we made our way to the headlands and walked for hours along the cliffs at water’s edge. We sat down and took off our shoes, rooting ourselves into the rocks and earth. Tania did her own meditation/intending, while I sat on the cliff breathing the sea, feeling the wind and engaging in a version of the sa-ta-na-ma meditation. This is an ancient kundalini meditation that works with the roots “Sat” and “Nam,” meaning “I am truth” or “Truth is my true identity.” Divided into the syllables, it roughly translates: “Infinity, Life, Death, Rebirth” — essentially, the creative process itself. I asked that whatever creative block I had reveal itself and disintegrate, so that I could integrate everything coming at me for book 2. I learned later that Tania had asked that she and I receive some sort of sign about our paths and confirmation of the next creative projects coming through us.
When finished, we stood up and hiked back to town among the golden grass, turquois waters and rocky ledges. We began talking about the movie, “The Neverending Story” and the main character, Atreyu. I don’t remember the context of the conversation because I really had to pee! LOL, that was a theme for me this trip. We got back to town and I felt we must, absolutely must get to this one street where I was sure I would find the right spot to go. Since I had to go so bad, Tania pointed out a variety of places along the way, but something made me keep heading in the direction of the street I felt sure we’d find. Sure enough, a public bathroom stood on that corner. Relieved on multiple levels, we turned up the street, wondering what to do with ourselves. For as much as we’d craved a vacation, we felt a bit adrift with nothing at all on the agenda, no creative project to manifest, and no sessions for me to offer. Just us. Just Mendocino. What, we wondered, lay in store for us, since it seemed so very insistent we spend these three days here.
In another “must do” moment, I got the sense we should stop for a Mate Latte. Tania had never had one of these concoctions of Yerba Mate, and Moody’s Coffee Shop on our “special” street just happened to offer Mate Lattes with steamed Oat Milk. We asked the barissta what she thought we should do and discovered that aside from kayaking or driving or eating somewhere else, we had pretty much “done” the highlights. So … we sat down and enjoyed the stunning weather. We again voiced the magical words, “I wonder …” and Tania started staring off into space while I blissed out on my slightly stevia sweetened Mate Latte.
At that moment, a long-white-haired, long-white-bearded man with a cane crossed our path. He walked past us and then spun around, trying to see whatever Tania seemed so intent upon. Finding nothing of startling interest, he asked her and she said, “Oh, I’m just looking at nothing, but now that I see it, I really love your necklace.”
“It’s Atreyu’s necklace,” he said. “Do you know Atreyu? He walks the Middle Way.”
Tania and I glanced at each other and replied together, “We were just talking about The Neverending Story. Where did you get your necklace?”
“I ahsked for it,” he said. “Not ask, but A-S-S-K. Ahsked.”
“We were just doing some asking ourselves,” we giggled.
I happened to be wearing a jeweled bindi sticker over my third eye and an Om necklace, which the man noticed. “Om is older than Sanskrit,” he said.
“I know,” I said and smiled.
He stared at my bindi and said, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God and the Word was–”
“Om,” I said. Tania and I looked at each other, having heard me pontificate on such things before. 🙂
Back to the necklace. Tania asked again where he got it, and then noticed some other jewelery on his wrists, for which he had also “ahsked.”
He asked us, “So what are you doing in Mendocino?”
“A-S-S-King,” we said. “We’re on vacation but we wanted to know the next step in our projects.”
“She’s a writer,” explained Tania.
“A writer,” said the man, “do you know about the 22 male runes?”
“I do,” I said.
“And do you know about the female runes and all the corresponding words and numbers?”
“I do not,” I said.
He asked if he could sit down, which we eagerly encouraged him to do. He then proceeded to whip out a hundred-or-so page notebook filled with double columns of runes. Each page looked the same, but with different sets of correspondences. “The Code,” he said, then talked to us for about 2 hours. It was fascinating. Then he had to pee — yes, the theme! — and so he left us. We tossed our drinks and went on another walk at the headlands. On the way back to the car, we ran into him again, “Down the road …” as he liked to say.
Then we headed back to Fort Bragg with the idea of renting a movie. We stopped at Harvest Market Shopping Center wanting to find the nearest Blockbuster. A store called “Music Merchant” caught my eye, but I went into the hardware store instead. I learned that the nearest Blockbuster was in Santa Rosa, two and a half hours away! OK, any other rental spots? Everyone directed me to a place downtown until someone literally ran up to me, interjected himself into the conversation and said, “No, you have to go to Music Merchant. They rent videos now, too.”
I told Tania, and we parked the Highlander and entered the Music Merchant. I bought Led Zeppelin’s “Mothership” and we rented “The Matrix” (thoughts on those some other time). As I put them into my bag, we heard a jolly laugh behind us, followed by, “Third time’s the charm!” Our white-bearded, Atreyu-necklace-wearing friend. Tania and I had just commented how we wished we could have spent more time with him, and (poof!) he appeared. We wound up spending another five hours with him in the atrium of Living Light’s Cafe. Holy download.
Suffice to say, the writer’s block has left. You haven’t seen a blog post in over a week because I’ve been typing and/or reading practically non-stop between sessions since I returned. Tania experienced the same phenonmenon with regard to her next painting. Layers upon layers of encoded meanings and associations. We’re loving it. I have not done justice to the otherworldy feeling of this encounter. I suppose I could have begun, “Two fair maidens met a werewolf on Full Moon’s Eve” or “the shaman and the faeries walked together and down the road” or “a person’s word is bond.”
But I think I’ll just say, “we tiptoed into the Pomegranate Garden, tasted the fruit and smiled.”