1 week and 10 inches of rain later, the Mendocino Coast shakes off the bluster and reveals the heart-stopping beauty of the North Coast.
Last Saturday, I went up to Sarah’s family’s vineyard to press the fall apples into juice. Norm, the vineyard manager, found a machine that grinds the apples into pulp and a hand-turned apple press to extract the juice from the pulp. We started with a lot of boxes of apples from their trees and those of neighboring farms. First we would grind them up:
Then we would take the pulp over to the press where we’d crank the mashed up apples down until all the juice came out:
It took most of the day, but we filled 40 half-gallon containers with the best apple juice I’ve ever had.
The first signs of spring are here. The daffodils and bulbs planted last year are starting to sprout by the hundreds. Driving into town, you can see lilys poking their heads up through the tall grasses and trees beginning to flower. The days are crisp and clear with a stiff breeze raising white caps out in the cove. And during the last few moonless nights, the stars have been spectacular. Last Friday, the northern lights made a rare appearance and were visible from the north coast all the way down to the Bay area.
2008 has been wet and windy so far. The year kicked off with a major storm on January 4th that saw winds gusting up to 70 miles per hour and 25-30′ waves exploding in Smuggler’s Cove like a series of cannons going off. For a southern Californian, the 8″ of rain we received during the two day storm was the equivalent of about 4 years worth of rain in San Diego. Along with our guests, I stared out the windows of the great room transfixed by the maelstrom taking place outside. For two days, Mendocino was an island: Highway 1 was closed at Westport to the north and to the south just past the Glendeven Inn; Highway 20 was closed between Fort Bragg and Ukiah; and Highway 128 (the route through the redwoods and the Anderson Valley) was closed 2 miles in from the coast. Power to residences and businesses in the area was lost. For some, service took more than 2 weeks to restore. Since I have never lived in an area where water comes from wells and not from the Department of Water and Power, I didn’t realize that a loss of power in Mendocino also means a loss of water! Apparently, you need electricity to pump that water up from the well. Fortunately, our inn has a backup generator tied into our propane tank. This provides us with more than a week of emergency power before needing a refill, so our guests had both power and water. Unfortunately, most of our staff was not so lucky. It’s good to be living in the inn!