At 4:30 AM we stuffed the car with more stuff plus a basket full of snacks and drinks, settled into our seats and crossed our fingers the car would start. It did, to our relief, but only after doing it's dying jalopy routine again. We headed north up the I 5 stopping only briefly for gas. My heart would sink every time I had to turn the engine off because I was never sure it was ever going to start again. We wouldn't kill the motor (bad choice of words, I know) for food or potty breaks; instead we'd take turns dashing in and out leaving the car running. I made sure that if we did have to turn off the ignition, we were in a area that might have a decent repair shop. Finally, after 12 hours of rarely leaving the car, we rolled into Fort Bragg. As we pried ourselves out of car, food wrappers, drink cans and various other debris spilled out with us as if we'd been living in the car for a week. Audrey and I looked like the "other chickens" in the Foster Farms commercials who aren't a bit fresh.
Ah, but we made it and the place was beautiful. I'd made reservations for us at The Harbor Lite Lodge located on a small bay and steps from the ocean. I'd stayed there twenty years ago with my friend Kay on a similar trip up the coast and we had had the same view from our rooms.
The next day we drove to Mendocino, which was about eight miles up the coast. I remembered it as being a charming New England style village when I visited it twenty years ago and always wanted to come back. I learned this time that the reason it had that New England feeling was that it had been founded by New Englanders. Well, no wonder! Audrey and I strolled around the streets, peeking in people's backyards, enjoying the picturesque setting. We noticed that each home had a water tower in their yard and we learned it was because everyone had their own well. It just added to the charm.