We’ve taken Arby out for three trips now in preparation for our long journey to all the ball parks. Our Mendocino trip was particularly special because it is the location for a family pilgrimage to my paternal grandparents’ home in the Mendocino woods.
The Mendocino trip was also great at resolving for us whether it was reasonable to take the dogs on the trip. Clearly, the answer is NO when the schedule is so very tightly packed. Dogs deserve lots of play time, and the stress levels between meeting the appointments and the dogs’ needs would mean that we wouldn’t be caring deeply enough for our own levels of energy. Both Winston and Tucker really were on best behavior on the long drives, napping on the sofa, tethered to the seat belts, but to no avail. They really aren’t going to be included in the cross-country tour. Luckily for the dogs, our son’s presence in our home will make it fairly easy on them. Both Jared and the dogs show up in the pictures in this post, though they will be staying behind during the big adventure to all the ball parks.
Will and Mildred George, my paternal grandparents, had a large property in the woods off Comptche Road in Mendocino, and all 13 grandchildren (3 families) would take turns visiting for a week or two in the summer in the magical wonderland that was their Mendocino wood.
My grandfather created a little park from one side of the yard, in which he created paths, put up signs, and built a playhouse- The Tom Thumb house - around a very large redwood stump. This playhouse, with its vividly colored walls, is the only recognizable landmark on the property; the main house, guest house, and garage burned at least 35 years ago, soon after my grandparents sold it and my grandmother went to the Sequoias retirement home, in Portola Valley, closer to family members.
We always found this little house to be our family’s private joy, but in 2000, The Treehouse Book, by Peter and Judy Nelson, published a photo of our Tom Thumb House (named on the sign by my grandfather), though it was not IN a tree- it was around it. I love the author’s reaction to reading the inscription on the plaque.
Our family tradition is to write on an inside wall and date the inscription, so that each of us who visits realizes that this is extremely special for all of us, though the property is no longer in the family. I took some photos, but the writing is starting to fade, and not many of the pictures were readable. Nonetheless, I crouched down to add my own message to the inscriptions.
|Bonnie adds a message to the family message board inside the Tom Thumb House, in the woods near Mendocino.|
|Jared and Joe; the dogs are lucky to have Jared caring for them while we travel!|
|At MacKerricher State Park, north of Fort Bragg. Tucker is the white cockapoo, and Winston is the black Havanese.|
|Bonnie and the dogs at Morro Bay, CA (Southern California!)- their first visit to a beach!|
|A lovely rest stop just north of Santa Barbara, CA|
|The Tom Thumb House plaque is now so faded as to no longer be readable.|
|Though crumbling, the Tom Thumb house is still bright enough to spot in the woods from the road.|
|This picture of the plaque was taken over 12 years ago.|
|Peter and Judy Nelson, authors of "the treehouse book" were charmed by the inscription on the plaque.|
|My sisters' and uncle's families visited and left messages inside the Tom Thumb House.|
|The Tom Thumb House, as pictured in "the treehouse book" in 2000.|
Alas, the years have not been kind to the little house; though the lead based paints are still bright, boards are rotting, and the plaque on the front of the house is fading, and not completely readable at this point. Compare the photo in the book taken about 12 years ago to the faded state just now. Kind of sad.
We also loved Mendocino for its loveliness. As inland dwellers, we don’t often get to the beach, but in this trip, we got to enjoy Morro Bay (that big rock is the major landmark!) The Mendocino Headlands State Park, composed of undeveloped bluffs above the crashing ocean waves and just north, in Fort Bragg, MacKerricher State Park. We are so lucky to have such natural wonders.
I will miss California when we are traveling across the United States. Though I’m sure I’ll be captivated by the many wonders of the country, I do like my home state quite well, and will be glad to return.