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Ever feel like you need to do something JUST to get it checked off your list? Can’t rest until you do it? Well, that’s how I’ve been feeling about this post. I’ve been avoiding the second half of our trip recap because it’ll make me want to jump on a plane and head back to paradise – Northern California! If you didn’t read the first part of this trip, start here.

So, let’s see, I left off at our arrival to the Elk Cove Inn. Did I mention that we found this little B&B at the very last minute on the web? We were tacking on a few extra days in California after my business trip, and I didn’t want to leave Florida until we booked a place to stay for vacation. Anyone can put pictures on the web of a pristine inn on the rocky coast and make it sound like a dream, right? I was bracing myself for a nightmare. I could see and hear it before we even got there – paper-thin walls, dirty bathroom, threadbare sheets.

But in reality, it could not have been further from the picture I had painted in my mind. Everything about the Elk Cove Inn was absolutely lovely, especially down to the flowers that dotted the property. Here I am sitting near the garden that was outside the door to our room. It was quiet and relaxing, just the thing we were looking for in our first vacation away from our 6 and 4-year old girls. Despite the peace, I was still imagining the girls running around the flowers, smelling them…studying them. Time away was good but I missed the wonder that comes with those ages.

Ok, enough of the mommy thoughts. We wanted to get down to business -hiking and wine tasting! We started off the day on a hike through a nearby Redwood forest. To even *try* to describe the amazing tress would be doing them a complete disservice. Needless to say, we were humbled and amazed by these majestic trees. As a result of all the neck twisting from looking up in amazement at the Redwoods, and wandering around in total awe, we had worked up quite a hunger for lunch so we stopped at Libby’s Mexican Restaurant in Philo. Delish!! Get the shrimp tacos. Scarfed those down in a matter of minutes.

Next stop – wine tasting! We didn’t think we’d do much of this, but I’m glad we made a few stops. First, we went to the Brutocao Cellars. The Bridget Dolan restaurant served this wine the night before and I was hooked, so I had to get some for my own personal stash. My husband and I aren’t wine connoisseurs by any stretch – I can fake a good wine swirl and sniff with the, “I totally know what I’m doing,” look on my face. The atmosphere was a bit stiff, but who cares when you’re drinking wine for free (so cultured of me, I know). And they sold us the nice tasting glasses for $5 a pop – not bad for a relatively sterile experience.

Not only are we a bit on the ‘new’ side of wine tasting, we also don’t hold our alcohol very well! We knew this trek would be short lived – for our safety and the safety of everyone in the county who had to drive! We wanted to make this next and final stop a good one, so we headed down the road to the Toulouse Vineyards. It was a much more relaxed environment – open air tasting with cheerful hosts ready to pour whatever you wanted to try. And they had nice seating and made you feel right a home. Great! I’ll take three bottles please, and two cute tote bags, and…ok, by this time my husband is nearly dragging me to the car.

We weren’t quite ready to head back to the inn, and we wanted to make the most of our time together – alone!! So a trip to the Mendocino County Fair was in order. What a cute, quaint little fair! We didn’t end up spending much time there, but we couldn’t help but just enjoy the beautiful weather, smiling people and taking it all in. After that, one last stop at the Van Damme State Park. We wanted to see as much of the woods as we could, and this nice little 2.5 mile hike was just the thing to bring us out of our late afternoon Mexican food/wine tasting lull. It felt as if we were in a rain forest (or back home in Florida, except it wasn’t 102 degrees). The trail was paved and we were the only humans for what seemed like miles. And once again, my overactive imagination was getting to me and I could just imagine the serial killer that was living in the woods waiting to make his move.  Ok, honey…let’s hightail it back to the car! I’m so adventurous!

That’s pretty much our trip, in a very small nutshell. Overall, it was a lot of driving since we flew in/out of San Jose. But the scenery was spectacular, food was amazing and everything really worked in our favor…or maybe we’re just getting old enough to know how to roll with the punches and enjoy some peace together! Either way, we’ll definitely be back to the Mendocino area – hopefully sooner rather than later!

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