Monday, January 21, 2013

Best Dog Park in Napa

The weather has finally warmed up. I decided that I had to get out of town and go explore while I had Martin Luther King Jr. Day off even though I am still recovering from this latest sinus infection and agonizing coughs. I did a quick overview of surrounding counties and thought Napa would be a nice day trip. I Googled for dog parks in Napa, and sure enough there is a highly rated one called Alston Park. It's being compared to Point Isabel without the ocean. I could certainly enjoy a change of scenery and away from the cold ocean breeze. I packed up all the essentials and Kelsey and got on the road around 10 a.m. heading over to Napa, which is less an hour away from El Cerrito.

There are two enclosure for dogs to roam around and play with each other. One for small and/or shy dogs. The other one for large dogs. Kelsey is friendly with all dogs but she really isn't a run-around and play-catch kind of dog. The other dogs can charge at Kelsey at top speed hoping to get Kelsey to run with them, but they only get a dog who stays at the same spot and looks them with a wagging docked tail. After Kelsey sniffed around the enclosure and greeted other excitable dogs, I took her on a trial walk. The trails were beautiful and surrounded by rows of grape plants, a signature scenery of Napa.

After we walked around Aston Park, I took Kelsey to Downtown Napa. Many people are out at the riverfront enjoying the sun and the view. I was surprised how friendly and well mannered the kids were as they came up to me asking for permission to pet Kelsey. Kelsey absolutely loved the girls and just leaned herself on them. The younger girl told me that their 3-year-old lab ran away that morning, and they haven't been able to find her. I sure hope they get their dog back.  

Napa is now one of my favorite neighboring cities for a day trip for sure.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Time to Harvest Potatoes

Before weeds are removed

It has been about 10 months since I started working for a public school as the manager. I have learned that I simply had to give up on a significant amount of gardening time. Overseeing 159 kindergartener through second graders is no easy task, and I never know exactly what can happen each day. I have hired a small crew of gardeners to help me maintain the farm every other weekend.  However, I am responsible for all the vegetable beds and fertilization.

We have been experiencing very cold temperature that fell below 40 degrees Fahrenheit in the past couple of weeks. I covered up my passion fruit vines a few times and could only hope for the best as the temperature kept dropping. Today, the weather seems to be back to normal. The sun is out and it feels warm. The passion fruit vines have all survived. 

After weeds are removed

I have unfortunately caught another cold or flu as another outbreak took place in the school. Illness tends to spread like wild fire in the school. As the students become sick, the teachers and administrative staff often all get hit one after another. I was never into taking dietary supplements, but after being sick about every other month, I finally went out and got every immune boosting supplement that I could get my hands on - vitamin C in 1000 mg tablets, zinc, garlic tablets, plus a few others. Fortunately, it's Martin Luther King Jr. weekend so I get to rest for 3 days before going back to the viral incubator.

I took the opportunity today to clear out most weeds in my vegetable beds. The last bell peppers all  died from the frost. The mizuna I planted last year have now self germinated and just grow on their own without any effort on my part. I have been collecting them for salad. The potatoes are now ready for harvesting as all the potato plants are wilted and dying off. They also self propagate year after year with very little effort on my part.

Mizuna and potatoes

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Point Cabrillo Light Station

Point Cabrillo Light Station

Last night I noticed a deli called Mendocino Market just a few doors down from my hotel room on Ukiah Street. This morning I headed over there with Kelsey and got a grilled chicken and Swiss sandwich before heading over to The Ford House Visitor Center to get some maps.  The Ford House Visitor Center is right on Main Street. I passed by it on my way to the hotel yesterday. It's a beautiful house that was built in 1854.

I wanted to go to Point Cabrillo Light Station first. From the light house, whales can be sighted. The Light Station is now a State Historic Park. On the way to the light house, we passed by 3 beautifully rehabilitated lightkeepers' homes. I could only dream of living in one of those houses looking over the ocean everyday. 

Point Cabrillo Light Station

After spending a couple hours walking through the trails in the Light Station Park, we headed over to Russian Gulch State Park. Self registration of $8 per vehicle is required for entering the park. After I entered the park, I realized that the main trail, Fern Canyon trail, does not allow dogs. That was quite disappointing. I was only able to drive up to the picnic area and take a short walk around it. The view was beautiful, and I had a snack break at one of the picnic tables overlooking the ocean. 

Russian Gulch State Park

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year's Day in Mendocino

The main building

I have wanted to go back to Mendocino ever since I attended the 3-day Mushroom Camp back in 2010. A couple months ago I happened to see a great deal on Travel Zoo for 2-night stay at Mendocino Hotel & Garden Suites, which allows dogs for a small extra charge. I purchased a voucher for it and made my reservation for January 1st through 3rd, 2013. I wanted to start the new year by taking a relaxing trip in a small town next to the coast, where time seems to stand still.

The Victorian style hotel was established in 1878 and located on the Main Street of Mendocino facing the coast.

The ocean view from the main building

For people traveling with their dogs, they get to stay in the garden suites behind the main building. I was delighted to see a little garden outside of my room. Inside of the room, there's a fire place, a walking closet, and Victorian style furniture and decor. It's like stepping back in time.

Garden suites behind the main building

The hotel also has a Victorian style dining room, which is beautiful and romantic. Since I was only traveling with Kelsey, I didn't want to leave her by herself. I also didn't see the point of having an expensive fancy dinner all by myself even though the menu looks quite delicious.

My room

After settling in, I took Kelsey for a walk around town.  According to 2010 census, Mendocino had a population of 894. The town is very small. I walked around the corner and found Harvest Market which was open on New Year's Day. I bought some clam chowder, dinner rolls, and pasta salad back to my room for dinner. Tomorrow I will go explore some of the state parks in the area.

Kelsey immediately made herself home