It was 600 AM and the coffee place I scouted out wasn’t open till 700.
It was a mile and a half away in Fort Bragg so I figured I’d just walk there. The ever-present Bay Area fog was rolling over the cliffs and I put one foot in front of the other to Headlands Coffee.
When I finished writing, I called my dad to see if he was awake and he brought the truck over and we went to breakfast.
Around the corner was Egghead Café, which I knew my dad would love as soon as I saw the menu with a Dungeness crab omelet. When we walked in the door, we were surprised to find the same server from last night’s pizza place. We both had a look of recognition and a small laugh and he said, “Good to see you again, señor.” Turns out he works at Egghead in the morning and the pizza place at night. I’m glad I tipped him well from the night before. It’s rare to find someone that brings such joy and charisma to their job and when I notice it, I make sure to appreciate it.
It’s so easy to be the stereotypical apathetic millennial at your job. It’s as if you’re telling the world, I’m better than this job, so I’m going to do a really shitty job at it until my calling comes along. That’s the wrong way to go about life because “how you do one thing is how you do everything.” You can’t be a complete sack of shit for years and then just turn it on to excellence when you get to where you want to be. How do I know this? Because I used to be said sack of shit. That’s changed over the years through active efforts by me and I now try to bring that charisma and joy to all of my patients. Granted, it’s difficult when you call 911 at 300 AM for toe pain, but I can promise, at the least I won’t be mean to you. The universe is watching you.
We checked out of our hotel and explored the camp sites near Mendocino. They had a spot open at the nearby Van Damme State Park. I’m assuming it’s named after the famed Belgian artist, Jean Claude Van Damme, renowned for his illustrious works of Bloodsport and Death Warrant.
This park is fantastic. It’s right next to a creek and judging by the lack of bear lockers on site, there is little chance a bear will come up to our camp and rob us at gunpoint.
Now to check out the small town of Mendocino.
Later that day, I had the following text exchange with my favorite ambulance partner, Jaime Hathaway.
ME: You would love Mendocino
JAIME: Yeah? What are your favorite things about Mendocino?
ME: Food. Nature. Charming AF.
And that it is.
The first place we stopped was the outdoor farmer’s market. They were selling mostly fresh greens, plants, jam, and homemade pies. I wanted to get a fresh blackberry pie, but the voice of caloric reason (i.e. my dad) said we should wait. Good call.
We walked the small town checking out boutiques, the woodworking store, and gourmet market. It reminded me to some of some of the coastal towns I used to visit when I lived in Connecticut. When I was there, in order to orient myself to the state, I would type a random town into my GPS and then hit “Main Street”, and then go to the general store for a root beer and sit on a bench in the town green. To my West Coast friends, a “green” just means a park. They also call it “highways” and not “freeways”. And “kid” and “asshole” are actually terms of endearment. Oh, New England.
I could tell my Dad’s knee was starting to bother him, so we cut the walking tour short. Over the years he hasn’t been able to walk as far, so the radius of our trips has been smaller.
We picked up some food at the local market and drove out to the Mendocino Headlands to have lunch. Rolling grass, giant cliffs, and more sea stacks. We sat on the tailgate of my truck and had soup and curry chicken salad (I can’t not order this on a menu). In case any Hollywood producers are reading this, I’m pitching a new show called “Two Dudes Eating Soup”, where my dad and I sit on the tailgate of my truck and eat soup. Call me. I’m expensive.
In the afternoon we went to watch Alien: Covenant at the Coast Cinemas in Fort Bragg, the only movie theater in a 38 mile radius. My Dad and I are both fans of the franchise, so we both geeked out for a few hours at the retro movie theater.
For dinner we drove back to the gourmet market in Mendocino and picked up some cheese, crackers, and some items from the salad bar.
After dinner we sat by the campfire and listened to the nearby stream. I played one of the four songs I have on my iPhone. Because you’re wondering, I’ll tell you what they are.
- Claude Debussy – Claire De Lune (I play this song on loop when I’m writing)
- Emile Pandolfi – Pure Imagination (the crescendo of this one still gets me)
- Louis Armstrong – What a Wonderful World (if I use my iphone as an alarm, this is what the tone will be)
- Maroon 5 – Sunday Morning (fuck you)
We sat by the campfire for the rest of the night, mostly in silence, enjoying the snaps of the fire and the bubbles from the brook.