George Peters says, “I can’t remember the name of your favorite perfume; I’ve racked my brain, and I can’t remember it.” Doris says, “That’s funny, it’s My Sin.” ~ Same Time Next Year
This is the title of a movie starring Alan Alda and Ellen Burstyn. It’s a romantic comedy involving two people who accidentally meet at a resort in the middle of a storm and can’t figure out how they ended up in bed together the next morning.
The problem is they are both married but decide to meet at the same resort every year to continue their illicit affair. It’s a movie, not reality, but the interesting part is how the movie depicts the most notorious events of the 50s, 60s, and 70s through the lives of the characters and how they present to each other year after year.
It debuted in 1978, the year I graduated high school, and just about every scene is dated and lacks the sophistication of modern filmmaking. But it is considered a classic because it has some redeeming value, and that might be a tactful reference for people my age.
My husband refuses to watch the movie on the basis that it glorifies immoral behavior. I pouted but to no avail. Instead, we watched Ozarks and experienced the torture and mutilation of an innocent man for the better part of an hour until he confessed to a crime he never committed. I would have preferred Alan Alda’s corny lines, “Why do you have to look so luminous? I mean, it’d make things so much easier if you woke up with puffy eyes and blotchy skin like everyone else.” The character Doris says, “Guess God thought chubby thighs were enough.”
Ain’t that the truth?
So last weekend, we stayed a few miles from the resort where they filmed Same Time Next Year, and I have to say I’m enamored with this portion of the California coastline.
My cousin Vicky and her husband Dave reside in Texas, and every year during the months of July and August, they get out of dodge, so to speak, and head to the coast. Do you blame them?
Clearlake is also experiencing a bout of over a hundred-degree temps, and we decided to join our cousins during their stay along the Mendocino coast for a mini-reunion with old friends Terri and Bob, along with my sister Nancy and her daughter Mackenzie.
Our adventures were not as erotic as Allan and Ellen’s affair but worthy of retelling, especially if I focus on the more notorious aspects of our escapades. Well, maybe not notorious, but a smidgen above common.
We did the usual, stuffed ourselves with bowls of steamy clam chowder, sourdough bread, fresh crab, homegrown tomatoes, and mozzarella, paired with local wines, dark chocolate, and dessert empanadas. Not bad…for our first night.
The morning found us hiking along the cliffs of Mendicino and browsing the shops and galleries of this quaint little town. Larry and I are staying at the Hilltop Inn. It’s within walking distance to town, with impressive coastal views, but it’s haunted. Always something.
I have to say, back in the day, it was an elegant hotel, with a wall of pictures in the now barren lobby depicting a slew of famous and wealthy guests. Today it is a shadow of its former self, dilapidated, and because it’s positioned right next to a graveyard, there is no lack of ghosts to amuse the guests.
I personally did not feel any unfriendly spirits but had to deal with rock-hard pillows, no bedspread, and just one blanket. There were holes in the curtains, and the decor was extremely dated, but hey, maybe the prospect of seeing an actual ghost is appealing to some people. Just not me. I avoided all mirrors where it is said they like to appear.
After our hike along the coast, we headed to Pacific Star Winery, twelve miles north of Fort Bragg, perched on the bluffs above the ocean. This is a preeminent experience. We happened to visit on one of those rare days with clear skies and a calm ocean. In fact, we saw a few whales frolicking in the water, not fifty feet from where we sat. We snagged a picnic table, laid out our cheeses, salami, apples, and crackers, and enjoyed a few glasses of Pacific Star’s elegant wines.
It doesn’t get better than this.
Inside the winery is a handcrafted polished slab of redwood that serves as a tasting room bar. There is a fault line that runs just below the winery, and with a swale of paint, Robert Minuzzo, an artist out of Napa, replicated the faultline across the tasting room floor. I love that.
“When the fault was discovered, it confirmed my feeling that there was something extremely unique about this place,” says Sally Ottoson, owner, and head winemaker.
Larry and I head back to the haunted hotel for an afternoon nap with the ghosts before joining everyone else for dinner.
By Sunday, only Vicky and Dave remained (not that anyone expired, the others simply had to head home), so Larry and I put some distance between us and the ghosts and moved in with the Gino’s.
“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.” Henry David Thoreau
Our plan for today is ocean kayaking off Van Damme State Park near the town of Little River. Yeah, I thought it was overly ambitious too, but I believe it was Larry who said, “the ocean is like glass today.”
I suppose it’s a matter of perspective?
The brightly colored kayaks are lined up along the shore, and after a few minutes of instruction and disbursement of lifevests, we were instructed to board the kayaks and paddle over to a nearby cove for our guided tour.
Seems easy enough.
Well, first, there are the waves to contend with, then there’s the weight of the occupants and the instability of hollow plastic kayaks in general. Larry tells me to slip in the front of the tandem kayak just as the first wave washes over me, and my entire body is assaulted by freezing cold salt water. Great start. After wave number two washes over me, I’m reevaluating the lucidity of such mischief and my entire relationship with the guy whose shorts are still dry.
Vicky also soaked to the bone, says, “Glass my ass!”
We finally got off the sand and into the open ocean, meeting at the rendezvous along with a dozen other kayakers. The guides took us through ocean caves that took thousands of years to create, we glided along the stunning coastline and into calm inlets where we could rest our weary arms.
I was completely and utterly enthralled, forgot all about my frozen bits, and did a worthy rendition of Fool on a Hill in the cathedral cave. The scenery defies description, the current might be treacherous, but the water is so clear in some areas you can see schools of starfish clinging to the rock.
Sees the sun going down
And the eyes in his head
See the world spinning around
You can stop holding your breath. We all made it back to the shore, wet and cold but in one piece. We headed directly to the cottage, the one equipped with a generous hot tub overlooking the ocean and a healthy stock of chilled white wine.
Magnificent is a word that comes to mind.
Our final day together found us hiking in Narrvaro River Redwoods State Park before enjoying a few of the Anderson Valley Wineries. Afterwhich, Vicky and Dave headed back to the coast while Larry and I landed at the lake house for a night until the same time next year.
I have to say I’m sort of enamored with those lines from the movie where George says, “You always could see through me, couldn’t you?” And Doris responds, “But that’s okay, because… I’ve always loved what I’ve seen.” As opposed to Marty Byrde, who says, “The satisfying sound of your lover smacking the pavement is the only thing that gets me to sleep at night.”
I’m Living in the Gap, floating on good memories, how’s your week going?