2014 Roadtrip: Mendocino, CA to Point Arena, CA

We left Mendocino at noon on Thursday and it was a sunny and lovely 70°. South of the Albion River, the southern section of Mendocino County started getting very remote and beautiful. The drive was only 41 miles to Point Arena.

Gene, the new manager of The Wharf Master’s Inn (785 Iversen Ave., Point Arena, CA 95468, tel. 707-882-3171, http://www.wharfmasters.com/), was at the reception desk when we arrived. He was welcoming and informative. We looked at the room “Ocean Splendor” that he had reserved and showed us the next room category higher: “Spectacular Ocean View”. Both rooms had ocean views but the spectacular ocean view was a much better room on the end of the Lookout building. We thought that it would be quiet and that we would enjoy the view. We asked for a complimentary upgrade to the $165 a day room from our $145 a day category. Because we had no discount in our rate, he agreed. Great!
The view from our room at the Wharf Master's Inn
The room was a large square-ish room with the balcony, windows and door overlooking the pier, a large building and the ocean below. Our balcony had 2 chairs and a small table on it (which we brought indoors to be our coffee table between the two comfortable chairs in the room). The Wharf Master’s Inn was on the side of a hill and above it was almost flat pasture land that went on for miles—at least to the Point Arena lighthouse. There was a similar cliff on the other side of the harbor area below us. The cliffs in Point Arena have a white-ish color making them look kind of like the White Cliffs of Dover.

There was a hallway with a closet as we walked into the room. Then the bedroom and sitting area. The bed was a 4 poster and there were two bedside tables with drawers in them. The desk was on the other side of the room. Gene’s wife, Vicki, brought Audre a folding table for her desk and there was enough room next to Dimitri’s desk for both desks at right angles in the corner of the room.  Next to Audre’s desk was the eco friendly fireplace and the two comfortable chairs. Between the hallway and the sink/vanity, was a counter with the flat screen TV on it. On the other side of a partition was the Jacuzzi tub (which we didn’t use), the sink with a vanity (and lots of storage space). Then came the toilet room and the shower. Under the TV was a mini fridge. The room also had a coffee maker. It was a comfortable room and we even watched the satellite TV one evening. The only inconvenience was that there was no Internet in the room. We had to take our laptops to the breakfast room to download our e-mail.

The breakfast included in the room price, was “standard breakfast fare” enhanced by Vicki on weekends. We brought our own cereal and bananas when we had breakfast at The Wharf Master’s Inn.

On our first afternoon, we scrambled up the hill behind The Wharf Master’s Inn to the plateau-like area and walked for an hour.
Dimitri walking the headlands above the Wharf Master's Inn
Another day we drove to the Point Area Lighthouse and walked the plateau-like area back toward The Wharf Master’s Inn.
The lighthouse of Point Arena in the background
We didn’t bike in the area because the weather was windy most of the time.

Gene and Vicki are doing a good job making the guests feel welcome. They were hired to improve The Wharf Master’s Inn. They have a huge task to “bring the place up to standard.” It looks like the owner has not done any maintenance or improvements for years. The buildings are quite handsome but need painting and fixing on the outside, everywhere.

The town of Point Arena looks like it has seen better days. There are many storefronts that are empty. We were told that there was a good restaurant in town called Uneda Eat (206 Main St., Point Arena 95468, tel. 707-882-3800) but when we walked in, it just was not our kind of place. The town had a good bakery where we bought sweets for Dimitri. (Fanny's Cup and Saucer, 213 Main St., Point Arena, CA, tel. 707-882-2500, www.fannyscupandsaucer.com)

We wanted to have pasta for dinner on Thursday night so we could put our fresh sea urchin on it. Pier Chowder House (790 Port Rd., Point Arena, CA, tel. 707-8822400) was accommodating. They made us linguine with garlic and olive oil and we tossed our sea urchin into it. It was delicious. With that we ordered the grilled salmon ($24) which was good and a Caesar salad ($5) which was also good (but too much food). We had a bottle of Zellerbach Sauvignon Blanc ($13.87) which was pretty good accompanied by the food with an amazingly low price. We spent $59.33 plus tip and were happy. 

We bought gas in Point Arena on Friday and it was $4.46 a gallon. Holy, moly! That night we had a terrific meal at St Orres in Gualala (St Orres Fine Dining and Lodging, 36601 S Hwy 1, Gualala, CA 95445, tel. 707-884-3303, www.saintorres.com, e-mail: saintorres@yahoo.com)The dining room was flooded with evening sun and the stained glass windows were very pretty. The room with its onion dome and ceiling stained glass was distinctive and nice. The art by Heidi Edleman, however, was seriously disturbing. We had an outstanding server, a woman who lived in Anchor Bay. We were brought homemade bread with yummy olive oil from the Corto Olive Oil Co. We ordered a bottle of Wild Hog (Nova Vineyards) 2010 Montepulciano (Dunnigan Hills) Sonoma that was very good and reminiscent of the Montepulciano d'Abruzzo we drank in Italy. Dinner came with a salad and a soup. We shared everything as usual and ordered the garlic and mushroom flan to start and it was truly delicious—intensely flavorful.
The garlic and mushroom flan at St Orres
The salad came next. It was 1 sliced heirloom tomato, 2 small burrata mozzarella balls, 1 cherry tomato and a splash of pesto, enough for the two of us.
The salad at St Orres
The roasted red pepper soup was also very good and a large portion. For our main course we ordered the quail.
The quails at St Orres
There were two, with sautéed vegetables and rice (Audre thinks). Each dish was very good to excellent and with the excellent service, the meal was outstanding.  We were so stuffed we couldn’t order dessert! We spent $110.31 plus tip.

The next morning we had breakfast at Rollerville Cafe (22900 S Hwy 1, Point Arena, CA, tel. 707-882-2077) because the people we asked said it was the best place around for breakfast. Our server was less than gracious. We brought our own orange, apricots and banana. I had cut the orange and put the slices on our own plastic plates. The server came by and said “we don’t encourage people to bring in their own food. But you can eat that.” It is, of course, their prerogative but since they had no fruit on the menu, we did not think we were overstepping. Oh well. Dimitri ordered 2 eggs over easy with hash browns, 1 slice of bacon, sour dough toast and coffee ($9.95). He was happy. Audre ordered one blueberry pancake ($2.50) and it was okay. We spent $16 plus a minimal tip.

That day we went to the Gualala Farmer's Market (disappointing) and a walk along the headlands from the Point Arena lighthouse (nice). For dinner on our last night in the area we went to Thai Kitchen (Thai Kitchen, 35517 South Hwy 1, Anchor Bay, CA 95445, tel. 707-884-4141). It got very crowded after we came in. There was one server and one helper, plus the people from the kitchen who brought dishes. The service was good enough. The room was decorated simply but nicely. We had three dishes and lots of leftovers for another meal. We had one Tom Yum soup with chicken and vegetables ($11.95) that was spicy and very tasty. It was described as: “Thai style hot and sour soup with mushrooms, baby corn, onion, carrot, cabbage, tomato, galangal, lemongrass and kafir lime leaves.” We liked it but could not taste the lemongrass or galangal. Next came the Pumpkin Curry with tofu ($13.95) that was really delicious. It was described as: “Red curry with coconut milk, green beans, pumpkin, zucchini, carrots, bell pepper, peas, bamboo shoots and basil.” Our third dish was a special for the evening with mixed seafood ($20.95) that came with rice. It too was very good. We spent $47.62 plus tip.

The next morning we packed up early and off we went to the house in the Rockridge neighborhood of Oakland where we had rented a house for a month.

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