Review: Elk Cove Inn (Part 2) by Hairy Putter

7 08 2013

The Elk Cove Inn’s Wave Watch Suite is pet luxury
on the Mendocino Coast redefined.

 Attention pampered pooches and those that desire to be! Pet lodging on the Mendocino Coast just got a lot more luxurious. The romantic and super friendly Elk Cove Inn has just raised the bar on Pet Friendly lodging with the opening of the Wave Watch Ocean Suite, and I recently got to experience a stay so I could bring you a first paw account.

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Hoppy and I enjoying the sun, beach, and quiet times

 It wasn’t so long ago that Elaine, the owner of Elk Cove Inn, invited me to christen the inn’s first pet friendly accommodation, the Hideaway. Well, I must be doing a hell of a job because a couple of months later I was invited back to give my expert opinion on an additional pet friendly suite. My fur-pawed brethren, what a treat you are in for (and the uprights, too, of course). For this stay I also had the company of Hoppy, and as you can tell from some of the pictures that accompany this review, we both loved living the high life.

 Uprights, you know that we give you all our unconditional love, so when it comes time to give us some loving back, consider indulging us and yourselves with a front-row view of one of the most beautiful and dramatic ocean scenes on the Mendocino Coast. The Elk Cove Inn’s Wave Watch Suite has been designed to offer the guest a sumptuous blend of modern amenities and comfort, enveloped in the opulent esthetics of a historic Arts and Crafts building.

 No detail has been overlooked to give both fur-pawed and upright guests a magical and restful experience. A stay here is an indulgence one could get used to—I know for sure my dads and I did. Upon check-in my dads were given a bag of complimentary house-made pet cookie treats for my culinary pleasure, and from the moment I walked into the suite I realized I was in for something special: Waiting for me and most welcome after a car ride, were two metal bowls on a place mat, one full of fresh water.

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Spectacular views in sun, fog, or thunderstorms

A couple of small steps lead you from the suite’s entry into the main room where the full impact of the majestic and picturesque Elk Cove Inn’s Victorian Gazebo is framed majestically against the dramatic ocean backdrop. A collection of cover sheets and towels especially for me were waiting so that the furniture can be protected from my sandy paws and I can be dried if need be after a romp on the nearby beach. Two oversized swivel armchairs in the bay window allow one to sit in comfort and contemplate the movement of the waves. But for me the best view was from the king-sized bed where, sunk in lushness with my front paws stretched out and my chin resting on them, I could look out the window as birds flew by and wonder, How do they do that and why can’t I?

 A compact and well-stocked kitchen and wet bar is perfect for keeping my food and treats fresh. Other amenities include a small refrigerator/freezer, coffee & tea maker, ice bucket, chopping board, knives, plates, silverware, stemware, wine opener, iron and ironing board, travel-case rack and microwave, to name a few.

 Some of us can be a little skittish when it comes to the room that the uprights lovingly refer to as the bathroom—you know, the room that has something to do with water, shampoo, wet fur and enclosed space that just seems to make one’s fur stand on end. But sometimes we can’t help but roll in something unpleasant, or we decide to splash in some mud while traversing the grounds or have some other outdoor adventure that calls for a bath, so let me reassure you that the Wave Watch Suite has a bathroom like no other I have experienced. It did not scare me one bit! With its open floor plan, privacy walled commode and plenty of space and ample lighting, you will never feel claustrophobic.

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I would have preferred the shower

 In the first area there is a large ultra-modern two-sink vanity and free-standing jet tub with hand shower that is big enough for a Great Dane to recline in, as you can see from the accompanying picture. If a tub is not your thing, just walk around the corner into the largest walk-in shower this Cairn terrier has ever encountered, where you will all be in for the treat of your lives. A sleek chrome cylinder, which goes from floor to ceiling, has three different height settings that can be used to direct the jets of water to our particular height, as well as a hand wand attachment that will leave no grain of sand in one’s fur. No amount of wet fur shaking is going to leave this enormous space, and a bonus is that the uprights will get clean in high contemporary style too. The bathroom has several wall heaters plus hair dryers to get that perfect blow-dried look, and don’t forget the pet towels provided exclusively for our use. Soft plush robes will keep the uprights snug and cozy.

 For those times when a little privacy is needed, the large picture windows have a clever blind system that allows for screening all of the window or just the top, middle or lower portions, so one can be lying in bed gazing at the awesome view but be totally invisible from the outside.

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Catching the rays on the deck

 One doesn’t have to spend all ones time inside, as you can see from this photo. The outside deck is a great space to soak up some rays, do a little reading or simply sit and contemplate the wing speed of hummingbirds as they drink a flower’s nectar or marvel at the configuration of color on a butterfly’s wings. Or maybe just lie down at your uprights’ feet and take a little nap with the sun warming your fur as nature’s music plays all around you.

 If the weather does its usual dance variations, the Wave Watch Suite is the perfect place to witness the spectacle of dramatic thunderstorms or the kaleidoscopic magic of sunset. If by chance the panoramic view becomes hidden by the sexy shroud of fog, the cozy armchairs are perfect to sit beside and indulge in a little mental contemplation while the uprights enjoy a good book or share the guilty pleasure of a favorite movie on the large flat screen television placed above the fireplace mantel. (And don’t let them forget to microwave the complimentary popcorn.)

 Start up the gas fire to keep everyone toasty while the flickering flames glow seductively throughout the room. This could be the perfect time for the uprights to break open the goodies from their complimentary gift basket, to pour a glass of wine and tuck into the homemade cookies or to sip a glass of delicious complimentary port from the in-room decanter and savor the delicious heart chocolates that await just such a moment of indulgence.

 The Wave Watch Suite is an Architectural Digest photograph-worthy accommodation, designed with us in mind and equipped to make any upright smile in delight at the clever touches and thoughtful amenities. The next time your uprights are contemplating a little bit of romantic indulgence, paw them in the direction of the Wave Watch Suite at the delightful and hospitable Elk Cove Inn.

 (P.S. For more on the inn see my previous review where I tell you all about my second favorite pastime in the world next to being the best companion I can be to my uprights: the delicious breakfasts.)

Elk Cove Inn
6300 Highway 1
Elk, California 95432
(707) 877-3321






Review: Uncorked Wine Bistro by Hairy Putter

17 07 2013

A small plate experience to fill the largest of appetites

My tail is wagging up a storm, my tongue is hanging out and I’m tugging excitedly on my leash to tell you all about Uncorked Wine Bistro, a welcome taste of Europe that delivers a unique and totally satisfying dining experience. This fabulous new restaurant in Ukiah not only has a Continental aesthetic in ambiance and cuisine, but also understands that there is always room at, by or under the table for diners of the four-legged variety. At Uncorked, located on what is fast becoming restaurant row in Historic Downtown Ukiah, Kerri Barnett and team have created an ultra-stylish environment: a space of casual elegance that complements perfectly the outstanding array of creative culinary delicacies that I experience as morsels of nirvana.

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Dining room inside

Uncorked offers three separate spaces for their guests to gather and share the true pleasure and meaning of the dining experience. Even though I have not been inside the main dining room, my uprights have, and they say that Kerri has created an inviting space by using a subtle mixture of earth tones and textures that doesn’t overpower the true star of the restaurant, the food. A private dining room is available and perfect for celebrations. The pet friendly part of the restaurant includes an outdoor/indoor space with fans and outdoor heaters that make this area suitable for year round dining. Soon a fourth, and for me the best, dining option will be a section in front of the restaurant that will resemble a European street café.

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Owner, Kerri – oh, great back rub

Kerri, like me, loves food and people and how well the two go together. Uncorked makes just about everything in house, and Kerri works with her staff to come up with delicious mouthwatering items that not only work individually but also produce layers of contrasting flavors, textures and taste sensations that give the guest an experience similar to other moments of sensual enjoyment. Everything is presented on white china to showcase the food in its entire splendor. In this world of mass produced, boring and unimaginative food, it is a refreshing pleasure to dine in an establishment that so obviously cares about both the food they serve and all that goes into creating and presenting a dish. The subtle balancing and pairing of flavors is a true culinary art, and Kerri and crew are masters.

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“Vacation in a glass”

Uncorked also creates imaginative, refreshing and tasty beverages. On one visit my dad ordered the “Vacation in a Glass” specialty of the day, which was Sangria and perfect for the warm late spring afternoon. Previously he had savored one of Kerri’s blackberry liquor champagne cocktails, which he was reluctant to share. (Hmm, I wonder why. Could it be that he was enjoying it too much?) My other dad sampled wines recommended for pairing with the items he ordered. Uncorked has a fine selection of wines by the glass and bottle and also offers beer and soft drinks.

By the way, fellow canines, fresh water is usually waiting, but if not, just have your uprights ask and a cool delicious bowl of water will gladly be brought to you.

Mezze Platter

Mezze Platter

Are you salivating yet? Well, let’s talk food. But first, readers, please take note that when my dads order food and I am dining with them, they tailor their choices to accommodate me as much as possible (as well they should). We started with the Mezze Platter, a wonderful sampling of Mediterranean tapas: sweet and sour eggplant spread, tzatziki (cucumber and yogurt dip)—yum, I love that, and my favorite, Greek-style feta cheese with house-made flatbread. Next up was an amazing Olive Medley with citrus marinated black olives, herb and garlic green olives, Nicoise olives and, to round out the balance of flavors, pickled cauliflower. Being a canine, I was not too keen on the latter, but you have to let the uprights have their way sometimes. (It makes them feel special.) What arrived next, however, was right up my alley. They had gone for the meat and ordered the Slider Sampler: two delicious grilled buns, one filled with ground beef, onion marmalade and white cheddar and the other filled with ground lamb topped with herb goat cheese. There was French potato salad too. Then, lo and behold, out came the Gypsy Girl Sausage Plate, and my nose did a twitching like you would not believe. Imagine three juicy and flavorful artisan sausages—a riveting rose, a provincial pig and a gypsy brat—nestled among sizzling sweet grilled onions and accompanied by onion marmalade and sweet & spicy mustard. Yes, Uncorked even makes its very own mustards. (Note: Onions are not good for us fur pawed diners so none of those for me, but they sure did smell good.)

Slider Sampler - YUMMM!

Slider Sampler – YUMMM!

Other offerings that we could have chosen included broiled salmon with a Dijon mustard and white wine glaze, fresh dill sauce and veggies and a spicy hummus quesadilla with zucchini, jack and goat cheese, along with a side of white bean salsa. Salad choices included a Nicoise composed of braised fennel, potatoes, green beans, egg and tomatoes, to which you can add chicken or salmon for a very reasonable additional charge, and the Bistro Wedge with crisp iceberg lettuce, candied bacon, Pt. Reyes blue cheese and green beans. There is also a Two Cheese Panini Sandwich and poached Scrimshaw Shrimp with spicy lemon sauce, not to mention other mouthwatering delights.

Menu items change regularly and daily specials are always a tempting addition to the regular menu. Dinner offers the guest many more tasty small plate creations, and the desserts are as creative and delicious as everything else at Uncorked. Want even more reasons to come and check out what Kerri and crew are inventing to tempt and impress? How about Flatbread Friday’s pizza specialties or Southern Saturday’s shrimp ’n’ grits with tomato-bacon gravy and orange rolls? Don’t miss the chance to catch the sounds of live entertainment on Thursday and Saturday evenings.

The ambiance of Uncorked is perfect for conversation, and the service is friendly, unpretentious and efficient. The style may be casual but the attention to detail is apparent in every bite. You will savor flavors that linger far longer in your mind than the kaleidoscope of taste sensations hang around on the palate, and that’s a great thing so, trust me, you will want to keep going back. Please don’t be put off by the words “Small Plates”; the concept behind small plates means variety and plenty of it, and Uncorked Wine Bistro delivers it all in delicious abundance.

I urge Ukiah locals and visitors to the area to come alone or with friends and pop in for a quick bite or linger till the stars come out.  Maybe I will get to see your tail wagging too, next time I’m at Uncorked.

Hairy Putter
Uncorked Wine Bistro
110 W. Standley Street
Ukiah, CA 95482
707.463.1523
http://www.uncorkedukiah.com
Wed. – Thur. 11am – 9pm
Fri. – Sat. 11am – 10pm





Review: Queenie’s Roadhouse Cafe by Hairy Putter

26 06 2013

 Operating with Pride in Elk since 2001

Queenies FlagAs many of my readers already know, my dads are always on the lookout for places where we can dine together. Luckily for all the fur legged children who get to experience Mendocino County; many such places do exist. Feeling welcome is the key to hospitality and in the picturesque postcard town of Elk, population around 250, there is a place that is especially welcoming for another great reason and it has to do with a very colorful and significant flag that flies proudly every day letting people know that Queenie’s Roadhouse Café is open. This flag is a big bold Rainbow Flag.

Uprights the world over know that for us fur pawed companions love is unconditional and we are blind to the individual who receives our love and affection. We judge and trust you all equally and unequivocally.  All we see and care about is that you love us and we love you.  It is with my own sense of pride being lucky enough to have two upright dads and lots of friends from all over the world that with June being the month that the members of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered communities of the world celebrate, I get to tell you about a very special lady and her wonderful café.  One definition of the word Pride is “a pleasant, sometimes exhilarating, emotion that results from a positive self-evaluation” —  that just about sums up how one feels after a dining experience at this intimate café that draws people together both near (locals) and far (visitors) who come to enjoy the family hospitality and excellent cooking of Lynn Derrick and her team.

Lynn

Lynn

Lynn Derrick is a San Francisco native who came to the Mendocino Coast in 1982 to visit a friend and never left.  After being a part owner and operating a very popular café in Fort Bragg, California for several years she took a break from the hectic life of a restaurateur. However, when the opportunity presented itself, Lynn jumped at the chance to continue a legacy of business operation in an endeared historical local building in Elk.  The Matson Family have been a fixture of the area since the 1890’s and over the decades have owned and operated several business in Elk including the garage that is still operating today. Attached to the garage is a building that has been many things including a livery stable, Studebaker showroom, ice cream parlor, traditional roadhouse and now since 2001, Queenie’s Roadhouse Café.  June 26th also happens to be Lynn’s birthday and one of the ways that Lynn liked to celebrate was to attend the Pride Festivities in San Francisco. Like many self-employed people working on your birthday takes precedence over time off, so Lynn decided she would mark her special day and the community that she belongs to and placed the Rainbow Flag outside — that was 2001 and it has never come down because for Lynn, every day is something to be proud of living.

QueeniesHairyLynn, Sis, Zoe and crew deliver service with a genuine smile and create food that fills you with comfort and joy. Open five days a week serving breakfast and lunch (closed Tuesday & Wednesday) Queenies is a local treasure that has over the last decade created a loyal local, national and international following. Like Lynn herself, the food at Queenies is unpretentious and honest. Lynn and Sis cook with love and use seasonal, fresh and organic ingredients. They make as much as they can in-house; this includes the delicious pastries and exquisite pies that just scream “Grandma”, even the salad dressings are made from scratch. Every dish is made to order and meticulously prepared and presented. Love, care and thought come shining through as you savor every morsel. Let’s start with the meal of champions, breakfast.  Choices include tantalizing fare such as wild rice and pecan waffles, buttermilk hotcakes, several omelet and scramble choices like the Earhart omelet (Portobello mushroom, roasted red pepper, spinach and cheddar cheese), smoked pork chops, old fashioned corned beef hash, huevos rancheros and my favorite, bacon with everything or with nothing; although I do have to say a nibble of chicken apple sausage is always a pleasure. Be sure to check the boards as specials are offered every day. Lunch choices include mouthwatering burgers, large crisp fresh salads like nicoise, curried chicken, melt in your mouth sandwiches like an authentic Ruben, tuna melt and B.L.T to name a few. Queenies serves beer, wine and a comprehensive selection of coffee and soft drink beverages. Queenies also has two outdoor patio tables so we can join you.  But if the weather is not cooperating, don’t let your uprights miss the opportunity to experience Queenies. The temperature in Elk will always be conducive for you  to be comfortable in the car and wait for them to return with a nibble of something delicious. If the sun is shining and a table is available, you too can sit under the continuing waving rainbow flag and know that you, like all, are welcome and appreciated at this out and proud local café that in its quite unassuming way makes the breaking of bread still the best way to unite each other.

As to why Lynn named her cafe Queenies, I am going to leave that up to you to discover when you visit. Let’s just say the décor will leave you in no doubt the affection that her clientele feel towards this courageous and prideful independent woman. The tight community of Elk has embraced and revered Lynn and she gives of herself to the community constantly as a volunteer firefighter along with her generosity to and for local events county wide.

Pride of product, pride of business, pride of self and pride in her unique style of hospitality makes Lynn and Queenies Roadhouse Café a very special place to exercise one’s own pride. For more information, please visit www.queeniesroadhousecafe.com. Business hours are Thursday through Monday 8am to 3pm.

Queenies Roadhouse Café
6061 Highway 1
Elk, California 95432
(707) 877-3285





Review: Contemplating the flight of birds at The Griffin House Inn by Hairy Putter

11 06 2013

One of the things that makes my job as Director of Barketing for Mendocino County such fun is how fortunate I am to get to try many different lodging and dining experiences. Then in turn, I get the enviable task of sharing these tail-wagging adventures with you in the hope that you will get the opportunity to bring along the uprights and enjoy a play day or two with us in Mendocino County. Each property I review offers a unique experience for furry guests. For my latest review I got to stay once again in one of my favorite towns, Elk, as it is known in present day; to the locals of days past, Greenwood is the name that still resonates.

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Great view from the bed!

Elk/Greenwood has a rich and varied history celebrated and honored by The Griffin House Inn. The Inn is a colorful and intricate part of the Elk/Greenwood community and has hosted everyone from hippies to yuppies (If anyone is familiar with the 60s musical group ‘Cat’s Meow’, they were frequent guests). I don’t particularly care for felines, but I am very curious about the group’s name and on my visit I did see a couple of the four legged variety patrolling the grounds. Each of the eight well-appointed and cozy cottages is named after a prominent historical individual or family that have (and still) contribute to the development and lively history of the town. The three ocean view cottages offer guests an intimate encounter with the dramatic splendor of the Elk Coast. Perched on what I can only describe as the ‘edge of the earth’ our cottage, The Matson, has an unobstructed view of the naturally carved arches that have formed over the centuries into the giant rock formations that lie just off the private cove below. Remnants of the wooden trestles that carried the trains full of lumber precariously out onto the giant rocks and then on to the waiting schooners off shore are still visible.

From the moment you step inside the cottage and feast your eyes on the vista before you and step out onto the deck, real time will cease to matter. Relaxation, contemplation and quality time with each other, individually and/or with your furry friend(s) immediately begins. As my dads continued unloading the car and getting us settled into the cottage, I stayed out on the deck and jumped up and made immediate use of the Adirondack chairs to get some rays and enjoy the feel of the ocean breeze blowing through my fur.

With no in-room TV or phone to distract, the only sounds that fill the air is the comforting rhythm of the waves marking their arrival on land and the occasional call of birds. Wood-slatted privacy screens separate the cottages but do not obstruct the views. The comfortable Adirondack chairs with their footstools are perfect for lounging and contemplating the beauty before you. A variety of books and games have been thoughtfully supplied inside the cottage and heat comes from a faux wood gas fire in the main space and a portable radiator located in the bathroom. Wi-Fi is available in the cottages and Bridget Dolan’s Pub, which is part of The Griffin House Inn, serves, according to my dads, some good and tasty pub fare. There are a couple of tables for alfresco dining, weather permitting, but alas even though we had sun and clear blue skies, by the time the uprights where ready for dinner it was too cool to eat outside. Hopefully I will have an opportunity to tell you about a meal experience at Bridget Dolan’s in the not too distant future.

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Yummmm, bacon!!!

Upon check-in at the Griffin House Inn you will be asked if you have any dietary restrictions and if you prefer coffee, tea or hot chocolate in the morning and you are given a choice of times for breakfast delivery. The next morning about 30 minutes after the beverages were delivered a delicious homemade breakfast was brought to our room. Cranberry juice, fresh fruit along with two corn tortillas topped with fried eggs, sour cream, pico de gallo, avocado and my all-time favorite – BACON. After breakfast my dad took me for a walk. We walked to the Greenwood State Beach Museum and Visitors Center then followed the headlands north; I stopped plenty of times as there were lots of interesting smells. My dad did not seem to mind the interruptions as he was intent on photographing the stunning vistas and wild flowers that blanketed the headlands. We soon arrived at the Greenwood State Beach and traversed the path down to the beach. At the top of the path are picnic tables, restroom facilities and recycling/garbage cans. The path to the beach is wide and slopes gradually but it does cover some steep terrain. You surely will get your exercise coming back up. On the beach itself there are picnic tables and BBQ pits. Someone had made a wooden shelter from driftwood; I went inside, as it was cool and shady. Make sure your uprights bring some fresh water and a bowl to drink out of as the walk, the sea air and sunshine can make us thirsty. Also, don’t forget the poop bags for disposal, as there are none provided.

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Sunset from the deck

Since the weather was so beautiful my dads decided to pick up a picnic lunch from the Elk Store on our way back from the beach to enjoy on the deck at our cottage. At the Elk Store you can pick up a nice selection of everyday staples. They have everything you might need for a great picnic as well; a great selection of cheeses, deli meats, vegetables, homemade desserts, snacks and chips along with local wines, beers and sodas and they make delicious made to order sandwiches. They also carry some wonderful products made in Mendocino County, souvenirs and postcards.

For those who love history, Elk/Greenwood has an amazing, colorful and varied story to tell. Several books are available for purchase at The Elk Store and Greenwood State Beach Museum and Visitors Center that vividly recall the origins of the town back when the town had around 3500 residents in and around the area along with 10 hotels, 15 saloons, several dance halls, three general stores and several popular brothels.

After my walk and our satisfying lunch we all settled in for the afternoon basking in the feeling of tranquility that only true relaxation brings as we watched and listened to the gentle sounds of the ocean. My uprights read books, sipped wine and we all simply let the outside world fade into distant memory. We observed the birds as they passed so low and close to the cliff that we got a bird’s eye view of them for a change. I know that if my uprights had let me, I could have caught one; I just know it. Soon the afternoon faded to evening and the sky began its amazing kaleidoscope of color changes and we all watched transfixed. I was snugly wrapped up in my blanket curled contently in my upright’s lap watching a wonderful sunset on the edge of the world surrounded by love.

If your uprights are like mine, do you ever hear them lament how they wish they could stop the world and grasp a moment of silence? Sometimes all the noise of the world can drive one crazy, when all you can seem to hear is the cacophony of the instruments of 21st century life – that invasion of the senses that emits continually from every kind of electronic device – stop it in its tracks! Stay at the Griffin House Inn cottages, where you can finally switch it all off and hear only the symphony of the ocean and the a cappella choral sounds of sea birds as they glide by while you relax and, like me, contemplate the flight of birds.

Please visit www.griffininn.com for further information.

Griffin House Inn
5910 South Highway 1
P O Box 190
Elk, California 95432
(707) 877-3422





Review: Canines & Cocktails by Hairy Putter

28 05 2013

With “Canine and Cocktails” St. Orres shakes up Yappy Hour on the Coast

Recently I had the good fortune to revisit one of my favorite places on the South Coast of Mendocino County, St. Orres Hotel and Restaurant located just north of the town of Gualala. I was there to sniff out a new and exciting concept that Co-owner and Executive Chef extraordinaire Rosemary Campiformio has introduced at this wonderfully pet friendly architectural treasure. Having four adorable four-legged companions of her own who are the unofficial guest greeters, Rosemary and her brood have lots of canine and upright friends so Rosemary thought — let’s create a space where we can all come to relax and partake in some social fun. Canine and Cocktails happens daily in and around the newly remodeled bar area and al fresco settings, however you certainly don’t have to be a canine or have one as part of your family to enjoy and experience the wonderful food and hospitality of St. Orres.  StOrres

The Seaside Bar features a bar and light fare menu of delicious and delectable small plate offerings to tempt and arouse the senses. These new offerings are equal in imagination and execution to the highly lauded regular menu. Rosemary uses only the freshest local and seasonal ingredients which are always exquisitely presented which has made dining at St. Orre’s a culinary must for years for locals and visitors alike. For a full review of St. Orres and all my other reviews please visit me at www.hairysblog.com.

With Canine and Cocktails, Rosemary has created a selection of mouthwatering morsels that uprights and canines can really sink our slobber chops into. To get your noses twitching I will tell you a little about what I got to sample; I began with an order of the Wild Boar Tacos (hold the jalapeños and lettuce). Two petite white corn tortillas were piled high with flavorfully marinated cooked wild boar, with its juices soaking temptingly into the tortilla. I had no trouble devouring it contentedly, much to the amusement of Lupe (Tender of the Bar and excellent Martini Maker, more on that later) who had never seen a dog eat a tortilla off his own silverware before. Continuing the Mexican theme my uprights ordered the Chili Relleño with spicy Roasted Tomato Salsa, one of my uprights took one bite and said, “Oh my, I have just been transported South of the Border,” as he rolled his eyes and smiled with that look of pure contentment that I know too well. He looked kind of like me whenever food or one of my collars and leashes appear. He was kind enough to give me a taste. I especially liked the elasticity of the cheese filling, I even got some of it caught in my whiskers, but I was soon able to lick that off. Next we switched continents and ordered the Lasagna with Meat and the Wild Mushroom Ravioli. Bellissimo! and other such Italian accolades were said as I concentrated intently between these snippets of upright speak and savored the creamy tomato sauce and morsels of ground meat layered enticingly between tasty homemade lasagna noodles, a love song to Italy is this dish. The good-sized house made ravioli are filled with a delectable mixture of chopped local wild mushrooms and herbs and are presented in a sumptuous cream sauce and topped with a selection of perfectly cooked wild mushrooms to complete this elegant and flavorful dish. The house made individual herb breads are just perfect for dipping in the delicious sauces. For some reason the uprights use this as a way to clean a dish; me, I have a very long tongue that can work very well, but I did not mind being unable to use it as the soaked bread tidbits that came my way did just as good a job.

Hairy And Basil Martini

Do you think my dads would let me have a taste?

When we first arrived, Rosemary brought one of her four-legged children, Honey Bunch, to meet me and we spent several minutes getting to know each other while the uprights discussed cocktails and wine with Lupe the Bartender, finally deciding on Lupe’s recommendation of her signature Basil Gin Martini. My uprights paid a lot of attention to what she was doing and from the moans and groans coming from them when they took a sip I am guessing it was a hit. I as usual stuck to H2O.

The glass doors in the solarium, which is part of the Seaside Bar, open up to the grounds and this creates a great opportunity to bring the outdoors in; additional bar seating is also offered on the front deck, weather permitting.

Canines and Cocktails is a perfect way to spend an hour or two with fellow uprights and four-legged companions in a magical setting, enjoying exquisite food and tasty drinks in a mellow and beautiful place. When you go, tell them Hairy recommends St. Orres.

St. Orres
www.saintorres.com
Gualala, CA 95445
Dining Reservations: 707-884-3335





Review: Elk Cove Inn by Hairy Putter

15 03 2013

There is just something about Elk:
A Weekend at the Elk Cove Inn & Spa

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It is with lots of happy yapping that I get to share with you my latest review. Elaine Bryant, the owner of one of Mendocino County’s most historic and treasured inns contacted me to share the news that she had recently made ‘The Hideaway’ a pet friendly room at the Elk Cove Inn and Spa. She extended an invitation for me to come and experience the inn along with my two uprights and I had a feeling we were going to be in for something special. The Elk Cove Inn and Spa began life as a private residence. Built in 1883 by the L.E. White Lumber Co. as the home of the mill’s superintendent, the Craftsman style main house and later additional adjacent buildings are perched high above Greenwood State Beach and are nestled snugly on the side of a cliff overlooking the dramatic rocks and shoreline. All the buildings including the iconic and picturesque Victorian gazebo, (a truly romantic setting suitable for the most magical moments such as a wedding) are majestically situated overlooking the coastline. The ambiance of the Elk Cove Inn invites you to step back from the everyday and simply relish time in the pleasures of relaxation, where gloriously idle moments spent observing the striking landscape and the serenity of being one with nature will reenergize and rejuvenate you. Add a spa treatment or two to your stay and you will feel reborn. All rooms (except The Hideaway) have uninterrupted ocean views so as Mother Nature works her magic you have a front row seat for the show. You can be witness to spectacular storms and romantic sunsets with their constantly changing range of colors that traverse all the drama and hues that artists have ever captured. Add delicious food, complimentary cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, a welcome basket with house-made cookies, wine and fruit along with port and chocolates for a decadent nightcap and you have yourself a series of indulgences one can get used to.On arrival my dads checked us in at reception in the main house. The reception area also has a nice sample of postcards of the inn and area, Elk Cove Inn keepsakes and local wares for sale. Patty, the innkeeper on duty was very welcoming and gave my dads an orientation to the property including the times for the cocktail hour and breakfast, the location of the private access to the beach (dogs are permitted on leash) and the procedure for booking spa treatments. Patty then presented my dads with the welcome basket and a copy of the pet rules for them to read, acknowledge and sign. Patty then escorted us to our room.

View from the back of the inn

View from the back of the inn

The Hideaway evokes its name perfectly, a cozy space with a well-appointed bathroom that has a large walk in shower complete with multiple showerheads. The main room has a king bed and love seat (a courtesy sheet is provided for covering the comforter on the bed for those of us furry family members that are allowed on the bed). The room includes a coffee maker, small refrigerator, microwave, large flat screen TV with Direct TV and free Wi-Fi. A nice mix of antique pieces and modern touches meld together harmoniously. Little things like the tissue on the top of the box that was turned into a delicate paper tissue rose and the small vases of local flowers picked fresh from the gardens delight the eye. There is a heater in the main room and a radiator to make the bathroom toasty and after a luxurious shower you can wrap yourself in soft, warm comfort with the luxurious terry robes. The room benefits greatly from having high ceilings and plenty of natural light is provided by several skylights. If you open the window in the bathroom the sounds of the ocean’s music will soothe and inspire. Housekeeping had thoughtfully placed a mat and bowl of fresh cool water for me in the bathroom, so I immediately took a nice long drink. I am glad it didn’t take my dads long to get settled as this canine was anxious to go to the beach.

The Elk Cove Inn is surrounded by grounds that are both ornamental and practical. Herb and vegetable gardens meld with native flowering trees, shrubs and flora which present the senses with a pleasant color palate of sights and smells. Being safely leashed, remember we are on a steep cliff, my dads and I spent wonderful quality time together walking the grounds. Access to the beach from the inn is by a narrow and sturdy stairway off the front garden that zigzags the cliff, I had great fun traversing it. The beach is full of interesting drift wood and benches and fire circles are nestled among the huge logs. These are great spots for sitting and soaking up the rugged beauty of the cove while scanning the ocean for bird and marine life. Of course I found plenty of smells to keep me very occupied and intrigued.

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View of the inn from Greenwood State Beach

Because food service takes place in the main house, I wasn’t allowed in as I am not a registered service dog (- my dads are working with me on that.) The weather on the Mendocino Coast is temperate so sitting in the car with a cracked window or two for the short time while my dads ate; looking at the magnificent view was not an imposition. My dads later regaled me with stories of the cocktail hour and breakfast. From 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm in the main house a selection of complimentary soft drinks, liquor and accoutrements for making your own cocktails along with a variety of wines and cheese are served for your enjoyment. You are free to take your drinks back to your room, stay and enjoy them in the dining room with its large picture windows that frame the dramatic ocean view perfectly or enjoy them at one of the many intimate seating areas dotted throughout the property. I especially enjoyed sitting on my dad’s lap in an Adirondack chair as we shared in the simple enjoyment of staring contentedly at the stunning view.

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Part of the morning breakfast offering

Breakfast is served in the main house from 8:30 am to 10:00 am and what a spread. My dads delighted in telling  me about some the delicious and delectable offerings: house-made corned beef hash topped with poached eggs, baked polenta with a roasted tomato sauce, cinnamon glazed apples, bread pudding with walnut whiskey sauce, fresh sliced tomatoes drizzled with infused olive oil and fresh herbs, deviled eggs, cereals, oatmeal and trimmings, fresh fruit salad, French toast with warm strawberries for a topping, a selection of fresh baked pastries and my favorite – sausages ( my dads brought me a morsel of those to try). Along with a great selection of fresh juices, tea, coffee and complimentary champagne you have a terrific and varied breakfast of champions to start your day. Each morning new items appear as well as favorites like the Morning Pie made from cottage cheese and oranges, similar in style and texture of cheesecake this is a regular guest must have. In fact, many of the recipes at the Elk Cove Inn are so popular with guests that upon check out you are presented with a booklet of them to take with you so you can recreate some of the Elk Cove breakfast experience at home.

Great sunsets!!

Great sunsets!!

With full stomachs you will be ready to start the day exploring the historic and charming village of Elk and the surrounding area. A short distance by path from the Inn will take you into Elk where several restaurants, village store, post office, art gallery, garden store and beautiful Victorian architecture are yours to discover and savor. The Elk Cove Inn and Spa is ideally located for exploring the Mendocino Coast: to the south is Point Arena, with its open to the public historic and working lighthouse and B. Bryan Preserve, the 100 acre home to various species of endangered animals such as giraffes, zebras and three different types of antelope, where tours are offered. The famous Bowling Ball Beach is one and a half miles from the Inn and can be accessed by path from the Inn, but check for the low tide as that is the only way to really see and appreciate this natural wonder to its full effect. Manchester State Park is a little further south as are the coastal towns of Anchor Bay and Gualala with its innovative and superb art community situated on the Mendocino/Sonoma County border. A few miles north of Elk is Highway 128, the gateway to Anderson Valley and home to dozens of Mendocino County’s premiere wineries and breweries. If you want to explore the giant redwoods Hendy Woods State Park in Philo is the place. To the north Van Damme State Park in Little River and the village of Mendocino, which is an authentically preserved Victorian coastal village and the City of Fort Bragg, home to the world famous Skunk Train and Glass Beach, are all in easy driving distance of the Elk Cove Inn.

Green State Beach Visitor Center Museum

Green State Beach Visitor Center Museum

Elk has a varied and fascinating history and the Elk Museum (open seasonally) is a must stop to learn more about the important and exciting history of this charming town with two names: Greenwood and Elk. Elk village has a delightful array of charming historic buildings, also explore the hill top graveyards at Cuffey’s Cove, grab a bite of lunch at the world famous Queenie’s Roadhouse Café or pick up picnic supplies and a delicious made-to-order sandwich from the Elk Store. The Bridget Dolan Pub offers excellent traditional pub fare and for a special local’s insider experience – any Friday or Saturday evening, have a drink at the hilltop Beacon Light Bar by the Sea overlooking the dramatic coastline. It is one of a kind.

For a complete description of the Inn, its 15 guest rooms and suites please visit www.elkcoveinn.com. A visit to Elk conjures up delightful imaginings of days gone past, this idyllic coastal hill top village and the exquisite hospitality and ambiance of the Elk Cove Inn and Spa offer the visitor a truly satisfying get away from the fast pace of everyday life.

Happy Tail Wagging Travels,

Hairy Putter

Elk Cove Inn
6300 Highway 1
Elk, California 95432
(707) 877-3321





Review: The Whale Watch Inn at Anchor Bay on Mendocino’s South Coast by Hairy Putter

9 01 2013

Regular readers of my blog know that I always keep my eyes open and my ears up for signs that a road trip is imminent. Well let’s just say that the other day when my dads began bringing the camera and video equipment out, my curiosity was piqued. I felt compelled to keep close to them, as the to-and-fro of equipment packing proceeded from room to room. There were mutterings about “under my feet” or some such blather between the uprights; I did my best to ignore it and then their overnight bag was placed on the bed! Now this was a good sign. I quickly jumped up on the bed and sat almost on top of the bag, just as a gentle reminder! Thank goodness, it was only a short time before my case appeared and as familiar items were packed, I mentally checked them off. Oh, yes I do remember there being lots of discussion and angst over why only one travel bowl could be located. I used to have a matched set, one for food, one for water. Well, apparently not anymore! Finally, the car was packed, I was called to have my harness put on, we loaded up and off we went.

Whale Watch Inn

Whale Watch Inn

It transpires that I had received an invitation from The Whale Watch Inn to come and experience their hospitality. The Inn was formerly a private residence that has through the years expanded to include 18 uniquely decorated and appointed guest rooms and suites. The owners still maintain a residence on the property. The Inn has been managed for the past 15 years by a delightful woman named Gretchen. The Whale Watch Inn is comprised of several buildings nestled discreetly throughout the grounds. It sits on two private acres perched on the high bluffs at Anchor Bay near the town of Gualala on the picturesque southern Mendocino County Coast. The Whale Watch Inn has its own beach access with commanding views of the rugged coastline. With its pristine sandy beaches, it is aptly named. The unobstructed Pacific Ocean view makes it an ideal spot for watching marine life especially when the whales swim by.

When we arrived, I was greeted by Gretchen who immediately bent down to give my head and ears a rub. She asked my dads if I had my own travel items: bed, blanket, towels and bowls because if not, the Inn is happy to provide them. Well my dads took advantage and said that I would appreciate them all. We were all very impressed that such amenities were available. I do travel, as many canines do, with some personal items such as my favorite blanket, a handy towel and dog bowl(s) (see first paragraph for that tale) but often one forgets things and it is great that the Whale Watch Inn thinks to provide them. Disposable bags were also offered; very pet welcoming indeed. Gretchen said that our room was still being prepared but she would gladly take us on a tour of the grounds while we had daylight left. Gretchen said that she had something special to show us and as we followed her along the paths that connect the various buildings, we got to experience the lovely landscaping of the grounds. Shortly we arrived at an area that had a brand new chest high (on an upright) wooden fence which enclosed a generous area that she presented as the soon-to-be-completed off leash dog run. Yeah, my ears pricked up and my tail wagged furiously at those words. Gretchen said they were waiting for the finishing touches: a disposable bag dispenser, seating for the uprights and guess what my canine friends, it will have its very own water feature. My uprights chatted with her about other Mendocino County inns and businesses that have or are beginning to include off leash pet areas and what a wonderful amenity to have. Pets and their uprights appreciate and value an establishment that provides a safe and social place like an off leash play area for us.

ViewAs I mentioned earlier the Whale Watch Inn has its own beach access by way of stairs that meander their way down the cliff. It is steep in areas but if you are able, well worth the trek as at the bottom a wondrous sandy beach, tide pools, waterfall and small rocks provide great smells and walking adventures. We went a little way down to several of various decks, took in the panoramic views and breathed in the fresh clean sea air. Throughout the Inn’s grounds are benches and places to sit where one can enjoy the sights and smells of the gardens and spectacular ocean views. Gretchen also gave us a tour of the Whale Watch Room; this common area, multi-functional space with features such as full kitchen, walk around fireplace, multiple seating areas, telescopes, games, books and again spectacular ocean views is perfect for special events, meetings, weddings and gatherings.

On our return to the main building Gretchen offered my dads a complimentary glass of wine which they enjoyed by the fire in the lobby area looking out the picture window and savoring the view. I took this opportunity to lie down on the hearthrug to feel the pleasant heat of the burning wood warm my fur. Twenty-four hour complementary tea and coffee is available for guests in the main building and there is boutique collection of merchandise for sale in the gift area too. Our room was now ready and Gretchen kindly showed us to it. When I entered, I was very intrigued as there was a very strange structure in the room that went all the way to the top and disappeared into an opening in the ceiling. One of my dads began to climb this structure and I followed and got confused as I could see between the stairs, my other dad and Gretchen. For a moment I wasn’t sure what to do, go further up or go down, then all the uprights laughed as I raced back down then up again half way, then down again, then up a little further until my curiosity got the better of me and I just had to find out what was at the top and wow! There was a swimming pool, well it was a Jacuzzi tub, but to me it looked like a gigantic pool. I put my paws up on the ledge to check it out but it seemed along way down. It was all very exciting and I raced back down. Apparently, this is what uprights call a spiral staircase and for the rest of my stay I navigated it like a pro.

Upstairs jacuzzi tub

Upstairs jacuzzi tub

Underneath the spiral staircase a lovely comfy doggie day bed, fluffy towel and blanket had been set up for me along with a placemat and two shiny metal bowls, one filled with fresh water. Forgetting the strange structure for a moment, I went over to the items and gave them a good hard sniff. Then took a big drink of water and jumped right into the bed. Before Gretchen left us to settle in she asked what time would we like breakfast, did we have any dietary issues and would the uprights like tea or coffee with breakfast. While my dad’s began unpacking, I took the opportunity to hang out on our private deck and watch the ocean traffic, pelicans flying in perfect formation, sea gulls squawking their cries for food and the odd ship far out to sea.

Pleasant music is piped into the guest rooms and a control for volume allows you to regulate its impact. We found the selections played very soothing and relaxing. There are no phones or televisions in the rooms and with such views, why would you need them? Free wireless is available throughout the Inn, so communicating with the outside world or catching up with your favorite show is always available if you have the right portable electronic viewing devices. There was a small refrigerator and icemaker in the one of the two bathrooms that was very handy for storing my FreshPet travel meal. We spent some time drinking wine on our deck and reading about the area from the visitor’s guide provided. We checked out the in-room menu that offers guests a choice of a snack basket, dessert basket, or a cheese, crackers and dried fruit plate as well as modest selection of local wines and beers at very reasonable prices. The Inn staff is very helpful in suggesting dining choices in the area and will gladly make reservations for you. As we all sat on the deck drinking in the view, the sunset, the wine and the soothing sounds of the waves as they hit land, we all felt completely relaxed. The Whale Watch Inn is aptly named for if the whales were out you would surely be able to spot them.

As dusk fell around us, it was time to think about food. Well, I do that all the time but the uprights for some reason don’t always seem as preoccupied with the subject as I. My FreshPet meals are so convenient especially when I travel I can pick them up at most grocery stores in a special refrigerated section. They are made in the USA from all-natural ingredients and are very nutritious and delicious. My dads decided to go into Gualala to eat some BBQ at Bones Roadhouse for their dinner. I have to say that while I had to remain in the car with the smell of smoking meat drifting my way I could only think that this is doggie torture and should be stopped; please Bones, get some outside tables so a canine gourmet such as moi can join in the paw-licking feast.

When we returned to the Inn, it was dark but the lighted pathways make an evening walk safe and visible. Soon my dad had a nice fire going in the room and my dads both sat in the easy chairs. I sat in my dad’s lap and we all savored the tranquility of the moment as we watched the flames of the fire do their dance. It was then that we noticed the personalized handwritten welcome card from the inn staff and the courtesy chocolates, which my dad soon indulged in. I made do with one of my healthy treats as chocolate is not good for dogs. Soon it was time for sleep and we all slept very well.

Breakfast_2I woke up bright and early ready for an adventurous day. After my morning constitutional one of my dads decided to go and try out the Jacuzzi tub. He was gone for quite a while; I went up the spiral staircase with confidence and checked on him periodically. When he did finally came down it wasn’t too long before there was a knock at the door and a tray was brought in that carried with it an incredibly delicious odor. Yeah, breakfast had arrived. I became very excited and jumped into a chair to inspect its contents. Soon we were all tucking in to a delicious breakfast. The uprights continued taking pictures and video throughout our stay and after one more trek around the grounds, we packed up the car and said very sincere thank you and goodbye to Gretchen and her staff. Everyone at the Whale Watch Inn was delightful, helpful, attentive and friendly. Four legged guests are treated with the same thoughtfulness, courtesy and respect as upright guests. A stay at the Whale Watch Inn is wonderful any time of year and I can’t wait to go back when the whales are passing by.

Whale Watch Inn
35100 Highway 1
Gualala, California 95445
1-800-WHALE-4-2
www.WhaleWatchInn.com





Review: The Beachcomber Motel by Hairy Putter

30 11 2012

Fort Bragg experienced an unusually warm Indian summer this November so I decided to take advantage of the weather and stay at the Beachcomber Motel. Oh, I should mention that it was election night and my dads were, shall we say tense, especially as my dads gave up regular TV several months ago. So staying at the Beachcomber meant they could watch the coverage in style and if the results were not what they would have liked, they had the incredible coastal view to savor as they pondered the future.

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View From Our Room

So out came my overnight bag and all my accoutrements, bowls, treats, toys and bedding, which pleased me very much. In no time I was packed and ready to go. However my dads’ packing is a whole other story. I can attest to there being only one overnight bag between the two, however, there was also, the cameras (still and video), lighting units, light reflectors, microphones, iPad, laptop, iPod and human only knows what. Did I mention that we were literally going down the street? I could have walked to the Beachcomber Motel faster than they packed and loaded the car.

Finally, we arrived and when one of my dads went into the front office to check in, I hopped up on the console in between the driver and passenger seats, my usual pilot perch and watched intently. Soon he was back with key in hand along with a Welcome Bag for me. Inside were a courtesy towel and a sheet (return or leave in the room upon check out) for covering the bed and furniture and a copy of the Beachcomber Motel Pet Guidelines. Wow! There was even a copy of my Pet Friendly Mendocino Travel Guide, but most important – there were treats.

Soon we settled into our wonderfully spacious room where I discovered the sliding glass doors and the unobstructed and breathtaking ocean view. My dads opened the doors and out I popped and what a great surprise on the balcony next to mine!Neighbor There was a chatty Jack Russell. We exchanged tail wags and some verbal banter, however I think we got a little too boisterous as the uprights distracted me and back into the room I went. Not long afterwards, another canine neighbor appeared on the deck and now I had two pals to hang out with. Then there was a knock at the door, woof, we had a visitor – it was time for my appointment. After I sniffed, tail wagged and accepted the head rubs from this visitor, I was soon picked up by my dad and placed on the bed, which they covered with the sheet provided at check-in. The visitor was named Aaron and he began to gently rub and stroke me, oh it felt so good, I soon became very relaxed and he used his fingers to knead my paws, my legs, my back, my tummy and in fact he massaged me from head to paws and I was soon putty in his hands. There I was lying on a comfy bed with the soothing sounds of the ocean in the background and with the magic touch of an upright’s soothing hands; I was truly in doggie paradise. The Beachcomber has a spa as well as various treatments for uprights. At the spa they offer in guest room pet massages. Pet massage is as beneficial for us furry family members as it is for uprights and the prices are very reasonable. Is a pet massage not the coolest thing ever?

After I woke up from my massage, another adventure awaited me, a romp on the beach. The Beachcomber is right on the ocean and a walking/biking path is right outside. It hugs the dramatic and amazing coastline for miles. A whole lot of canine socializing happens along the Haul Road as it is affectionately called. We need to be on a leash but we have miles of headlands to explore and with all its wonderful smells it gives us plenty of opportunities to make our mark. When I got back, the pet towel the Beachcomber provided was very handy for wiping off my sandy paws.

View from my room

View from my room

As the sun began to set the uprights poured themselves some wine and we all sat out on the deck and enjoyed the amazing sight of the sun saying a spectacular goodnight by giving us a brilliant show of amazing color. By then I knew it was time for dinner. Usually my dads pack all my food to take when we travel, but recently they have discovered a range of wonderful readymade meals. So earlier my dads had gone to the local Safeway where they sell the delicious brand of healthy and nutritious dog food, Freshpet. These meals and snacks make eating on the go easy and healthy. After a satisfying meal of lamb in gravy with vegetables, we left the Beachcomber so my dads could have their dinner. They chose to eat a little north of Fort Bragg in Cleone at The Purple Rose, a favorite local Mexican restaurant. Even though we four-legged gourmets are unable to dine at this restaurant (no outside dining available) it was comfortable enough for me to stay in the car with the windows cracked and my dads parked so that I had a great view of the diners. With well over twenty different brands of tequila to choose from for making margaritas and some tasty food, they seemed very happy with their evening too. Disclaimer, they did not try all of the tequila brands, well, not in one night.

After we got back to the Beachcomber, I had another adventure; I sensed and smelled cat. Well, I took my dad on a reconnaissance of the area to investigate. It was dark but my nose is my eyes and I could “see” clearly. I soon found the cat basking in the moon’s glow on the stairs leading to my room. I wanted to play chase but my dad was not so eager and I was reluctantly steered in another direction. Let’s just say I spent most of the night in front of the patio doors keeping sentry duty. After a couple of occasions of waking the uprights with demands to go out and then using that time to go cat hunting, when I tried a third time my request was not met with the usual enthusiasm. In fact, I was not taken out again until dawn. Uprights have no sense of canine priorities!
Your stay at The Beachcomber Motel includes a continental breakfast that is served in the lobby. Guests are asked to adhere to the policy of no pets in a food serving area out of respect to the other guests. If the weather is amiable, we can accompany the uprights and sit at an outside table or you can take your breakfast back to your room or enjoy it on the Captain’s Deck while looking at the magnificent ocean view. After breakfast, my dad Alan was booked in for a massage and I got to hang out with my other dad in our room where I curled up on the comfy bed and watched the roundup of the previous evening’s election coverage. When my dad returned he had this wonderful sense of peace and tranquility about him, rather like moi after my massage.

The Beachcomber has a variety of different accommodations and room types priced for all budgets. It truly is pet friendly affordable luxury on the beach. For more information please visit: www.thebeachcombermotel.com.

Hairy

Beachcomber Motel
1111 North Main Street
Fort Bragg, California 95437
1-800-400-SURF





Review: A Coast Getaway Adventure by Hairy Putter

19 09 2012

As many of my regular readers already know, I love a road trip. So you can imagine my delight when the other day while taking my “after morning treats” nap, I was roused by my overnight bag being placed beside me on the bed. Then to my delight, the uprights began packing some of my favorite things, travel bowls, food, grooming supplies and most importantly treat; yum, did I mention they were packing treats?

It wasn’t long before they were loading up the car; I feel compelled to accompany the uprights in this task just to make sure that my bag is not left behind. It has never happened before but a canine can never take the chance, so I feel it best to monitor the process and make sure the uprights know that I am around. They often refer to it as “getting under their feet,” I think of it as a kindly reminder of my continued inclusion. Soon the call for me to get my harness on was issued and we were off. Now usually my overnight bag indicates a long time traveling in the car, so I prepared myself by turning round and round on the back seat making sure the blankets were positioned just right (my uprights refer to this as nesting). I was beginning to get settled, then no sooner had I closed my eyes, (my ears always remain perked) we stopped and I heard the words, “Hairy we’re here, out you go.” What? Had I slept longer than I thought? Boy that was no travel time at all.

Wow, what was this? Were we visiting some friends’ home that I had not been to before? As I got out of the car and sniffed, I smelt ocean, pine trees and yes, the ever-present hint of those annoying squirrels. What was this, no leash? Usually before I exit the car I have to have my leash attached; instead, I was loose and fancy free. The uprights began unloading the car and there it was, my bag being carried down the steps towards this unfamiliar house. Eager as I was to go explore, I felt it best to follow the bag, well it does have treats in it and there is always the chance that if I stick close by I will get one. Once inside the house, I forgot about the treats and I began a thorough search for other occupants and scents that might give me a clue as to who we were visiting.

Once we were all in the house, I completed my search, and for the life of me, I found no familiar upright smells. My dad’s gathered in front of this enormous window and then suddenly the window began to move. I jumped back and looked from side to side as the window began to fold and soon the whole side of the house opened up and the uprights walked outside. Well, as one not to be left behind, I stepped outside. Wow, what a view! Before us was an incredible panoramic view of river meeting ocean, tall jagged rocks and the unmistakable sound of water rolling onto sand. I soon made use of the time outside to mark my presence for those pesky squirrels and began a thorough reconnaissance.

Soon the uprights were unpacking and putting things away. Then all of a sudden the window wall was closed back up and we were heading out the door back to the car. Wow, where to now, we had no luggage! In a short time, the car stopped and I raised my head to look out the window and I recognized that we were in front of Mendosa’s grocery store in the Village of Mendocino. Wired, what were we doing here? Soon the uprights returned to the car with bags of groceries and we set off again. Back at the house overlooking the ocean, with the window wall once more opened and the uprights and I enjoying the view it was explained to me why we had come only such a short distance.

Enjoying the view

It seems that my good friends at Coast Getaways had invited me to come and stay at one of the beautiful homes they manage. These private homes are called vacation rentals and these exclusive homes are a wonderful getaway option for visitors. In fact, my uprights kept referring to them as “a home away from home.” Some of these homes allow four legged family members to stay in them like the one I am reviewing for you now. Most of the homes offer exclusive views, privacy and upscale amenities. The home we stayed in had a couple of things I had never seen before. Apparently the room that smelt like pine trees but had no pesky squirrel scent is called a sauna and outside was a big tub of water that came to life with jets of bubbling water, the uprights referred to this as a Jacuzzi. Usually I love water but this tub reminded me too much of bath time and I stayed a good nose length away. In fact there was a bench next to the Jacuzzi that was perfect for me to lie on. From this perch, I could see everything and stay dry. Uprights sure like water and there was another big tub that holds water in one of the bedrooms that also looked out over the stunning views of the Navarro River meeting the Pacific Ocean. I had my bowls set out, toys and favorite throw on the couch and my uprights close by, with the sun streaming into the living area from the window that moved, I really felt at home in my home away from home.

One of the benefits of being on the coast for four legged inhabitants and visitors is that the weather seldom gets above 70˚ and rarely below 50˚ during daylight hours. This allows us to remain in a vehicle, with the windows cracked of course, on those rare times when it is more suitable for us to remain safely inside. The first evening of our vacation stay my dad’s had an anniversary and birthday to celebrate; they decided to go to a restaurant called the Ledford House in Albion that was nearby. I had had a very busy afternoon exploring the property and did not mind having a siesta in the car; I also knew that when they came back there would be something yummy for me to try. They did not disappoint, and brought me a delicious morsel of duck liver paté. On our return from the restaurant the uprights could not stop talking about their meal and by all accounts it was a great success. When the uprights talk about food in such excited tones I know that they had a great time, they kept referring to the meal as “exquisite morsels of utopia on a plate.”

Once we were back at our home away from home, the uprights took advantage of the facilities and enjoyed a sauna and Jacuzzi. Later they lit a fire and we all snuggled up on the couch to enjoy a very peaceful and relaxing evening together. The house had everything, books, games, flat screen TVs, DVD player and a selection of movies just to name a few of the amenities. The following morning after a night of pleasant dreams where I chased pesky squirrels, I awoke to the familiar and comforting smells of sausage and eggs. As an alternative to cooking, you could travel a few miles south and enjoy breakfast in Elk at Queenie’s Roadhouse Grill with its alfresco dining patio or head north a few miles to Little River and enjoy the traditional family hospitality of the Little River Inn and savor their renowned breakfasts. Doggie parlor dining is available at the Little River Inn, so if you go, let them know if you will be joining the uprights for breakfast. The house we were staying in was close to Highway 128 and this scenic road takes you on a magical trip through redwood forests to the beautiful wine region of Anderson Valley with its quaint small towns and excellent pet friendly winery tasting rooms.

The master bedroom

After breakfast we all piled back in the car and spent time exploring Navarro Beach, although not an off leash beach, it is full of wonderful driftwood and golden sand. Then the uprights had great fun choosing items to cook that evening at the well-stocked Albion Village Store. They told me that some dear friends were coming over in the evening for a visit and to have dinner with us. As many of you are aware, my uprights love to cook and entertain and the challenge they set themselves was to create and serve a gourmet meal using only the cooking and serving items that were available. Once back at the vacation rental the uprights opened the window wall and we all spent time relaxing in the sun on the comfortable patio furniture.

Once our guests arrived, we spent time together watching the sun set over the magnificent view, laughing, nibbling on cheese (another favorite of mine) and clinking glasses. I was up on a lap, chin and belly being rubbed, head and ears being patted and joining contentedly in the festivities, could a pooch feel anymore loved? The home had two outdoor grills but the uprights chose to prepare our dinner using the indoor cooking facilities. Dinner turned out wonderfully and the uprights had a fully stocked kitchen of pots, pans, dishes, glassware, linen and silverware to use.

So on our last night with fires lit, music playing, uprights chatting and tummies full I dozed contentedly and I can’t wait to experience another “home away from home.” So next time your uprights contemplate a getaway, why not suggest a vacation home rental where families, couples and groups can share quality time together in magnificent settings, with complete privacy and luxury at very affordable rates. Vacation homes also make ideal special event locations and make celebrations that much more intimate and fun.

Well done Coast Getaways and thank you for the opportunity and fun, Hairy.

Coast Getaways
45061 Little Lake Street
Mendocino, California 95460
800-525-0049
coastgetaways.com





Review: McFadden Farm & Vineyard by Hairy Putter

16 08 2012

As Director of Barketing, for Mendocino County, I have the good fortune to meet some very interesting and visionary people who have wonderful insightful and enlightening stories. I want to share one story with you; Mr. Guinness McFadden and McFadden Farm illustrate perfectly why Mendocino County continues to inspire me and so many others.

Visiting the Tasting Room in Hopland

One of the truly remarkable aspects of Mendocino County is the diversity of its inhabitants and businesses. So many businesses excel in multiple endeavors and many have over time morphed into multifaceted enterprises. McFadden Farm and Vineyard is a wonderful example of how a rural business has expanded and developed without compromising its core principles. Guinness McFadden began farming sustainably and organically long before its current vogue. This was quite radical, especially at a time when growing produce and raising livestock humanely in pesticide/hormone free environments was the exception not the norm. Guinness has championed and pioneered natural farming techniques since he began farming. McFadden continues today to incorporate sustainability and biodynamic practices.

A native New Yorker and Notre Dame alumni, Guinness also served in the Navy and was honored with a Bronze Star for bravery in Vietnam. After attending Stanford Business School, he eventually fell in love with Potter Valley. Over the years, along with the raising of five children, he has built a well-respected and award-winning farm and winery. McFadden Farm, along with cattle farming and wine making, produces a variety of herbs for culinary and decorative use as well as producing its very own wild rice. This transition did not happen overnight. Guinness McFadden’s dedication to organic farming began over 40 years ago. To support his eco-friendly sustainable agricultural practices, he built a hydro-electric power plant in 1983, capable of powering 100 homes and in 2005 he installed solar panels to make the farm completely energy sufficient. For a fascinating and detailed history of Guinness and the McFadden Farm please visit www.mcfaddenfarm.com.

McFadden did not start producing its own wines until 2003; previously they supplied grapes to other local winemakers. Some of the outstanding varietals that McFadden produces and that are available to try and purchase are Chardonnay, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, McFadden Sparkling and the exclusive Coro wines (Coro Mendocino is a class of ultra-premium wines made to showcase the rich heritage and unique characteristics of Mendocino County).  

What a wonderful reception the uprights and I receive when we visit the McFadden Tasting room in Hopland CA. Although Guinness spends most of his time working the vineyards and farm with his long-time employees who are truly McFadden’s extended family, his surrogate is John Cesano the Tasting Room and Wine Club Manager for McFadden. John is the charismatic face and voice of the McFadden brand and boy does he do a great job. Whenever I drop in to see him to allow the uprights the opportunity to taste the delicious wines, John is always ready with a cool bowl of water and a yummy treat for me. Oh, plus the ear rubs, chin tickles along with plenty of attention that I receive. I have seen John in many situations from one-on-one interaction to juggling the huge crowds at one of the Hopland Passport events. He never ceases to amaze at his ability to give time, knowledge and hospitality constantly and to always make that individual feel that they are all that matters. John knows his stuff and has a great way of talking about a subject that doesn’t make you feel that you need to have taken a vintners course to understand all about winemaking. He makes wine and food fun to discuss and of course try.

Wine Club Members Picnic

Every year Guinness and the McFadden team put on the annual McFadden Farm wine club membership BBQ and this year I received an invitation to attend. It was a perfect summer day as we drove the very scenic drive to Potter Valley from Fort Bragg. When we pulled into the farm I was met by Mr. Guinness McFadden himself. He offered me a tour of the farm along with several scratches behind my ears (just how I like). I got to do another first, the transportation from the parking area to the picnic area was by tractor, so I got to sit on blanketed hay bales and ride through the farm and vineyards. At the picnic area, several McFadden Farm family dogs came by to say “hi” as did lots of uprights. More people arrived and over the next couple of hours the party atmosphere went into full gear and by twilight the buffet of delicious, tender tasty McFadden meats, farm fresh salads and artisan breads was served. Hal Wagnet, Mr. DJ extraordinaire, played a wide variety of music that had people up and dancing into the wee hours. The evening the uprights and I experienced was a quintessential Mendocino County farm to table meal event. Hope I get to participate again, yum yum.

Hopland is a great place to stop off and enjoy the wonderful hospitality of John Cesano and his great tasting room crew of McFadden Farm and Wines. Try their herbs and herb blends and wild rice. Try exceptional award winning wines at very competitive prices and consider joining the McFadden wine club for even more savings on all McFadden products. Oh, as you are getting your treat, don’t forget to tell them that Hairy sent you.

McFadden Vineyard Tasting Room
13275 S. Highway 101, Suite 5
Hopland, California
707.744.8463
www.mcfaddenfarm.com

 








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