Friday, November 23, 2012

Places We Escape To - A Guest Blog

Recently my cousin came for a visit (about time!).  This gave me a great opportunity to re-explore the area, seeing everything again from a new perspective.  Here are her thoughts on the experience, as a guest blogger.

Places We Escape To 

There are places we go to escape.  Sometimes it’s a friends house, sometimes a favorite store or restaurant, sometimes it’s into a book or movie or game.  One thing in common to all these things is that we do escape.  We go to recharge, to find sanctuary, or to ask for a time out from this frenzied game we all play called life.  This year, I got to add a new sanctuary to my list, and the experience of being there is definitely in my top ten things I’m thankful for this year.

For quite a few years now, ever since buying the place, my wonderful cousin has invited me to come and visit her at her lovely inn - Agate Cove Inn - in Mendocino, CA.  For just as long, I’ve visited her website, taking virtual 5 or 15 minute vacations in my head via the virtual tour and the webcam.  But, I always had to send my regrets, that no, I was so sorry, but I couldn’t come to visit.  

I had a lot of reasons, ranging from the very rational to the very silly - though the silly ones I kept to myself.  Among them, was the fear that this very lovely, warm hearted woman would, when faced with me for a period of 24 hrs or more, find some great lack in me.  You see, I only even found out about my cousin in 1998 and I live some 2000 miles or so away.  So opportunities to meet, get together or even hang out have been quite the rarity.  

Finally one day, she pinned me down on why I kept dodging her invitations.  After hearing out every single one very patiently - even the silly ones - she called me an idiot.  Very kindly, of course.  As a matter of fact, I can’t recall ever having heard so many sweet words manage to equal - in their distillation - “you’re an idiot.  You know that, right?”  And plans were begun for me to make the trip out to visit this year, provided I was allowed to pitch in and help out where I could.  My insistence, not hers.  Indeed, being allowed to do just that proved a rather ongoing battle while I was there - if a very sweet one.

ACI proved to be so much more than I had ever imagined or day dreamed that it could be.  Not only was I spoiled to an extent that I had to pinch myself at least once each day, because I was sure that I was going to wake up and find out I wasn’t really there.  I wasn’t spoiled just because of being related.  The same generous care and concern shown to me, I watched also lavished on every guest that crossed their front door.  

From the rooms that make you feel instantly at ease and restful, to the colorful gardens and grounds - with the sounds of the surf to put you to sleep if you leave your window cracked open.  I was amazed at the sense of peace and restorative energy of the place.  Whether I was sitting in one of the chairs on the front lawn watching the waves and the birds, playing with their delightful border collie, Nava,  being offered more varied and delicious food than I’ve ever eaten in my life - let alone on a regular basis, or getting to do a little here and there to help the one thing that remained the same was how very much I was enjoying myself.  

The area around the inn is a treat to explore as well.  From the massive redwood forests nearby, Glass Beach in Fort Bragg, downtown Mendocino, or even a hike of Headlands State Park - I found delight in it all.   And there truly is something for every skill level or activity preference.  

Coming home, I had to kick myself for all the times in the past that I had said no.  Visiting ACI was one of the best experiences I’ve had, not just in a long time, but ever.  And I can’t wait to return again.  Though, maybe this time I won’t have to fight so hard to be allowed to help out a little.  Ha, who am I kidding, I’ll probably have to fight harder!  

Biased as I may be, if you ever get the chance to go to Agate Cove Inn, you should do it.  The only thing you’ll regret is not having having done so earlier.  Well, that...and maybe that you can’t kidnap Laraine and Roger and have them cook for you at home! (But I do hear there’s a cookbook in the works - so that’s a decent second best.)