Monday, August 10, 2009

Painkillers With An Ocean View


I'm writing this (with primitive pen and paper) overlooking the incoming tide of the Mendocino coast. That background whisper isn't the electronically produced surf from my hypnosis tapes, but the honest-to-God rush of waves onto the beach in front of my unexpectedly plush hotel room in Gualala. (Thanks, Google!)

The five-hour drive from my home in the Sacramento Valley flatland was grueling and terrifying, but five minutes on this terrace are worth every long mile. (Well, except those 20 miles of corkscrew road behind the yuppies with the bikes on the back of their SUV that apparently can't go over 15 mph. Jesus!)

For most of my life, I lived ten miles from Monterey Bay, and except for a few friends left behind, the ocean is the one element I've missed with my move to Northern California. I don't miss the fog, the mold, the wind, the termites, the single month of anemic summer, the small-town attitude and big-time gang problems. But the surf, the sandbirds, gulls and the B52 pelican bombers... those I miss.

Unfortunately, when I made the spur-of-the-moment decision to spend the weekend on this part of the coast I'd never visited before, my Trick Knee decided all that rushing around to leave was a circus, and it performed its cutest trick to date.

I wish President O's largesse extended to "cash for clunker body parts" because I'd be first in line for a big, fat rebate for getting these old bones off the street. From my perspective, only my shins would survive the tow truck and crusher -- everything else would go.

By the time I arrived here, Trick Knee was frozen into accelerator position, as swollen as Obama's ego and damn near immobile.

There's been no walking on the beach for me, no art gallery browsing, no state park exploring, no wine tasting or restaurant grazing.

I figured out I could lean on a shopping cart and limp around the tiny local market, so the Dolly Parton of roasted chicken breasts has served for my lunch and dinner. Cereal and fruit are back on my menu (don't tell the South Beach doctor), and complimentary apple cider came with the room. (My room also came with a porn-sized spa in the bathroom, but Trick Knee only laughed. Sure I could have gotten in, but it would have taken a crane to get me out.)

In addition to Gideon in my nightstand drawer, there are two journals specific to my bungalow, filled with glowing memories of guests who have come to celebrate anniversarys, birthdays and other romantic milestones. I added Trick Knee to the roster.

Even though I brought my paints and the first chapter of a new book to edit, they stayed in the car. Gulls, pelicans and even a hawk have been performing a constant gratis air show about three feet off my balcony, and the sunset sky last night was as gussied up as a cheap hooker. Even the tide has arranged driftwood into perfect beachy feng shui.

It's not exactly the weekend I envisioned, but I'm left with my newly-filled prescription of pain pills, ice packs over and pillows under the Hindenburg knee joint, and the most gloriously peacful vacation I've ever known. So many vacations and weekend getaways are jam-packed with things to DO, instead of time to BE. Trick Knee may be, no IS, a pain, but its silver lining has been wonderful.

If you need a slice of peace to counteract a bellyful of stress, check out The Seacliff in Gualala. Two thumbs and a Trick Knee up!

I'm stopping now. The mint on my pillow beckons.

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