The Rich Life On a Budget

Little River Inn in Mendocino

Welcome to Rich Life Travel Friday!

This week, we continue exploring the Mendocino Coast in Northern California.



After we finished up our wonderful and satisfying breakfast at Brewery Gulch Inn, we packed up our things and went exploring.

The morning started off a little foggy but that didn’t stop these mustard fields from looking cheery and vibrant. I love the old barns you often see, dotting the North Coast countryside.


After roaming around this lovely farm for a bit, we got back in the car and headed north. My husband and I always visit this beach in Mendocino, where the Big River meets the Pacific. The water was crystal-clear on this particular day and we were happy to see the fog had dissipated and sun was out.


We were happy to feel the sunshine and sea breeze on our faces. The Mendocino Coast’s weather is unpredictable but no matter what it is – rain, fog, or sun – it’s always scenic.


We continued on, driving north past the village of Mendocino, when we saw a sign telling us a lighthouse was nearby. I am never one to eschew a good lighthouse, so we pulled over and parked at the Point Cabrillo Light Station parking lot.

It was a lovely half-mile walk to the lighthouse from the lot. On the way we passed these darling red-roofed houses built in the early 1900s.


Soon we reached the lighthouse, standing majestically on a cliff above the ocean.


We walked around the lighthouse, browsing the gift shop and taking a look at the museum. After, we walked along the path above the ocean. I love the rugged beauty of the North Coast. White caps, jagged outcroppings of rocks and the occasional whale spout make this view hard to take your eyes off of.


Several miles north, up route 1, is the charming town of Fort Bragg, home to the famous Glass Beach and North Coast Brewing Company which makes Scrimshaw beer, one of my husband’s favorites.


This time, we skipped both the beach and the beer and had a cookie instead at Mendocino Cookie Company (get the Backpacker cookie if you go!).

One of my favorite buildings in Fort Brag is this stately Victorian that sits on a hill in the middle of town. It has been home to various lumber executives over many decades and now it houses the headquarters of the Fort Bragg – Mendocino Coast Historical Society. 


After walking around Fort Bragg, eating our cookies, we decided to head back to Mendocino. I can’t visit Mendocino without stopping by Sallie MacThis lovely boutique sells beautiful home accessories, jewelry, soaps and lotions and more, and all with a French flair. I always find something special to bring home with me.


For lunch my husband wanted to have his favorite Mendocino sandwich – a rueben at Patterson’s Pub. I really like them too, mainly because the corned beef is so lean!


With full bellies, we decided it was time to check in to our room at Little River Inn. I have long admired this eye-catching property, perched above the Pacific, and was excited to finally experience it as a guest.

Little River Inn sits on 225-acres and has 65 ocean view rooms, a nine-hole golf course, pro-shop, spa and a popular restaurant and bar.


The main building was once a family home, built in 1857 and turned into an inn in 1939 by Ole Hervilla. It has remained in the family ever since. Little River Inn is one of the oldest inns on the North Coast and one of the most well-known.

This grand Victorian serves as the centerpiece of the property. In springtime, wisteria can be found draped all around the inn.


Our room was just behind the main building on a hill. Our room was enormous! High ceilings, lots of windows and not one, but two sitting areas giving the room a light and open feel.


This bathroom was also very spacious. The tub, with whirlpool jets, was enormous. At my height, I greatly appreciate a large tub, something I don’t get to enjoy at home!


The patio was our favorite place to spend time.  We rocked back and forth in these two chairs, looking for whales, watching the fog go in and out and checking out the various birds and squirrels. This is my idea of relaxing!


Sunny or foggy, this view is always stunning!


We could enjoy the fantastic view from inside our room, too, through these big windows.


And what goes better with an amazing view but a wonderful bottle of wine? We were given this bottle of Chardonnay, a commemorative 75th anniversary wine celebrating the legacy of Little River Inn. It was created through a partnership with Navarro Vineyards, a beautiful winery you will pass on your way to Mendocino if taking route 128.


My husband and I aren’t golfers – yet – but if we were, we would love to play on this course. It’s the only course on the Mendocino Coast and is an Audubon-certified sanctuary.

Surrounded by redwood and pine trees, this course also comes with fantastic views of the Pacific Ocean and I’ve been told it offers even seasoned golfers surprising, though welcoming, challenges.


After checking out the property and relaxing on our porch, we freshened up and headed to dinner at the main house.


Little River Inn’s Executive Chef Marc Dym, classically trained at Culinary Institute of America, has had a long culinary career that has taken him all over the world. In 2006, Chef Dym settled in Mendocino after marrying Cally (fifth generation innkeeper at Little River Inn). Chef Dym adds a modern flair to classic dishes that are sure to satisfy guests’ palates.


One thing you’ll notice about the dining room at Little River Inn is the clever use of windows that look, at first, like artwork. These up-close gardens, framed in large picture windows, were fascinating to me! I couldn’t get enough of them. The dining room window with the little rose-shaped succulents were my favorite.


The food was fantastic and fresh. The Dungeness Crab Cakes were outstanding and could be a meal on their own! Good thing Bill and I shared them so I had room for more courses.


Little River Inn has its own Wine Consultant who asked us what wines we would like to have with dinner.  Since it’s part of my job to experience as much as I can about a property, we told him our wine choices were his to make. From bubbles to port and everything in between, we had quite the regional wine experience. Good thing our room was close by!

I couldn’t write this review without mentioning how friendly, warm and accommodating the staff is at Little River Inn. From the moment we walked into the main building to register to the moment we said our goodbyes, every person we interacted with was kind, courteous and accommodating.


The gorgeous sunset from Little River Inn’s property was the perfect ending to a wonderful day.


The next morning, after a peaceful and comfortable night’s sleep. we went to Sunday Brunch at Little River Inn. Boy was it popular, every table was occupied and I know why! The food is wonderful. I ordered enjoyed Ole’s Swedish Hotcakes (recipe in the link!) that are hands-down my favorite pancakes. Mine were topped with a little olallieberry jam which added just thee right amount of sweetness. If you like a thin, light and freshly flipped pancake, these will be your favorite too!


We thouroughly enjoyed our stay at Little River Inn. From the incredible views to the spacious room, and the friendly staff to the delicious food, we will be sure to return again and again.

Little River Inn has a some special offers available right now. Be sure to visit their Specials and Packages page for more information.

Make it a rich day!




Disclosure: Little River Inn hosted our stay. All opinions expressed here are, as always, my own.

Earth Day in Sonoma County!

Over the weekend I had the honor of attending not one, but two Earth Day events in Sonoma County.

The first was a fashion show, but not just any fashion show. Sonoma Community Center’s Trashion Fashion Show brings awareness to recycling and waste reduction as well as creativity, art and innovation.


My friend, Michelle Lacy, who so kindly provided tips for my Girlfriends Getaway in Sonoma guide recently, invited me to attend. The Sonoma Valley Visitors Bureau had front row seats for us! I was able to get up close to the models and see the incredible details of the desginers’ works of art.

These eye-catching creations included dresses made from plastic spoons, tea bags, wrappers from diabetes medication, plastic wrap, corks and metal caps from champagne bottles. One young lady modeled a poodle skirt that featured puppies and kitties made with felt created using real dog and cat hair.


The overall winner was called Gone to the Dogs. This stunning – and might I add sexy – evening dress was made from dog and cat food bags and bird netting. Isn’t it beautiful?


The Sonoma Trashion Fashion Show is not only a fun and entertaining event but it prompts you to think about the enormous amount of trash – especially in the form of packaging – that goes into our landfills. I don’t always take into consideration how things I purchase are packaged but I should. Though I will never be like Bea Johnson, I would like to start decreasing the amount of trash I create.

I look forward to attending this event next year. This just may be my annual “must-not-miss” event for Earth Day in Sonoma County. Who wants to go with me?

The next day, my husband and I headed to rural Sebastopol to attend the Celebrate Earth Day in Green Valley event at Iron Horse Vineyards. This event featured wine and food from local wineries and restaurants, live music and an art show. It also featured and appearance by guest speaker, Kevin Jorgeson, part of the duo who free climbed the 3000-foot Dawn Wall of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park last December. Bill and I were excited to hear him talk.

Iron Horse Vineyards is a 300-acre property that leaves a lasting impression from the moment you arrive. Tall, willowy palm trees line the driveway at the top of the hill. This was our view from the parking lot below and only a small cluster of the many palms lining the hill above.


Bill and I were invited as VIPs which was such a special treat! The VIP pre-party took place at Iron Horse Founders, Audrey and Barry Sterling. What a house! We were allowed to walk through the main living areas inside their Queen Anne Victorian home.


I could have stayed for hours, just looking at all the details – the tiled floors, the art work, the furniture and decor, and the gorgeous light fixtures.


I pulled myself away from the interior of the home and went out onto the patio area with Bill where attendees were gathered under tall redwood trees.


California caviar and Iron Horse Vineyards Summit Cuvee, a commemorative, one-time only sparkling wine made in honor of the event, were served to guests outside. Check out the fantastic label on the bottle. It’s a rendition of the photo of Tommy Caldwell during his moment of triumph.


Bill and I took our glasses of bubbles and went for a walk around the house.


I love this colorful display of pots of flowers on a baker’s rack on the Sterling’s patio.


It’s springtime and the flower garden at Iron Horse is full of vibrant color. Among the flowers and shrubs and trees I found this adorable bed. I couldn’t resist gently sitting on it, just long enough to get a photo. Can you imagine spending an afternoon reading a book in this darling bed, glass of Iron Horse bubbly in hand?


Soon it was time to head to the other side of the vineyard to the main event.


One the way, we passed through yet another garden. These happy flowers greeted us on our way. Aren’t they wonderful?


Once we arrived, we noticed the place was buzzing with energy and with people!


Across from the tents, food being served and wineries poured tastes of their wines for guests. A makeshift art gallery was in the middle.


On display were incredible photos of Kevin Jorgeson and Tommy Caldwell’s free-climb taken by photographer, Jerry Dodrill.


We lingered for quite some time, admiring the photos and wondering how in the world they accomplished what they did, with their bare hands.


After we perused the gallery, we headed over the tents. Walking in our direction was Governor Jerry Brown and Iron Horse Vineyards CEO, Joy Sterling.

What a fantastic surprise! We had no idea the governor would be at the event! Our family has always been a big supporter of Jerry Brown, mostly because he is a big supporter of the fire service. That’s always an important factor for us when casting our votes.


We also saw keynote speaker and climber, Kevin Jorgeson with his mother as he headed to the tent to prepare to speak.


First Joy spoke to the crowd of about 200. She addressed an important issue on the minds of most Californians: our drought. She also mentioned her love of the land and the Green Valley appellation before introducing Governor Brown.


Governor Brown told the crowd that while the drought is a big concern, he is hopeful that innovative water-producing and water-saving techniques such as desalination, reuse of graywater and captured rainwater that will help us get through this drought. It was a promising and hope-filled speech but we all know we have a long way to go to get back to “normal” levels in our water supplies.


Kevin Jorgeson took the stage next. He spoke briefly about his free climb but mostly he focused his message on his foundation, the B –Rad Foundation, a memorial fund for Jorgeson’s close friend, Brad Parker, who died while climbing in Yosemite, the same day he proposed to his girlfriend. The B-Rad Foundation supports community wellness, outdoor adventure, and environmental stewardship.


After the speeches concluded, it was time to celebrate with cake! This chocolate creation was modeled after El Capitan and made by Patisserie Angelica in Sebastopol. Kevin Jorgenson had the honor of cutting this masterpiece.


It was another enlightening and eye-opening event. If I had to sum up what I learned over this Earth Day weekend in one sentence, it would go something like this: When we humans are confronted with a problem that effects all of us – or a large group of us – we pull together, we get creative and we find new and innovative ways to solve existing and continuing problems.


How are you acknowledging Earth Day? Are you focused on a particular issue – a drought, pollution, recycling, global warming 0r another concern?

Thank you to my friend, Michelle Lacy, the Sonoma Valley Visitors Bureau and Iron Horse Vineyards for the invitations to attend these meaningful, impactful and fun events honoring Earth Day.

Make it a rich Earth Day!




Disclosure: My ticket to the Trashion Fashion Show and the two VIP tickets to  Celebrate Earth Day in Green Valley at Iron Horse Vineyard were complimentary. All opinions expressed here are my own, as always.