I had just returned from Chicago to attend my son's graduation from Navy Boot Camp, and we are headed out again, this time to Willits, and under unfavorable conditions. My oldest sister Sue's husband, David, left us after an extremely short bout of lung cancer. Not a fun trip to pack for. We left Wednesday the 18th just after noon, fueled, and ready for the five hour trip. We had clear skies after what felt like a solid week of much needed rain. My massage therapist, Christie, would be cheerfully watching the house and feeding our zoo.

Hungry by Modesto, we stopped at the Elephant Bar for the first time. Besides desperately wanting to take home the giant elephant and giraffes, it was a fair trip. David's Caesar salad and noodle soup was ok, ditto for my onion soup and potato skins. The bill was a bit of a surprise, a hefty $33.00.

A quick stop at Granzella in Williams, quite a change. Not only have they redecorated, the place was almost empty, but then we are always here on a weekend. We discovered it had burnt down  October 2007, what a surprise, no wonder they redecorated, and we had not been in there for a while! There was snow over the mountains we were headed for, Highway 20 past Clear Lake, another surprise. This time, we saw a herd of twenty or more elk, and advise for chains at the top of the pass. A little late, boys! We made Willits by 7 and checked into the Super 8.

I had tried for the top notch hotel in Willits, Bachtel Creek Inn, but they were all booked. I was assured Super 8 was the next nicest, and I have to disagree. As David puts it, a working man's hotel room. There were very few quests yet we got the room on the other side of the hotel. Whine, whine. The light over the tiny table was out, the alarm clock was broken, and the plastic wrap that should have contained coffee condiments was torn open and almost empty. Small things, but significant as we needed all three things. Oh, and the closed caption on the telly didn't work, and we need it.

There was no debate about dinner - Al's Redwood Room. It's downtown, two block from my mother's house. One of two local bar hangouts, but with a patio for smokers and some hefty Thai food. David played it safe with Chicken fried steak (upset stomach) and I went for my favorite, Redwood salmon. This is salmon cooked perfectly, stuffed with crab (and shrimp?) but the sauces do it all. Both red and green curry sauce. David scooped both flavors up on top of his potato and I used my rice to mop up the remainders. $42.00 was reasonable, and included my usual Drambuie.

A quick hello at Mom's and off to bed. The bed must have been satisfactory for we slept all the way through the night and slept in until past 8, thanks to no alarm clock. David voted later the bed was a tad soft.

We picked up Mom for the memorial two blocks away (it's a tiny town) and the gathering in the church hall afterward. Many pictures were taken, hoping for orbs. We were rewarded with a very few, tiny, light orbs in the chapel.

Back to the hotel for jeans and normal clothes, pick up Mom for dinner at her favorite place, the Broiler Steakhouse in Redwood Valley. We remembered the bleu cheese salad dressing was to die for, yet it fell quite short. Perhaps because we have become bleu connoisseurs and have the world's best recipe? Mom and I had the salmon, very moist, David had ribs that fell off the bone, the total was $69, not bad including a Drambuie.

Because we were attending the interment the next day, and we are orb seeking weirdoes, we headed out for the cemetery. More on that here, but it was a short stay. Then home to the hotel, the light was fixed but the alarm clock was still broken despite our pleas for a new one. We fixed the coffee and sugar problem at the local Safeway.

We slept in again on Friday, attended the internment, took daylight pictures of the Shootout at the OK Corral headstones (the Coates and the Frosts shot it out October 16, 1867) rushed back to Mom's for more visiting, ate at the Country Kettle before we departed. David had the chili burger, I had the New York omelet. I did not realize it did not include cheese, so it was a bit strange. We rushed out in order to make it to the Cloverdale Historical Society in time before Dorothy left. She has a map of the Cloverdale cemetery and I am hoping to finally find my great grandfather after two previous trips.

Good old Thomas Shurtleff is up on that huge hill I decided was too steep to climb last visit. A good supply of pictures and we head towards home, wandering through Petaluma and Sonoma. We stop at the Red Lobster in Modesto for a delicious dinner (the bread and the salad, oh my) and finally reach home after 9 pm to excited dogs and wet cats.

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