“A chill rippled across my skin as I realized that we were standing in that very room and the bed before me was the subject of the poem — the death-bed in ‘The Bed by the Window.’ Robinson Jeffers had written the poem as a young man shortly after building the house. Many years later, he had indeed died in the room, thereby fulfilling its destiny.” Continue Reading →
When lumber mills first began sprouting up along the 19th century Mendocino coast, Native Americans were still a constant presence. Many indigenous place names were adopted by settlers and remain with us to this day. Others have faded into obscurity. We know, for instance, that the area now known as Mendocino village was originally called Bool-Dam or Buldam by subgroups of the Northern Pomo. Bool-Dam meant “big holes” and referred to the blowholes on the Mendocino headlands. Early maps created after California statehood refer to Big River as Bool-Dam River. Continue Reading →
At the peak of Lorenzo White’s success his holdings stretched from Oakland to Fort Bragg. He owned stores, ranches, sawmills, hotels, ferries, saloons, restaurants, real estate, a fleet of ships, and several logging railroads. He commanded the attention of powerful politicians statewide and held sway over four California counties. White’s ambition at times seemed limitless and was the driving force in amassing a considerable fortune. So what can we conclude about L. E. White from this jumbled legacy he’s left us? Was he a mean spirited, ruthless villain and thief or a generous benefactor, a savvy businessman, a civic leader, and an all around stand up guy? Continue Reading →
In the mid-nineteenth century, the sawmills and lumber towns of Mendocino County were isolated from the more settled places that lined San Francisco Bay. The lack of roads, the ungainly North Coast mountains, and the abundant rivers and streams made overland travel difficult and dangerous. Lumber schooners provided the only viable conduit between frontier towns and the civilized world. It was a ship, in fact, that triggered the lumber boom along the redwood coast. Continue Reading →
August 1 is a banner day for great American sea novels as we celebrate the birthdays of Richard Henry Dana, Jr. and Herman Melville. Both men provided important source information for the nautical aspects of The Relentless Harvest. Melville for his bold American, turn-of-the-century voice and Dana for his remarkable day-to-day accounts of a sailor’s life aboard ship. Both men also raised important questions about the powerless and disenfranchised are echoed in The Relentless Harvest. Continue Reading →
Travelers’ Tales, publishers of the Best Travel Writing anthology series, just announced the winners of their Eighth Annual Solas Awards for best travel writing of the year. My travel memoir “Inside the Tower” was awarded Bronze Prize. “Inside the Tower” is a story of discovery, one that begins in a bookshop, browsing a poetry anthology, and ends as a quest to understand the late poet during a visit to his home in Carmel. The story has been published on the Best Travel Writing website and may be included in one of the yearly travel anthologies.