If the thought of Black Friday and holiday shopping makes you break out in hives, run as far away from the shopping centers as possible.
Due west you’ll eventually run into the ocean. When the road runs out go right and head north to the quiet of the Mendocino coast, where you can mark the opening of the Christmas season without the ticky tacky and mind-numbing strains of “Jingle Bell Rock.”
On Nov. 25 and 26 the Gualala Arts Center is throwing a two-day Festival of Trees. The lovely center tucked amid the trees just off Highway 1 is being transformed into a 19th century mill town. Fill upp on hearty homespun “vittles” like coffeecake, homemade vegetarian chili and cornbread, clam chowder and real sourdough, all like it would have tasted back in the 1850s.
A gift marketplace, a “Fantasy Forest” of trees decorated by people in the community and a gingerbread house contest, will all remind you of how sweet and low stress Christmas can be when you unplug from the commercialism. The Gualala Arts Center is at 46501 Gualala Road.
While you’re on the coast several inns are offering specials.
The B. Byran Preserve in Point Arena, a 100-acre refuge for rare and endangered African wildlife like Roan, Sable and Greater Kudu antelope, as well as Grevy’s and Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra, has cozy and comfortable two-bedroom cottages for rent
Each cottage has a den, a full kitchen and a private hot tub
During November the preserve is offering a special — buy two nights and get the third night free. Cottage prices are $200 a night on weekends and holidays, $185 on weekdays. Call 882-2297 or visit bbryanpreserve.com for more details.