I am doing the A-Z challenge, focusing on places or entities that can be found within Mendocino County. I do not intend to imply that the subjects of my writing are the most significant, only that they have personal relevance to me. Today’s letter is L for Laytonville.
Knock Yourself Out
Laytonville, California (pop. 1,133) is the place I call “home,” even though I live a half-hour north of there. I have to travel eleven miles up the 101 Corridor, and then an additional five miles up a dirt road, to get to my home. However, mail service up on Bell Springs Road is limited to three-days-a-week from Garberville, and since I do not get to Garberville, in Humboldt County, all that often, I have chosen to have my mail delivered to a post office box in Laytonville.
The only town north of Laytonville, in Mendocino County, is Leggett, about twenty miles up the 101. If you were leaving San Francisco, to drive straight through to Laytonville, it would take around three and a half hours. There are no stoplights in Laytonvile, as there are in her sister down the road a piece, Willits.
What is in Laytonville, besides a post office and a small school district? Surprisingly enough, considering how tiny it is, Laytonville packs quite a punch. To begin there is Pour Girl’s Coffee shop, my most frequent stop, now that I am traveling back and forth between Willits and Bell Springs. I wrote about Pour Girl’s in my last A-Z challenge, in Latte, Reason to Smile. Not only are their lattes top shelf, but they already know what I want, so it’s ready in the event that there is one or more car(s) in front of me.
Next there is La Casona del Cielo, a Mexican food restaurant that features authentic Mexican food-none of your gringo grub, thank you very much. I have heard folks complain because they have to wait longer than they would at say, Taco Bell. To them, all I can say is, “Taco Bell is right down the highway-knock yourself out.” I guess I am just biased. I remember when Mama Lopez used to bring sixty or seventy of her home-made tamales to the middle school when Eduardo and Julieta were there, and the kids just wolfed them down. Now we get it all at La Casona del Cielo.
Then there is the Chevron station, or the ‘Ron as it’s known in my household. All three of my sons worked for Phil and Louise, figuring out early on, that if you wanted something out of life, you had to work for it. Annie used to go into town to pick them up at ten at night and bring them home, because I was long since asleep. I never could figure out how she could do it, but do it she did. Now, the ‘Ron is the hip and happening place for the kids to hit each night to see where the action is.
For the over-twenty-one crowd, there is always Boomer’s, an establishment I have only been in twice. The first time was in 1991, when the superintendent of the Laytonville Unified School District handed out fifteen pink slips, informing us that we may or may not be back the next year. (I was invited back and stayed for an additional fifteen years.) The second time I was there was a year ago, February, for the benefit concert for Jamal Andrews’ family. It’s not that I have anything against Boomer’s! I just don’t do bars.
If you need groceries, there's Geiger’s Long Valley Market. It used to be right on the highway, low, frowsy, and crowded. Now, with the old building torn down and a new structure big enough to rival any of the big chain grocery stores, Laytonville has charged into the twenty-first century. I frequently stop in on my way back up the mountain because they’re friendly and it seems as though they have it all.
There’s the Fat Quail, (That will be the subject of my A-Z challenge, when I get to Q.) Weathertop Nursery, (just ask for K.B.) Foster’s, the two auto parts houses, the bank, another restaurant and plenty of other businesses that a small ‘Ville ought to have. Not bad, considering you’d miss it altogether, if you happened to blink on your way through town.