Refreshed by our Christmas break, Amy and I stood on Waterfront Drive, Eureka, California, contemplating the three and a half thousand mile virtual journey ahead of us. It was quite an undertaking : we needed to press on, waste no further time, keep our four eyes on the grand objective. I tried to send a determined look in the direction of my dog, she scratched her ear the way she does when she has fleas. "Off we go then", I said aloud, facing north in the general direction of our next objective, the small town of McKinleyville. Amy yanked her head, the dog-lead, and my arm south. There was obviously somewhere she wanted to go first.
It came as a bit of a surprise when she took me a few blocks south to the historic Carson Mansion : she is not usually so keen on architectural monuments. But I couldn't fault her choice. Carson Mansion may be a bit Disneyesque, a bit like a Gothic Filmset, but it is well worth a visit. Built in the 1880s as a family home for the timber magnate William Carson, the wood-framed, mongrel-styled, eighteen room villa is a monument to possibilities of Douglas Fir. You get the feeling that William Carson approached the construction of his home in a similar way to that which Iron-Mad Wilkinson approached the fabrication of his cast-iron gravestone back in eighteenth century England.
The mansion stayed in the Carson family until 1950 when it was bought by the Ingomar Club which, according to its website, "serves a dual mission of the restoration and preservation of the unique historical building and grounds of the Carson Mansion, while providing fine dining and social experiences for its members". Unfortunately one of the ways it preserves the building is by keeping people - and especially dogs - out of the grounds, so we were unable to do anything but look on from afar. But it created an interesting diversion - a good start to the new year.