Crossing the Mendocino County Line



I’m experimenting with this blog. A confluence of factors that may break me of my old Mac came into my life. My old Mac was one of the last Intel-based Macs that ran Windows. I am a massive fan of Dragon Dictate for Windows and have extensively used it to dictate blogs for work and pleasure. The dictation support in macOS was terrible on a good day, and I can’t even describe it at its worst.

The new Macs could not run Windows when Apple Silicon came on the market. Apple Silicon still can’t run Windows well today. That presented a dilemma for me. How long can I keep the old Mac alive to support a workflow critical to my work and personal life? Wait and pray. So, here we are three years later, running an Apple Silicon Mac with macOS Ventura blogging entirely using Apple’s dictation.

Here we go!

Many years ago, a good friend and I argued about what defines the Bay Area. It’s one of those I assumed Tracy was in the Bay Area as many people commuted from Tracy into the Bay Area for work. She drew a hard line: the Bay Area is the nine counties that touched the Bay. Tracy is in the Central Valley in San Joaquin County – not the Bay Area.

I struggled with that definition. Places like Windsor and Cloverdale were so far north from the areas I knew in the South Bay, and Tracy was so close. It felt like a different place as it required a three-hour trip by car. Tracy was just over the Altamont Pass, an area I regularly traveled through. Over the years, every so often, I’d stumble into this conversation. I’d make a comment where my geography could have been sharper, and she’d remind me of the definition of the Bay Area. I’d roll my eyes, and she laughed.

As time would have it, I’ve moved to different parts of the Bay Area – well beyond the South Bay. With exposure to other parts of the Bay Area, I’ve come to realize what she’s known all along: The Bay Area is the nine counties that touch the bay: San Francisco, Marin, Sonoma, Napa, Solano, Contra Costa, Alameda, Santa Clara, and San Mateo County.

Willie Nelson’s obscure duet with Lee Ann Womack, “Mendocino County Line” not filmed in Mendocino County.

Last year I went through a pretty extensive house project that required extended stays away from home. Good friends of mine allowed me to stay with them in Windsor – a sizeable drive from home and just about the opposite end of the Bay Area from when I lived in the South Bay. Mendocino County was an easy 30-minute drive up the 101 freeway. By her or my old definition, Mendocino was not in the Bay Area.

All these places in the North Bay and North Coast suddenly became close.  As my time in Windsor was winding down, I wanted to take a short ride to Fort Bragg – a well-loved Mendocino coastal town. However, winter was hovering close this late October afternoon. Clouds brewed to the north, and the rain was likely to follow. I didn’t care if I got to Fort Bragg. I just wanted to get out and go somewhere.

Highway 101 North between Windsor and Highway 128 isn’t particularly interesting. It’s a four-lane, divided highway following the contours at the north edge of the wine country. Highway 128, however, is one of my favorite roads in California. It climbs, descends, twists, and turns through vineyards and redwoods, ultimately ending at the ocean 60 miles later.

About 2 miles along 128, a simple sign sits off to the right, reading: “Mendocino County line.” I pulled off to the side of the road to smile and reflect over 20 years of friendship. Sure, we had arguments, intellectual jousts, and bumps along the way. She is one of those people who is fiercely loyal to those she loves and brings excellent knowledge about a wide variety of topics to the table. I have appreciated her contribution to making me a better human. A simple road sign had so much experience and emotion wrapped in it. I knew no photograph could capture the moment in a way that anyone else could understand but the two of us.

I texted her, “I’m leaving the Bay Area.” I quickly sent a second text and corrected myself, “I’m still in the Bay Area as I’m on the Sonoma side of the sign, but I will be soon leaving the Bay Area.” She laughed, and I returned the laughter over text. She is one of those people in my life with whom we both enjoy a rich history of friendship and mutual respect for one another.

Highway 128 across the southern portion of Mendocino County delivered. With impending rain, there were very few cars on the road. The pavement was silky smooth, and the temperature was cold enough to keep you awake but not bitterly cold. When I reached Boonville, it was clear rain would meet me. Now was the moment to turn south. I remember being here 12 years ago in the summer, and it was well over 90° with no clouds in the sky, and all of us were sweating bullets. This ride was an entirely different experience, with temperatures in the high 50s and thunderheads closing in.

All I needed was about 15 minutes to warm up the sides of my tire. I knew I would get wet again and wanted to return to Windsor before dark. With one final U-turn, I was headed south for good. For today, I just returned to Windsor. However, my time in Windsor was ending, and another leap toward home was right around the corner.

As I began to retrace my steps, the rain kicked in. Sprinkles became steady, but fortunately, the sky never fully turned into an all-out downpour. I made better time than the weather, so rejoining 101, I was dry again. I wanted to play with fate again and turned north on 101 as this section of the highway has some great turns at speed as it follows the sharper contours of the coastal mountains.

I am deeply thankful for all of the people I call friends over the years.  In the queer community, it’s often said, “There’s the family you are born with and the family you choose.” Fortunately, I’m grateful to be blessed with both.

As for dictation on this new Mac – much better, but Apple has a long way to go to catch up to Nuance. Praying the old Mac stays alive, lol.


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