LANDMARK ON THE GO: When something is beautiful and historic and classic and brimming with adventure, you don't need any bells or whistles or gewgaws to dress things up: You simply enjoy the experience at any given time and view it as a gift. Such is the case with the Skunk Train, which is not only one of California's most beloved and best known old-timey railroad experiences but one of the most beloved and best known old-timey railroad experiences to be found anywhere. Yes, "beloved" and "best known" border on fawning, but here's our case: Few public conveyances wend among such stately trees, and fewer still among redwoods (Trees of Mystery, don't be sore, we know you do, too, with your epic Skytrail). So it's not simply the picturesque engines and on-board balladeers that lend the Fort Bragg-based Skunk Train such atmosphere; it is the wilderness through which it travels. Meaning this: Any ride, on any day, is bound to be a good one, but the train goes one better: It offers a host of annual event trains throughout the year, rides built around specific holidays and foodie to-dos. The train's first one of the year is tied to Mendocino County's crab celebration, so hop on the Crab & Wine Express on Saturday, Jan. 24.
OR YOU CAN MARK YOUR SKUNK TRAIN CALENDAR FOR... the Easter Egg Express, the Mother's Day Brunch, or a Photographer's Day in June, which will allow shutterbugs to capture the train "on staged photo run-bys." Halloween and Christmas trains are down the line, of course, and a Father's Day ride, plus a mushroom-themed choo-choo in the fall (timed to coincide with all of the mushroomian happenings in Mendo about that time).
THE QUESTION IS... do you take your Skunk Train neat -- do you choose any day of the week to ride, the better to enjoy the standard (but not standard in any sense of the word) trip -- or do you take a few bells and whistles with your roll? And crab and mushrooms and brunch and such? Oh, decisions. Thank goodness Skunky is patient with its numerous fans, forever heading along the tracks while we dither over a number of fine choices.