Friday, July 26, 2013

Mendocino and Humboldt Redwoods State Park

Tuesday morning, July 23:  Last night we stayed in Caspar, just outside of Mendocino, and right on the beach, though you couldn't even see the beach or the ocean when we got in due to the heavy fog.  As the campground host explained, whenever it's warm inland, the warm air comes over the mountain and hits the cooler air near the coast and you're socked in with fog.  Anyway, not a problem since we just needed a place for the night.  At the campsite next to ours there was a big family, camping in 3 tents, and though it made it kinda crowded, we loved seeing all the kids having such fun.  The next morning they were breaking camp to leave and they really had their system down pat, with everyone pitching in to get it all packed up in good order.

We were so excited to drive into Mendocino, and have all the wonderful memories come flooding back of our visits here in the past.  Our first visit here was on my 40th birthday trip--by the way just realized that I forgot to mention one important detail about that trip, so I'll digress here for just a moment.  When we flew to San Francisco on that trip and got to the rental car lot, they were out of the small cars we had reserved, so they asked us if it would be okay for them to upgrade us for no charge to the only car they had left--a Camaro Supersport!!  I said, well, I guess if that's the only thing you have left, I guess we can make do!  Well, driving this hot rod, complete with wonderfully loud, throaty, Glaspak mufflers through the streets of San Francisco, I felt just like Steve McQueen from the movie Bullitt!  It was great, and once when we were stopped at a gas station, the young attendant was so impressed that we had rented such a hot car.

Anyway, Mendocino is just the most wonderful little town, with lots of art galleries and interesting shops.  But the most spectacular feature of the town is its location, right on the ocean, set on the cliffs above the waves crashing over these fabulously shaped rock formations--so violent, yet so beautiful.  We fell in love with this town immediately, and long held the fantasy of moving out here one day.  There's a gorgeous little Presbyterian Church right on the ocean--white frame with lovely flowers around the small patch of grass along the side, and with the front doors opening onto a view of the ocean.  When we first saw this place, Trisha was just imagining being at this church and how much fun it would be to stand out at the front door greeting parishioners by the sea!  Then, right after I retired from the law practice, she was looking in the Presbyterian magazine and this pulpit was open!  Well, for about two or three days we thought about it, but when we looked at what they paid and then the cost of housing in the area, we soon realized that it was not possible.  But, it was fun to dream!

So we drove into town, and the first place we stopped was at the Sea Rock Inn, a bed and breakfast where we stayed on another visit, about 15 years ago, when Jeremy was with us.  If you're ever going to Mendocino, I highly recommend this place--I'd give it 5 stars!  It's right across the road from the ocean, with big picture windows in the units--we had a two bedroom unit and our room was right in front with the ocean view, a big carved wood frame bed with thick, soft, down comforters and beautiful quilts.  And the breakfast was to die for, with a lovely selection of interesting and delicious jams made from a variety of local berries.  They had the neatest shaped coffee mugs with their logo on them and we had bought a couple which we have enjoyed using over the years.  One had broken a while back, so we stopped in to get a replacement--Trisha went in to buy it and the woman in the restaurant was so excited to hear how we had stayed there 15 years ago and about how we raved about the place.  When Trisha was walking out to the RV she noticed a couple walking back from the ocean and the man had on a Peachtree Road Race t-shirt!  Turns out they were from Atlanta--such a small world!

Then we drove on into downtown, parked the RV and had such fun walking around to all the places we had been before, as well as exploring some new places.  Right across from where we parked was a health food store in an old church building.  When we went inside and talked to the guy behind the counter, he explained how this church was originally built way back when, by a prominent local woman--it was a Baptist church, and there was a Baptist church already in the little town, but this woman was unhappy with the minister, so she had her husband, a contractor, build this church!  It always amuses me when things like this happen in churches, what a hoot.  Anyway, we got us some goodies and then continued on down the streets, reveling in the beauty of tons of gorgeous flowers, and breathing in the wonderful sea air!  We stopped by the tent where the orchestra was practicing for one of their performances for the  Mendocino Music Festival, and saw lots of folks sitting at picnic tables set up around the tent, enjoying coffee and pastries.   This place just holds a magical spell for us, just to be in this little town--you're never so far from the ocean that you can't hear the waves, there are lots of walking trails through the high grasses along the cliffs overlooking the ocean, and we could sit for hours just watching the surf.  All the shopkeepers seem so friendly and welcoming.

Anyway, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves here, and then drove on to Ft. Bragg, which is another lovely little town not far up the coast from Mendocino.  We had seen a flyer in Mendocino for a show at a gallery in Ft. Bragg, so we found the place and had a great time there.  It's a cooperative art gallery, made up of about 20 artists, each of whom take turns working at the gallery, in addition to doing their art.  The show was by a woman who had combined weavings, ceramics and painting into one exhibit and it was very beautiful.  We also enjoyed talking to the woman working on that particular day, who was a weaver, and she showed us some beautiful scarves and other things she had made.  Very reminiscent of the work of our friend Judith in Georgia, who is a master weaver.

Then we drove on up north, and took the Avenue of the Giants drive, through the great redwood forests of this area.  This is the route of the original highway 101 before they made a 4 lane freeway, which means it was slower driving, but it was just spectacularly beautiful!  These giant redwoods are so majestic, and many times the road is just slap up against a line of these trees.  There are reflectors placed along the trees, and you can see evidence of where some vehicles tried to take some turns a little too fast and hit the trees.  It was a bit close for the carhouse, but we really enjoyed the drive.  We stopped for the night at a campground in Humboldt Redwoods State Park--when we stopped at the entrance, the woman told us there were just two sites left that could accommodate RVs and that some folks were driving around looking to see if they wanted to take either of them, and that whoever came back first and said they wanted a site would have it.  So we found the first one and it was just lovely, so we were able to have that site--we were so glad, as we heard her telling someone else that the other campgrounds in the park were full.  The sites were really laid out well, with lots of privacy.  At our site the picnic table was tucked back into a little alcove and had a very nice fire pit, so we were able to enjoy a fire as it got dark, after a lovely dinner of fresh corn on the cob, and some other yummy veggies over black rice, topped off with fresh cherries and strawberries!

The next morning (Wednesday, July 24) we got up and hiked about 6 1/2 miles on a lovely trail through a grove of these glorious giant redwoods.  We only saw three other people on the trail the whole time we were hiking, and it was a fabulous trail!  We've loved all the different types of hikes we've done on this trip, some of the areas, particularly the slick red rocks, petrified sand dunes, in the parks of southern Utah and the spectacular mountains of Colorado, but hiking through a forest, with a canopy of trees above and a thick carpet of pine needles and leaves underfoot reminds us of so many of the hikes we've done in the Shenandoah Mountains in Virginia when we lived in DC, and other hikes in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  We had a blast on this hike and were glad it was easily accessible from our campsite, so we didn't have to move the RV.

Then back on the road up the coast, and more of this beautiful scenery along the Pacific!  We spent Wednesday night in Brookings, a little town just over the California border into Oregon--our 13th state to visit on this trip.  We've also passed the midpoint of our trip, and in a couple of days will have been on the road for 4 months!  Hard to believe it's been that long.  We've put almost 12,000 miles on the RV since we left.  The longer we're on the road, the more we appreciate what Sue Ann and Jim said about how they thought they would see the country in a year when they first started full timing it in their RV, but after 8 years, they realized they were really just getting started!  There's so much to see in this vast and beautiful country, there's just no way to see it all.  So we give thanks each and every day for the great fortune and blessing we have to be able to do what we're doing, and resolve each day to never take it, each other, our family and friends, or life itself, for granted.  Just rejoice in each and every moment we have, and be aware of all the wonder and beauty that fills each moment, no matter where you are.

Driving from the campground in Caspar Beach to Mendocino--fortunately in the morning the fog from the night before had lifted

 Some views from the parking lot of the Sea Rock Inn--this is the view we had from the room when we stayed there

 We had this first little unit 15 years ago

Downtown Mendocino, a beautiful old bank building, second shot is closeup of roof sculpture

The former Baptist Church, now a health food store

Display of pictures of the original construction, inside the store
 Main entrance to old church

 Some of the beautiful flowers all around downtown

Several water towers like this dot the town
 Former home of the woman who had the new church built when she became angry at the pastor of the other Baptist church, now a museum

More beautiful flowers

Really unusual bench outside a store, made entirely out of driftwood

Just love the attitude expressed in this sign!!
 Some of the neat buildings in Mendocino

When we went into this store that had so many neat things, I saw this beautiful purple sweater that I just knew was made for Trisha--isn't she just gorgeous??!!!

Beautiful lady spotted on a street in Mendocino!
 Mendocino Headlands Park; there are hiking trails all through this tall grass
 Looking out from the park to this cool little archway in the rock

Beautiful multiple shades of green on the banks of the cliffs by the ocean

Scenes on the way out of Mendocino and headed farther north up the coastal highway.

Starting down the Avenue of the Giants

At our campsite in Humboldt Redwoods State Park

Big redwood stump at our campsite

Trees around our campsite

Starting out our hike to Williams Grove

Throughout the redwood forest, you see this pattern--where there was once a single huge tree that sprouted new growth trees all around it, then the original would die and had to be cut down

Unique limbs of a madrona tree

Some interesting  tree stumps

Looks like this one is about to gobble up Trisha's arm!

 Evidence of a fire

Bunch of clovers and ferns along the trail

Gorgeous moss covered tree stump

Entrance to a tunnel going under the highway on the way to Williams Grove

Some views on the hike back to the campsite


  1. I can not believe it has been 4 months. I so much enjoy your post and pictures. Highlight of my day.

    You guys are so blessed.

    I did read your answer about your bikes. Yes it helps my bottom to wear two bike shorts when I ride.


  2. RE: Your final paragraph in this blog....AMEN!
    Didn't you tell me your your son and family are in Oregon?

    Mary Lou

    1. Yes, Mary Lou, that's what each of us need to do! Our son and his family live in Seattle, and we're a tually with them now (Sunday, July 28), and we'll take him with us tomorrow for a week on the RV. Can't wait!