Mendocino, California: A Favorite Town… The North Coast Series

A large, carved wooden duck that Peggy and I found gracing a wood-working shop on one of Mendocino's colorful streets.

A large, carved wooden duck that Peggy and I found gracing a wood-working shop on one of Mendocino’s colorful streets.

I’ve always been a fan of rugged, rocky coastlines. I’ve been fortunate in my life to live near the northern coast of California, which I define as starting down in Big Sur country and making its way up to the Oregon Coast. When I lived in Sacramento, summer escapes usually meant the Sierra’s, but winter escapes always meant the coast. Mainly I played along the 300-mile area of coast stretching between Monterrey/Carmel and Mendocino/Fort Brag on California’s beautiful, cliff-hanging Highway 1.

A view of the Mendocino Headlands, which host the town of Mendocino. The steep, rocky cliffs of Northern California, Oregon and Washington make up my favorite coast lines.

A view of the Mendocino Headlands, which host the town of Mendocino. The steep, rocky cliffs of Northern California, Oregon and Washington make up my favorite coast lines.

Now I live in Oregon, I’ve begun to explore the Oregon Coast. Over the years, I’ve also ventured along the Washington coast on occasion and made several trips to Canada’s Vancouver Island.

Last year, I wrote a number of blogs on both the California and Oregon coasts. I did a solo trip along the Oregon Coast while Peggy was off doing grandmother duty in Alaska and then a solo trip north from San Francisco while she was traveling to England with her sister, Jane.

This fall, my side-kick was with me on a couple quick trips: one visiting the town of Mendocino and then traveling north, following Highways 1 and 101 back to Southern Oregon. The second was over to Coos Bay, Oregon and Sunset Bay State Park. My next few blogs will cover these trips. Again, since Peggy and I are off in Connecticut and North Carolina visiting with our kids and grandkids for Christmas— plus making a side trip to Boston— these will be mainly photo blogs.

Mendocino is one of my favorite coastal communities. Founded as a logging town, it was discovered by artists in the 50s and 60s and today supports a thriving tourist industry. Through it all, it has maintained much of its original charm. Quaint buildings, lots of art, a great bookstore, and a magnificent coast all add to its ambience. If you would like to learn more about the town and see more photos, go here for the blog I wrote last year about the town.

Another view of the Mendocino Headlands, this one featuring a Monterey Pine.

Another view of the Mendocino Headlands, this one featuring a cyprus tree.

The Mendocino Headlands of Northern California.

Looking the other direction through the same cyprus.

A cliff from the Mendocino Headlands next to the town of Mendocino in Northern California.

Rocks, cliffs, and a pounding ocean: music to me on a dark stormy day.

We found these berries growing on the Headlands. T'is the season!

We found these berries growing on the Headlands. T’is the season!

The town of Mendocino, California as seen from the headlands on a rainy day.

Walking back toward the town from the Headlands, we caught this view of Mendocino. The town has done a superb job of maintaining its historic buildings.

Mendocino, California home.

I find the homes charming.

Pond reflection shot in the community of Mendocino on California's north coast.

This small, in-town pond provided a convenient reflection shot.

A landscaped walkway in the town of Mendocino, California.

Inviting walkways are found throughout Mendocino.

Woodworking shop in Mendocino, California.

This is the inside of the woodworking shop where we discovered the duck.

Early social media? Any idea what this is? It's an old fence that has seen service as a community message board for decades.

Any idea what this is? It’s an old fence that has seen service as a Mendocino message board for decades. You might say, it is a ‘staple’ of the community.

Veggies always add a little color on a cloudy day. Peggy and I found these in an old church that had converted to being a natural food store.

Speaking of staples, veggies always add a touch of  color on a cloudy day. Peggy and I found these in an old church that had converted to being a natural food store.

Mendocino, California rooster.

This rooster also added color, and character, to our day.

Not so colorful, but there is a story that goes along with this chicken wire Mendocino mouse. In my last blog about Mendocino, I had also included chicken wire sculptures. A person from Japan wrote to me and said he had also visited Mendocino, seen the sculptures in a shop, and wanted to know which shop it was so he could buy some. I was reminded of just how international blogging is...

Not so colorful, but there is a story that goes along with this chicken wire mouse. In my last blog about Mendocino, I had included a chicken wire cat from the same shop. A person from Japan wrote to me and said he had also visited Mendocino, seen the sculptures, and wanted to know which shop it was so he could buy some. I was reminded of just how international our blogging community is…

Tiki god in front of a house in Mendocino, California.

And finally, I’ll include this Tiki-like god sculpture we found protecting a house. Love the toothy grin. Or was I supposed to be frightened?

 

NEXT BLOG: A North Coast journey along California’s Highway 101.

The Beautiful and Rugged Northwest Coast… Brookings, Oregon

Beautiful weather and early morning sunlight combined for this reflection photo of a rock jutting out toward the Pacific Ocean at Harris Beach State Park just north of Brookings, Oregon where I was camping this week.

Nobuo Fujita had a job to do: bomb the United States. It was September 9, 1942 and his plane was loaded with incendiary bombs. He launched his floatplane from the Japanese submarine that had delivered him to the coastal waters off Southern Oregon, climbed over the ocean, and flew toward the mountains behind Brookings. His bombs were supposed to ignite a massive forest fire.

The forest didn’t cooperate but Fujita returned to Brookings in 1962 and presented the city with a 400-year-old Samurai sword that belonged to his family. In 1967 Brookings made him an honorary citizen.

On March 11, 2011 another intruder from the East came roaring into Brookings. This time it was the remnants of the devastating tsunami that had struck Japan and caused such horrendous loss of life and property. Brookings got off easy but considerable damage was done to the town’s harbor. It was a solemn reminder of what might happen when the next big earthquake hits the West Coast.

It’s hard to imagine this peaceful harbor scene at Brookings, Oregon being disrupted by the remains of the tsunami that struck Japan a year and a half ago.

I was in Brookings this week to camp out at Harris Beach State Park and enjoy the beautiful and rugged coastline. I divided my days between working on a book about my African Peace Corps experience and hiking on the beach. The weather was close to perfect. Naturally, I had a camera along.

The view from Harris Beach State Park looking south toward Brookings, which was about a mile away.

A sandbar created a small lagoon that was excellent for capturing reflections. Note the seagull on the right.

OK, I admit I can’t resist reflections. This shot at Harris Beach State Park, Oregon was taken late afternoon.

This view, similar to the photo at the beginning, was taken early morning.

Another early morning photo at Harris Beach State Park. This one is looking south. The sun has gently touched the rock on the right while those on the left remain in shadows.

The sandbar that separated the lagoon from the ocean.

I liked the combination of dark rock, sandy beach, sky and water.

Looking north up the Pacific Coast from Harris State Beach.

Low tide uncovers an abundance of sea life. When my dad lived on the Oregon Coast, he would gather the mussels for cooking.

And what’s an ocean without a seagull… This guy was hoping I would break out lunch.

The restless ocean and its waves were calm for my visit to Brookings, Oregon.

This large log, bleached white by the sun and sea, is a reminder of stormy oceans. In fact watching storms hit the coast has become a major spectator sport during the winter on the Oregon coast.

I’ll finish off my post on Harris Beach State Park and Brookings, Oregon with a final reflection picture. Next up: A visit to Organ Pipe Cactus National Park in Southern Arizona.