Home » 2012 Northern California Road Trip

Mendocino, CA

Thursday, May 31, 2012 - 1:00pm by Lolo
124 miles and 3 hours from our last stop - 1 night stay


Russian River Harbor SealsRussian River Harbor SealsAfter leaving Armstrong Redwoods, we continued west to the coastal town of Jenner, perched high on a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the mouth of the Russian River. Right near the mouth of the river were dozens of adorable harbor-seal pups that were just born that spring.

The drive north from Jenner to Mendocino on the Pacific Coast Highway (Route 1) had to be one of the most beautiful stretches of highway I have ever been on. The only other stop we made before reaching Mendocino was the Point Arena Lighthouse, where once again the views from the headland were lovely. We even found a geocache there while enjoying the view. For a full explanation on what geocaching is, check out www.geocaching.com.

Point Arena LighthousePoint Arena LighthouseOur plan was to spend the night somewhere in the Mendocino / Fort Bragg area. Celeste’s parents had highly recommended Mendocino as a charming, romantic destination. We almost let our frugality guide us to finding a place in less-expensive Fort Bragg, but cooler and wiser heads prevailed and we found an absolutely fantastic (and reasonable) bed and breakfast called the Didjeridoo Dreamtime Inn.

It was definitely the right thing to do, even though I had no idea at the time what a didjeridoo actually was. I probably should have found out first before signing up, but Herb filled me in later. It’s an Aboriginal musical instrument made from a long hollowed out piece of wood -- like a very long tube. When you blow into it, it produces a drone of really deep resonant tones. Well that explained the “what,” but only the innkeeper could explain the “why” for the name of the inn, so we asked him. I felt bad that I did, because it was a break-up story. I shouldn’t have been so nosy. His ex-girlfriend and partner at the inn used to play one. She had left him, but the name remained. I guess we wouldn’t be hearing any didjeridoo playing that night.

Mendocino TownMendocino TownWe felt so at home in Mendocino. Our normal stomping grounds are New England, and this charming village definitely had a New England feel with its saltbox houses, gingerbread mansions, white-picket fences, rose gardens, and water towers. We later learned that this similarity was not just a coincidence. Mendocino was originally settled in the 1850s by homesick New Englanders lured west by the logging boom. After the timber mills shut down in the 1930s, the town fell into disrepair for awhile before being rediscovered in the 1950s by artists and bohemians. Today, it is still a great escape where cell phone coverage is non-existent and fast food chains are nowhere to be found.

Mendocino Headlands SunsetMendocino Headlands SunsetThe evening was so lovely that we just couldn’t see ourselves spending it indoors in a restaurant, so despite the visitor center’s aggressive push to utilize their fine dining coupons, we instead chose to buy a bottle of wine and some delicious sandwiches and picnic out on the headlands, an easy walk from our inn. We couldn’t have made a better choice. Fortunately, we got there early enough before sunset to get the premier bench atop the cliffs, and were even fortunate enough to be serenaded by a young woman who sat nearby playing a stringed instrument in her lap—I think it might have been a dulcimer. It couldn’t get much better.

Didjeridoo Dreamtime Inn at DuskDidjeridoo Dreamtime Inn at DuskBut better it did get. The next morning we awoke to the smells of breakfast wafting up the stairs. Now, we don’t stay in inns and motels much because of the RV, but my past experiences of “continental breakfasts” consisted of cheerios from a big plastic dispenser, supermarket bagels, and those little cream cheese and jelly packages. What we were about to experience was not of the same species.

This innkeeper was really something. That morning, we, and the other fortunate guests of the inn, were treated to one of the most delicious breakfasts I have ever had: scrambled eggs with bell peppers, candied pecan bacon, and Orange-Maple French Toast. I don’t know why his girlfriend ever left him.

Another walk out on the headlands, where the early morning sunlight was perfect, completed our wonderful stay in Mendocino.


Point Arena HeadlandsPoint Arena HeadlandsMendocino is a charming and picturesque hamlet of 1,100 residents along the Pacific Coast Highway (Route 1), about 170 miles north of San Francisco. Built by homesick New Englanders during the logging boom of the 1850s, the town resembles a New England village with Victorian gingerbread mansions, white picket fences, and rose gardens. The logging days are long gone, and today the town if full of upscale Bed and Breakfasts, shops, and restaurants.

The spectacular Mendocino Headlands State Park surrounds the village, with trails crisscrossing the bluffs and rocky coves.

Mendocino location map in "high definition"

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