San Francisco Trip In Review: Road Trip To Mendocino!

During the second day of Derek and my weekend stay in San Rafael, the four of us decided to take a road trip to the coastal town of Mendocino. Derek’s brother had recommended it highly, since he knows it is exactly the kind of thing we like to explore:  a town chock-full of artist galleries and quaint shops that is adjacent to a gorgeous state park.

Although the town of Mendocino has under one-thousand residents, it is heavily supported by day-trippers from SF, the nearby Alexander Valley wine industry, rural-roaming artists and hippies, and a military base several miles up the road. To get to the town, we had to drive many hours through wine country and a Redwood Forest – both of which bared incredible views. At certain points the roads became so windy as we maneuvered up/around the hills that we all felt a big of vertigo hit our systems!

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Winding hills through Mendocino County during our drive to the town

Standing in the Redwood Forest on the way to Mendocino

Standing in the Redwood Forest on the way to Mendocino

Once we arrived in Mendocino around 2pm, the town was packed with fellow travelers who were in town for the Mendocino film festival. Unfortunately it took much longer for us to get there than we had calculated, so we missed the lunch seatings at the restaurant we were planning to try (Cafe Beaujolais). However, we ended up at a friendly joint in the downtown area called the Goodlife Café and Bakery.

Split pea soup

Split pea soup

Mocha and chocolate chip cookie

Mocha and chocolate chip cookie

Bread pudding

Bread pudding

After grabbing a quick bite, we bee-lined over to the Ford House Museum building before it closed at 4pm in order to learn about the town’s history and scope out the artwork of one of Derek’s brother’s clients.

Ford House (image source: mendoparks.org)

Ford House (image source: mendoparks.org)

The building itself was constructed in 1854 for a local family, and now houses a historical museum featuring old photographs as well as models of the town in the nineteenth century. I loved wandering through the downstairs living rooms while learning about the logging industry that founded the town.

Once we made our way through the museum, the four of us ventured out into the Headlands state park to explore. I’m a huge fan of hiking, and we spent the rest of the trip exploring the sea-eroded rocks, grassy cliffs, and sandy beach.

Our group exploring the coast

Our group exploring the coast

Me taking a look at the rocky coast along the Headlands

Me taking a look at the rocky coast along the Headlands

View of the old Presbyterian Church from the Headlands

View of the old Presbyterian Church from the Headlands

An awesome tree I found

An awesome tree I found

Gorgeous wildflowers along the bluffs

Gorgeous wildflowers along the bluffs

View of the rocks jetting out into the Pacific

View of the rocks jetting out into the Pacific

Me and Derek enjoying our hike along the Headlands

Me and Derek enjoying our hike along the Headlands

Trail marker along the bluffs

Trail marker along the bluffs

Stunning view of the Mendocino coast

Stunning view of the Mendocino coast and vintage buildings

Walking over the rock tunnels

Walking over the rock tunnels

Matt and Liz exploring the rocks during low tide

Matt and Liz exploring the rocks during low tide

Graffiti on an old shipping dock

Graffiti on an old shipping dock

Me and Derek enjoying the sandy beach during a low tide

Me and Derek enjoying the sandy beach during a low tide

When it came time to head back to San Rafael (around 6:30pm so we could be pass the windy roads before dusk), I had an urge not to go. The coastline had bewitched me, and I felt like I could spend weeks exploring the trails along the water where the lush foliage and bright flowers grew effortlessly out of stony cliffs. I had never seen rocks and bluffs like the ones in Mendocino – and they inspired me.

Mark my words:  someday I will go back!

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