While we rushed through Oregon eager to reach California, we imagined the clouds parting to reveal the glorious sun on our pasty Canadian skin. Sweet California did not disappoint, and as we crossed the border the rain wondrously stopped and the sun emerged to welcome us to the sunny state. With little knowledge of what to expect, simply armed with a personal recommendation, we were set on taking the coastal scenic Highway #1 through Northern California. Offseason, mid-January, had us feeling lucky to be cruising the windy, coastal roads with no one on our tail. And, when a local happened to catch up with us (which they very easily did) we’d swiftly let them pass while they offered up a courteous wave and smile, and they carried on.
The old highway twisted throughout the rugged landscape. Up into the hillside forests of towering thick redwoods and then back down alongside streams and rivers in lush green valleys. We spotted elk and hawks and after stopping for some photos, we followed the road as it returned back to the dark coastline where the large waves crashed down with a deafening sound onto the black sand beaches littered with rocky points.
It wasn’t long until we wanted to pull over to a vista point and breath in the salty air. Large birds flew overhead and grew in numbers as Penny quickly made some of her favourite “high school” sandwiches. By the time we scarfed them down, we had an audience of several seagulls squacking loudly, demanding we share our meal. We packed up and threw the vegetable ends out only to witness a bird battle royale as we left the ocean bluff pull out.
Then we arrived into the town of Mendocino. While the whole county had us in awe, the town stole our hearts with it’s beautiful Victorian-era homes boasting detailed shingle patterns, with belts and scallops, drawing your eye into each minute detail.
The water towers stood proud next to Queen Anne homes and small saltbox cottages, each adorned with white picket fences and wind chimes ringing from decks that overlooked the bluff.
Along Main Street you could find artist studios and cafes, a quaint grocer, beautiful church and friendly volunteer firehall.
While the sun was starting to close the day we caught a view of the lighthouse at Point Cabrillo Light Station and quickly rushed to see if we could make it to the point before dark.
We had the park to ourselves, apart from a few deer…
…and these seals who couldn’t quite decide if we were friend or foe.
As darkness crept in we found our way to a park on the river. While we drove in the last vehicles drove out, and we found a little nook to set up for the night. As we cooked up dinner, we heard some weighted footsteps and heavy breathing from across the river.. then, as we ate, we heard the beast again with some throaty vocals. Perhaps an Elk? ..or maybe the elusive Big Foot? The locals in the area seemed to love the idea of Big Foot, with statues and trinkets everywhere, so maybe he was our neighbour the night?!