Gas $2.86/gallon in Fort Bragg, California
Red Lion Inn, Eureka
$71/night + $15 pet fee
Nice big room with a view of Humboldt Bay. Very nice staff. Location not great (can’t walk to anything), but there’s a restaurant on-site.
Beautiful weather today — unusually warm for October, 82 degrees. Just 40 miles north of Point Arena is Mendocino.
Mendo has long been one of my favorite destinations on the Northern coast. A former logging town, it’s obvious the lumberjacks tried hard to out-do each other here — the houses are Victorian masterpieces, worthy of the San Francisco gentry who originally occupied them. The town is very walkable, no matter where you stay. Now a haven for the artistic, and the artfully unemployed (the locals call them “trustafarians”), Mendocino is mostly cute stores, art galleries, restaurants, B&Bs, and gorgeous beaches and ocean vistas. I always like to stay at the MacCallum House, a gorgeous boutique hotel and originally home to one of Mendo’s founding families. I loved staying in the converted (but still working) water tower suite. The on-site restaurant is one of the best in town, and their breakfasts are amazing.
GLASS BEACH IN FORT BRAGG
This magical sea glass destination started out as a dump. Years ago, the good citizens of Fort Bragg dumped their trash into the ocean, as so many coastal towns did for years. Now the ocean has returned the favor by recycling the trash into tiny treasures and depositing them on beaches. The former trash is now protected and you are not allowed to remove any sea glass from the beach, but it makes great photos. A cool place to stay while you’re trolling the beach is Shoreline Cottages, a cool retro-style cottage haven recently updated by new owner Paul, who is a wonderful host. Very pet-friendly!
I hated this drive the first time I did it a couple of years ago. The forest plunged me into darkness in the middle of the day, and the curves blew out my tire sensors (all 4!). But I drive slower now. I’m not in a hurry to get anyplace. And there’s something really sexy about taking curves slowly and enjoying the view (take note, future boyfriends!). And it was a sunny day, so some light did leak through. And the redwoods are amazing. PLUS…it’s home to some of the most-fun roadside attractions, where all the redwoods seem to end up carved into cute bears…
Confusion Hill and The Grandfather Tree
World’s Tallest Free-standing Redwood Chainsaw Carving (according to Ripley’s Believe It or Not), stands at Confusion Hill. At 44 feet tall, this totem was carved in place from a dead tree, with scaffolding erected around it. The train and the snack bar are not open after Labor Day, so the only thing to do is wander around looking at the exhibits, and enter the Gravity House for $5.
And just down the road, the Grandfather Tree seems to be a really old redwood. Hmmm.
This is an adorable historic town that’s in serious trouble. Beautifully-restored historic downtown with original Victorian architecture, a gorgeous boardwalk on the bay, funky stores and restaurants, amazing murals…and you can’t walk around without being harassed by the numerous vagrants and homeless people. None of them were aggressive — in fact, the men went out of their way to be polite and ask about my dog and comment on the beautiful sunset. But even the local news referenced the “problem” several times, and there are crime issues, including theft. While I felt safe, I was never sure if my car was safe. I do feel safe traveling with a dog — Panda is small, but mighty. He’s a ferocious protecter.
But it’s sad. It’s hard to enjoy your vacation when you see so much suffering around you. Why do we have homeless people in America? In the richest country on the planet???
So, in spite of a great hotel with a view of Humboldt Bay, I decided to move on, deeper into the Redwood Forest…