maandag 2 december 2013

1 dec: Mendocino and Point Cabrillo Lighthouse

pictures at the bottom!

On the road at nine, heading north. We've never been north of San Francisco. We crossed the Golden Gate bridge first, and passed the town of Sausalito that looked fancy and nice. they also had a lot of nice looking houseboats.
We drove north on the 101 and the villages all stayed nice and fancy. soon we entered winearea. All the villages had Spanish sounding names and harbours (marinas?) and there were wineries everywhere with fancy names.  the landscape went from brownish hills to more scandinavic looking hills with trees.
we mde some observations on the highway. of the cars we've seen so far in California. 50% of the cars are pick ups or other big cars, 25% are Prius-es 23% all kinds, 1% with Texan numberplates and 1% policecars. We see so many of them! and now even within 100 meter FIVE highwaypatrols/Sherrifs/Motorpolice that stopped a driver on the side of the road. we see so many pulled over cars with police every day, but this was a bit bizar.
Also: zero Volvo's in LA and a lot of Volvo's in San Francisco :-D
after 1,5 hr we had to leave the 101 to highway 128 to Mendocino. When preparing the trip, I noticed it was a small road, but I wasnt prepared for what would follow.
First of all, the first 10 miles were build by a rollarcoaster designer. I'm glad I did this road with Robert as driver and not anyone else, I would have gotten really sick. Robert was very carefull.
The first part of the road consisted of hills with trees and some forest. it felt a bit desolated and we enjoyed the ride. Some small villages showed up, some as big as 30 inhabitants. Boonville looked really pretty with it's bars and shops with wooden porches. Philo followed, but smaller. Sometimes there were just some wooden houses along the road.
As it was a small road, there were several "turn outs" made, places where slower traffic (us) could pull over and let the faster traffic (locals) pass. very well made, esp on the way back, in the dark, we used everyone of them.
after a while we entered a MASSIVE forrest. The trees were HUGE. we've never seen something like it. The trees were not only skyhigh, also very wide. it was the Navarro Redwood State Park. The trees were redwoods. We dont have them at home and they're very impressive. They took away almost all the daylight!

The 128 merged into the "Coastal Highway 1" and thats a very pretty and impressive road too. It follows the coastal line and you have spectacular views on the coast with rocks and big waves and rough beaches, and even fjords (might  be called different here)
And there was Mendocino. There you go, Doug Sahm.
 we're not even that big doug sahm fans, but after finding out where it was I thought it would be nice to go there. We now had the time, and it looked like a nice village (only 1100 inhabitants!) and I also found out about the Point Cabrillo Lighthouse just outside the town.

We went to the lighthouse (vuurtoren) first. It was a nice walk towards the shoreline, after being in the car for 3 hrs, and after a few turns the light house showed up. It looks like a tiny church standing on a cliff. There s a welcome center inside and we were welcomed by an enthousiastic volunteer who told us all about the lighthouse. According to the pictures hanging there, it was in real bad shape before it was rescued! They depended on donations and they had some souvenirs so we bought a bunch of postcards and a magnet (yay) etc. Another volunteer arrived and said we just missed the whales. they were nice dedicated people and where stunned when we said we came from Belgium.

we walked around outside a bit and looked at the lightkeeper houses. The light of the lighthouse was working and it looked kinda funny. Robert went down the "death threatning" cliff :-S but I stayed up there, and we walked back to the car. Glad we did this! Also glad that there are people out there caring for projects like this.

we drove back to Mendocino looking for food and gas. Downtown looked like it came from a movie, old buildings, cute caf├ęs and shops. First thing we noticed was that strange churchtower. Was it a church? What are they doing??
second thing we noticed was that everything said "organic". we looked around a bit and picked out a pizza joint. Robert ordered something we call "pizza hawaii" at home and he was happy :-D For me the falafel. Both were organic, mine was also vegan. Robert orderd a coke "we only have Blue Sky" okay, but his face when he noticed that was organic too, was priceless.
The lunch was good!
Got some coffee, also good, the coffee hasnt been that bad this trip.
 Quick bathroom stop, and there was a sign that said "our well has dried up we have to buy water now dont spill it" I stared at it for a while and thought it was just some way to say to not spoil water, (city girl talking here) but later we saw something funny in the town.

we asked directions where to get gas, she said we'd best go to Fort Bragg 9 miles north, because here it would be expensive. We remembered a gasstation before we entered Mendocino, so we decided to drive there, we still had a bit left good for a few miles. If it was closed we would be doomed though.

 walking around the big street we saw... Mendocino Chocolate Company! Aha! I ran in and looked at the chocolates, sweets and gift, for a souvenir. When Robert found me, he pointed out the fun t-shirts, saying Mendocino Chocolate Company; double win. They were inexpensive but we had to search for one without lightstains on it (like it has been hanging in the sun) all the red ones were stained so I ended up with a blue one. And one chocolate, called Mendocino Macho. It was really good but a bit too much. I should stop trying local stuff RIGHT HERE (I'm not doing that bad, but still)Their neighbours were a shop for medicinal use cannabis :-D We saw a lot of them in SF too allready.

We tried to reach the beach/shoreline and just started walking in one direction. The cute little streets were filled with beautifull wooden houses, art galleries and ... watertowers! They all had their own watertower! in all shapes and sizes, some really old and some really nice. it was a bit weird to see.
we reached the edge of the town, and walked towards the cliffs. We heard lots of frogs hidden in the grass, looked around a bit, but it wasnt posible to go down on the beach from here, so we went back into town. First we saw some kind shop with recycled art and stuff. They sold cool numberplate-art, like the huge mural piece, a map of America made with numberplates of each state, cut in the shape of that state. It was a reall hippie shop and the "win a Prius!" poster on the door just completed it.
Then we saw a shop with hippie clothes and a shirt caught my attention. I asked the owner about it and she was really zen and in a way she reminded me of our friend Betty Lou (hi BL!!) while I was trying on the shirt she started talking with Robert and all of a sudden I heard "I lived in Den Haag when I was 8" haha!! she could still say her adress in perfect sounding Dutch! we talked about all kinds of stuff, she was a real lovely lady and her shop is supernice. I told her she had to rename it in "We Only Sell Nice Stuff" saw a gorgeous dress - no, left it there! (its still there, waiting for me to come back one day)

outside it started to get dark and cold, and there was even some rain. We walked in some random streets again, and then back to our car. For some reason, even in Mendocino there was quite a group of drunks and weirdos on teh street. some of them were yelling after a local old lady and we didnt feel very well about that. he came even after her a few meters but then he went back.

we had a long drive ahead and  we left. Mendocino, you're a cute little coastal town. Doug Sahm; thank you for taking us there.
There was a Chevron, but we went to the one we saw outside the village. It appeared quicker than we thought, and we werent sure, but didnt have the guts to keep driving to the next one. You're really in the middle of absolutely nowhere there. No GPS and cellphone reach or nothing, so we only had one option... put gas in the tank that costs 5 DOLLAR A GALLON!!!
So we didnt fill it up ofcourse! But as a bonus, the woman inside was very friendly. She even ran outside when she saw us messing around because we didnt see there was this handle you had to pull.
(we're working on "getting gas in the United States for dummies" right now :-D ) and she sold nice postcards AND normal sized bags of salt& pepper chips, so I got one for Robert.

the sun was setting and we pulled over on a parking and tried to get to the beach but the sign said "no beach acces" the sun was a orange messy spot in grey clouds and went down fast. We walked around a bit but it was cold. We reached the end of the cliff and there was a nice sign saying something about unsafety so we went back. (hey at least they warn you)
a few spectacular views on the rocky coast and we drove into the forrest again.

the 100km road back to the big highway through the dark was a bit of a challenge with all those speeding locals showing up behind us. It was difficult to find the "turn out" curve where they could pass you, in the dark, but no one was annoying about the fact we were in their way. the part through the Redwoods was scary and exciting at the same time.

Bit of a boring trip back on the 101. We needed a break and took the gas/food exit in...Petaluma. Nice clean restrooms (AGAIN) but I saw a streetsign that said "historical downtown"
Oh! Robert didnt feel like going there, and in the end he said "we'll go there if you eat the left over spices in the bottom of the chipsbag in one time" (= bunch of pepper)
I went "okay!" and poured it in my mouth, no problem.
Then: "ugh"
then "agh"
then I had to get rid of it and drank two bottles of water, and we allmost had to stop because I was sure i was going to throw up. yeah, real smart people here.
But, we were driving to the Historical Downtown district. We got there and I saw some glimpses of nice buildings, but not a lot because it was dark. Then we got lost trying to get back on the highway again, but because of that we saw the pretty trainstation :-)
I looked it up in the motel, it IS very pretty and charming!

Back to SF. Some toll stress to get back on the Golden Gate bridge, but it turned out you dont have to stop and they charge you automaticly. Then we took the wrong exit and ended up... somewere on the wrong place. We ended up driving down California (street, blvd, something) and... we passed the Whole Foods where I wanted to get dinner!! as it was quite a walk from the hotel, Robert tried to find a parking spot but it was impossible and we drove ahead. I said I would walk back, but we were now on Franklinstreet and that was a very steep upgoing street.
In the end I decided to use my brains for once and we walked up to the Safeway a few blocks from the motel. I think its a nice shop during daytime, but late in the evening all shelfs are empty and the deli section is closed. It also smells horrible. But we got a nice discount with our Safeway clubcard :-) Robert didnt feel like a challenge and I picked out some Cadbury chocolate for him. They also have imported dutch cheese!

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