Monday, June 24, 2024

Auf der Straße nach Mendocino (On the Road to Mendocino)

 Why a German title?, you might ask. "Mendocino", the German adaptation of the song with the same name by the Sir Douglas Quintet, was a German Schlager (hit song) by Michael Holm back in 1969 and the biggest selling single that year. I was nine years old at that time, right before I started high school (high school in Germany starts with 5th grade). At that time I was still listening dominantly to German pop music, which changed a couple years later when I had learned enough English to at least understand a little bit of all the British pop music that was swapping over to the continent. But in 1969 it was German Schlager for me, and "Mendocino" was a real earworm. Of course I had never heard of a place with that name, had no idea whether a place like that actually existed and had no clue where it would be located.

Fast forward 32 years, when we moved to Santa Rosa in Northern California. On the map I saw that up north along the coast on Highway 1 there was a place called Mendocino. My childhood came back visiting - guess where we took one of our first bigger trips that summer of 2001? 

We fell in love with Mendocino right away when we first saw it sitting on the cliffs. It's a quaint little town, often shrouded in low clouds and coastal fog, with cute little shops - a wonderful independent bookshop, a fantastic optics store where many years ago I bought my binoculars and later our scope, and a delicious chocolate "Haus" among them - and a trail out to the Mendocino Headlands. Mendocino has become our annual Mother's Day trip.

You can drive up Highway 1 to get to Mendocino, but we usually opt to take Highway 128 for the trip to Mendocino (and back along 1), and so we did on this year's Mother's Day as well. After a very good breakfast in Cloverdale, we drove up into the mountains on a very winding road, trundled along the vineyards of Anderson Valley and finally dipped down into the Redwoods.

This is a favorite part of the drive for us. Driving through the forest with those towering trees is truly magnificent. See for yourself:

Of course we stopped several times. It's not just what the forest looks like, but the way it smells. I have always loved the scent of a forest.

It's not only the towering trees that capture my attention, but also what happens beneath them, on the forest floor.

But looking up to the canopy is still my favorite thing to do here.

Shortly after leaving the Redwoods we merged with Highway 1 and drove the last short stretch to Mendocino. The moment we hit the coast we experienced the typical Northern California phenomenon - sunshine everywhere, fog at the coast. In the same old fashion Mendocino appeared overcast and gray. No surprise.

What I like most about this little town beside the wonderful gardens people have here, are the many old towers, most of them watertowers. It's just a couple years ago that Mendocino was in a severe water crisis when much of the drinking water needed had to be trucked in daily. Just imagine that, sitting right next to a huge body of water.

Of course we decided to walk the Point Mendocino Trail out to the headlands. It was windy and chilly, but still we enjoyed it. 

Someone left this bouquet at the bench near the start of the trail. 

When we were in Mendocino last year the Headlands were covered with native lupines, but we were hard pressed to find any this year. Instead, the land was covered with these yellow flowers that I haven't succeeded in identifying.

But we did see some native plants like Checker Bloom (Sidalcea malviflora), Silver Lupine (Lupinus albifrons), Common Yarrow (Achillea millefolium), California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica), Douglas Iris (Iris douglasiana), and California Sea Thrift (Armeria maritima californica).

Of course we also saw gulls, but I'm not even attempting to identify this one since I have a hard time in correct gull identification. I leave that to David who travels with birds.

I was never able to find out the story behind the Mendocino Headlands Totem Pole.

The views from anywhere on the Headlands are stunning and even more so when the sun makes an appearance. We didn't have such luck this time.

Afterwards we got our treats at the Chocolate Haus (so so good) and visited the bookshop where I found Rosanna Xia's book "California Against the Sea - Visions for our Vanishing Coastline". Ever since I had heard her talk in a webinar, I wanted to get my hands on this book. Then we slowly drove back via Highway 1, stopping in Gualala at the Seafood Shack for fish and chips as we always do, and just enjoyed this stunning drive, that always takes my breath away, no matter how often I drive here. The sun finally came out as well and let the ocean sparkle.

Here is a very short snippet of the drive, already closer to home just north of Jenner:

If you are interested to read more about Mendocino, you can find posts and photos (some even with sun!) here, here, and here


Tom said... were nine years old and I was twenty two and married!I remember the Sir Douglas Quintet well. Wow, you have some fabulous trees to look up at. Have for taking me along, I wouldn't be able to make the trip in person.

roentare said...

The trees look up view is incredible. So are the coastal beauties

My name is Erika. said...

I've done this headlands trail walk. It was many years ago, but I remember how beautiful Mendicino was. And the redwoods too. They are amazing trees, aren't they? I really like that photo where you captured part of your face while you are looking up. It looks like you had an amazing road trip. hugs-Erika

Elephant's Child said...

What a wonderful, wonderful trip. And how I loved the perspective of the photos looking up to the tree canopy. Many thanks.

Jeanie said...

This place is beautiful -- everything from gardens to shore. And those "looking up" shots through the trees are fantastic. What a fabulous sky and that blue and green is stunning.

Gretchen Joanna said...

I had thought those yellow flowered plants are mustard, the "tree" sort that I saw on the Marin Headlands not long ago, photos near the bottom of this post:

And I've also seen them out there on that Mendocino Headlands trail. But maybe they are wild radish?? I am going to research this more... glad for the prompt.

I love that trail, on which I seem to need a parka against the brisk winds, no matter what season of the year!

David M. Gascoigne, said...

All of these shots are beautiful, Carola, but the ones that give me goosebumps are those that look up into the towering redwoods, where the impression of nature’s cathedrals is truly reinforced. To think that we can wilfully destroy these old growth forests is a sin that is hard for me to contemplate and could never condone. Thanks for bringing this moment of inspiration into my life. May those forests live forever. Hugs - David

DUTA said...

I'm always fascinated by the sight of the towerlike trees.
Most of the trees in the parks of my vicinity look old and bent, and that makes me feel rather sad.

Valerie-Jael said...

Fabulous photos, and I am humming that song right now! Have a great sommer, hugs, Valerie
Happy T Day!

Mae Travels said...

Beautiful photos! It’s been many years since I have visited Mendocino, and I’d love to go back some day. THe song never reached me — though I remember other music from that era.
best, mae at

Haddock said...

Lovely pictures. What happens beneath on the forest floor is always interesting and we ignore them most of the time.

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Thanks, Carola, for taking us along on the visit to Mendocino as I doubt whether I will visit in erson. The canopy of the towering trees was amazing and I would certainly be looking up and taking photos too.

Soma @ said...

It was fun to read about the song. It must have felt amazing to see the trees. They are so beautiful and amazing!


Teresa said...

Maravillosas fotografías de los árboles, las demás también me gustan. Que tal sigue tu rodilla? La mía va poco a poco, la pierna se me inflama bastante. Besos.