Rain!!!! How dare it rain! We woke to a bleak morning and soon after breakfast we were on our way to Mendocino. We continued along US101 until we spotted an off ramp labelled 'Avenue of the Giants' where we turned off to follow the old highway for the next 40 or 50 kilometres as it wound through stands of huge, magnificent redwoods. The road was quiet and generally in good condition and by this time the rain had stopped. I felt quite happy to potter along at 40mph without feeling harassed by following drivers. We only stopped in a few places as we had probably already seen the best of the redwoods further north. At the town of Leggett we turned onto California highway 1 which wound its was through the coastal range to the sea and then continued alongside the coast. Here and there we stopped to take in the views of the wild coastline once again marvelling at the quantity of driftwood washed up on some of the black sand beaches.
We stopped for lunch in Fort Bragg before moving to the Point Cabrillo Light Station Historic Park. It was here that we felt the full force of the wind that was blowing in from the sea. The day had been cool but most of the time we were insulated inside the car. Now, as we walked a half mile, to the lighthouse the wind blew full into our faces. I think that the windchill factor was in the single digits, I wore my polarfleece beanie for the first time on the trip. The light continues to work each day but more for tourists than for shipping while the lightkeeper's houses are able to be rented for vacations.
Soon after this visit we drove into Mendocino and found he Seagull Inn, our B&B for the next two nights. Our room is small with only double bed, the smallest we have had all trip, but it is quite cosy. As it was getting late we did a quick familiarisation walk before booking ourselves a table at the Mendocino Cafe.
Next morning we headed off for a walk around the Mendocino Headlands State Park which is only here due to some strong politicking by concerned locals who prevented developers from getting their hands on land owned by timber companies. The town was essentially established by a timber company when the redwood forests were discovered and timber cutting and milling operations were begun in the 1850s. The wind was, if anything, even stronger than the day before. This took some of the fun out of our walk because we were constantly battling to move against it. Nevertheless the views of the rugged cliffs, sea caves and bays were worth the trouble. In one of the bays we finally saw some sea lions frolicking but they were too far away for a useful photo.
At 11am we joined a walking tour of Mendicino township. A gent dressed in period costume and taking the alias Mr E C Williams, gave us a talk about how he came to establish a timber mill, along with some other investors, in the town. Along the way he explained that Mendicino has no central water supply and all water comes from wells where it is pumped into tanks which stand on towers throughout the town. In its heyday there were over a hundred such towers each with its own windmill pumping water from the wells. Today the remaining towers are still used although electric pumps have replaced windmills. The walk and talk was quite interesting but Mr Williams (aka George Simpson) did go on a bit and sometimes took a long time to get to a point. He gave us information about many of the main buildings in town as well as some of the historic personalities of the region. We certainly got our money's worth because we were with him for two and a half hours. By the end of that time we were getting very cold and hungry. After lunch Maree and I took in a few of the galleries in town and also did some window shopping before deciding that it was time for a bit of a rest and warm up back at the inn.
Tomorrow we have a long drive back to San Jose as we have decided to skip the last part of the tour to Muir Woods and maybe do a day trip to Monterrey on Monday or Tuesday.