I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to drive up to Mendocino for four days and work with Visit Mendocino to capture the best of what the county has to offer. Mendocino is one of my favorite places. The rugged coastlines, dramatic weather, and tons of local eats and lodging keep me coming back time and time again.
For this trip I got to bring along Nicolette, and our friends Justin and Danielle. Four days with a group of four friends. Yes please.
I'm a huge coffee head, so naturally I have to stop and check out every café I come across. Black Oak Coffee Roasters did not disappoint! Great coffee and great baristas. If you're in the area, definitely stop off here for some of the good stuff.
Sometimes getting somewhere is just as good as actually being there. Driving along Orrs Springs Road on our way to Montgomery woods was exactly that. Beautiful views and dramatic weather. Some of my favorite things.
The road starts in Ukiah, drives up and over the hills, plunges back down into the valley and under the canopy of the redwoods. It winds its way along and abruptly dumps you onto Highway 1 just south of the town of Mendocino. Even if you don't stop. Go drive it.
Not to take anything away from Montgomery woods though. This was my first time here, and I loved it. Everybody did. We didn't see a single other person the whole time we were there. Being able to walk among giants, taking in the silence of the forest and seeing my friends reactions to this place is the whole reason I love exploring like this.
Mendocino the town. So much to see here. Old Victorian architecture, food, lighthouses, more coffee, beaches, and the headlands. There's more but trying to fit everything in on one trip is futile. Hence my earlier statement of coming back time and time again.
We had an appointment to tour/photograph the Point Arena Lighthouse, so we ran out of time exploring the town like we wanted.
Cutting it a little close, we hit Highway 1 and sped off towards our destination. We couldn't go too fast though, four people in a loaded down Land Cruiser doesn't handle so great on a windy, wet road. Oh yeah, it seemed to dump rain every time we got in the car. But almost always cleared up when we got out. I'll take it.
There was an accident though, blocking the whole road. We ended up turning around and heading back towards town. I found a road inland that would drop us back on the other side of the accident. We made it to the lighthouse with just a few minutes to spare.
After introducing ourselves, we ran up to the top, stopping just long enough to snap some photos and get the job done!
That night we stayed at one of the best Inn's I think I've ever been to. The Elk Cove Inn.
We arrived late after being hung up shooting at the other locations. The staff had all gone home and gone to bed already. But they left us a little scavenger hunt for our rooms. We each got a letter telling which room we were in and where it was. When we got to the rooms, we were blown away.
They were beautiful, the inside was cozy and had beautiful wood and tile. Bath tubs and showers that we dream about. And the views, well they speak for themselves.
Unfortunately, we were only there for the one night, so we didn't' really have time to enjoy the Inn like we wanted. However, our reason for leaving early the next morning was well worth it.
We went and rented some handmade redwood outrigger canoes and paddled up the Big River. The canoes were gorgeous, easy to maneuver, and I didn't have to worry about getting dunked with my camera equipment thanks to the pontoons coming out on either side.
The guy that rented the canoes to us said to keep an eye out for seals, river otters, deer, and bear. We unfortunately didn't see much wildlife, other than a curious seal that followed us up and down a stretch of the river!
A day full of adventures, our next stop was the Rail Bikes based out of the Skunk Train Depot in Fort Bragg!
The owner had just recently acquired them over the summer, and they were a big hit! Ever since the tunnel collapsed along the tracks, the train ride hasn't been quite so exciting. So to spice things up they invested in these bikes.
Two to a bike, battery powered to help you pedal up those hills, and a more intimate look at the backcountry leading through the hills outside of Fort Bragg.
The rest of the day we spent exploring our hotel for the night, and Mackerricher State Park.
The park is beautiful, sandy beach to ourselves, boardwalks leading out over the bluffs with views of the ocean in every direction, and steps down to the tide pools teeming with life.
Mother Nature gave us a special sunset for our last night on the coast. Some of the most dramatic skies I've ever seen have been on this coast.
On our last day, we woke up for some coffee before heading out to the Pennyroyal Farm.
Sister farm to the Anderson Valley Vineyards, Pennyroyal sources it's own cheese and wine. Take the tour to see the property, along with their herd of goats. Goats, that remind me a lot of dogs. Seeking out attention and loving pets and scratches.
Visit Mendocino definitely saved the best for last here.