Saturday, October 3, 2020


 ...seeking respite from, well, everything...


In an effort to escape the end-of-the-world smoke of our inland valley berg, we loaded up the all-electric Chevy Bolt with two night’s worth of duds and headed over to Mendocino.

The quaint New England-esque village is day-trip-able, but by staying a couple of nights, more could be explored and more in depth.

Speaking of depths, long on the bucket list was a hike into the depths of Van Damme State Park’s Fern Canyon.

A lovely trail traces the Little River (we never ran across the Little River Band, however) through a verdant, lush understory of ferns and fall color...

...ducking under fallen redwoods and firs, cleared in some places to maintain the trail, but left to decay and return nature to nature.

Oddities appear throughout these sheltered environs.  Here, an alien spaceship appears to have collided with a Douglas fir.

 Two-and-a-half miles in, the trail forks...

...offering a loop (with quite an elevation gain) into the Pygmy Forest...


...a region where a fifty-year-old tree might rise to five or six feet on a three-quarter inch trunk.  Something about the particulars of this biome.  The air up here is much warmer (and much smokier) than down in Fern Canyon.


Completing the loop, our trail passes through a century-old burn zone that displays the resiliency of the area sequoia.


Along the way, it looks as if we may have discovered the source of a particularly nasty signature circumstance of the year 2020.  Who knew it might be plant based?


Details delight as we complete the 8 ½ mile sojourn along the Little River through this lush and often over-looked Eden.



Upon the recommendation of friends, we holed-up at the lovely Headlands Inn... 


...walking distance from Mendocino’s Main Street and the glorious bluffs beyond.


A sea stack offers refuge for pelicans, cormorants and gulls.


Evening finds us enjoying fine northern Italian fare in the garden at Luna Trattoria – great wine list, thoughtful, efficient service, and a delightful Italian owner with a deep baritone voice – where I snap a picture of their rustic shed (because I like rustic sheds).


We followed that with a late stroll down Mendocino’s deserted Main Street.


COVID-19 has taken a toll on the tourist industry and, this early October evening, I’m afraid it shows even here.



Like old sheds and old trucks, we can’t pass up an old lighthouse.  Point Cabrillo’s is only three miles up Highway 1.


It’s a half-mile walk from the parking area to the former lightkeeper’s residence.  Derelict roses edge the way...


...and a decrepit fence separates this space from that space – I suppose.


The Pacific is particularly active this morning, engaged in its eons-old quest to erode North America into the sea...


...and the Point Cabrillo Light Station has witnessed over a century of it.  (I’m reminded that I need to check my history book(s) and determine if Juan made it this far north as he explored California for Spain back in the day.)



Some hikes are a bust.  In our efforts to stave off re-entry into unhealthy air, we used a published guide to direct us to a little-used trail head just south of the Navarro River.  Once the route of the old state highway, the guide read: “Overgrown in spots...”


No kidding.  After plunging through about two hundred yards of nettles, tangled vinca, ivy, poison oak and downed power lines, we determined that discretion was the better part of valor and headed home.






Was it mentioned earlier that I dig old trucks?  Here’s one that could stand to be dug out...


The Headlands Inn offers great views, warm ambiance and breakfasts that simply can’t be matched. We will return.  Check ‘em out:


And check out Luna Trattoria while you’re at it:


(c) 2020

Church of the Open Road Press