We woke up early to the sound of rain so we promptly went back to sleep ! When we finally decided to get out of bed we discovered the rain had stopped and we had beautiful blue sky and lots of sunshine. We took off up the road a few miles to a spot that Julia and James (the Sportsmobile folks) had told us about- The Drury Chaney Grove in the redwoods. They told us what a beautiful hike it was and they weren't exaggerating. I’m glad we started the day that way.
I have been on Highway 1 from Leggett to Stinson Beach-Jim hasn't. I should have warned him about the 2 mountains you had to climb to arrive at the coast but I didn't. Shame shame shame on me. As we ascended the first one, he kept saying how much further Babes ? My response was always just a little bit further. By that time I was getting the stink eye with every 5 mph curve in the road. So I thought hmm,better not let him know about the drastic descent and 2nd ascent-after all there was no turning back. Can the stink eye get any worse ? Yes it can-when you are going down a 7% grade in a motorhome you really need to watch your brakes-and in between stink eyes that is exactly what Jim did. I won't even tell you about the conversation when he discovered the 2nd mountain we had to go up. But oh when we descended out onto the coast-it was awesome. Sunshine,blue skies and rocky rugged coastline as far as you could see. It always takes my breath away.
Jim had a huge knot in his neck from his fabulous driving so when he saw the Pacific Star Winery he decided we needed to make a stop. When we pulled in we saw a sign for private members wine tasting-but after the drive Jim endured he wasn't letting any little sign stop him. The folks at the winery and tasting never questioned our appearance and were more than welcoming. What a spot for a winery ! We didn't want to leave . We tasted 6 of their wines and bought 3 bottles for the road. We wandered around the property to walk off the tastings and just relax enjoying the moment.
Pacific Star Winery
We left the winery heading south towards Mendocino,figuring we would boon dock close by. We found a spot to boon dock just south of Mendocino, right off the highway. But once we pulled over we realized how close we were to a housing development and decided to move a little further south. As we rounded a curve coming down off the overlook we spotted Van Damme State Park. There were 2 sections to the park-one in the forest one out on the beach. Of course we chose the one on the beach. We never wondered why no one else was camping there-we felt fortunate to have the whole spot to ourselves.
That was until about 930pm. We had dozed off and were woken up by flying “f” words . They were flying all over the place and getting louder and louder-they seemed to be aimed at someone called “Dawn”. The thoughts of a fight on the beach raised the hairs on the back of my neck. Jim took it in stride and said we would be all right. I kept trying to figure out why they parked alongside of us when there was a huge parking lot to choose from. Jim, trying to calm me down, kept saying don’t worry, it will be okay. They stopped fighting and I started to relax. We only had a little crack in the blinds to peek out of so all I could see was a man with a black stocking cap and dark jacket. Then another couple got out of the car-putting the odds in their favor 4 to 1. Hairs on the neck straight up at attention again. The other couple seemed mellower. Then I saw it, flames from a lighter-hmm smoking cigarettes or a joint-I only wish. The flames kept glowing and in their glow I could see the crack pipe. Great, now what? Jim and I, coming from law enforcement backgrounds, are familiar with crack head behavior so I started to have visions of them getting the big idea that it would be good to sleep in Ruby instead of in their little car. Fortunately, I was wrong, I could hear them saying their good nights-one couple got the car the other the beach. It took me about 2 hours of hearing nothing but the waves crashing to finally fall asleep.
The pullout I wish we would have stayed at !
Van Damme State Park-scene of the crime !
The morning started about 8am with the flying “f” words again-and on the menu for breakfast-the crack pipe. I was frantically trying to get 911 on the phone while Jim was trying to peek out of the little spot we had to see what was happening outside of Ruby. What we didn’t see at night was that one of the guys was covered in tattoos and was huge and his pit-bull (that we missed spotting in the dark) was just as big! We felt our advantage was that they didn’t know who was inside. By the time 911 figured out who had jurisdiction over the campsite, the crack heads were pulling out of the lot. It took them about 10 minutes to go 300 feet. They drove, stopped, drove, stopped-you get the picture. I was never so happy to see the car heading south on Highway 1 and thanked God that we had dodged any crack head encounter! They left behind a sleeping mat and some clothing strewn across the spot they were parked in-but we weren't going to hurry down the road to return it to them.
You never saw two campers pack up and take off as quickly as we did. We weren't taking any chances that they were going to realize that they left their gear behind and return. I was so glad and relieved to be walking the streets of Mendocino in the sunshine and able to laugh about our experience. Lesson learned-no more boon docking where there is easy access and no more empty parking lots no matter how inviting they look at sunset ! At least not until we get the Gatling gun mounted on Ruby’s roof.
Scenes from Mendocino, January 12th:
On the plus side is Mendocino-one of my very favorite places in the world. The first time I saw Mendocino, we had come in from Willits and the fog had just lifted and there it was-just like the clouds parting over Brigadoon. All the pretty little houses surrounded by gorgeous gardens. It will always hold a special spot in my heart. And the morning we were there we were treated to what locals said were the highest waves they had seen in at least 30 years. The surf crashing reverberated throughout the whole town.
After some fabulous fresh brewed coffee and toasted bagels-enjoyed on the back porch of the Visitor Center- we took off again for our adventure-hoping never to see the crack heads again.
We so enjoyed all the little towns along Highway 1 and the scenery is just incredible. We saw a sign for a lighthouse and decided to take the little side trip to investigate. So glad we did because we discovered Point Arena. It’s a beautiful short winding road back to the lighthouse. The day was made for exploring-hot sunshine and cool winds. The bright white of the lighthouse against the blue sky was incredible.
I'm writing this from a very spotty internet connection so stay tuned for more about Point Arena tomorrow ! Happy Trails to you...