July: Mendocino County, CA
This month was again crazy busy because at the beginning of the month we celebrated my mom's birthday with a whole different getaway and I was trying to finalize everything to begin my Europe trip coming early August. Though Mendocino County is a drive from us, we knew we had to make this month, but we also knew we only had one day to do it. This was for sure not going to be an overnight trip. I picked the town at the absolute bottom of Mendocino County to visit, Gualala. We arrived in this small town after one of the worst drives or the worst drive I think I have ever taken. I have driven in snow and ice and on constant hills, but I truly don't believe that there is anything worse than Highway 1. I loooooved being able to drive so close to the coast the entire drive, but the road is so windy that even as the driver I was becoming carsick. I pulled over probably 5 times for my mom to catch a breath of fresh air and prevent her from getting sick. Once we finally arrived we agreed that we should find an alternate route home, but the only way out of Mendocino County is on windy roads, no matter in you take Highway 1 or another way, so our drive home again was going to be sickening. Though the town was small, I really enjoyed how close it was to the water and what it had to offer. We immediately parked in an open lot and saw the community teaming up for a Saturday outside market. I believe the local church and thrift teamed up to set up tables of used items as well as a small store close by as well. When I go to the Goodwill and other thrift stores, all I usually find is DVDS because that is one thing I love to collect. But, I scored the jackpot here. My mom had been begging me to get a wetsuit for when I paddleboard in the ocean so that my body doesn't turn so purple by the time I am done, but I was so reluctant due to the price. I found a used long-sleeve and down to the knee normal wetsuit for $5!!! I was so excited for this and now extremely determined to go paddleboarding in the ocean that day to try it out. Next to the thrift area there was a Farmer's Market, but we didn't come across anything we needed to take with us. Now that we had done some shopping and plenty of driving, it was time to eat. We found a seafood restaurant with a view across the way and thought that it would be perfect. Come to find out, they just switched their menu to brunch only on Saturdays and breakfast/lunch is not what we were craving, especially at the prices they were serving at. We began to wander the town in hopes of finding another restaurant, but instead came across some local shops and grocery stores. Finally my mom asked a local where to find a good bite to eat with an ocean view was and she recommended we head to the next town up and find The Chowder House on Point Arena's Pier. It was quite easy to find and had the most amazing view to eat our lunch looking at. Every time my mom and I are near the ocean it is like tradition to order calamari and clam chowder so we did, but since these were both appetizer dishes we decided to also share an order of mixed fried seafood pieces. SO MUCH FOOD. The chowder was the perfect size for each of us and very delicious, but soon after our calamari was brought out and I have never seen that much calamari on one plate in my life. It was HUGE. We could have easily shared that and still had leftovers but then came our seafood platter. We had plenty to bring home for dinner that night and this place was entirely affordable for the taste, amount and the atmosphere. If I ever find myself back in Mendocino County, which I am not sure I will, at least for a while due to the drive, then I will find my way back to this spot for sure. After lunch we wanted to find a beach spot where I could paddleboard and try out my new wetsuit. What we quickly came to find out was that the majority of beaches on Highway 1 either had a hike to get to them or were so far down a cliff, I was unsure of how to get down to them. On any other day I would not have minded the quick hike that most public beaches provided but carrying my fully blown up paddleboard becomes tiring quite fast. After leaving Mendocino County, we continued our drive until we found a beach we could easily drive all the way up to and that I could paddleboard at... So we thought. To my disappointment there was a sign when you entered the parking lot that said "No Swimming." And as you continued to get closer to the beach there were signs claiming it to be the one of the most dangerous beaches in California (Goat Rock Beach). Since I was tired of driving and really did just want to hear the sounds of the waves crashing, we grabbed our beach chairs and set up for a while along side the beach. Once sitting down, one could easily tell why this beach was so dangerous... The undertow was the worst I think I have ever seen, if anyone were to try to get in the water, it would be a miracle to get yourself out. Though I couldn't paddleboard or even swim, there were seals swimming in the undertow area, really close to the beach and orca whales swimming along the horizon line. I love spotting sea life while at the ocean, next to swimming, that has to be the best part. The rest of our trip consisted of driving back home past Bodego Bay and throughout wine country. Though I don't think I will be making this trip again anytime soon, if you are wanting a coastal drive and sights of beautiful beaches, that is what this trip will consist of!
Until next month!