On a recent trip to California from the East Coast, I was lucky enough to be able to take a two-day side trip to Mendocino. What a treat! The drive from Geyserville (my home base) to Mendocino set the tone right from the start. For anyone that has not had the opportunity to take Highway 128 from Cloverdale to Mendocino I highly recommend it. Be prepared to take your time and enjoy. The road is small and very windy. At first it passes through vineyards with the very occasional small town. Tasting opportunities abound. Further along toward Mendocino the road passes through redwood and pine forests. Absolutely beautiful and peaceful. Once in Mendocino we spent several hours walking the headlands and exploring the town. The headlands are dramatic with views from on high of the ocean and the coastline. Mendocino itself is small, charming and friendly. The weather was beautiful, clear and warm, and the views are spectacular. After a while we found our way to the Andiron, a small collection of cabins about 5 miles out of town where we would spend the night. The Andiron is a great place to stay. Charming, friendly and relatively inexpensive. They have a number of cabins, each of which has a theme. For example, we stayed in “Read” and “Write.” Each Cabin had a fireplace and ours shared an outdoor deck from which you could see a sliver of the ocean. On our first trip to the deck we were greeted by several deer roaming the field adjoining the cabin. Deer greeted us almost every time we stepped out the door. That night we ate at “Wild Fish,” A small restaurant between the Andiron and Mendocino. What a great choice! The restaurant is very small (8 tables I think) so be sure to make a reservation. It is in an unassuming location. Look for the gas station and post office, we were told, and the restaurant is in the back of the post office. Don’t be put off. Once in the restaurant you are greeted with some of the most wonderful views of the ocean imaginable. Plan to be there at sunset and you won’t be disappointed. As its name suggests , seafood rules the day. House cured salmon, raw oysters and clams are some of the appetizers. Main courses are highlighted by locally caught fish simply prepared and delicious.
After a peaceful night at the Andiron we went beach exploring. A highlight. We went to the beach just outside town where the Big River meets the ocean. Luckily we got there when the tide was out. That gave us the opportunity to explore a number of coves that would be difficult to reach when the tide is in. Each cove has its own character and when you have made your way into one you are completely removed from everything. All you can see is ocean. I’ll admit that we were there on a Monday morning so I imagine there are times when there are more people exploring just like us but we had the place to ourselves. After a busy morning we went to the Goodlife Cafe and Bakery in Mendocino for coffee and snacks. I highly recommend it. Great coffee, friendly people, and a wonderful selection of baked goods, sandwiches and salads. Just what we needed. After that it was time for a hike up the trail that runs along side the Big River for a little exercise. Then it was time to start for home. Don’t rush the trip back, however. We found a number of beautiful spots to stop for a quick explore on the way home. All in all a great way to spend a couple days in Northern California.