Russian Gulch and Pt. Cabrillo and Pt. Arena Lighthouses

On Sunday, SMS and I continued our Mendocino County adventure.  After we packed up, we walked around Mendocino Highlands for a bit.  It was so windy and I think SMS was a little over it, but I wanted to check out the Northern part.  Yes, it did look the same as the rest but it was all so beautiful that I couldn’t help but want to explore.

Russian Gulch Waterfall

On the way to the hike, I wanted to stop at Pt. Cabrillo lighthouse.  It was cute and we toured the museum, a preserved assistant light keeper’s house.  The lighthouse was only open on the ground floor.  The views were spectacular and the lighthouse and surrounding buildings (including cabins you can stay in) were very cute with their red roofs.

My best picture of the day- with a real camera, not an iPhone!

Our main focus for the morning was the Russian Gulch State Park.  I had read about a 36 foot waterfall so we decided to check it out.  There’s a pretty easy hike along a fairly level trail.  The loop is about 6.4 miles but we took the shorter part of the loop in-and-out for 5 miles total.  While the forest is pretty and it was nice to hear the creek along the way, the highlight was the waterfall.  It was very beautiful.  It was pretty amazing that such a seemingly small creek could cause that big of a cascade.  We took a few artsy photos since SMS had his camera gear.  That was actually pretty fun because we were iPhone-less for the weekend so I had to count in my head to measure his exposure times.  He hasn’t developed his film yet so I’m not sure how well I did, but I hope it turned out alright!

The blowhole

At Russian Gulch, there’s also a blowhole.  It’s basically a big sinkhole with a fence around it to protect people from falling in.  It wasn’t as dramatic as Hawaiian blowholes I’ve seen, but it’s probably pretty cool during high tides and storms.

A banana slug!  SMS spotted it and I was very excited to see one!

A tree overgrowing the stump of another, older tree.  It reminded
me of a Cambodian temple!

After the hike, we stopped at Frankie’s Pizza.  Despite glowing reviews I read before the weekend, I thought it was fine.  Nothing special but since it’s pizza, it was still a pretty nice lunch!  Frankie’s also has a sugarcane mushroom ice cream that’s worth trying for the novelty.  It tastes a lot like butter pecan.

Pt Arena Lighthouse and our Prius!

Then we started along Route 1 on a meandering trip back home.  We stopped at Pt Arena lighthouse, just making it before 3:30.  This meant that we could go to the top of the lighthouse although our squeaking in under the wire earned us an eyeroll from the docent.  Who cares!  We ran up the 151 stairs and got a nice 5 minutes up in the tower where we heard about local history from a local Native American and just kind of looked out on our own.

CAPT SMS, up in the lighthouse keeping watch

After that, we just headed home on a beautiful scenic road.  North of Jenner, the hills were a vibrant green and looked beautiful in the golden hours.  No pictures except mental ones but it was really beautiful.  We stopped in the Marina district in San Francisco for dinner.  We were a little wishy washy about where we wanted to eat but then we saw Saiwalk.  It’s a Vietnamese street food restaurant and after so much time in the (not so) chilly wind, pho sounded awesome.  It was pretty tasty, filling and reasonably priced so we were happy.  Then it was homeward bound.

Road Trip to Mendocino!


Last weekend was a call-free weekend and I was determined to go somewhere with spotty cell service.   Since my call weekends are based on being able to answer the phone, a few places are off-limits most of the time.  I watched the weather forecasts during the week and due to the high chance of Sunday evening snow, Yosemite and Tahoe were ruled out and Mendocino ended up being the winner!

I have done a few Route 101/1 road trips but I’ve only lightly traveled north of San Francisco.  SMS and I have gone to Tomales Bay twice and even made it up to Jenner once, but I was really interested in going further towards the true North Coast.  

Mendocino Beach, picture taken at that unfortunate moment
when a nice smile suddenly spasms.

We left around 7:30 on Friday evening.  I had a patient who came in after hours for a “small” bleeding issue that was easily resolved.   Since I need to maintain a modicum of professionalism, I can’t get too into a “Crazy Stories From the Work Place” submission- that was a Reader’s Guide section, right?

Anyway, SMS and I got our respective tasks done and hit the road.  The trip took just over four hours which was a little long for the end of the work week but I wanted to have Saturday free from any major driving.  We pulled up to the Sweetwater Inn, retrieved our key from the porch, settled in and passed out.

The next morning, we enjoyed muffins delivered to our door in addition to some passable coffee made in the little four-cup in our room.  Then it was off to walk through the Mendocino Headlands.  It was an absolutely gorgeous place!   The ocean was so powerful and waves would pound against the rocks with huge breaks and spray.  The shoreline was getting pummeled and it was just incredibly impressive how much power lies within the ocean.

Totem against Sleeper Waves?

Little Alter

We went down to a little beach, which was sheltered but I couldn’t completely relax since I had read so much about sleeper waves.  No, these are not waves that love naps!  They are powerful, sneaky waves that want to drag unsuspecting morons with their backs to the sea into the ocean deep.   Fortunately, this did not happen (yay!).  SMS and I enjoyed exploring the beach with the little waterfalls and lots of driftwood.

SMS showing off his fancy Japanese umbrella- the print only shows up when wet.

After our State Park hike, we decided to walk through town and grab an early lunch since the muffins were not high-satiety items.  We walked into the Mendocino Market, where SMS said we should listen to our noses (“Bacon!”) and we ordered delicious sandwiches.  I had a tuna melt on sourdough (amazing!) and SMS had a BLT.  I wasn’t as big a fan of the BLT and I have decided in my cooking mind that there should be a Winter BLT for when tomatoes aren’t Summertime awesome.  Maybe a tomato jam with amazingly paired cheese plus the BT?  I may work on this idea…don’t steal it!

Guess which trail we took?

So pretty!

After lunch, we headed to Ft. Bragg.   We checked out Glass Beach, which was pretty cool.  There was a lot of seaglass, some in pieces you could collect (if it wasn’t illegal!) and others so small that it was part of the pebbly sand.  I really wanted a piece or two but I didn’t care enough to flout the town’s rules so I partook in the “Leave No Trace” ethos (boo).


After Glass Beach, we walked around the central shopping block that seems to cater to tourists- lots of galleries, knick-knack shops and boutiques.  Then it was off to the North Coast brewery where we each had a few samplers.  SMS tried the different styles of the Red Seal Ale and I tried the Belgian-inspired beers and two stouts.  My favorite was Old Rasputin but after the sampler and a bottle later, I think I’m stouted out for awhile.  Beer that dark takes a certain amount of fortitude that I can only muster up every so often!

We headed back to Mendocino and went to the hotel spa.  Unfortunately, Japan has ruined American spas for us since people here are gross and don’t bathe very well, which could be overlooked except for the gross foamy bubbles that result.  Yuck.  The hot water felt great but still…yuck.



After our short spa experience, we headed out to take sunset pictures.  We went to Patterson’s Pub for dinner.  There were a few nicer restaurants that sounded great but I wasn’t hungry enough to justify a high $20s- low $30s entree so off to the pub we went.  I had fish ‘n’ chips and SMS had a Reuban.  It did the job and the place had a nice atmosphere.   It would have been fun to hang out, but we had big plans for Sunday so we headed back to the Inn.