Jun 26, 2011

Mendocino & Fort Bragg

Mendocino coastline
Located on the most beautiful rugged coastlines in Northern California is Mendocino County. From north to south, the most famous route CA1 runs almost all the way down to Southern California. The county has an exceptionally varied terrain from vineyards to beaches to one of the tallest trees in the world.. the Redwood trees. The Redwood tree pictures on google images intrigued us. So one weekend, we decided to make a day trip of it and visit the Point Cabrillo Lighthouse, Glass beach and of course see the redwood forest too. 

View Mendocino Day Trip in a larger map
We were all set for the 4 hour drive from home. About 2 1\2 hours into our drive, our GPS directed us towards the Redwood Highway from Cloverdale \ CA 128 W.  It was a gentle climb over the mountains. Before we even realized, we were on a single two lane road driving at 25 m\h with a dense redwood forest. Even though it was midday by the time we reached the redwood highway, it looked as if it were 6 in the evening. We had to strain our necks to look up to the top.. The redwoods were as tall or much taller than the coconut trees found in Goa. The sunlight hardly penetrated through to the ground. We drove on this road for almost 2 hours to CA 1. The route was very picturesque and memorable.

On reaching CA1, there are many sandy small beaches, beautiful small coves great for picnics and even swimming. About 20 miles north we reached Glass beach. From the parking lot it was about a five minute walk to the trail that led us to the beach. There was no sand there.. just rounded pebbles that were transparent and in different shades of red, green, white, orange, dark green and black.

This is what I found.
A closer perspective

The Lighthouse
After spending some time here, we decided to go to Point Cabrillo Lighthouse about 20 minutes south of CA1. It stands on 270 acres of coastal bluffs and prairies and is a 10 minute walk from the parking lot. This is also a great place to watch the California Gray Whale migration that happens between December and April as they migrate from the cold waters of Alaska to the breeding grounds of Baja California. Click here for more information of things to do in Mendocino. We missed the route initially hence we did glass beach first and then the lighthouse. 

On our return, we decided to take CA 20 - Fort Bragg-Willitts.. This was an overwhelming drive as it was a long winding with just us on the road and not a soul / car in sight. This is probably not the best route to come by, if we ever come by again this side I would return the same route we came by  i.e CA 128 W.

This trip on the whole gave us an idea about the majestic redwood trees that are one of the tallest in the world. During summer, the North Coast is often gray with a thick layer of fog. When inland temperatures are high, the fog is drawn in from over the ocean. This natural cooling and moistening system is beneficial to the redwoods near the coast. Fog precipitates onto the forest greenery and then drips to the forest floor, providing a small bit of moisture during summer dry periods. The NPS website gives a detailed description and insight about the trees. It was one of our incredible trips that gave us an idea to visit the Redwood National Park sometime later.

Jun 3, 2011

Lovely Lavender

View Lavender Fields, Mt Shastha in a larger map

I have always loved Lavender. I am constantly on the lookout for places to go. On one of our return road trips from Portland ( I will blog about this later ) we decided to stop at Mt. Shasta. We didnt want to do the usual, boating, camping stuff that everyone usually does as we lacked time and did not intend staying there after our long roadtrip. We were on the lookout on our phone for some scenic areas around where we could get some great pictures. We had around 2 hours to decide whether to make a pitstop there or carry on and reach home after a long 12 hour drive from Portland.
Fortunately my eyes fell on this website. It had the most spectacular and gorgeous scenery of lavender with the backdrop of snow capped mountains. My heart pounding, I found that it was about an hours drive on our way home, about 15 miles off our main route. I didn't bother about the extra time we took to reach home. We were excited about this sudden off track stop. It was indeed, by far the best decision we took to venture into seeing a place where we had not looked for reviews. We knew what we were going to see Lavender fields ..... but the end view was breathtaking and unimaginable.

We decided take the detour. It was about 12 miles off I 5, a long lonely route with field on either side, cows grazing and in the distant.. Mt. Shastha beautiful and so majestic! Our GPS took us to a road which had the lavender field board directing us onto a dirt gravel road. We didn't know where we were being led. It was initially a little scary and overwhelming. We travelled on that unpaved path for about 2 miles climbing uphill slowly, afraid of getting our tires punctured. As we looked though our rear view mirrors what a sight to see.. fields of lavender..

As we neared the end of our dirt trail there it was... Rows and rows of purple fields of lavender and in the middle the Lavender Labyrinth. We visited the office and were greeted with a glass of fresh lavender lemonade that was so refreshing. We were given a basket and a pair of scissors. We had the option of cutting lavender and taking some pics or just enjoying the beauty. It was a great experience as we walked down the rows of lavender. My then 2 yr old toddler had a blast cutting the lavender! For a few dollars we were able to collect memorable memories, take scenic photographs and come home with a bunch of fragrant lavender!