The Lost Coast to Point Arena (Mendocino)

Mendocino and the small towns near it in Northern California were logging towns.  The redwood forests were stripped of lumber for a growing San Francisco in the 1800’s.   I first found Mendocino and the area down to Point Arena when I was in college at the University of Oregon and went on a long motorcycle ride in the summer of 1967.  I spent a month in a sleeping bag on the beach, campfires and comradery each night.  I came back later to honeymoon, drawn by the historic coastal towns and the rugged coast.

At the north end of this stretch of coast, near Rockport, is the Lost Coast, a section so isolated and rocky that lumber companies abandoned it when it became too hard to load small skiffs by sliding logs down a cable to a tossing boat.  I spent a week camped on a log-strewn beach accessible only by dirt road; seagulls and pelicans the only visitors.

Further south along the coast I came to Elk and the former town of Greenwood.  Quiet places with spectacular views.  At Elk, there are a series of small islands in the fog glimpsed from the cliff behind a white church.

At the south end is Point Arena, a place that feels like a hideout.  Off the beaten path.  The pizza joint near the pier has photos of huge waves washing over the pier.  I found night photography at the pier to be an eerily quiet time watching for what might come out of the fog.  Great bakery in Manchester where the ladies start baking before dawn and ship their goods to restaurants up and down the coast.

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