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Mendocino and Fort Bragg, CA  01/16-18/07 (Day 265-268)
Coastal Change

We’re driving north on Highway 1…just saying that is like taking a vacation…heading toward Mendocino and Fort Bragg  (where Karen spent  every childhood family vacation she can remember) and we’re immediately relaxed by the gnarled, windblown roadside scenery, sparkling, changeable Pacific and slow pace required to negotiate the endless curves.
The main purpose of this iconic drive is to go check out a hotel called The Heritage House, which is tucked into a particularly dramatic bend in Highway 1 just shy of the town of Mendocino. The Heritage House is another fixture of Karen’s memories of this stretch of coastline, but it’s changed radically since she last laid eyes on it (click to read Karen’s full review of The Heritage House for iTravel iShop).

The next day we head inland on rambling Highway 128 to pay a visit to two other staples of Karen’s childhood vacations: a drive through the bucolic Anderson Valley to the ever-charming tasting rooms of Husch Vineyards and Navarro Vineyards where we sip and chat with the tasting room staff and lament the fact that we’ve had to put our pre-release memberships from both wineries on hold while we’re on the road.

It requires Herculean effort (especially on Karen’s part), but we manage to get out of both tasting rooms without filling the truck up with wine.

Now we’re hungry, so we hurry back to Highway 1 and drive further north to Fort Bragg. Sadly, the place that made fried chicken and wedge cut fries so good that they’re lodged in Karen’s memory is long closed, but we discover La Bamba Grocery & Taqueria where we order a burrito that’s advertised as “bigger than your head.” It is, perhaps, not quite that big, however, just one of the monsters provides a huge lunch for both of us for just $7.

Then it’s off to the coast because we’ve promised Karen’s sister that we’ll take some pictures of starfish for her. Hours of tidal pool hopping later we’ve managed to spot a grand total of two. Creepy. This place used to be swarming with them. Thankfully, nearby Glass Beach is still exactly as Karen remembers it: covered in so much smooth, tumbled, vibrant sea glass that you can barely see any sand. It’s miraculous and a little poetic that such a beautiful place was a huge public dump from 1949 to 1967—hence all that glass.

Even further north we find one more thing that’s unchanged: Humboldt Redwoods State Park where it’s still as if the ancient giants make their own silence.

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