My first camping trip after I moved to California was a weekend adventure to the Mendocino Coast. Located north of the Bay and west of the Central Valley, Mendocino is known for its harvesting of weed and wine (but mostly weed). My time in Mendo was brief, but filled with gorgeous views of the Pacific coastline.
We stayed at MacKerricher State Park near Fort Bragg, which made it incredibly easy for our group and two accompanying dogs to set up camp for the short weekend stay. First things first, we had to take a drive along the coast (it is Highway 1 after all) and walked out to get a view of the Russian Gulch Bridge.
The rest of our time in Mendocino included a walk along Ten Mile Beach (complete with seals!), breakfast adventures in Fort Bragg, an incredible salmon dinner cooked over the campfire (I was the head eater in charge and can take no credit for the actual preparation of the meal), and a stop by Glass Beach, the main item on my "to see" list.
I'm all about the beach glass. It started in college and has turned into a medium sized obsession (on par with my enjoyment of the perfect mac n cheese, but decidedly less severe than my love of paper goods). I still have a driftwood totem given to me nearly six years ago by a friend from Chicago who first introduced me to the stuff. Half of the glass and porcelain pieces were found on the Chicago side of Lake Michigan, the other half hailed from the mitten state, and they are all tied to the driftwood in this pretty purple twine. It's one of my most treasured handmade items and made the trek with me when I moved to California.
So needless to say, Glass Beach was a must see for me. A former trash dump site that was active until 1967, the beach is covered in beautiful sea glass, the wave worn remains of apothecary and beverage bottles, among many other things. While it's sad to hear that it was at one time commonplace to heave cars, batteries, and appliances off the cliffs and into the ocean, I have to admit that a Glass Beach was also pretty remarkable. It's now part of MacKerricher State Park and visitors are asked to leave the beach glass where it lies.
I also loved the trails. We did the Fern Canyon Trail in Van Damme State Park and the trail to the waterfall in Russian Gulch State Park. To be honest, at some times it felt like I was in the movie Fern Gully or Jurassic Park, you know? Something about the huge ferns and the redwoods and the lushness of it all. And then there was that perfect golden California light shining through - I mean what more can you ask for?