Mendocino has cast a spell on me. A good spell.
It is probably the fact that it is a quaint, very rustic village that time has forgotten. Setting on a rugged bluff overlooking the Pacific, two hours north of San Francisco, the journey to get to this paradise is not for the faint of heart. But the Mendocino coast rewards those who make the journey with a setting that is pure heaven.
Or maybe it is isolated enough that the 700 or so people who live there seem pleasantly far removed from what goes on in the world. For a few days I was happily one of them. In this unspoiled paradise.
It is right out of a movie. Literally. Many have been shot in this picturesque town, including East of Eden. The historic Blair House was the setting for Murder She Wrote.
But for me, it is always about the houses. The people who live in them now and in the past.
Mendocino was settled in the mid 19th century during the lumber boom and then the gold rush. In the 1950's it was primarily an artist colony. Today it has a handful of galleries, organic restaurants with names like the Moosse Cafe and a few shops. The historic Mendocino Hotel where you can have a delicious dinner and wine overlooking the bluffs. A beautiful beach filled with driftwood. Hiking trails at Headlands State Park that wind out to cliffs filled with wildflowers and overlooking the ocean and the village.
The homes are an eclectic combination of salt boxes, cottages, Queen Anne and Gothic Revival. The town is on the National Register of historic places.
Nearby, you can go to Glass Beach and wade through the tidal pools and pick up bits of colorful glass left over from the days going back to 1949 when it was a public dump. Or take a scenic tour on the Skunk Train of the Redwoods east of Fort Bragg by the Noyo River.
But the best part is just being in the little village of Mendocino. Haunting and spiritual. It casts a spell that follows you home and it lingers for a long time.