Friday, December 28, 2012

Holidays at the Cabin in Mendocino

December 26, 2012

As I sit down to write this, I can see the ocean from my window, and I can hear the waves roar as they roll in. We are still at a cabin in Gualala, where we came to spend a week and to celebrate the holidays together.

The cabin is next to the town of Gualala, an unincorporated town in the Mendocino coast, very close to the border with Sonoma County.  We had never heard of this place until we booked the cabin some months ago, so we were curious to see what the place had to offer.

During our stay at the cabin, the weather has been quite variable, with rainstorms rolling in and out all day, pretty much every day except for the day before Christmas, when it was sunny and warm.

The rain hasn’t really been much of a problem. Every time we got a break from the clouds, we headed out to explore the many beaches that exist around here, to play frisbee with Bomber, and to check out neighboring towns like Point Arena and Anchor Bay.

Most small towns in California are simple fabulous! They usually have a natural foods store, a good coffee shop, and a at least one great restaurant! Gualala is one of those towns. In fact, one thing that we have really loved about Gualala and the surrounding towns, is the fact that we haven’t seen a single chain store. No, not a McDonalds, not a Wal-Mart, no chains at all. Just local businesses and small town stores!

The word Gualala means “water coming down place.” And once you visit the town and the area, you see why it was called that. All over the coast, every beach sees one or more streams drain their water into the Pacific Ocean. With the rain over the past few days, all those streams have grown, making some beach inaccessible to the public, carving new courses, and even knocking down paths and stairs.

One place that we haven’t been able to see as a result of the rain (because the stairs leading down the beach were washed away by the rains) is Bowling Bowl beach. This beach has rocks that look like bowling balls lying around everywhere, or at least that’s what it looks like from the photos!

Cooks beach is only a mile away from our cabin, and we have been going there pretty much every day. The beach is dog friendly and we can get there in no time. On Sunday or Monday, I can’t remember, we went down to Cooks beach to play frisbee with Bomber and ended up encountering one of the ocean’s biggest creatures: An elephant seal!

After we were done playing with our dog, we decided to walk to the end of the beach and, suddenly, we realized that one of the many tree trunks that were scattered on the beach, was not actually a log, but an elephant seal! Both our hearts stopped for a second as we realized we had been throwing the frisbee right at it moments before.

When we lived in Santa Barbara, we took several trips to Piedras Blancas, a beach these seals have claimed as their habitat. At Piedras Blancas there is a board walk and you can get pretty close to the seals, without risking getting too close to them. But, despite having seen these animals several times before, we had never been on the same beach as one of them!

We got a bit closer to it, to take a better look, but we still kept a healthy distance.

At some point, the seal made a move towards us, and we immediately started running towards the path to go back up to the road. Shortly after, the seal stopped moving and got back to its sun tanning ritual, resting before mating and fighting seasons begin soon.

We also walked down to other beaches in Sonoma County. They were fun but lacked the “wild” feel of those in Mendocino. It’s funny to say that, because the counties are right next to each other, but that’s how it felt. During one of our walks to a beach in Sonoma county, we walked pass a group of sheep that was kept on a piece of land by the ocean. It was fun to see them!

One of the best parts of our cabin has been the view. We are right on an ocean cliff, overlooking the Pacific. From our porch we can see endless miles of ocean, several kinds of birds flying by and, in the afternoon, we have witnessed some amazing sunsets.  In general, we have seen our view constantly change from one set of colors to another, depending on the light, the time of the day, and the elements. We have seen storms roll in and roll out, and have seen lightning strike far in the distance and right by us.

Because we are located behind some trees, our sunsets have been framed by those same trees, which I personally think have made our views more beautiful. I mean, we are in Northern California, land of giant trees, so it makes sense to be surrounded by trees and for the trees to be a big part of our experience here.

Gualala is supposed to be a great spot to do Whale Watching. We haven’t seen any whales yet. Fingers crossed.

As I mentioned before, one day we headed 16 miles north to Point Arena, a small town where we bought amazing pastries at Franny (, a fabulous coffee shop in town. Here we also visited a light house, which has apparently become an obsession of mine. Well, let’s put it this way, if there is a lighthouse in the area, within driving distance, I really make an effort to go see it or, in this case, I really express my desire to go see it and ask Joe to do the drive there! He is the best!!!

The lighthouse was very fun to see. We didn’t go inside but just looked at it from the outside, surrounded by storm clouds and rough seas. We learned that you can actually spend the night on the premises (, which sounds like a fun time!

I can’t believe our time in the cabin is almost over. Seven days have really gone by quickly! Today we were treated with about 3 rainbows, as the rain made its way through. Maybe later we will be lucky to see whales go by but, if we don’t we’ll still be very satisfied with our time here, in our cabin getaway!

I hope you enjoyed the photos on this post. I sure had fun trying to capture the beauty of this part of the Mendocino coast, but there is still so much more to see here! For more fun photos, visit my Etsy store at:

Happy holidays to everyone who reads this blog. I hope 2013 is a wonderful year for all of you and your loved ones! I know that 2013 is looking pretty good in many ways. Hopefully next year will bring many trips to faraway places where I can try to capture some images with my camera!

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