Pat Neth

Mendocino County

The Mendocino Coast Region is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the East by several parallel ridges of the Coast Ranges.

There is a cool moist climate, lush redwood and fir forests, native plants and migratory birds, whale watching during migrations. Forested hills march to the water's edge, great rock formations stand as sentinels in the surf and sea lions haul out on rocks near the coastline.

The area bears traces of its long history of Russian fur trading, Spanish settlements, homesteading, logging and fishing. The southern area of Mendocino lies the town of GUALALA, where the "river meets the sea". Up until the 1960's a bustling logging town, Gualala has broadened its focus and has grown into a thriving commercial and business center for the North Coast. Gualala now boasts of two large supermarkets, two hardware and building supply stores, a pharmacy, a well-staffed medical clinic/health care complex and all the other small businesses that go into making up a complete, well-functioning small town.

Highway One acts as the lifeline and main street to the towns up and down the coast. Unique shops filled with treasures from local artisans, and an eclectic collection of gifts offer a fine selection for even the most discerning shopper.

The beauty and quality of life has long enticed a wide spectrum of residents, creating an interesting cross section of loggers, fishermen, trades-people, writers, artists and professionals. From this blend of personalities, a cultural scene rich in high quality theater, music and art emerges to fill the evenings.

Driving along the 8 mile stretch of Highway One (called Shoreline Highway) between Anchor Bay and Point Arena there are glimpses of homes along each side of the road, although at times the road is so close to the ocean cliffs there is no room for a house.

As the zoning changes there are larger stretches between the occasional home or old farm house. Cattle and horses can be seen grazing along large stretches of agricultural land.

The ocean is in almost constant view as you drive along and one will see many cars pulled off to the side of the road to enjoy watching the whales or nearby fishing boats. There are many tiny coves that served as "dog hole ports" during the region's logging heyday in the late 1800s.

Without decent roads or harbors, the coast timber industry depended on daring schooner captains who were able to maneuver their ships into tiny coves, where timber would be loaded from cliff-top chutes.

Passing Saunders Reef with its light buoy, next is Schooner Gulch Beach, a state park and then on to Mote Creek. The road dips down into POINT ARENA once a bustling place, with a busy whaling and logging port, a mill, tannery, hotels, saloons and its own brewery. Today it is a lively, inviting - if eclectic mix of working fishermen and new-age artists. The main street of town looks much the same as it did in early 1900s.

Heading north out of town a few miles is the
historic Point Arena lighthouse.

Built in 1870, the lighthouse has been a beacon for sailors, although today's 115 foot tower is a reconstruction due to damage caused by the 1906 earthquake to the original structure. The Lighthouse is now operated by a non profit community organization. The facility is open to the public daily with a museum in the Fog Signal Building.

Back on Highway One and heading north, scenes of grazing cows and working dairy farms occupy the Garcia River plain.

The picturesque pastures are bordered by ocean cliffs to the west, redwood and Douglas fir forests to the east.

In the little village of MANCHESTER a resident has trimmed his cypress tree into an odd geometric shape, prompting many visitors to stop and take pictures.

Three miles north of
Manchester is IRISH BEACH

Irish Beach, a community of private homes and a vista point just up the road. Past ranchland and across small "steelhead streams" the road winds its way to ELK formerly called Greenwood, Another tiny hamlet which used to be a roaring mill town, new home to several bed and breakfast lodges. After a few more scenic miles the highway sweeps down to the Navarro River where State Route 1, connects with State Route 128. Here the visitor can take the highway back to 101 or head north to the town of Mendocino.

HOUSING Each year approximately 130 - 175 single family homes sell on the coastline between Timber Cove and Elk. Prices in 2004 have ranged between a low of $200,000 to over $2 million. There are still parcels of land available for building. There are small subdivision lots of less than 1/3 of an acre to large land holdings with hundreds of acres. The zoning allows for Residential, Remote Rural Residential, Rangeland, Agriculture, and Timber Production. Rental housing prices range from $700 to over $2000. There are few apartments available for rent along the coast and there are often periods of a three to four-month wait for a rental vacancy.

CLIMATE Northern California is prone to a wide variety of weather, but here's what might be considered "normal". Annual rainfall: 40"-70" typically occurring November to May. Temperatures: winter: 35F - 65F; summer 50F - 75F. The coast experiences a range of temperatures during any given period. Prevailing northwesterly breezes off the Pacific, cools the temperatures on the immediate coast. Inland areas often experience much higher temperatures than the coast. Gualala and its immediate surrounding area is considered a "banana belt" as the unique geography enjoys less fog and more sunny days than coastal areas to the north and south.

HEALTH & EMERGENCY SERVICES The Redwood Coast Medical Services clinic has 24-hour on-call physicians. 911 services are served by a local ambulance district with access to helicopter transport to neighboring hospitals. In addition, there is a wealth of alternative health, wellness and bodyworks professionals in the coastal area.

CAMPING & RECREATION Local recreation and camping opportunities abound. The area offers kayaking, sports fishing, abalone diving, basketball and tennis courts, hiking, beachcombing, bird and wildlife watching with abundant subjects for photography, sketching and painting, or just relaxing.

ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT The Redwood coasts boasts a lively, diverse, well-respected arts community. Gualala Arts built and maintains a top-notch art center, which hosts shows and classes year-round. In addition, Gualala Arts presents the renowned annual Art in the Redwoods festival the third weekend in August. There are a number of exceptional arts and craft galleries and shops, local artists present a "Studio Discovery Tour" in September where artists welcome the public into their private studios. Arena Renaissance Company presents live performers and theatrical events throughout the year in the magnificent Art Deco-style Arena Theater lovingly restored by donations and volunteers. For those ready for an evening at home, there are video stores in the area. CLUBS & SERVICES (photo for lions club sign) Lion and Lioness Clubs, Rotary and Soroptimists are all active in our communities. There are several local service organizations including a help line for area seniors. There are numerous clubs and activities for people interested in art, environmental issues, gardening, computers, reading, music, ceramics, yoga, etc.

Office: 707/884-9000

Fax: 707/884-9003

Copyright by Patricia Neth © 2000–2005. All Rights Reserved