12 Sep Great Honeymoon Destination: California, Part II
My host there took me into “town,” actually little more than a village (pop. 220 in 2010), but what a village! It boasts an informal Alfred Hitchcock museum in the “historic” general store plus a cooperative arts and crafts gallery, with some wonderful things in it. Its claim to fame is that it was the site of Hitchcock’s 1963 horror-thriller The Birds, loosely based on the 1952 novel by Daphne Du Maurier and a recent attack by birds apparently poisoned by bad shellfish on the California coast. Of course, after seeing so many rock-rookeries on the coast, virtually overflowing with cormorants, seagulls, and pelicans, it’s easy to imagine these hoards of birds turning against the humans on the mainland.
I left my new friends in Bodega and headed up California Route 1 to Salt Point State Park. Although it was only 35 miles, the twists and hairpin turns in the road, as it followed the coastal hills, made it slow going most of the way. I took about an hour-and-a-half to drive it. Now this road is justly reputed to be one of the most beautiful in the country, as it hugs the coast, offering breathtaking sea vistas, plunging cliffs and dramatic fog. It is especially beautiful in Big Sur, but this was also magnificent. I arrived there at 5:45 pm, and I knew I had little time to spend, given that I wanted to do most of the 58-mile drive to Albion (near Mendocino) in what remained of daylight, and Google maps had said it would take one hour and 23 minutes to drive it.
Salt Point was secretly my most fascinating destination for geology. It boasted honeycomb structures among the rocks on its extensive beach, which are known technically as tafoni. I was not disappointed. I found my way to them in Gerstle Cove, and in the gentle, filtered light of the overcast sky they were stunning. I had seen some on Moonstone Beach near Cambria, but it was in bright sunlight with harsh shadows. Here it was if they were professionally lit sculptures, and some of the rock surfaces were light blue.
For 45 minutes I was in photographic heaven. Then I got back in my car and drove up to Albion.
It was just getting dark when I arrived there, and my GPS wouldn’t locate my Airbnb destination, so I had to ask for help at a local motel. They printed out the directions for me, and soon I was enjoying the warm welcome of Elaine Martin, who put me up in a small but very comfortable room.
Her breakfast the following morning was more than I could expect: an omelet and wonderful home fries, and she let me make my fruit smoothie—I shared my recipe with her.
By 9 am I was on my way, but it was just a short distance to Mendocino Headlands State Park, passing through the very hip village of Mendocino.