Redwoods, Wine and the Sea (Submitted by yosemitejudy)

Redwoods, Wine and the Sea

There is something special about a place connected to your childhood. It becomes a part of your heart unlike anything else. I grew up camping throughout the west and one of my favorite places was always Hendy Woods State Park. The park is located off Highway 128 on the way to Mendocino, about 8 miles west of Boonville. From Highway 101, at the north end of the town of Cloverdale, you’ll find the turn off for 128. Hendy Woods includes 845 acres and boasts two lovely campgrounds, a picnic area on the river and two majestic groves of old growth redwoods. Among the many trails here, there is also the All Access Trail—a quarter mile path through the grove that is wheelchair accessible.

I had planned on a little trip up to revisit these woods, but it turned into a full day adventure—one that shows Northern California at its best. As I arrived at Hendy, I self registered at the park gate and found myself completely alone in the entire park—just me and the trees. I left the sunny meadow of the day use area and set off on a hike to reintroduce myself to some very tall, old friends. Entering the Big Hendy Grove was like entering another world. As I hiked the many trails through these woods, the worries of the economy became distant and instead my focus was on the grandeur surrounding me. The 1000 year old trees, some over 300 feet tall, beckoned me back to a time of playing hide and seek in these same woods with my brother and sister. Under my feet, a carpet of decomposed redwood hushed all the sounds except for the occasional call of the Stellar Jay or the tapping of a woodpecker.

After an hour or two of hiking and photography, I said my goodbyes to my silent friends and began to head back to the Bay Area. However, I encountered a problem. I had watched too many of Doug’s OPEN ROAD videos to turn back now. So I turned west and headed to the coast. Highway 128 is set in the Anderson Valley full of wineries and pastoral settings. I was traveling by myself this day so I didn’t taste any wine—I was my own designated driver, but oh how I wanted to. Every single winery here is just lovely.
About 5 miles from Hendy, the road passes through Navarro and miles of groves of ancient redwoods along the Navarro River. Traveling a little further out of the grove the river runs to the sea. I continued my journey north stopping to admire the water’s edge in a place called Little River and then on up to the seaside town of Mendocino. There is plenty of information here on OPEN ROAD on the history and things to do in this picturesque New England style village.

I kept telling myself I should get back to real life and head home, but on a winter’s day where the weather is hovering around 70, how could I turn back now? Besides, I had watched the One Minute Vacation of the Noyo Harbor in Ft. Bragg and just had to see it for myself. So 10 more miles up the road I went to explore the harbor and I wasn’t disappointed. Now it really was time to return home so I took Highway 20 from Ft Bragg to Willits. The drive is just as beautiful as Highway 128 and I was truly moved by the endless mountains here covered by pines and redwoods.

My last side trip took me down along Highway 12 out of Santa Rosa and through Jack London’s Valley of the Moon. I made a stop at Figone’s Olive Oil Company in the beautiful hideaway town of Glen Ellen. Set in the charming Jack London Village just south of “downtown,” Figone’s tasting room is filled with Italian ceramics, linens and gift items. A lovely woman named Tatiana tempted me with olive oils of every flavor, each one more savory than the last. I finally chose the garlic oil and 20 year old balsamic vinegar. Frank Figone, the producer and proprietor told me of his family’s history and assured me they have an online store. But after experiencing Figone’s in person, I think I will have to drive back up here to restock my supply. I love the sense of this place and the delightful people who call Glen Ellen home. I want to further explore this lush, secluded valley.

It was a long day but a true Northern California adventure. Redwoods, Wine and the Sea—and olive oil too—no place else in the world will you find it but here. I encourage you to leave some of your worries behind, at least for a little while and enjoy the best place in the world to live.
Happy Travels,

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