The Shakedown Cruise: Day 3 – Mendocino

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Day 3 of our Shakedown trip started brilliantly. The sun was shining, the birds were tweeting, and the air temperature was balmy for a March day on the coast.

After a small breakfast consisting of a bowl of granola with sliced bananas, we took the short drive south to Mendocino. It’s one of my favorite places on the California coast, probably because it reminds me of New England (home of many of my ancestors). Many of the first settlers in Mendocino were from New England. Many were also from the Azores, which is Shujin’s ancestry. Coincidence or not, we both feel very much ‘at home’ when we visit. 

We walked through the little town and out to the headland. Although it was a weekday, we saw many other people out enjoying the nice weather.Mendocino

We passed some of the historic homes that line the streets. It reminded me a little bit of Newport, Rhode Island, although the homes there are much older.


The oldest home I saw was constructed in 1866. I recall seeing some in Newport that were built in the 1700s. It amazes me that a home can last that long in the seaside environment!

Mendocino is also famous for being the town of Cabot Cove in the tv series “Murder, She Wrote”. Shujin and I passed Jessica’s home (in reality, the bed and breakfast Blair House) while walking through. I confess I was a fan of the show during the 90s. Angela Lansbury was the grown up version of Nancy Drew!

Today the sea was gorgeous. It swirled around the rocks in shallow turquoise and white pools, which is an unusual color of the north Pacific in my experience . I don’t think I’ve ever seen it so clear, either.mendocino shore

Mendocino is an art community now, but at one time it was a port for logging. Ships would come close to the cliffs and men would slide huge logs across wooden rail trestles to load them. It was very dangerous work. The cliffs are high and steep so it wasn’t easy to build the log slides. Logs are heavy and difficult to stop when they are moving. I imagine many men were injured, crushed or fell to their death as they hauled the redwood.

Once on the headland trail, we saw evidence of the old logging industry: the remains of heavy chain links, corroded rails and timber supports.



We continued walking along the shore towards the public parking area. A line of people were standing in front of the cars watching the gray whales parade past. We were fortunate to have such a great vantage point. Many of the whales showed more than a flipper, but I didn’t get to see an actual breach today. We found a comfy rock to sit on, then watched them for over an hour.

Whale watching with Shujin

I wish I could’ve gotten pictures of the whales, but I’m not that good of a photographer and there is only so much one can do with a cell phone camera.

After awhile, we ambled back into town for coffee. We found a medium roast organic brew at the Goodlife Cafe, and couldn’t resist getting a treat, too. I chose a happy ginger cookie and Shujin selected the organic chocolate chip.

Essential accompaniments for whale watching


We spent another hour walking around the town but eventually it was time to head back to camp. After enjoying some quiet time next to a small campfire, we ended the day with a dinner of salad and leftover pizza. I made my favorite salad dressing recipe. It’s so simple! I only made half a batch because the RV fridge isn’t big enough for tons of leftovers, but even so it is enough for four to six servings.

The dressing base is a 3:1 mix of olive oil and vinegar; I brought rice vinegar with me so I used that. Using real chopped garlic is best but in a pinch I’ve substituted garlic powder. Here’s the recipe for a full batch. It keeps in the refrigerator a very long time. I’m not sure how long because we eat it up within a month!

I hope you enjoyed this post of Mendocino. I’ve shared additional photos below the recipe!


Simple Italian Dressing

makes about 1 cup, enough for 12 to 16 servings

3/4 c extra virgin olive oil

1/4 c vinegar (cider, rice, red wine, or your choice)

2 T water

1 garlic clove, minced

2 t sugar

1 1/2 t salt

1/4 t pepper

1 to 1 1/2 t Italian seasonings (basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme or a combination of)

Add all ingredients to a glass jar (I like to save my soy sauce bottles for this). Shake well before serving.

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