Day 1 we drove eight hours and wound up at a sleepy campground on the Mendocino coast called Manchester State Beach. One of around 100 beaches, the grounds were host-less and only about half-full. With a field on 3 sides of our site, a bright full moon and the distant low roar of the ocean, Northern California’s first hello was a good one.
The next morning, after a day trip through the Anderson Valley to Ukiah (pinot vineyards, reggae fest, small-town shops on tree-lined streets) we went out to seek the source of those rumbling waves. The 1/2 mile grass-footed path led through an estuary where 1,000-year-old redwoods lay beached. As the path sifted to sand and we arrived to the blinding, un-touched ocean with that massive driftwood, kelp, stones, amazing fossil-type treasures and, best of all, no people. Despite being our southernmost stop, this wound up being one of our favorite spots: