Published: June 14th 2010June 14th 2010
Left Petaluma in the am and arrived here after lunch. The trip was a challenge part of the time as we took highway 101 N to highway (?) 128 to cut across to the coast and back to route one. It was a narrow road that started off with many switchbacks and white knuckle turns as traffic was heavy. We arrive at Caspar Beach RV Park to find it located just across from the Pacific. What amazed Bill was how rugged the coast line is and how cold the tempertures stay in this part of Calif. The water was about 50 degrees at best and the temps were in the low sixties. After settling in we went to Mendocino as we had come here because of things we had heard. The town looks like a New England village. As a matter of fact the town was used for the TV series “Murder, She Wrote”. Mendocino is one of California’s top destinations for vacationers. It was a magnet for artists early on but now it is an exclusive and expensive area with artists, culinary artists, and bed and breakfasts. There are many places to eat! It remains quaint and small, but is
Used to be an old Baptist Church
a busy little village. The MacCallum House, a hotel and restaurant, is one of the oldest buildings in town and is a pretty sight sitting on the hillside. We ate what we thought would be our diner at a place called the “Mendocino Café” which offered appealing meals with an organic touch. After exploring the town we rode along the seaside stopping to take pictures of the Pacific rushing ashore with pounding surf. We walked to Point Cabrillo Light Station to see the lighthouse and then walked paths along the shoreline to spot the sea lions who we heard carrying on with loud voices. By the time we saw them they were all stretched out lying in the sun and not making a sound. When we arrived back at the RV park we met folks that had collected abalone. We had heard from someone that when the moon is full, and on low tide, the abalone can be picked handily. If you are not familiar with abalone it is a muscle that has a shell over it and attaches to the bottom of rocks. By definition it is a large edible sea mollusk with a flattened slightly spiral shell with
Saw several of these in the town and understand they need to collect water as there is a shortage.
holes along the edge. People usually go out in wet suits when the tide is out and feel along the bottom of rocks for the shell. When the abalone feels something trying to pull them they immediately use suction to grab the rock, which makes it necessary to use a pry bar to get them off. They must be 7” across the shell and you are limited to 3 a day, or 24 a season. We watched them clean and prepare them and we were amazed at how hard it was to separate some of them from the shell. Once it is out of the shell it must have a membrane removed, the bottom scrapped off (or cut off), and all of it cleaned to look white. Then they will cut it in small slices, pound it to soften it, then bread, season, and fry it for a short time. We asked several questions while we stood and learned about this unusual mollusk. Judy was given a shell which we now have to dry (and bare with the fish smell for about a month). It is a beautiful color inside and Bill hopes to work on the outer shell to
An inn and restaurant & one of the oldest buildings in the town
make it transparent once it is dry. After we had been back at our RV for a while we had a visit from some of the guys who had cleaned the abalone. They gave us some abalone to try. They had cooked it and it was all ready for us to sample. It was very mild and quite good -- not our favorite seafood but,hey, we never had it before. After eating we went over to thank them and they insisted we take some more. So we filled up on abalone and are now stuffed! In a restaurant they charge 70 dollars and up for abalone so this was a real treat. A spin off of abalone is calamari-- less money and more fishy. So this has been a day of new discoveries and one we will remember.
There are more photos below