Not quite recovered from the long drive the day before, and having just walked a couple of miles around the Mendocino Coast Botanical Garden, had I realized the extent of the hike required to get to and from the the lighthouse at Point Cabrillo, out of sight over a hill from the parking area, I might have given it a pass. But I’m glad I didn’t know.
I parked the car and as I walked toward the narrow road indicated, a sign said it was half a mile away. Not far, I thought, about the distance from my house to my mailbox. Hah! It was the longest half mile I’d ever walked and it was all uphill coming back, pointed out to me by an out-of-breath woman I passed on the way down. “Just what I was thinking”, said I in response.
Curiously, it seemed to me, the lighthouse sits with its back to the coastline.
One advantage of not starting a visit close to one’s objective is the view from a distance, the lighthouse and supporting group of buildings set into the landscape on the edge of the continent. There are no other buildings nearby, just those of the light station, otherwise wide open vistas, making it a dramatic approach on foot.
The British-built Fresnel lens, shipped around the horn and lit in 1909, was replaced by an automated beacon in 1972. The original lens was relit in 1999 and continues around the clock, visible for 14 miles at sea. I tried to capture the rotation of the light, the flash as it passed, but the closer I got to it, the less it was visible. Suffice it to say that the lighthouse continues doing its good work, keeping ships off the treacherous reef.
Robert relates the story of the wreck of the Frolic.
The museum in what was once the assistant lightkeeper's home.
After visiting the lighthouse, listening to the story of a shipwreck, walking among the restored cottages, available for travelers to spend the night, and into the museum that was the assistant light-keeper’s family home, and having little excuse to postpone the inevitable, I walked painfully, but with conviction, back up the hill to my car. I knew a long-overdue lunch was waiting in nearby Mendocino Village and that certainly helped.
Lunch down the road in Mendocino, a good choice.
Point Cabrillo Lightkeepers Association:
Spend the night:
National Register of Historic Places:
Read about the wreck of the clipper Frolic, in 1850:
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