The Banana Belt and Bowling Ball Beach
Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

Mendocino Village has long been the focus of tourism on 70 miles of the Mendocino Coast. Don’t get me wrong, Mendocino is one of a kind. But places like Fort Bragg and points south are coming into their own.

This past weekend, my friend Wild Bill and I took a quick overnight camping trip to Gualala Regional Park, located on the south side of Gualala River, in a grove of redwoods, including a grove with some old growths. redwoods-at-gualala.jpgFantastic beaches, walks and a nice little town nearby. I also saw my first sign for $4 per gallon gasoline at the Chevron in Gualala.

We stopped at Queenie’s Roadhouse, one of our favorites, in Elk for breakfast. As we waited for our meal to arrive, the fog ended two beautiful clear days. After breakfast we head to Point Arena to hike out to Stornetta Preserve’s waterfall, which also was shrouded in some fog. By the time we got to School Creek road, we hit the fog-free sunbelt. When you first hear about the banana belt of the southern Mendocino Coast, you figure it’s just locals joshing. But it’s a real phenomenon. Bowling Ball beach, on the north end of the banana belt, was fog free and warm, as were points south and our campsite overlooking the river.

bill-at-bowlingball.jpgBy the way, the trail to bowling ball has collapsed partway at the end before decending onto the beach. But the sturdy steps have become a sturdy ladder, which seems safe enough if you take it slowly and are a fairly agile person (I’m not encouraging you, must letting you know about the condition). If you have a problem with your coordination or feel unsafe on ladders, forget it … otherwise at low tide you can walk among and sit on the wonderous giant boulders they call bowling balls and bathe in the warm sunshine of our coastal banana belt.

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