Milpitas Camera Club Field Trip
Field Trip: Mendocino
Trip Date: August 21-24, 2009
Report Author: Scott Hinrichs
Report Date: August 26, 2009

Four club members and two associates took the long, winding road to Mendocino on the expanded weekend of August 21 to 24.

Once again we stayed at the seaside cabin where we lodged during field trips over the past three years. Weather conditions this year ranged from fog to sunshine and the overall temperature was rather cool. Half the group went to the city of Mendocino on Saturday, while the other car/canoe-pool took a boat to the Gualala River and put in at a campground just south of town. Once again we explored another picture-perfect Mendocino river. Last year we paddled up Big River near Mendocino and were astounded by the beauty of that spectacular waterway.

The watershed for the Gualala River is smaller than that of Big River and resulted in more challenges for our crew of three paddlers. There was much less water, and in order to get up river, we had to portage three times. The crew nearly mutinied having to walk bare-footed on the sharp little stones that lined the river bed. They were ill prepared and forgot their boat shoes. The stretches we were able to navigate was beautiful clear, emerald-blue water in the channels and white gravel on the sandbars. During the summer the Gualala River is cut off from the ocean by a large sand bar, but when the winter rains cut loose, that obstruction is blasted away by the rushing river waters. All these northern rivers move great volumes of water when the rains turn these crystal-clear, blue streams into angry silt-brown battering rams of massive hydro force. A perfect example of this is the Russian River that enters the Pacific Ocean at Jenner. The Russian River has been know to crest at 50 feet during flood season.

We took the canoe up river about a mile before it became too shallow to navigate. After our cruise/walk back down the river, we loaded the boat back on the car and returned to the cabin to enjoy a wonderful dinner of barbecued meat and vegetables. Afterward we sat around the fire ring and watched the glowing coals and lapping flames before hitting the sack.

The next morning we had a shared breakfast and the extended-stay group had another day and a half to tour, while the short-timers stopped to look at some of the local art galleries before returning to the Bay Area. At one gallery we viewed four original prints by the God of Photography, Ansel Adams. The price on one of these original prints was a spectacular $39,000! Unfortunately we couldn't come up with enough chump-change by searching our pockets, the car ashtray and the carpet under the seats. We also saw an original Edward Weston print and some very nice color work that the gallery owner photographed.

After that we ventured up to the Gualala Arts Center and took a look at the annual Arts in the Redwoods exhibit. (Part of the town's Art in the Redwoods celebration.) Although the work paled in comparison to that of the great masters of the black & white negative, there were many beautiful works of photography, painting, sculpture and textiles. There was also some pieces that left us perplexed. In particular, some wood chips in spray-painted, paper grocery bags that we thought the janitor forgot to toss in the furnace, but on the floor was an exhibition label. Phew! Glad we didn't chip in and help clean up!

Several club members talked about entering this show, but somehow couldn't get it together this year to complete the entry procedure or produce pieces for the show. Oh, well, there s always next year! I encourage some of you to consider entering this exhibit. I think we could make a good showing, and have a great excuse to return to Gualala and beautiful Mendocino next year! (I'm planning to clean out my storage space and enter the resulting pile of junk as a statement of support for the preservation of the Spotted, Furry-backed, Great Pacific Blue A-Bologna.)

© 2009 S.R. Hinrichs