Here are some pictures of Mendocino County, they might give the impression that we're a bunch of hicks, and it's true, but no more than anywhere else. What you usually see here are a lot of cars, highways, boutiques, stoplights, street crazies, and stuff you can find anywhere. Stuff you often don't find anywhere is: a lot of unemployment and about 133 unincorporated communities. I suspect more than a few of the towns exist only in the imagination of the county clerk, for example the town of Whitesboro is has been private pasture for the last 40 years, except for the inn and Grange Hall which are both about 1/2 mile out of "town".
The countys' main source of income used to be timber, sheep, and fisheries, but as those resources ran out, Marijuana became the biggest cash crop ahead of orchards, vineyards and everything else. Except for the increasing underworld miasma, things went ok till the state crackdown in the mid 80s' busted about 1/4 of the population. (5 ways to avoid getting busted) All their property got confiscated, so they went broke. Then California passed the Medical Marijuana Initiative, and the bottom fell out of the rest of the dope market (if that had been passed first, people could still have their own livelihoods instead of being in jail). But now the District Attorney helps protect marijuana club growers from the Feds because this system discourages dope wars so people don't get shot for wandering in the woods at the wrong place, and prevents potentially homeless ex-landowners from employing the antisocial skills they might have learned in jail. In my liberal opinion, the concept of social punishment in this case is used as an alternative to a reward, when neither is appropriate. It just confuses the issue by polarization and creates aliens from our own people. video: 1 hr, 45 min. Altogether though, without the previous dope economy (however illegal), there's not a lot of money to be made or spent in these parts. Building contractors bring their own workers from as far away as San Francisco, so the big jobs for locals now are in tourism. This kind of response is pretty much what the Allies did to Germany after WW1, and with much less justification. It didn't work too well until after WW2 when they realized their mistake and sent in aid instead.
This is Albion, where I get mail & groceries. On the left is the hardware store, then the Post Office (same building), then the parking lot for the fire station, the Albion Grocery and then the bait shop-deli (you have to be careful there, but the coffee's good). Behind that the headlands are all subdivided & ready to develop, so bring your millions (you'll need it). Behind that is the Pacific Ocean, which I'm sure you've heard about. Tourists come to hunt the wily Abalone and watch Gray Whales migrate offshore (where else?) The whales are identified by a little puff of white spray like the ones shown on the right. The field in the foreground has just been sold in one piece to a rich guy from LA (who is said to be OK). He built a nice, though somewhat ostentatious, house & barn, brought in some retired racehorses, and spent more on the fencing than most houses in Albion are worth. The house visible on the right was the ministers house but the church burned down. There's more houses behind it, down the hill, that used to be mill worker homes before the Albion Mill closed about 1930.
Doug Stevens retired & sold the Albion Store to Praub & his cousin from India. Genuinely good people but his food prices are still about 20% more than Fort Bragg. I'm guessing Dougs store was the last unincorporated town market not already owned by a Pakistani or East Indian. The local migration history goes something like this: before 1850 it all belonged to the Pomo tribe, then redwoods were discovered on the coast and the lumberjacks were mainly Finns, Canadians, and Swedes. Next came Italians and Irish, farming and raising sheep. Then WW2 & a lot of the mills closed, then Hippies, weed & Central Americans. Now real estate is so high only foreigners & city people can buy. They don't live here but they own the air B & B rentals. Jews occupy the art centers, Hippies & Guatemalans make the beds, small markets and gas stations are Mid Eastern turf. Everyone else, including me, lives up in the Pygmy forest on the ridge behind the camera. There used to be a lot of Pygmies here but strong drink wiped 'em out. There's also a marina on the Albion River (down the hill to the right), and several Bed & Breakfast inns. A lot of non-Republican civic groups are scattered up in the woods: Earth First!, The Albion Nation, The Albion Monitor, (various Albion websites) and various Medical Marijuana clubs to give you an idea. Alcohol is not much of a problem, but meth may be before long. The main religions are (from left to right) Hedonism, Buddhism, Wicca, Atheism, Judism, Presbyterian, Catholic, and Born Again Christians. The per capita rate of insanity is quite high compared to areas that offer employment. Some famous people from Albion are: Erik Larsen (Savage Dragon, Marvel Comics) and Johnny Babich (Major League Baseball pitcher, 1934-1941)
Hunting the Modoc Spirit Bear (true story)
Why People Collect Butterflies (true myth)