Mendocino County
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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.

Albion 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)

Pt Arena light
Point Arena Light house, 25 miles down the coast from Albion, it's not always this vacationable there, sometimes it's dismal. The Park Rangers hand out $180 tickets if your dog is off its' leash.

Point Arena went broke about 15 years ago, the Council quit and the mayor & city manager took off for Baja in case they were liable. So the City Hall Janitor took over & got state assistance. Several Comic Book computer illustration companies moved in & the place seems to be working, though there's some pretty steep class distinction still, which is not too cool (in my hippy-liberal opinnion).

Gaskin School
The Gaskin School near Yorkville. Opened in 1912 and closed in 1952. The land owner, who is 87, went to school here and later used the bus garage for sheep shearing.

Inside the Gaskin school, looking out the back door.
inside Gaskin School The cupboard was for books. An indoor toilet is behind the partition on the left. The ladder goes to the attic. The green panel on the floor is a blackboard. Check it out: no grafitti. ---->

Branscom Store 7 AM in December. Serves hot breakfasts for people that work at the saw mill, but the only place to sit is on the benches out front where it's cold,
Branscom Storeso people usually get in their vehicles to stay warm while they eat. There's a black tomcat that showed up wild but now he'll eat off your plate. He sleeps under the building.

The trees visible along the back horizon are Redwood, Douglas Fir, and Grand Fir. These have been the mainstay of costal employment for 150 yrs but no longer provide the same money. Douglas Fir isn't a real Fir tree (different genus), but nobody cares too much.

Another big scam around 1900 was harvesting Tan Oak bark for curing leather. Cutters made Tan Oaks scarce for about 50 years, but when tanning methods changed, Tan Oak bark harvesting went out of style & their numbers recovered. Tan Oak isn't a real Oak either, it's more closely related to Chinquapin & Chestnuts. (make a note)

Ilana & VW
This is my kid Ilana (I have lots more pictures too), I promised her a classic red VW bug if she got good grades, (Mendocino High "The Screaming Abalones") so here's her '66 with a new coat of paint, rebuilt 1500 engine w/ balanced flywheel & crank, & external oil cooler. We got the car for salvage, & it was a mess. Part of our deal was that she had to know how to work on it, so now she can torque to specs, replace the brakes & troubleshoot. But she hates getting greasy, so she usually manages to get me to do it. (which never ceases to amaze me). She got her masters in Range Land Management at Oklahoma State University. Now she's a cowgirl employed by the State of WYO. earning 5x what I do & getting married in May. heart!
Ilana & engine

This is Bill Heil sawing up a deadwood pine from my neighbor Dougs'
Bill Heils Mill property. Doug gave the tree to me because it was too hard to take out from his side, and it was leaning over my carport. Bill cut it into 2x that I use for wind generator blades. If you're into portable mills, check out his modifications.

Dustys' camp
Dusty has lived within a 5 mile radius for about 20 years, & everyone knows her even if they don't know her name. Whenever her camp location becomes too well known, she moves, but usually less than 1/2 mile at a time. She has a tent within a tent, which is also under a tent, and a grove af trees to break the sea wind. Here, she's cooking mushrooms on 10 Jan '07, it's 43 degrees F. and sunny.
DustyThere's probaby 5 to 30 homeless people in Albion, depending on how they're classified, or who you ask.

Mr Dog
This is my dog: Mr Dog, at Pt. Arena Beach (note the leash). McNab on the outside, Lab on the inside.
Hunting the Modoc Spirit Bear (true story)

Why People Collect Butterflies (true myth)