I met a fish named Next Time at Mendocino Magic. I was standing on a little spit that sticks out into the reservoir. There are some rocks to set your bait down there. When I looked across to the shady spot by the big log, there were a whole mess of fish burbling around. One big one jumped out a few times. I cast over there, but I was using an old reel, and the mechanism was a little stuck. It just didn’t have the response I needed to catch that one big fish. He ate two nightcrawlers and an earthworm before I decided to head over there to talk to him 'man to fish'. I looked him in his beady little eyes and demanded he tell me his name. I swear he said, “Next time.” I thought he was being sassy with me, but then I realized I know nothing of fish culture. Next Time may be a common fish name like Nick or Kate.
I recently graduated with an MBA from the University of San Francisco, a Jesuit school in the best city in the world – and boy, have I learned about economics, data analysis, marketing, accounting, and even the rare factoid about baseball! All this knowledge will sure come in handy for a career in the corporate world. What is equally important to what I am taking away from the past two years, however, is what I learned in the woods.
For about a year, I have been lucky to become involved with a property of 600 acres of wild Northern California hills; first as a guest of the on-site campground falling in love with the rugged beauty of Mendocino County, then as Intern for strategy and business development during the last semester of my studies, and finally as Assistant Property Manager taking care of the property during the rainy months.
In several school papers, I referred to Mendocino Magic as a perfect MBA sandbox: its small team allows me to take on projects in all realms of the business. But apart from that, spending time in a remote area, far away from the tech focus of San Francisco and met with completely new challenges, has helped me grow and learn in ways that would never have been possible with “only” my MBA. This series is a recount of the lessons learned; and a pitch for everyone to go outside and get dirty!
Part 1 – Universe & U: I come from a small college town in South Western Germany that has had a Green party mayor since 2007 and have grown up in a community of trailblazers for green initiatives like waste separation and bike lanes. With that background, I have always appreciated sustainability efforts; living in Mendocino County, however, has taught me just how important it is to be aware of the world we live in and how we move through it.
Part 2 – Me, Myself & I: As an alumna of a Jesuit school, I am familiar with the idea of cura personalis, the care for the whole person, and the importance of self-awareness. While it is vital to teach yourself new skills – whether it be interpersonal or technical – you will not fully benefit from those if you don’t know yourself, your strengths and shortcomings. This is a retelling of what living and working in the woods teaches me about myself.
Part 3 – You Shall Be the Fellowship: Mendocino Magic is run by a small group of dedicated staff and volunteers, and often we all live in one house and work on multiple projects at the same time. With 600 acres to keep track of and only few people to do it, you have to assign projects in a way that utilizes everyone’s talents and skills as efficiently as possible. This and meeting our guests and campers on a regular basis has taught me as many lessons about human nature as my TA gig for an Organizational Development class.
Part 1 – Universe & U
Part 1 of this series deals mostly with the relationship with the outside world, with nature, with the way things are and the way they should be. Because sometimes the best way to learn about connection is to go to a place that has no internet and hardly any cell reception.
Lesson I: I Have a Dream
When I first came to Mendocino Magic, I was very much used to how things were done at business school; sure, we had good ideas but studying in the global hub of technology, we tended to come up with apps for a lot of our class projects. Arriving on the property, I had to realize one of the most important lessons: with 600 acres at your disposal, you can do almost anything. I specifically remember one glorious whiteboarding session where three of us were sitting in a work shop and trying to come up with every possible use of the property: a dude ranch, an olive farm, a zip lining facility, and a spot for boot camp-like team building retreats were just some of the mentions.
Going back to school after my first weeks in the woods, I felt my approach changing: I still tend to play devil’s advocate and ask a lot of questions during ideation meetings but my mind had been expanded, I had become aware of the box that some of our thoughts are encased in. Now I can remind myself of that particular – very full – whiteboard before similar tasks and dive right in knowing that even if I don’t have 600 acres to play with, the possibilities are still endless.
Lesson II: The big!picture
It is one thing to watch ‘The Lion King’ and sing along to the ‘The Circle of Life;’ or to realize in early physics experiments that water will find its way to the lowest available level. It is a completely different thing to live close enough to nature to remember that sometimes bears eat goats, and that Northern California winters are so rainy that you really have to know where the lines of your gravity-fed irrigation system run to avoid seasonal waterways.
In the larger context, living in a system so elegantly balancing all its parts has definitely changed my view on the world and how I function in it. I come from my Green politics college town and I have cared about sustainability for a long time; but living in woods reveals that there are bigger consequences for everything you do. With this experience in mind, I have learned to always plan for contingencies and think all plans and ideas through to the end.
Lesson III: Constant Vigilance
Any self-respecting nerd will know this quote is from Harry Potter but sadly – despite its name – Mendocino Magic is not affiliated with Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and we don’t learn from a gruff one-eyed veteran but rather from hiking in the woods every single day.
To know what is happening on your property, you have to go out there and check it out so I usually start my day with a half hour walk. And as much as I like listening to podcasts, that is a time of day where I leave my headphones at home. I want to be able to use as many of my senses as possible: I watch, listen, smell and even feel what is going on on-site: changes in weather and vegetation, or movement of any wildlife.
This attentiveness is something I will take away for my future career: I often play devil’s advocate as is and my work up here has reinforced and changed that notion. Previously, I was concerned that being on the lookout might be mistaken for paranoia. But now I have learned that a combination of caution and curiosity can be used to find not only potential downfalls but also opportunities.
Want to get away this winter? Itching to hike around in the mud with us and enjoy those crisp blustery days? Maybe you know someone who needs a break from the concrete jungle and would benefit from 1 to 2 weeks' stay this Winter?
We're seeking guests to help us out this winter, come stay with us either camping or in the Stage House. Pick a project to work on, help us get it done, feel good about working in the outdoors, and return with a new perspective on life after your time in the great outdoors (with luxuries like a hot meal and a heated house with us at night).
Mendocino Magic is a campground with long term goals of becoming self-sustaining, operating a year-round permaculture setup with full vegetable garden to support feeding people who live here year round. For now, we are still building the garden and have not started seeding because without a secure place for our vegetables, rabbits, deer etc get into it.
If you are interested in coming to help out , here's what we are doing on a daily basis:
> Clipping Blackberry bushes
> Cutting down and collecting dead limbs from trees to minimize wildfire fuel
> Splitting and stacking logs for winter burns
> Building garden boxes for raised beds
> Designing and installing a drip irrigation line
> Reinforcing the trenches on the roads (Shovel), installing a gutter system with Mackenzie
> Post Hole Digging for fences (easier when the ground is softer)
> Pulling T-Stakes from soft ground for reuse and restrengthening of fences
> Burn Monitoring
Reach out to CONTACT@MENDOCINOMAGIC.COM today!
Bear Dog here. You know I’m a sociable critter, so when the new fella showed at the pond house I thought I’d stop by and greet him. I recognized him right away from last year (he has a moustache like a Schnauzer I met once). He said hey, and that he also remembered me from last year which was fun to hear. Then, and like so many others, the next thing he said was a variant of “What a beautiful and healing place”, then he heaved a good long sigh…
I agreed with him and asked him how far he’d come and where his journey began. He related that he was about eight (of a medium sized dog) years of age so that meant he had lots of stories, experiences, anecdotes and little wisdoms he could share, so to start at the beginning would take too long. He said he’d just keep it simple and start by tellin’ me about this trip, which had commenced in Elko Nevada. “Long walk” I said. “Took the train” he said, “for nostalgias’ sake.” “Well, I don’t know who nostalgia is “I told him, “but the train sounds fun.” “ It was”, says he, “and then I took a six hour bus ride from Martinez.” I said that I didn’t know Mr. Martinez either, but I hoped it was a good trip. “It was, hadn’t ridden the bus since I was a pup” he said, and we both laughed about that.
What brings you here I asked, and he talked about meeting Mackenzie when staying last year, and found the property soothing, healing, peaceful, and playful, a place that manifested a very tangible joy. He said he enjoyed hearing (and was honored by her sharing) the vision she had for the place and was, in the end, simply compelled by her energy, spirit, directness, and determination, and by the potential for fun and fellowship. “Seemed like a good and useful way to spend some time” he said while patting my head in a friendly gesture.
I saw him off and on throughout the week doing everything from hanging curtains and organizing that old shed (you know, the one that smells so interesting) to running the chainsaw and working on the water pipes under the old house, and while the man always seemed to be smiling, he also appeared to be a bit bemused so I asked him about it. “It’s the place” he stopped and said. “After a very long time of throwing myself at life, I’m remembering how to live in the moment again and this magic place is makin’ that easy.” “Woof! I said in happy agreement, then I lay down on his feet so he could have the pleasure of giving me a good scratch under my collar and rub my ears in that way he does that I like.
A day or two later, I just happened to stop by the Pond House when he was grillin’ a burger. “Good people too” he said, picking up where he had left off “some of the best and most fun people that I have met and that’s saying something.” “Fun is good “I said. “Intriguing too, he continued, “educated, well-travelled, and good natured with a good sense of adventure and they’re not afraid of much it seems.” “All of which happen to be the traits of dogs” I said, looking out of the corner of my eye as I said it, just to see if he heard me. “Woof! “He said in cheerful agreement. The man then invited me to lunch, which I accepted. He winked and asked me how I wanted my burger cooked, “rare of course” I said, and we both laughed about that. I ate my burger, thanked him, and then we both went back to work.
It was dark one evening when I found Scooter (that was his name) sitting on the porch with a grin on his face. “Hey” he said quietly “what was your favorite thing about today?” “Favorite thing that happened, something I did, or maybe chased, or something good I dug up, or smelled or what” I asked? “You name it “he said. “Well, I did have bacon grease this morning on some scraps, and this afternoon I had a very realistic dream about doin’ really fun Wolf stuff.”
“Sounds like favorite stuff to me he replied. “How about you, what was your favorite?” I asked? He said “This afternoon I was on the phone with my back turned to the road when my new friend Joe came up behind me carrying most of a tree. When I turned around suddenly I think I jumped a little and must have had quite a surprised look on my face! We both then started laughing, Joe at my reaction and me in relief!
I was laying in the shade the next day, when Hula, Douglass’ cute Catahoula, showed up with a bunch of volunteer human friends and they all got real busy working on docks, fencing, burning stuff, pulling nails and weeds etc.That evening, I found Scooter sitting on the porch of the Pond House with wet eyes and a moist nose. “Smell something harsh didja?” I asked politely. “No” he said, “I tweaked my leg a few months back and it was bothering me pretty badly tonight. I was laying down when I heard a knock. When I opened the door, Emma “Fiya!” was there with a plate of food! I had missed supper and she brought me a pleasant meal complete with fresh picked wild greens.” The food made you cry?” I asked. “No, it was just her totally unselfish act of kindness that’s got me a bit overwhelmed right now, that’s all. I’m just sitting here happy, enjoying the moment, refreshed by a wonderful, gentle reminder of the rich promise of humanity and at the limitless potential of life. It’s Magic here.” “Yep” I said, and then we both quietly smiled.
The land is getting greener with every passing day, the birds are nesting and I’m roaming through sprouting brush and flowers again. That can only mean one thing: Spring is here! What can I say, it’s a ruff life!
The humans are preparing for the 2016 season here at Mendocino Magic, and I get to hang out with some friends of the property who are coming up to help with their human tasks. I’m supervising the building project for Portals Stage, a stage nestled between Mill Pond and Bucket Pond that will be host to small acoustic concerts this summer. Overseeing the landscaping projects by our Reservoir is another of my many responsibilities here.
Being the diligent spirit animal I am, I have also helped scout out new campsite locations for this seasons. Campers will be able to book stargazing at Observatory Camp on our airstrip, hummingbird watching at Rumplestiltskin Camp, and hang with more friends than ever in the new group camp at the Logger's Cabin! Bring your boots for the mud and I’ll show you around to all the new spots that are perfect for your summer getaway (also great places to give me belly rubs and feed me bacon, jus'sayin.)
We are present at wedding shows and bridal fairs every year, offering a wide range of options for wedding parties, bachelorette and bachelor weekends and family events. Wedding fair participants can book their event for 15% off if they secure a down payment within 10 days of their fair encounter with us!
2016 Fair Date - Fair Location - Site Visit Dates - 10 Day Deadline
10 January - Luxe Bridal @ Grand Hyatt San Francisco - 16/17 January - 20 January
24 January- Ukiah Wedding Fair @ Empire Fairgrounds- 29/20 January - 3 February
Please complete our digital waiver of liability which can be located by visiting this link:
3000 Branscomb Road, Laytonville, Ca. 95454
Waiver of Liability, Assumption of Risk, and Indemnity Agreement
Waiver: In consideration of being allowed on the property known as Mendocino Magic, Laytonville, Ca., I, for myself, my heirs, personal representatives or assigns, do hereby release, waive, discharge, and covenant not to hold responsible, Stacy Holland, her family, heirs and agents from liability from any and all claims resulting in personal injury, accidents or illnesses (including death), a property loss arising from, but not limited to, participation in activities while on the premises Mendocino Magic, 3000 Branscomb Road, Laytonville, Ca. 95454.
__________________________________ Printed name of Attendee Date
___________________________________ Signature of Attendee Date
__________________________________ Printed Name of Minor Date
___________________________________ Signature of Parent of Minor Date
Assumption of Risks: Participation in activities at above-said property carries with it certain inherent risks that cannot be eliminated regardless of the care taken to avoid injuries. The specific risks vary from one activity to another, but the risks range from 1) minor injuries such as scratches, bruises, and sprains to 2) major injuries such as eye injury or loss of sight, joint or back injuries, heart attacks, and concussions to 3) catastrophic injuries including paralysis and death.
I have read the previous paragraphs and I know, understand, and appreciate these and other risks that are inherent in physical activities. I hereby assert that my participation is voluntary and that I knowingly assume all such risks.
Indemnification and Hold Harmless: I also agree to INDEMNIFY AND HOLD Stacy Holland, her family, heirs, and agents HARMLESS from any and all claims, actions, suits, procedures, costs, expenses, damages and liabilities, including attorney's fees brought as a result of my involvement of activities at and to reimburse them for any such expenses incurred.
Severability: The undersigned further expressly agrees that the foregoing waiver and assumption of risks agreement is intended to be as broad and inclusive as is permitted by the law of the State of California and that if any portion thereof is held invalid, it is agreed that the balance shall, notwithstanding, continue in full legal force and effect.
Acknowledgement of Understanding: I have read this waiver of liability, assumption of risk, and indemnity agreement, fully understand its terms, and understand that I am giving up substantial rights, including my right to sue. I acknowledge that I am signing the agreement freely and voluntarily, and intend by my signature to be a complete and unconditional release of all liability to the greatest extent allowed by law.
__________________________________ Signature for individual
__________________________________ Signature for GROUP
Between preparing for upcoming large events or long term preparations for the property's longevity, We always need helpful hands up at the Ranch. Paying guests are not asked to perform any tasks besides abiding by the #onefire rules , but volunteers can pay part of their way or work to pay their dues pending on the task. Please visit our form at
Well it's been a wet start to the 2016 winter up here. Trust me, I'm a dog and I live, for the most part, outside up on these lands. In November and December we started receiving rain; less than the last few years, but this is an El Niño year so my dog sense says to find somewhere dry and wait it out. It will be a much wetter winter this year, statistics say we'll reach our average by February and the ground will likely stay soaked through April. While that means a lot of mud and sloughs (super fun for furries like me), it also means extended winter camping for guests, so bring your muddy boots and tarps! Reservations for the 2016 season start after the 1st, and it's really quiet up here aside from the tapping of water off the dock, so come on up and visit me!
Hey internet world, Pepper Bear here. The Autumn guests were all really nice people, and everyone fed me bacon! I like to walk around with guests to keep them on the trails, protect them from mischievous squirrels and rabbits, and serve as your guide on your hike (whether you like it or not). I am a very friendly Catahoula-Timberwolf and I am the spirit animal of Mendocino Magic. I'm only 2 years old, but I have an old soul you can see in my eyes. Come visit me and we can have our picture taken, too!
UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE, CAMPERS MUST NOT LIGHT FIRES AT INDIVIDUAL CAMPSITES (MILL POND, PORTALS, CANNONBALL CAMPS). PLEASE JOIN US AT THE LANAI FOR THE #ONEFIRE AT DUSK FOR COMPLIMENTARY S'MORES AND MUSIC. GUESTS WHO CANNOT ABIDE BY THESE FIRE RULES WILL BE ASKED TO LEAVE WITHOUT RECEIVING A REFUND.
Everyone loves a great campfire. For cooking, for s'mores, for snuggling and storytelling, fire is what brings humankind together and separates us from the rest of our natural environs.
Due to the massive destruction wildfires pose in Mendocino County, Cal Fire has suspended all burns and campfires until these drought-impacted inland temperatures cool off. Here at Mendocino Magic, we know how important it is to have a fire at night as the quintessential component to escaping the cities and suburbs and truly finding yourself outside. We do not want to remove this important element, but we need to work with our guests to make sure fires are kept controlled.
BEST PRACTICES FOR A LOW-IMPACT FIRE AT MENDOCINO MAGIC
1. All Fires Must Have Supervision within ten feet of the fire at ALL TIMES. Unattended campfires easily turn into brushfires and wildfires in seconds without a careful eye.
2. All Supervision for Fires must be competent. An intoxicated adult is not as competent a supervisor as a sober 14 year old. Take an opportunity to learn from the pro's at Mendocino Magic on proper fire safety and teach your family as well.
3. No Reconstruction of Fire Rings, moving of rocks or building up of the Rings. In avoiding large bonfires, our fire rings are set for a perfect sized campfire as is - please do not make any alterations as it will impact the surrounding environment at your campsite.
4. Have a Rake and 5 Gallon Water Bucket before starting your fire. We have extra buckets and rakes for our guests' use. Please make sure these items are with you when you start a fire, and when possible, please allow us to build your fire for you.
5. ALL COALS must be extinguished before bedtime. The rustic orange embers may be beautiful, but fires can stay alive and reignite while you sleep in as little as a 0.2 mph wind gust, so please always use your water bucket and rake when putting out your fire and make sure it is really out before heading to your sleeping bag.
Mendocino Magic's Cannonball Camp featured in Hipcamp.com's new Anthem Video ! Check it Out!
We are 0:18-0:19 where a young man is jumping into the reservoir! Interested in camping on site? Contact us! You can now also always make reservations through Hipcamp.com as well!
This June, Mendocino Magic began hosting campers at some of our beloved campsites on hipcamp.com, the most comprehensive online source for campsites across the United States. By joining Hipcamp, we have the opportunity to bring in more campers to enjoy this special place, and are able to cover our operating costs more easily. We were even featured in PSFK recently in an article written by author Kiran Umapathy on the Sharing Economy and how camping brings out the best in this generation. Check it out!
Interested in hosting your wedding or special event at Mendocino Magic? Join us for a site visit during Open House Week 2015, March 14-21. We offer one hour tours of the site and can explain included amenities for a variety of packages tailored to your needs.
Heading to Laytonville this June 25-28 for the Kate Wolf Music Festival? Consider staying at Mendocino Magic, just ten minutes' drive from the festival site. We offer campsites, quiet at night time, and shuttle rides to the festival.