Rain was forecast for both days that Mr. Glad and I had planned to be on California’s North Coast for immersion in the sights and sounds of the sand and waves. But we were undaunted; we just packed extra clothes in case we got soaked on our beach walks, and noted that our hotel room had a (gas) fireplace we could sit next to and cozy up.
The drive over was only drizzly, and by the time we arrived and ventured out on the bluffs and the shore, the clouds only threatened and did not drip. All the rain fell when we were eating dinner, and while we slept. Wasn’t that a sweet gift from the Father?
We spent our first day in the town of Fort Bragg. This small town did start out as a military fort in 1857, established for the sole purpose of maintaining order on an Indian reservation.
Lumber milling is part of the town’s history, too, and of its present. The old railroad trestle left from when logs came by train from the north evolved into a road and then into its current use as a pedestrian bridge over Pudding Creek where it empties into the Pacific.
At the southern end of the trestle is Glass Beach, another attraction with interesting history. According to the man who has set up the Sea Glass Museum (and store) in town, it has been common through the ages for seaside communities to have garbage dumps at the beach, and much of the garbage would wash out to sea. At Fort Bragg, he says, the ocean currents were atypical, and kept the garbage close to shore. The broken glass was kept in the swirling seawater-tumbler close at hand.
We didn’t take the time to visit the beaches with the most abundant fields of sea glass, but even the little cove we did examine was thick with fragments of colored and frosty white, what started out as clear, glass.
MacKerricher State Park is just north of Fort Bragg, and there we walked on the boardwalks that get you out to the beach with as little damage as possible to the coastal plants. We spent most of our time gazing out at the surf, and walking along the bluffs. We looked into tidepools and watched seals bobbing in the waves. This map of the whale migrations may also help some of you simply to get an idea of where we were.
I found myself this far behind my husband because I made so many stops to shoot photos of little wild radish flowers that were in the lee of the boardwalk and not blowing too wildly.
At this time of year the dominant colors are blue and brown and grey, and it’s easy to overlook points of contrasting brightness.
Back in our room resting before dinner, we were able to leave the door open to the breeze and the cool, damp air, to listen to the surf and watch the gulls swooping past. Below our balcony was the nearly 10-mile long local section of the California Coastal Trail, this part stretching from Fort Bragg to MacKerricher Park. Under the roar of the surf we could hear voices of people walking or bicycling by.
Even in the middle of the night Mr. Glad opened that door and the instant refreshment invigorated my dreaming.
But I must backtrack and show the one food picture I took. Cheesecake is somewhat conventional and boring as a photographic subject, but we wondered how the stellar rasberry decoration was created – shot from a gun, perhaps?
Our breakfast was delicious but even more commonplace. It was the compact little restaurant that was unique and appealing; we had eaten here once years ago and wanted to return. The place is called Egghead’s, and the theme is The Wizard of Oz. The room is about as wide as Dorothy and her companions standing in a row, and all its decor relates to the story: red shoes, posters of the movie or play, photos of Judy Garland.
Above the kitchen door at the back is a sign: “Nobody Gets in to See the Wizard, Not Nobody Not Nohow.” But actually, to use the restroom one must go through that very kitchen out the back door, where one finds a Yellow Brick Road leading to this shack:
…where even the comics taped to the wall keep to the theme.
We left Oz fortified for our remaining day of explorations. In addition to more beach time, there were art galleries to peruse, a visit to the Mendocino Headlands and a lunchtime experience that requires a separate posting.
Last, the long drive back through Anderson Valley where we hadn’t been in so long. When we turned away from the coastal bluffs the scent of the air lost the elements of kelp and salt and moisture. Suddenly the smells of the dry conifer forest, with its spicy bay tree accents, filled my senses. We drove along like this for an hour, and I was contented.
Except for a bit of queasiness from the windy road, which forced us to stop and get out for a few minutes, but it was at a comfortable and lonely place featuring aromatic oaks, a fence overrun with moss and lichen, and the glossy leaves of madrone trees. The leaf mulch under these trees was incredibly thick and spongy. If we’d had a picnic, and preferably a picnic table to go with, it would have been the perfect place to prolong our mini-vacation.
But lacking those amenities, we continued on our way back to civilization, and here we are again. We may look and feel pretty much the same as we did a few days ago, but our quiet adventures have changed us. At the least, we have a thousand more things to thank God for.