Sunday, July 20, 2008

Northern California Trip - Pt 2

We woke up Tuesday morning to a clear blue sky; temperature in the mid to high 50s. We grabbed bagels and coffee at the motel office (Bodega Harbour Inn) and had breakfast on the patio of our room. Before we left Bodega Bay, we stopped at a little grocery store next to the motel and bought stuff for a picnic later along the coast.

Highway One is a two-lane road that runs right along the coast, with some places a straight drop-off into the Pacific Ocean. It is absolutely beautiful! If you're driving, it's difficult to do much sight-seeing because the road has very few straight sections. We drove most of the day at a top speed of 30-35 MPH because of all the sharp turns and "switchbacks." There were several places where the grade was anywhere from 7-15%…uphill and downhill. We drove with the windows down so we could enjoy the cool ocean air. I don't think we had a single day over 70-75 degrees while we were driving the coast. In fact, the three nights we stayed on the coast, our rooms didn't even have AC; we didn't need it…IN JULY!

NCA_31_NorthSalmonCreekBeachNot too far outside of Bodega Bay, we stopped at Salmon Creek State Park and walked down to the beach. The waves crashing against the rocks were SO LOUD! The beaches in Northern California are so different from the beaches we've been to in Ft. Walton/Destin Florida. The beaches in Northern California are broken up with lots of large rocks and tidepools; the waves also look much bigger than the waves in Florida. When the waves hit the beach/rocks, the noise is a crashing BOOM, then the water shoots straight up and sprays everywhere. We spent about an hour just walking the beach and climbing the rocks. We had hoped to find lots of shells, but the few we found where busted up and not worth picking up. Another thing about the California beaches we saw was the sand was almost black- a stark contrast to the Destin FL beaches.

We stopped in Jenner to top off the gas tank since we weren't sure when we would find "services" again. We paid $4.75 per gallon for regular unleaded. Up the highway, we stopped at Salt Point State Park for lunch. Dana and I were the only people in the area where we stopped. After lunch, we walked down to the beach.

NCA_39_PointArenaPoint Arena Lighthouse was our next destination. Point Arena tower is the only Pacific West coast lighthouse of significant height (115 feet) that you can climb to the top! However, much to our disappointment, the lighthouse and museum were recently closed for renovation; we were still able to get a few pictures. There were several sea lions sunning themselves on the rocks and playing in the surf below the lighthouse. We spent about 45 minutes just enjoying the spectacular view, then continued on to our stop for the night, Fort Bragg where we had reservations at the Surf and Sand Lodge.

NCA_50_SurfandSandThe lodge is on the north end of town and sits about 50 yards from the ocean's edge. Our room was on the second floor and had a balcony that overlooked the Pacific ocean. After moving our luggage, etc. from the car to the room, we headed into town for dinner. The desk clerk at the lodge recommended a local "bistro," so we figured we would give it a try. Shortly after we were seated, we began to notice: "It's HOT in here!" The restaurant had NO air conditioning. When we asked about the AC, our waiter told us that they weren't ALLOWED to have AC in the buildings that sat on the coast. We didn't ask why. We apologized for any inconvenience we may have caused and informed him that we couldn't enjoy our meal under the circumstances and we left. He apologized to us...but I have a feeling he just thought we were country bumpkins that really couldn't afford to eat there and were embarrassed to say so. (Pssst. The prices were a little steep.)

Now, what to do for dinner? We had purchased one of those "tour books" and Dana had previously read about a restaurant down by the docks on Noyo Harbor named "Capt'n Flint's." The reviewer said the fish and chips were good and the prices reasonable, so we figured- why not? Unknown to us at the time, Capt'n Flint's (and several other locations in Fort Bragg) had been used in filming the movie Overboard with Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn. In fact, Capt'n Flint's is where they go out for Goldie's character's birthday. The sign on the door states: "We don't take credit cards, debit cards or personal checks. CASH ONLY." Apparently, they didn't spend much of the cash on decor, but what Capt'n Flint's lacks in atmosphere--actually, it looks exactly like something you'd find on a fishing dock, and smells like it too--they make up for in the food. Dana had the fish and chips; I had the prawns and chips, along with a cup of clam chowder. No complaints! The food was really good.

NCA_51_SurfandSandWe finished out the evening walking the beach in front of the lodge, then sitting on our balcony and watching the sun set. We left the sliding door to the balcony open all night and let the crashing waves lull us to sleep. Dana already wants to move to northern California.


Baxter said...

I love the movie "Overboard", minus the immoral content, otherwise, it's a funny story and sweet, too. I'm really happy for you and Dana to have shared such a wonderful time in such BEAUTIFUL surroundings. Moving more and more toward that "empty nest". Funny, California has Highway 1 and Florida has A1A for their coastal highway.

nacotaco said...

It sounds wonderful....a trip like kids.......=]

Scotty said...

In 1970 I took my infantry training at Fort Ord. Ord was just south of Montery. All I remember is it was cold!! And being a New Yorker I KNEW what cold was!!

I've got fond memories of going up to "Frisco" on weekend passes and gong to Billy's Graham's Filmore West. Saw some GREAT 70' bands there.Being a musicain it was great.

One thing stood out in my mind back then is, there was a cult or some kind of "ism" on what seemed to be every corner of Frisco!

Charlie Curran said...

You can not appreciate the coastal beauty of Northern California or Oregon unless you have been there. I like the beaches of Flordia, but there is something powerful and peaceful about the Pacific Ocean in that area.

Enjoy the No A/C... you will get to use it when you get back

Sounds like a great trip...