Friday, August 01, 2008

Northern California Trip - Pt 3/Friday Photo

Friday Photo


Woodley Island Marina in Eureka, CA.

Continuing Up Highway One
The morning of our third day in Northern California, we were still in Fort Bragg. Once a booming logging town, Fort Bragg is the largest town between San Francisco and Eureka California, so besides "Capt'n Flint's," we figured there must other things to see and/or do there. As we were finishing breakfast that morning at Denny's, we asked our waitress if there was anything "unique" in Fort Bragg (other than the Skunk Train) we should see before leaving town. "Have you been to 'Glass Beach'?," she asked. "No," I answered, "How do we get there?" She gave us directions (turned out we were actually sitting at the main road to the beach) and told us were the best area was "that hadn't been picked over." I wasn't sure what she meant, but we thanked her, paid our bill and headed out.

NCA_54_GlassBeachWe knew very little about "Glass Beach," before going there, but had heard that it was quite unique in that rather than a sand beach, this beach was made up of glass pebbles (click the picture for a better view). We drove to the end of a road and parked our car. Walking down a dirth path about 100 yards, we came to a fork. "Take the path to the left," our waitress had told us. We did and very quickly we were standing on the edge of a cliff overlooking the beach. From where we were standing, we could tell this was no ordinary beach. Emerald, ocher, amber, and ruby colors sparkled in the morning sun. We climbed/walked a precarious path about 30 to 40 feet down to the beach and found ourselves standing on--exactly as the name implies--a beach of GLASS! It was amazing! The whole beach is covered with small "rocks" of glass that have been smoothed over by the ocean tide. "How and why is this stuff here?," we wondered.

According to one source:

Early in the 20th century, residents of Fort Bragg pitched their household waste -- glass, kitchen appliances, and sometimes whole cars -- over these cliffs, then owned by Union Lumber Company and known locally as "The Dumps." Wilbur Lawson, 83, of the Fort Bragg-Mendocino Coast Historical Society, remembers poking around the junkyard as a kid during the 1930s. "There was always a fire lit in order to reduce the trash pile," he says, which might explain how that chinaware melded into a slab of solid rock. "This was a playground for us," he recalls...

Fort Bragg's leaders wised up in 1967 and closed the area. The pounding surf began to heal the shore over the next several decades, grinding the castoffs into the glittering treasure that now covers the beach. Since then, the place has become a beachcombers' paradise and a living science lesson in one. Curious visitors and occasional school groups sift through sandy crevices, filling buckets, pockets, and purses with colorful finds...

According to Wilbur, automobile companies started making car taillights out of plastic instead of glass after World War II. Consequently, red sea glass is a rarity.

There were other people on the beach; one gentleman said he had been coming to Glass Beach for years. He explained the different colors: "The green glass is probably 7-Up or Mountain Dew bottles, amber is probably beer or root beer bottles, and the blue glass is most likely the old 'milk of magnesia' or 'Geritol' bottles. The clear or white glass--who knows." We spent about an hour and a half scouring the beach for some of the rarer colors of glass and found some. When you think about it, it's kinda funny--and gross--that we spent that much time, walking on and picking through other people's GARBAGE! Glass Beach is pretty in a strange sort of way, but sad in that it's existence is due to the human race's indifference to the effects of massive litter. I'm not a "tree-hugger," but I think we can come up with better ways to deal with our waste/trash.

Leaving Fort Bragg, we continued north on Highway One, gradually vearing toward the east and merging into Hwy 101 around Legget, CA. At Garberville (about 475 feet elevation), we turned back to the west and begin our decent down to Shelter Cove and our lodging for the evening, The Tides Inn. The 20-mile descent equals about 45 minutes on some of the steepest, narrowest road we had seen to date. There are switchbacks along the way that definitely define the term "hairpin curve!" I would NOT want to drive that road at night. We arrived safely--brakes stinking to high heaven.

NCA_71_ShelterCoveThe view from The Tides Inn at Shelter Cove is breath-taking! Julie, our hostess, had assigned us a room on the second floor, with a balcony that overlooked the ocean. I'm pretty sure all of the rooms at The Tides had an ocean view. As with our rooms in Bodega Bay and Fort Bragg, there was no AC, but you just didn't need it. The ocean breeze was more than enough to keep the room quite comfortable.

NCA_58_ShelterCoveWe put our things away and set out to see the sites, specifically the BEACH and the Mendocino Lighthouse which was relocated to the Cove in 1999. As we walked along the beach, we saw seagulls, starfish, crabs, pelicans and sea lions. We sat and watched the sea lions playing in the water and sunning themselves on a group of rocks about 25 yards from the shore. We also saw several deer and fawns as we walked and drove around the area.

NCA_66_ShelterCoveShelter Cove is an interesting community and one of the last places you can actually buy a lot on the ocean. The homes range from tents to multi-million dollar sea-side retreats. According to some literature we picked up, lots range from $80k and up. One brochure stated it was "difficult to find a home under $300k." Along with the B&B's or ocean front lodges, there are three restaurants and one deli; only ONE--Costa Cocina Pizza--was open the day we were there. The Cove has a private air strip, a nine-hole golf course and a campground (that's were the tents are). The main attractions of Shelter Cove?: the seclusion and the unobstructed view of the Pacific Ocean. Cell phones don't work well there either...which really wasn't a big deal to us--we were on VACATION!

This was our view of the sunset from our balcony.


nacotaco said...

WOW!! wonderful picture thru your words......nancy

Keith said...

Nacotaco: Thanks. It's taking me longer to write about the trip than it did for us to take it!!! I've got a couple more days to write about. Hopefully I can get to that soon.

nacotaco said...

I keep checking back Keith! ........