tldr; foggy Fort Bragg.
After being inland for a few weeks visiting Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, and Napa, we headed back to the coast. The drive from Napa back to Highway 1 was full of lots of different scenery with vineyards fading into sunny farmland and eventually the coast. This stretch of Highway 1 is less popular than the areas south of San Francisco but it was our favorite part! The coast felt much more wild here with just a few tiny towns nestled into the hills off the roadside. Huge waves crashed over massive boulders which sat off the shore near dark gray, rocky beaches. Parts of the drive were covered in thick fog while other areas were bright and sunny.
Our first stop of the day was Salt Point State Park, which one of Dan’s friends had told us about. We snacked on some leftover cheese and baguette for lunch. Then, Courtney and I headed to the ocean while Choi took advantage of the bit of signal we had (rare along the coast) to watch a much-anticipated soccer match.
We were completely wowed by the coast here. We sat on strangely shaped, pocketed sandstone and felt the ocean swell and the waves crash. We spotted lots of interesting flora and fauna like starfish, anemones, crabs, sea urchins, and sea snails in tide pools formed in the sandstone. We spent lots of time watching some sort of seaweed plants that we thought looked like little hairy heads (we dubbed them “the wigs”) get bowled over by huge waves but then pop right back up, waving their wig-like fronds proudly and desperately clinging onto the rocks below them.
After about an hour of watching “the wigs” and the tide pools, we kept walking along the cliffside until we arrived at what we’d originally come here for, a huge boulder looming over the ocean with climbers scattered around it’s base, trying out the climbs. I worked on a climb here for 30 minutes or so and then we met back up with Choi, who had also been exploring. We loaded up into our van and Courtney hopped in her car and we headed back up the coast.
With a quick stop at a very moody looking lighthouse almost entirely obscured by fog, we arrived at our destination for the next couple of days, Fort Bragg.
Fort Bragg is a small coastal city just north of Mendocino (a slightly larger but also small coastal city). Its main claim to fame is its glass beach, a beach entirely made up of tiny pebbles and pieces of smooth, colorful glass. All of these bits of glass came from trash at what used to be a coastal dump in the north of the city. Years and years of being tossed by the waves has worn the glass pieces down into tiny, smooth, colorful pebbles.
We spent a couple of days in Fort Bragg working and exploring the coast. We discovered a long trail winding along the cliffs with unique benches tucked into coves or perched atop tall boulders and sat at the edge of a lookout at one of these cliffs for a while, feeling the ocean spray our faces and listening to the waves crash below. We ate fresh fish and chips and clam chowder at a harbor-side restaurant, snacked on ice cream cones, and watched the sunset from the glass beach. We spent an afternoon after work reading in our hammocks in a park full of redwoods and big, yellow banana slugs.
Fort Bragg, we love your coastal trails, your colorful glass beach, and your wild, powerful ocean. Along We Go!