Mendocino was the stop between Ft. Bragg and Bodega Bay, and there’s not a lot of words I could sputter out that could accurately capture the charms of this small coastal town. It was well and truly a lovely, fantastic place and getting to enjoy a strong cup of coffee there while walking around the gently curving streets down towards the sound of waves, I have only the best memories for the short few hours I spent here.
These are some photos from the mini-roadtrip I took down the northern California coast back in January. I’m honestly still going through most of them actually, because while it was only a 3 day roadtrip, I still managed to take just a crapton of photos and i’ve not had the most time to look through all of them. So. They will eventually all be up on here, er….hopefully before I go off on some other trip and end up with yet more photos and it just becomes this endless never-ending cycle of photos that never get posted and I just drown under the weight of them all…. but anyways, positive thoughts!
These photos were taken while I was driving from Mendocino towards Bodega Bay on the last day of my trip. I was looking out towards the coastline, still not getting used to the intense beauty each curve of the highway offered, and happened to spot a deserted parking area, in the middle of rolling fields just in sight of the oceans edge… and for some reason it called to me, to stop,to explore for a bit. So I pulled in, grabbed my camera, tucked my car keys into my jeans and took a walk towards the edge. The quiet, gentle sway of the surrounding fields was a wonderful combination to the sounds of waves crashing onto rocks just further on. I was the only one there that day, no people as far as I could see, just the cars speeding by on the highway behind me and the ocean stretching out towards the horizon in front. It was a different kind of peace than the kind that settled in me when I wandered in the shadow of Mt Shasta at the beginning of that roadtrip, when I had felt elated and full of daring exhilaration. This was more quiet, a gentle glowing pocket in my chest, diffusing through my limbs and settling into my bones. I can still feel it, when I close my eyes and think back to that mid morning I spent there. I couldn’t pin in down on a map, the exact location, but moments like that, places found and so easily lost, its why I go on roadtrips. The ways you grow and change, small and simple things, they are just as important to me as landmarks on a city skyline, even if they’re harder to spot.
(Cont. from Pt 1. The Glass Beach )
After having taken my sweet time exploring the beach in Ft. Bragg, I realized I was a little more than pressed for time (blame me sleeping in more than I had planned to for that) and was going to have to zoom down the California coast a little if I wanted to make it back to San Francisco in time to return my rental car. So I headed back through the main part of town to head in the direction of Mendocino, my next planned stop. And really, I meant to just drive straight through, but well….this little town is just so full of charm and character, it would have been a mini tradgedy to not at least stop for a bit to take it in a little. At least thats what I told myself as I pulled into the Skunk Train parking lot. Btw, if you’re wondering what a Skunk Train is exactly, it’s this rather awesome train that, in the official websites own words has, “Forty miles of railroad run through majestic redwood forests, scenic mountain meadows, and over 30 trestles bridging the pristine mountain waters of Northern California”. Fantastic no? Yet another reason in the dozens i’ve compiled to come back here and spend a good couple of days just enjoying the general loveliness.
Fort Bragg was my second nights stay on the impromptu roadtrip I took back in January, when I was in North California. It started with the longing to see mountains (I should probably re-name this blog “I freakin’ love Mountains!” ) and so I headed in the direction of Mt Shasta. And then from there I decided I might as well loop up into Oregon, and then down the coastline, just to see what I might find. The weather was amazing for January, sunny skies, high 70’s, cool breeze. Pretty much perfect weather for a roadtrip of any kind. So after having driven from Yrka, CA up through Oregon (which i’ll post about…eventually) and then down through and past Crescent City and the Avenue Of Giants (lovely places, will post about soon as well!) I ended up crashing for the night in Ft. Bragg. A penpal I had met on Tumblr told me about how she wanted to visit here, for the glass beach and something about the way she described it to me made me decide to make it somewhere I would explore.
Waking up after having spent a night at the Emerald Dolphin Inn (really great, restful night there, and fantastic glass souvenirs, mostly dolphins yes, but beautiful nonetheless) I headed towards the beach. I was told for the best views to head back to the start of town, and take a left when I got to the Denny’s at the corner of the street. A short drive down a narrow, cracked pavement road I found myself at a dirt parking lot with few cars, and even fewer people, which for me, was perfection. It was just a short walk down a bumpy trail to the coastline, with the sun rising slowly behind me to greet the sea in a gentle and familiar way.
I had just recently been at another beach just a few days ago, in San Francisco, looking out towards the Golden Gate with Sausalito and Tiburon winking in out of site depending on where you stood but this….. this was something better. The feeling of being somewhere more pure and closer to the true ocean, being on the kind of beach that made you think of shipwrecks and sirens rather than sunny beach balls and games of sand volleyball. That intense awareness of every step you took on the glittery sands, sunlight dipping in and out of the rocky crevices, pools of water deep and shallow and reaching back to the source. I know it’s not for everyone, and I can’t say I haven’t found beauty and peace on lovely tropical beaches before ( Puerto Cortez, Honduras was a paradise), but this time I was looking for something else besides calm and peace. I was looking for an fierce and yet enthralling landscape that could mirror the thoughts I had been trying to figure out since I flew out to California at the start of that trip, and it’s amazing to think I could have driven right through this small town and never thought to go exploring at the Glass Beach if it wasn’t for the words of a lovely penpal who I had the fortune of meeting only a week or so earlier.
I’ve spent time in the daunting Rockies, seen the Smokies in their quiet glory, but Mt Shasta and it’s rolling foothills is still one of my most favorite places that I’ve visited when it comes to seeking mountains in the US.
It was a few days after the start of this New Year that I made the journey from San Francisco ( see my post Up In The Woods ) to this lovely mountain and it’s intensely quiet benevolence. There weren’t many (if any) people around when I got to this quiet spot by the lake, the weather a bit on the chilly side and the sun making its steady descent towards night, and so I was able to enjoy the time I spent here in calm solitude.
I live most of the year in an area surrounded by endless fields and concrete jungles, in equal measure, depending on the direction you head in, and getting to spend some time in this kind of quiet, calm and almost pristine landscape, it’s something I treasure dearly. I don’t know if I could survive for long in the small towns that dot these areas, my personality is probably too restless to remain for long, but being in these places, it’s the kind of medicine I think most anyone can benefit from. Among these kinds of giants, it’s wonderful to feel so inconsequential and yet still most definitely part of something.