Fort Bragg, California: Roadtrip to see gardens and coast
October 25 - 29, 2018
Bob and Shirley

Day 1: October 25 (Thursday), Santa Rosa to Fort Bragg, California:

Waves smashing into rocks

We drove up Hwy 101 to Hwy 20, going through Willits to Ft. Bragg. Hwy 20 is a winding road that includes redwood forests and is fun to drive.

We had hoped to stop just outside Ft. Bragg at a huge succulent nursery Simply Succulent, but sadly it was closed. We drove to our favorite motel in Ft. Bragg, the Columbi, which is quiet and pleasant.

After checking into the Columbi, we drove to the Ft. Bragg Visitor Center, where a young lady told us about new trails in the area. She suggested we drive down to Cypress Ave on the south end of town to visit the Noyo Headlands Park, which we did. It was as seen below beautiful. The wave and surf action was magnificent.

While walking we took a short break for resting and eating.

After walking along the trails and watching the waves crash to the shore, we took a paved road back to the parking lot. There were fence posts beside the road and a couple of ravens who simply sat and looked as people walked very nearby, quite unconcerned. We also noted a dog park, but with no dogs.

We next drove to what has become our favorite restaurant, Harvest Market - the Oliver's of Ft. Bragg, with a wonderful hot bar in a nice grocery store. Bob got 2 lbs of brocolli served as part of a brocolli salad with cashews, some tumeric sauce. Quite good. After purchasing our food we drove to a nice overlook of the ocean and ate before returning to the motel.

Day 2: October 26 (Friday), Trails and Gardens in Fort Bragg:

Seals near the shore, Ft. Bragg, California - 00014

Today we visited the Botanical Garden and coast trails. The weather and waves continue beautiful.

At one point as we were walking along the headlands near the gardens we thought we saw in the far distance a black version of a quail. We could even make out the small head tuft quails have, but had never before seen a black quail. All became clear a couple of minutes later.

After visiting the gardens, we went back to the sea, which gave us a chance to watch seals swimming near the shore (see the video above). Then we took a drive over to Pudding Creek beach.

In late afternoon fog moved in and we went to Harvest Market for our dinner, eating at our home motel this evening.

Day 3: October 27 (Saturday), Visit Mendocino:

10/27/2018 - Dancing on the shore - 00016
10/29/2018 - Shirley on the beach - 00017

We drove to Mendocino, taking the route (Lansing St to Heeser Dr) that led us to through the Mendocino Headlands State Park along the shoreline, where we parked a couple of different places and walked to the cliffs above the roaring ocean.

We saw seals swimming around in a couple of places. We also saw other surprising views on the shore (view the video above).

Then we went into the town of Mendocino itself, which is such a charming, small town with friendly people, tourist shops, and art galleries.

It also has a Harvest Market where we bought lunch. We found a favorite little picnic spot we had visited before with a small table near a bakery - Garden Bakery.

Thus begins our adventure. Note in the last picture above that Bob's backpack is placed behind him.

Sitting nearby at the next table was a young woman who taught in Detroit at Wayne State University. We did not get the woman's name, but did learn she taught a freshman class that included a history of Detroit.

Then we left, saying goodbye, and leaving Bob's backpack which contained Shirley's purse.

We went to a used bookstore we had visited before and liked - Moore Used Books - buying two mysteries and several art books, with Bob making friend's with the owner's dog and sitting in a chair reading, putting the grocery bag down beside the chair.

Given that we had groceries and books, we walked back to our car. When we arrived, Shirley asked Bob where his backpack was. Bob said probably back at the bookstore next to the chair in which he had been sitting.

Drove the car back quickly, parking in no parking spaces, while Shirley hurried inside. No backpack. So Bob hurried inside and also found no backpack. We left our names and phone number with the store owner, who said no one had been in the store since us and he had seen no backpack.

Rush back in the car to near where we had eaten lunch. Bob parked illegally while Shirley hurried to check the picnic table. No backpack and no one there, so she came back to car and told Bob.

Bob insists on checking also and also found no backpack, but on a whim went into the Garden Bakery and asked if maybe someone had turned in a backpack. The lady said "What color was it?". Bob said "Brown". The lady reaches behind a door and drags it out. Bob is effusively thankful.

Back at the car and all is well. A little more of enjoying the town.

Next stop: Beach below the Presbyterian Church.

We see lots of kids of all ages. We look at young women hoping to find the good samaritan from Michigan who took care of the backpack, but to no avail.

Bob and Shirley then sit on a log for a while, but Shirley is certain the water is going to come all the way up to us. Bob believes otherwise. So Shirley walks back a distance with the camera and awaits an incoming wave to soak Bob's shoes. Although a wave comes close, Bob stays dry.

Then both walk back to the car, having a whale of a time doing so.

They next decided that they should stop at the bakery again and ask if the teacher left her name. She had not, but Bob and Shirley both bought various items and noticed there was a donation jar because the owner, Victor Venegas, was diagnosed with leukemia and bone cancer, so we donated and Victor, who had just served us, thanked us.

We walked around the town some more, visiting various shops and art galleries. At one art gallery a woman working there approached Bob and asked if he had been up at the Noyo Headlands up in Fort Bragg on the road with ravens on fenceposts. She had recognized us there and in the store. She said she had been unable to get a picture of the raven on the fence post and when Bob offered to email her the pictures Bob and Shirley had taken, she happily accepted and gave Bob her email address.

Bob and Shirley then headed home or, more accurately, to the Harvest Market in Ft. Bragg. Next to the Harvest Market is the MCDH Hospice Thrift Store, which Shirley cannot resist visiting while Bob wanders around in the Harvest Market. Between the thrift store and Harvest Market is David's American Restaurant, which we did not eat at, but certainly remembered (Hi David!).

Then back to the motel to finish another day by relaxing.

Part of relaxing was trying to identify the teacher from Waynes State University, writing an email to one possible faculty member and an article to the university newspaper. We will see what response we get for either. Bob also emailed raven pictures to the lady at the art gallery.

Day 4: October 28 (Sunday), Tour Ft. Bragg:

Today felt very relaxed. We slept late, then walked neighborhood and downtown streets of Ft. Bragg, admiring the murals, visiting art galleries, a tatoo museum/parlor and other stores. As we were about to leave the tatoo museum, the owner came up to us and insisted we look at her parlor and pictures dating back decades to when she originally started the store. She was now in her 70's and began in her 20's.

In mid-afternoon we went to Harvest Market, got our lunches and drove down to a parking lot overlooking where the Noyo River meets the Pacific Ocean.

As we approached the parking lot, we stopped to watch a guy creating enormous bubbles that would float off into the air.

We got glimpses of a few seals swimming into and out of the river (Google labels it a river, but harbor seems more appropriate and we were at the end of N. Harbor Drive). See the video on October 26 to get a close-up, in-focus view of a seal. After eating in the car, we put on coats and walked over to a beach. Two little boys were having a fun time in the sand, one about 4 years old trying very hard to pick up a large stone that must have weighed many, many pounds.

We returned to our car, watched one boat come in to the harbor and stopped briefly at the wharf.

The fog came in early, so rather than visit glass beach as we had planned, we simply went back to the motel for more relaxation after which Shirley drove back to Harvest Market for a bit.

Day 5: October 29 (Friday), Glass Beach, Simply Succlents and Home:

Plovers on beach - 20
Wave action at Glass Beach - 24

We both agreed this trip must include visiting Glass Beach and Simply Succulents so after checking out of the motel we drove down to Glass Beach and parked.

Of course we picked up tiny bits of worn down, colorful glass, but mostly we watched and took photos and videos of the roaring surf (see second video).

And of birds. So many birds, including many plovers, which stick together in a flock and run back and forth in the sand as waves wash in and out and fly back and forth just above the beach in a flock (see first video).

Next: off to Simply Succulent. We visit here almost every time we go to Fort Bragg because it has so many succulent plants (more than any other nursery in California) and Shirley always finds more succulents to add to her collection. It is fun to see all the different types.

After leaving Simply Succulent we began the 125 mile drive home, starting with 33 miles of Highway 20 winding through the forests. So beautiful. Bob drove slowly, pulling off often to let others pass. As Bob went around a curve there was a woman in the road waving to stop traffic. Just beyond her, in the middle of the road, was a logging truck lying on its side with its logs on the road.

It had just happened we believe because as we got past it and drove on we saw various police and official vehicles rushing to the scene. We had to wait of course until the lady signaled us to go around the truck. She did so, we started to go, and then had to pull over as another car came toward us. The lady yelled "Sorry".

Shortly thereafter we again had to pull to the side of a road because an oversized vehicle that took up more than one lane of the two lane road was coming down past us with a vehicle in front ("Oversize Load") and another police vehicle leading it. We both laughed at the thought of what that vehicle was about to have to deal with in a couple of minutes.

The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful, though of course very pretty. Both route 20 and highway 101 have very good scenery. As usual, we stopped at a particular pull-off on Rte 20 just a few miles before Willits for the view.

Contact/Website Author:
Bob Phillips [phillips bob 27 at yahoo dot com - no spaces]
Santa Rosa, CA
February, 2016

Other Websites
By The Author: