From Patrick’s Point, we headed nearly four hours south to tuck in at Caspar Beach RV Park, which is just north of Mendocino. I’ll let Flight dig into the transit because he was paying very close attention as we navigated the tiny road that wound its way along the rocky coast. I alternated between blogging and knitting, purposefully paying no attention to the steep drop-off only feet outside my window.
Aside from a few audible cues from Davista (e.g. her kicking into higher RPMs to help us descend or climb more safely) and Flight’s consequent commentary, I was blissfully unaware of the driving challenges peppering our journey’s current leg while trying to remember details from those of weeks past. Occasionally I would glance outside to capture mental snapshots of the alluring scenery’s gradual change, but would get a little woozy every time. And thus I was repeatedly reminded that it literally serves far better for me to blindly trust in Flight’s piloting skills to keep the ginormous complex of Davista and Toad squarely on the road than to witness it first hand.
We all breathed a sigh of relief when we pulled into the RV Park, Davista included. Although the accommodations were quite tight with our neighbors, the beach just across the small access road more than made up for any feelings of confinement. As soon as we had made camp, we went across the way to explore. Ever since he found a massive stash of enormous whip-like kelp on an Oregon Beach, Keeper has been keen to play with any similar sea-ropes he finds.
Firebolt and I, however, were delighted by all the sea glass littering the beach and vowed to come back on a collection mission first thing in the morning at low tide. There was far more of this treasure than I’d seen anywhere along our journey and, believe me, I have looked.
There were some doubters in the family who didn’t think we’d get up early enough to meet low tide. I may have been one of them. Fortunately it wasn’t ludicrously early, yet despite it being earlier than most reveilles, we began our search bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, eager to see what the ocean had left us in her retreat.
We spent two hours beach combing and returned to camp joyfully toting our spoils:
While Flight was doing this:
Our grill was not playing nicely and, with the motivation of an upcoming Stanford tailgate, that needed to be sorted ASAP.
Firebolt and I agreed we had way more fun and agreed we’d try again in the morning.
Upon seeing our gathered loot, Flight reminded me of “Glass Beach,” a place where there’s supposedly more sea glass than pebbles, but you can’t collect any. Hmmm… I vaguely remembered that Flight’s parents had spoken of this seemingly mythical land that was purported to be somewhere nearby. Upon further research, I learned that not only was Glass Beach was for real, it was located only 7.8 miles to north of our campground. My inner sea glass huntress asserted herself, “Go there, we must!”
This research also allowed me to get my facts straight. “Glass Beach” is actually a series of three beaches that boast the largest concentration of sea glass in the world. Or so say the experts at www.findseaglass.net. One of the three beaches is an outcropping of MacKerricher State Park, but that ownership ends at the mean high water mark, meaning anything below that is fair game, and the other two treasure troves are without such constraints. WOO HOO!
Having been previously bitten by the sea glass-collecting bug (and clearly still infected), I’d already studied what factors go into making a particular beach a likely candidate for a good harvest. As you may imagine, plentiful sea glass is dependent on a glass source (a nearby garbage dump or close to shipping lanes – sad, but true) and enough routine (pounding) wave action to smooth the glass into a frosty image of its former self. For decades (1906 – 1967), the good people of Fort Bragg used this spot as an active garbage dumpsite. In the late ‘90s a massive clean up effort was initiated to undo much of the resulting environmental damage and the outcome is a beautiful rocky coast with only these treasures hinting at its unsavory past. Rather magnanimous of the ocean to take our transgressions and turn them into things of beauty…
But first to Mendocino! It sits beautifully perched on cliffs gazing out to sea.
After the boys enjoyed a few hours in the surf while we girls relaxed by Davista, we caught the tail end of the afternoon sunshine in this great town, but it was later than most of the stores were open. Or maybe that’s just what I told myself in order to not even entertain the idea of dragging the family into every single one of the town’s great little shops. I would like to return to Mendocino at some point, but maybe with neither the hurrying presence of children nor the omnipresent space and weight constraints of our current living situation, so I may amble at my own leisurely pace and purchase at will.
We enjoyed dinner at Frankie’s in Mendocino and the pizza offerings were varied enough to appeal to our whole flight, even those who wholly resonate with Riley of Inside Out who believes that San Francisco RUINED pizza by defiling it with broccoli. My favorite Mendocino surprise was a mushroom ice cream at same Frankie’s. I saw the label among the freezer’s rows of flavors and had to ask what gives. Apparently I am not the first because the server gestured to a mason jar amply stocked with Candy Cap Mushrooms that was sitting on the ice cream freezer and told me “They taste like brown sugar.” Whaaaaaa? This I gotta try.
It was delectable – perfectly sweet, although not cloyingly so, and with a slight grit of either fungi (or brown sugar). I’ll be sampling more of the same when we come back sans children or Davista.
I glanced at my phone to get a time hack. Hmm… It’s nearly low tide. I was all over the area’s tidal ranges because the best collecting happens when the water’s at or around its lowest point. I thought to myself (just to clarify, because sometimes I think out loud), “We could totally make it to Glass Beach” before I offered that suggested destination to the family.
We raced the setting sun on our way and arrived to find many with the same plan. Or perhaps they were there to see the sunset, which threatened to be magnificent.
Our girls hunted in earnest while Keeper nimbly worked to get the best vantage point for a selfie with the wee crescent moon and the sunset.
I was still energized by the hunt for that morning’s plunder and thus refrained from retrieving every piece of sea glass I saw. Good thing, because I’d still be there.
When we could no longer discern pebble from frosted glass in the twilight, we trundled back to the Subaru with only a handful of new treasures among us, but thoroughly invigorated by the overall Glass Beach experience.
I went to bed fervently imagining what singular offerings the ocean would be working on throughout the night.
Firebolt and I headed back to Caspar Beach the next morning and were delighted yet again by our findings.
One of the best things about beaches is that they are different every day, sometimes dramatically, sometimes only just. The topography of the sand shifts in response to the ocean’s constant change and the gifts deposited at the shoreline vary equally so, which means you can’t help but be optimistic about the day’s potential cache. I knew that we had to make the most of the morning’s enterprise for today we were heading inland to park Davista in Flight’s parents’ driveway for a stretch and it would be nearly two weeks before we were back to the coast to hunt anew.
However, I have since realized I need to appropriately manage my (and Firebolt’s) expectations for such future excursions. Because Caspar Beach is just down the coast from Fort Bragg’s previous three main dumpsites, it, too, serves as quite the repository for sea glass, yet because it doesn’t get nearly the foot traffic of enthusiasts the collection possibilities are far greater for the folks who do make the trek. Bidding the beach a reverent adieu, Firebolt and I returned hand-in-hand treasuring our time together.
Although not wanting to relinquish our time just the two of us quite yet, we were aware that there was work to be done, and so we paused only a few moments to admire someone’s sand mermaid craftsmanship on our way back to Davista.
We had intended to help pack up camp, but the others had nearly completed getting us ready for departure in our absence. This was our welcoming committee.
A subsequent quick survey of the nearly buttoned up site begged the wry observation, “Clearly they made good time because WoodSprite was overseeing the Getting Underway Checklist“. And, if the expression I captured above is any indication, I believe she knows it too.
Firebolt and I added our efforts and we were soon on the road to The Bay Area, basking in our treasured time together beach combing and eager to celebrate visiting with Flight’s extended family…