June 16, 2012

Ft. Bragg, CA

Tuesday morning we said goodbye to Marin County and headed north on highway 101. We debated on whether to stay inland on 101 or head to the coast, and after doing a bit of research on gocalifornia.about.com we decided to head to the beach via highway 128. Another reason we chose to head to the beach was that the temperature inland was nearing mid-90s, while the coast was at a mellow low 60s. We figured the dogs would appreciate the lower temps.

Highway 128 was a winding and rolling two lane highway through vineyards and meadows. The last 12 miles of the highway, before you run into the Pacific Coast Highway 1, are through the Navarro River Redwoods State Park. The highway is tightly hugged on both sides by towering, huge trees and it’s as if the sun has set, there is so little light that gets through.

Driving through the redwoods
We’d worked out a place to stay in Ft. Bragg through Couchsurfing, but when we got to their land, Chris and Jackie weren’t home, and we weren’t sure where we were supposed to park our trailer. So instead, we walked across the street and asked their neighbor if we could park on his land. He had a very level and secluded spot on a meadow on his land that looked just perfect to park on. Noel, the neighbor, had no problem with us parking there, and welcomed us in.

Parking at Noel's
The following day we went about exploring the coast. We drove down to the famous Glass Beach, where washed up remnants of broken glass litter the beach, and sparkle in their multitude of colors among the pebbles (no worries, the glass has been rolled around in the waves over the years, and there is not a sharp edge left).

Glass Beach
Then we hiked around Big River State Park with the pups. This river is a combination of fresh water flowing down stream and ocean water that spills in and flows up stream when the tide is up. The weather was favorable and sunny, and we saw lots of people kayaking on the river.

Big River State Park
The next day, our Couchsurfing hosts offered that we borrow their kayak. Yes! That was a super treat, as Sky had never been kayaking before, and I can’t remember the last time I’ve gone, if ever. We took the two-seater kayak down to the Big River, and paddled upstream about a mile or two in. We saw river otters swimming around in the water catching fish. We also saw a seal, sunning himself on the beach. I’m pretty sure I need practice on holding the paddle correctly, as I ended up with a blister on my lower thumb, and one forming on the other thumb.

Kayaking on the Big River
Chris and Jackie, our hosts, have a nice piece of land right on highway 1, where they grow a huge garden and raise chickens and pigs. On Wednesday afternoon they had picked vegetables from their garden and taken them to the local Farmer’s Market. After kayaking, they invited us over for dinner, which consisted of a vegetable stew made from ingredients from their garden, and roasted pork, also from their farm, as well as home-baked bread. It was super yummy, everyone had seconds. They had also just adopted a new kitten that morning, so we had all the entertainment we needed playing with the fur ball. We rounded out the evening by going down to their local favorite Mexican restaurant, the Purple Rose, and sharing some margaritas with their friends.

Fur Ball
A yummy homegrown and homemade dinner!
Again, another great experience through Couchsurfing.

To see more pictures of Fort Bragg and the surrounding coastal parks, click here.

Happy kayaking among otters and seals!


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