Friday, October 08, 2010

All Good Things Must Come to an End......

Today is Friday, the last full day of our trip to Fort Bragg.  All in all, Alene and I have had a very good week.

Among the things we've done, Alene and I explored the town of Mendocino. 

We took a short hike at Russian Gulch state park to investigate an amazing "blow hole", a 100' diameter crater on the bluffs that formed when the roof of a sea cave fell in who knows how long ago.  The sea rushes in through the cave opening and churns around the floor of the crater (very cool, I highly recommend it).

We drove north to Westport, a tiny little town where my sister and her husband enjoy staying,  and spent an afternoon sitting on the long sandy beach reading books and picnicking, while watching the surf gently rumbling on the shore.  I think there were a grand total of three other visitors on the beach that day, besides us. 

We took a couple of walks at McKerricher State Park where they have some neat tide pools. Tuesday (I think it was Tuesday, the days kinda run together here) we visited during high tide, so the tide pools were under water.  We watched sea lions frolic in the waves instead, and chatted with a few couples who also came to observe the beautiful vistas.

Thursday we went back in the evening during low tide, and I mean really low tide.  We were the only people down at the tide pools, so we walked out onto the very slippery rocks and began looking around.  We saw hermit crabs and some small fish, but nothing to really write home about.  A father and his 15-year-old daughter came to the pools soon after.  They were able to find some starfish right away, which they gleefully pointed out for us.  Alene picked up a bat starfish, and we could see its little pod-like feet trying feebly to grasp at air.  She put it back and after a moment the starfish was clinging to the rocks as if it had never left.

We spent another afternoon, Thursday I think, sitting on the beach, this time at Caspar Headlands. It's remarkable how many state parks and reserve areas there are along the coast.  We arrived at the beach during high tide, and before we left, the tide had nearly gone all the way out.   I was amazed at how much of the beach got exposed while we were there.  Alene scoured the beach for sea glass and pretty shells while I played fetch with Jett on the newly exposed beach.   

Jett pooped sand today.  No joke.  Yeah, I know, gross, but interesting.  

We've taken a few walks around downtown Fort Bragg, which is obligatory of course, to see what shops there were, and to just take in the town.  Many shops had closed or changed hands since we were here last, with several book store going out of business.  There was a small farmers market set up on one of the main streets on Wednesday afternoon.  I bought some peanut brittle for the girls back home, and for myself a little jar of carrot cake jelly.

Mmmhmmm.  Carrot cake.  Yum.

While in town, we stopped and talked to one local artist in his shop who does sculptures, and after a few minutes of chatting he invited us behind the counter and showed us one of his works in progress: a wax likeness of rock-star Neil Young set against a dressing room mirror, looking back at you, as if you were Neil sitting at the dressing room table.  Very cool, and very good work.  He showed us around his shop and genuinely seemed to enjoy sharing his craft with us.

Another popular stop for us has been Cowlick's Ice Cream. We saw the ice cream shop last year when we stayed in Fort Bragg, but never did go into the shop.  This year, before we left home, a friend told us we must stop in and try their Mushroom ice cream.  He said it was the best ice cream he'd ever had.


Yes, Mushroom.

So we did, and he was right.  Just.... plain.... delicious.

I asked if they made the ice cream locally, and the young lady behind the counter said all the ice cream is made on site, in a room just behind the counter.  She said the Mushroom ice cream has no other flavors except the mushrooms themselves, the cream and the sugar.  I swear to you, it tastes like the most delicious maple ice cream I've ever had.  Truly, I was impressed.

I was also impressed with a mixture of their Pumpkin Pie and Chai Tea ice creams (yum!), something they called The Candy Store Floor, which was a mixture of several different kinds of candy swirled in ice cream, and their Pralines and Cream.  Alene was partial to her favorite, Rocky Road, and the Almond Fudge. I don't think they had a bad flavor in the bunch.  If you're ever up here, stop in at Cowlicks.  You'll be glad you did.

We also enjoyed Headlands Coffeehouse, which specialized in organic coffees and foods, and Eggheads Restaurant where we had breakfast one morning.  Both are also on my list of must hits in the area.

But I think the best part of this trip has been meeting and talking to the locals.

I think of the two ladies we talked to at the Mendocino Art Center auction who told us all about life in Mendocino, and the artist in residence who invited us into her studio to show us about wax sculpturing and bronze casting.

The local artist here in Fort Bragg, who invited us into his studio too.

The preacher at First Baptist Church of Fort Bragg (whose name also happens to be Mike) and several of his very warm, if small, congregation, who made us, and several other out-of-towners, feel welcomed.

The honest older ladies who found my cel-phone on the bench at MacKerricher yesterday evening, and the gracious man who walked quickly to catch up with us near the parking lot to see if it was ours.  They were life savers.

The museum curator at the Kelly House in Mendocino who was only too happy to tell us all about the place, as if we were long lost relatives come for a visit.

The waitress at Silver's on the Wharf who remembered us the second night we came back, and was very kind.

The lady we chatted with at MacKerricher who was there with her mother and granddaughter, telling us about where they were from and what they liked about the area.

The father and daughter who shared the tide pool experience with us and talked with us for some time before we left.

The young couple at Russian Gulch who worked up the courage to ask us to take a photo of them and their kids so they could all be in one photo, and talked with us for a while after.

All of these people, and more, have added a dimension to our trip that I've enjoyed greatly.

I am looking forward to returning home, to friends and the comforts of home.  I've enjoyed my trip, and I've enjoyed Alene's company even more than I can say.  I look forward to our next adventure.   


Becky said...

Mike, what a great post! I enjoyed reading it very much. I think you have captured Fort Bragg and Mendocino very well. I'll have to read more of your "stuff". :-)

I'm sorry I didn't get the chance to meet you and Arlene. Maybe Next time.

Becky (Eggheads owner)

covnitkepr1 said...

I have added myself to follow your blog. You are more than welcome to visit my blog and become a follower also.