Pilgrimage to Glass Beach
February 11, 2014
Ever since hearing about Glass Beach in Fort Bragg California I’ve wanted to make a pilgrimage to see it for myself. Many friends and acquaintances told me I’d be disappointed because there was no glass left, but I was determined to go and find glass to photograph if there was any to be found.
I wanted to stay right on the beach but not in a dumpy old place so after researching chose the Ocean View Lodge – this is the view from my room. It was comfortable in spite of a few quirks and we didn’t plan to spend any time there other than sleeping. We arrived late and had a great meal at Mendo Bistro.
While waiting for low tide the following day, we took a whale watching excursion on the Trek II Charter boat where I had an interesting conversation with our captain & his brother. Their grandfather captained the first charter boat specifically for whale watching in the area. I snapped a few shots as we left the harbor and wish I’d grabbed a shot of our boat to show you.
My friends and I enjoyed our Starbucks in the warm dry cabin while the 4th grade class that we shared the boat with crowded the front deck. We traded places soon after the first whale sightings occurred and the kids had spent their early morning excitement and energy.
It was a blustery day but we were there to see whales. As the kids moved to the back deck we headed to the front where we mostly had the entire deck to ourselves.
See it? The blow spout from a gray whale.
We only saw a couple of whales and they didn’t show us much more than this, but it was fantastic to see them. Soaked from the rain in spite of our rain gear, we remained on deck so we wouldn’t miss any sightings.
Two hours later, back at Noyo Harbor I tried to dry out my camera so it would be ready to document Glass Beach.
Following the advice I was given from several sources we hiked along the cliffs in Fort Bragg. We were determined in spite of the weather so kept moving forward, closer to where we might find sea glass.
We had several trails to choose from and decided this looked the easiest to hike down the cliffs at Glass Beach.
How thrilled we were to find actual glass at the bottom of the cliffs! We couldn’t resist digging through it right there, even though we had a couple of coves to explore while the tide was out.
As we played in the glass we heard a melodic and peaceful continuous song that must have been a fog horn at this lighthouse.
As we left I snapped one more shot of the Glass Beach coastline then we grabbed a late lunch on the wharf.
We decided to see more of the coastline after lunch since we were already wet & didn’t want to spend the afternoon cooped up in a hotel room. My friends and I wanted more adventure!
Forgive the quality of this shot, it was almost sunset and we were wet and cold in the fog, wind and rain.
Back at our room we dried out, then found a fantastic pizza at Piaci Pizza, recommended by a local friend.
At dinner we couldn’t stop talking about how much fun we’d had on Glass Beach, so abandoned all other plans and returned the following day.
It was raining even harder so we drove down the coast to Mendocino while waiting for low tide, stopping at every little turn out.
Climbing down the cliffs was wet and muddy that second day but worth it. As we hit the beach the rain stopped and we frolicked in the glass one last time. I tried to get a classic shot of glass beach, but there was no glitter without sunshine to bring out the sparkle. Much of what appears to be dark rocks is actually very dark brown glass.
As I said earlier, several of my friends warned me of disappointment because there was no glass left. I think they were on the wrong beach! I hated leaving but had to catch a flight to the frozen Northwest the following afternoon.
Early in the morning we left to have one more half a play date together in Santa Cruz.
We started at the Santa Cruz wharf where sea lions were piled high. Several babies were snuggling in the group.
It was fun watching them swim and play in the water.
Loved this cute little baby sea lion.
I got a little practice photographing more birds while there! You knew I would!!
Found a few herons too! A remarkable and fabulous four days of adventure.
I must tell you it was mostly a remarkable trip because of the company I kept – two friends from long ago that I hadn’t seen in over twenty years. In addition to the excitement of seeing Glass Beach for the first time, most of my joy came from our reminiscing and planning for the next adventure together.