Noyo Harbor and Glass Beach

ft bragg  030ft bragg  002ft bragg  004Our drive from Yosemite National Park back to the coast was very interesting.   Lots of curves and steep grades at first, crossing the flat agricultural valley in the middle of the state, across San Francisco Bay and lots of curves and steep grades going over the coastal range in the end.

Longer than we normally plan and one of the most challenging drives up to this point in our walkabout.

The good news was that we’d put some cleaner in our black and grey water tanks, and this drive was just the ticket to clean them out really, really well 🙂ft bragg  003

ft bragg  006ft bragg  007ft bragg  048As we crossed the bridge leading to Fort Bragg Hector pointed out our campground down below us, a marina and RV park. I saw that the RV’s were pretty close to each other on a gravel lot, and I was not too excited.

But after we arrived at Sportsmans RV Park, were greeted with a hug from Linda, one of the two owners, and given a key to their private pier – basically a big deck on the water with picnic tables – I had a change of heart.

I find that smaller, private parks can be quite charming and their owners make a huge difference. Dusty and Linda were great hosts and having access to the large, fenced deck area over the water where Angel could hang out with us off-leash made up for our small campsite.

Adding to the charm, there are interesting signs throughout the property which Dusty claims were put there by “vandals”, some are sayings, others are historical signs about the harbor. ft bragg  040

ft bragg  045ft bragg  031The campground is located by the bridge at the mouth of the harbor and is funky in a good way.   Old boats and other nautical flotsam, reminders of the history of this little harbor, are all around.  ft bragg  042ft bragg  039

 

ft bragg  046ft bragg  044ft bragg  009And, one of the most important features for us was that the road that the RV park is located on dead ends at an off-leash dog beach where the Noyo River meets the Pacific.  It’s a nice size beach which is pretty solitary on weekdays.  Although a bit more crowded on the weekends.
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ft bragg  020Angel enjoyed the off-leash dog beach every day of our stay there. She loves to wander by the water’s edge and poke around the beach debris looking for crabs and other interesting smells.  But she has never shown interest in jumping into water.  In fact, if a large wave rolls in, she runs away from the water.

ft bragg  021One day at the dog beach, a river otter came out from behind the rocks and ran across the sand out into the ocean surf  (fortunately nowhere near Angel).

Pretty cool.

ft bragg  024ft bragg  029Noyo Harbor is a working harbor so there are lots of boats around, one of Hector’s favorite photography subjects.  Fishing is the main focus with both commercial and sport fishing boats.  There are also some wharf side restaurants and a fresh seafood market.ft bragg  026ft bragg  027ft bragg  043ft bragg  058ft bragg  059ft bragg  050ft bragg  008ft bragg  010

ft bragg  032ft bragg  036Part of the campground property is the World’s End Rowing Club. Dusty rows regularly and loves to introduce the sport to others.  ft bragg  035

He also restores beautiful rowboats and has a huge shop full of works in progress, antique boats etc.  The rowing club runs programs to introduce at risk kids to rowing and boatbuilding.ft bragg  034ft bragg  038

Several buildings contain more boats, parts, wood, and tools.  We really enjoyed the informative tour Dusty gave us of what is obviously his pride and joy.ft bragg  037ft bragg  033ft bragg  047

ft bragg  060ft bragg  061But one of our main interests in the area was the famous Glass Beach in the adjacent town of  Fort Bragg.

Residents threw garbage over cliffs in the area in the early 20th century, and referred to it as “The Dumps”.

Oddly, this has now become a major tourist draw in Fort Bragg.ft bragg  065

ft bragg  079Three different areas were used as dumps over the years.  People lit fires to get rid of the trash.  And, after the practice of dumping trash stopped, waves cleaned out some of the trash.  But glass was more resilient and was tumbled into sea glass.  Lots of it.ft bragg  073ft bragg  062

Afterwards, still years ago, the beaches had many layers of colored sea glass (we’ve seen photos), but some party poopers used big buckets and such and hauled away pounds of it.

Many of the rare colors are now (mostly) gone and the beach is considered picked over.  What remain are mostly the more common white, green and brown pieces.ft bragg  066

ft bragg  064Even so the beach still has more sea glass than we’ve ever seen. Other glass beaches we’ve seen have bits of glass scattered along the shore.

This one is almost entirely covered by sea glass so smooth you can walk on all the glass pieces in bare feet without feeling a scratch.ft bragg  072ft bragg  075ft bragg  068ft bragg  070

People are discouraged from taking sea glass, which I fully understand. But many still do and there were many collectors on the beach, including us, I must confess.  Although we tried to be very selective and not pick up too much.ft bragg  078

ft bragg  069ft bragg  071Ft Bragg  101The fun for us is in the beach combing aspect; hunting for special individual pieces.  And we were able to add some nice pieces to our collection.

We now have quite a special little collection of sea glass from Maine, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and California.   These are some of our favorite pieces. Ft Bragg  100

ft bragg  074Glass Beach was also very scenic, set amongst cliffs with lots of kelp and driftwood in addition to the sea glass. ft bragg  076

ft bragg  063We visited Glass Beach several times.

We also visited a couple of other beaches in MacKerricher State Park adjacent to Glass Beach.  The park has a nice boardwalk and other trails.

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ft bragg  080MacKerricher State Park also has a very cool display of a gray whale skeleton, and one of the days we visited, there was a group of schoolchildren attending a ranger program in front of the skeleton. Love those park programs.ft bragg  089

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We also drove over to the neighboring town of Mendocino, a very manicured and pretty town, but quite touristy. With lots of interesting arts and crafts, though.

ft bragg  087ft bragg  086And yet another day, we took a short hike on the beautiful Jug Handle State Natural Reserve nearby, walking along the coast, then through forest and then down a large staircase to yet another gorgeous beach.ft bragg  084

 

 

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ft bragg  053ft bragg  055Back at the campground, we had cocktails and appetizers out on the private pier and were joined by our hosts Dusty and Linda who told us about the history of Noyo Harbor and how they came to live there.  It was great to get to know these warm and friendly folks.ft bragg  057ft bragg  056ft bragg  097

We’re really enjoying the northern coast of California.

~ Brendaft bragg  095

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  1. Wonderful pictures!! You have brought back wonderful memories from times when my husband and I were there! My husband will hopefully retire next year and we will be able to travel in our coach again.

    • So glad this brought back nice memories. All the best to you in your plans for next year.
      Brenda

  2. Beautiful and inviting! And so much character!!! And I agree with Ingrid, Angel looks happy as a clam!!! And so do you!!!

    What gorgeous country, and how awesome to meet some kindred spirits. The more I experience, the more I realize we’re all kindred spirits…really.

    Love the sea glass, too! When we were in the eastern Caribbean in late February, I even found a few pieces which I thought were soooo cool!!! Thanks for the inspiration!

    Love you bunches,
    Rebecca

  3. Hector, your photography is breathtaking! You could make any place you visit look enchanting, although this area sure does look to be just that. We would love to visit Glass Beach.

    • Thanks LuAnn, so glad you appreciate the photos. I’m having the time of my life taking them! Thanks for the kind words.

  4. What, you drove on Highway 1 N ? I bet island girl was nauseous after that drive.
    As you said the black and grey tanks were swished and swashed with all that curves.
    The coastal towns on Northern CA are pretty neat and there are more interesting towns up ahead. But I sure hope you won’t continue to let Island Girl go thru that ordeal again on Highway 1 as you move on north 🙂

    • We only drove on highway 1 for a little while, but the tough drive was on highway 128 over the coastal range. But we made it. And yes, it was a thorough cleaning, not just up and down but side to side on part of the road that wasn’t too smooth. No Highway 1 for Island Girl, we’re taking 101, then cruising on highway 1 in our toad.
      Brenda

  5. I am really looking forward to walking Glass Beach one day. Sure looks like a fun treasure hunt.

    Hector, once again you have shared breath taking photos. Thanks!!

    • 🙂 It’s tempting to pick up lots of it, but it’s actually more fun hunting for the special ones.

  6. I agree with your sentiments on private parks. We’ve discovered that our favorites are the small ones where the owners are welcoming and go out of their way to make you feel at home. Sounds like the Sportsman RV park was exactly that kind of place. LOVE the photos of glass beach! We have to go there someday!

    • Yes, we found some really cool smaller private parks in Maine and Canada. Glass beach was cool, even if you don’t collect. You have to make sure to walk over and down the cliffs to the right beach, as there are a couple nearby that don’t have sea glass and one that is part of the state park. We can give you directions if you decide to go.
      Brenda

  7. Very cool. Great pics and location but always the people make a place memorable! Such a wonderful journey!
    Enjoy!

  8. Pingback: Crossing Twisty Roads & Checking Off Bucket Lists – Fort Bragg, CA – Wheeling It