Day 145 – Pacific Coast Highway, April 21, 2011
My day began with a hot shower, tea, coffee, and a soft-boiled egg and bacon sandwich courtesy of Tish and Chris! After Tish left for work, Chris and I took the dogs, Simon, Petey, and Chili down to Anchor Bay Beach. It is one of the few places around that not only lets dogs visit the beach, but they may also run off leash. Several locals frequent the area. In fact, approximately 30 different families banded together to outbid Marriott in order to save the campground where many of them have been coming with their families for years!
We wandered over to the tide pools and spotted starfish, anemones, snails, mussels and sadly a big, dead octopus. Flying above us was an Osprey with a fish dangling from its claws. Two waterfalls cascaded from the cliff down to the beach. We sifted through small pebbles that had washed ashore looking for little shells, and finally we stopped at some of the high rocks covered in seaweed. The seaweed was accessible because we had another day of low tide. We picked the high rocks because there is a lower chance that the seaweed has been visited by dogs. I learned how to collect Nori, wash it, and dry it. Chris sent me away with a small batch that I am told is good in Miso soup or sautéed with Sesame Seed Oil and Sesame Seeds…a future meal for me to cook in VANilla. It has been so fun to meet the locals the last few days and to learn about the area.
After spending the morning with Chris in Anchor Bay, we reached our next destination, Point Arena Light Station, a few miles up the road near lunch time. We simply took in the view and pressed on as we had a variety of parks to visit today, the first one for the afternoon being Russian Gulch State Park whose main attraction is the Devil’s Punch Bowl. The seawater has cut a 200 foot long tunnel into the cliff and its inland end has collapsed creating a giant blow hole. Sunny skies and low tide resulted in a tranquil day for the blowhole. Regardless, it was still cool to see the ocean lap into the inland hole from a tunnel! The nearby coves surrounding the park were magnificent as well. The calm, aqua waters looked more like the Carribean than the Pacific!
Next we moved on to Jug Handle State Park where an educational tour points out five different terraces from the coastal prairie, to sand dunes, to a pygmy forest, to the additional forests. Each terrace is 100 feet higher and 100,000 years older than the one below it. I was most interested in seeing the pygmy forest which is basically trees that are unable to grow to normal heights due to weather and soil conditions.
We continued on through Fort Bragg to our final destination for the evening, MacKerricher State Park. I loved it here. The entrance to the park greeted visitors with a whale skeleton. Dogs were allowed almost everywhere…beaches, trails, the boardwalk, and the campgrounds! The only place they couldn’t visit was the seal rookery where five Harbor Seal pups had been born in the last week. Sadly, one had been abandoned by its mother and died, but four others were basking in the sun on the rocks. The pups were three feet long! I had heard one was born just an hour before I arrived, but the volunteer who protects the rookery from oblivious tourists hadn’t seen it, so he couldn’t point it out to me like he did the others. What a cool place.
The boardwalk, complete with a variety of history and nature signs, offered another lovely stroll. In 1883, the Laguna Point loading operation served two sawmills, one at Laguna Creek and the other at Ten Mile River. At Laguna Point ships, known as doghole schooners, were loaded by sliding cargo down an apron chute to the deck. In 1885, when storms washed away the apron chute, it was replaced with a wire chute which lowered bundles via cable. In 1887, Little Valley Lumber Company built a 2.5 mile long, gravity driven tramway from its mill to Laguna Point. The mill and the tramway shut down in 1904, though railroad ties and tanbark continued shipping out of Laguna Point, but most lumber was shipped out of nearby Fort Bragg. MacKerricher’s coastal trail began as a logging railroad in 1916. In 1949, a road replaced the railroad to transport the logs by truck and the railroad trestle burned down in the 1960’s. Remnants of the haul road still remain.
Upon finishing the walk along the boardwalk, I decided I liked the park so much that I would camp here. We scouted out a spot, paid, and cooked some pasta with snap peas, black olives, and a little seaweed…not bad! ETB