We are back after taking a couple of weeks to visit family on the East Coast, which is always an adventure in itself! In the last installment, we were in Bodega Bay, land of “The Birds”.
Our trip took a little twist on our way to San Francisco. Tracy needed gas, so he ventured back north to find a gas station closer than the one in Petaluma (the one in Bodega Bay was undergoing a renovation and was closed). Left on our own, we traveled down Highway 1 (or so we thought), admiring the countryside with abundant farmland and beautiful scenery. Fran was wondering how all of this could be so close to the ocean without seeing it. We found out when we saw a sign telling us how close to Highway 101 we were. Apparently the correct road took a sharp jog to the right in the area of Valley Ford to cut back to the coast. We continued on the road to Petaluma unaware of our mistake until we saw the sign. Oh well, too late now!
Petaluma is a small town with its own claim to Hollywood movie fame. “American Graffiti”, “Peggy Sue Got Married”, and “Flubber” were all filmed here along with “Cujo” and “Howard the Duck”, among others. We drove down Main Street to get to Highway 101, where our scenic drive ended with the freeway. Looking at the map, I noticed an exit that would get us to Muir Woods, though in a roundabout way. After getting rerouted on the GPS a few times, we finally reached Muir Woods to learn that you have to reserve a parking space ahead of time. Time to reconnect with Tracy!
We finally met up just outside a shopping center where Highways 1 and 101 came together. Tracy suggested that we visit Sausalito since we were only one exit away. Leading the way on his motorcycle, Tracy took us to a unique place, Waldo Point Harbor, where “homeboats” are located. These are not really boats, but homes resting on cement blocks in the water. Most of the time this is not a problem, but someone who worked at a restaurant near the area told us that during the last heavy rain a couple of homes were lost due to their inability to float. Californians seem to like taking risks in where they choose to live!
Traveling along the beautiful Sonoma countryside, we made our way into Bodega Bay late afternoon. We had learned earlier in the day that Bodega Bay was first used by the Russians as a base for their operations at Fort Ross, and it remained their main harbor even when the base camp was moved to the Farallon Islands. It was then called “Port Rumiantsev.”
Did you know that Bodega Bay is the site where the movie, “The Birds” by Alfred Hitchcock, was filmed? We didn’t! The location of our inn was the place in the movie where the socialite visited the general store and post office. When she drove across the street, she visited the fishing store, which is now The Tides Restaurant (pictured upper right). The original restaurant was quite small, but the new one has banquet facilities and a gift shop featuring “The Birds” memorabilia. Pictures taken of the actors with signed autographs also decorate the walls there.
We drove to the town of Bodega, located just a few miles inland from Bodega Bay, and found the schoolhouse used in the movie. It was built in 1873 with classes for grades 1-8 on the first floor, while the second floor was used as a multi-use room and community hall. By 1961 the building had been condemned and sold on auction to the highest bidder. In March of 1962 Alfred Hitchcock used the school in “The Birds”. The school then sat vacant and condemned until June of 1966, when a family purchased it and worked to restore it. It is still owned by the same family who now has three generations living there. A sign outside of the home advertises “for more information: http://www.bodegaschool.com.
Fort Ross was established as a Russian outpost to hunt sea otters along the coast after overfishing them in Alaska. The settlers built the fort to resemble those in Alaska and Siberia, and when it was finished in 1812, they called it “Selenie Ross”. The Russians brought Native Alaskans to the fort to hunt and to work for the company. According to the information inside the museum, “before 1820, they were conscripted into Company service and paid according to the number of their catch. After 1820, they were designated Company employees with guaranteed civil rights.”
After the sea otters became scarce, Russia wanted to pull out of the venture. Baron von Wrangell, the manager-in-chief of the company at the time, was not willing to withdraw and attempted to seek Mexico’s formal recognition of the legitimacy of Russian’s claim to Fort Ross. “The Mexicans were willing to yield on this issue, but only in return for Russia’s diplomatic recognition of their own national independence as a republic. Tsar Nicholas I rejected this condition.”
Alexander Rotchev, the last administrator of Fort Ross who personally opposed the decision to sell the colony, faithfully carried out his orders, attempting to sell to France, then Mexico. Both governments declined the Russian terms. Fort Ross was eventually sold to Captain Sutter in 1841.
Fort Ross is registered as a National Historic Landmark and is also the site of the first Russian Orthodox Church in the U.S., which is commemorated every July Fourth by the the Orthodox Church of America.
Fort Bragg is in the middle of the Coastal Hwy in Mendocino County, and according to the Mendocino Chamber of Commerce, “is the largest city on the Mendocino coast.” The beach was one of three city dump sites beginning in 1906, with this particular site operating from 1949 until 1967 when it was closed. Various clean-up programs removed all of the metals and other items in the dump, but the glass was tumbled and polished by the waves that covered the former dump site. There are actually three glass beach sites in Fort Bragg, with the other two south of “Glass Beach”.
We arrived in Fort Bragg late Friday afternoon and checked in to our inns, then met for dinner. Tracy wasn’t too excited about Fort Bragg as he had visited there before, but Fran and I were eager to see the Glass Beach and the coastline the next day. We drove to Glass Beach State Park around 9 a.m. Fran decided to take a walk south on the Coastal Trail before going down to the beach. When I approached the beach, I noticed that it was too steep for me to get to it. I decided to go north on the Coastal Trail towards Pudding Creek Beach. I was struck by the beauty of the waves crashing against the rocks and the wildflowers along the beach. I walked to the recently restored trestle that had been built by the lumber company and had been a part of the old Ten Mile Railroad.
Fran walked down to the beach, but was disappointed by the number of people picking through the glass and collecting it. The beach itself was not as spectacular-looking as on the brochures because of glass collection (which is prohibited). On our way out of Fort Bragg we stopped at the Sea Glass museum where there were many items made of sea glass. We noted that there were also small bags of colored glass offered for sale to help replenish the glass on the beach!
It is a shame that tourists don’t respect something unique and beautiful so that others can enjoy it later.
After leaving Yosemite National Park we traveled on the freeway from Merced towards Sacremento, stopping to eat lunch at a rest stop in Turlock. The scenery along Route 99 was mostly agricultural, with rice paddies and fruit groves lining the highway. We continued on our way to Marysville, then finally Oroville, where my brother Tracy and his family live. The town of Oroville was in crisis mode last year when the reservoire, swollen from an extraordinary amount of rain over the winter, flowed over the emergency spillway of the Oroville Dam into the Feather River, creating damage to the main spillway. At 770 feet, the Oroville Dam is the tallest earthen dam in the U. S. Fortunately, Tracy lives above the lake, so his son and daughter, who live in town, stayed at his place to weather the crisis together.
We met Tracy in town at my niece’s (Lisa) home, and we had dinner together. It had been a while since we have seen Lisa, who has grown into a beautiful young woman, and who is a program manager of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Sacremento. We spent a few relaxing days at Tracy’s home with the exception of a blood clot scare for Fran. Fortunately the soreness was due to muscle strain, which meant our trip could continue albeit monitoring for the prevention of DVTs. Tracy decided to join us on our trip since he was headed for Santa Barbara in a few days, and he added his own personal experiences to help us decide what we should see in the upcoming days.
Our day did not begin well–Fran had discovered late the night before that she had left her camera on the shuttle that had dropped us off at our lodging. She frantically sent an email, then went out to the first bus that arrived in the morning to see if the driver could share any information. After two phone calls placed two hours apart (with the persons promising to search), we decided to go on to see Glacier Point. We checked in with the transit service after we arrived at our destination–Hooray! The camera had been found! We made arrangements to meet the late shuttle that evening, then set off to find the trail that would take us up to the lookout point. Fortunately the cell phone camera took decent pictures.
We are grateful for the kind folks that we encountered here and for the absolute beauty that we were blessed to behold.