It was cool at 7:00 and our site turned out to a good one. There was enough room between neighbors for privacy and the site’s rear stretched back to the sheltered portion of Bodega Bay. We explored the sandy expanse which was dotted with close cropped reddish plants. They provided critter cover and Mabel, fearlessly sticking her snout into the bunched plants, enjoyed the hunt. The bay behind was large, with enough room for the Coast Guard patrol boats to cruise and do whatever it was they were doing. It was peaceful here but I could sense it can get hot as there wasn’t any shade. Later, one of my camp neighbors told me we were in a cool spell and the week before was hot. I was thankful to be visiting this week.
We made our way to the beach on the opposite side of the road. This was part of Bodega Bay but on the map it looks like a part of the Pacific. I guess your perspective dictates if the ocean fills the bay or the bay spills out into the ocean. Either way the beach was nice, large, and sandy. Mabel enjoyed walking the shoreline and inspecting the large sea weed bundles that had accumulated on shore. Looking like mini haybales, their twisted strands a preferred home to little flying insects. I thought it would be a neat prank to partially bury one of my Halloween heads in the middle. Can you imagine the initial reaction from a beach walker? I know its juvenile humor but taping their actions would be funny none the less.
Mabel likes the beach and I think how much she has changed since our first beach excursion in Michigan. We walked down to Lake Michigan at night and she did not like the windy, dark openness of the beach. I had to bring her back to the camper and we missed a chance at the Northern Lights. But now she loves running around, sometimes even getting her paws wet.
The attendant came up and we paid, no escaping the fee. She confirmed my suspicions that white spaces on the camp board were available and filled were not. Being later in the season and during the week she told me I shouldn’t have a problem with finding camping sites and that checkout was 12:00. I decided to stay as long as I can, do some writing and enjoy the morning after talking to home.
The neighbors had a multi-colored van and a little boy named Hudson who was cruising around the site. I liked hearing their reggae music as I wrote and the mom told me it was the One Love Spotify station. It played a variety of artists and didn’t concentrate on Bob Marley like so many others do. I like reggae and used to enjoy going to reggae clubs in Austin. The big one back then was Liberty Lunch and I remember seeing Bad Mutha Goose there dressed as mud men on Halloween. They were a mixture of rap and funk with lots of horns similar to Fishbone. There were also smaller clubs, usually a block off 6th street, that we would pass through. The bass hitting you as walked by the bouncer, a subtle calmness not seen in the bigger clubs. We talked for a little bit and I told them my story. The dad even offered me his hammock for writing.
Two campers, Cal & Debra passed by the camper and stopped to talk. They liked my set up but liked theirs as well. They showed me their trailer and gave me pointers on where I should stop on the trip North. They lived 40 minutes away which makes camping here convenient. Cal had recently ran (not literally) home to get more propane and clothes because of the cooler weather. We talked for a long time and they told me Bodega Bay was used as a filming location for Hitchcock’s film The Birds which I confirmed on IMDB.com. We didn’t pull out of the campground until 12:45.
We were back on HWY 1 after fueling up and the ocean views were spectacular! The road was curvy, lots of curves, with some rather tight. We went up hills and down hills and at times, it was a little scary. It was a rocky coast with inlets that were battered by the sea. At one stop, a pull-off from the highway, the wind was so strong I didn’t get too close to the edge. But then again, I never get too close to the edge. Mabel also felt the wind and I could tell she didn’t like it as she wanted back in the car. There is construction on the highway and we stop at the single lane closures, either a flag person or a timed stop light halting progress. At times we are stopped at an uncomfortable height so I keep my eyes forward.
There are many places to stop and we are in wandering mode pulling off to take pictures and for Mabel to run around. At most spots we are alone which gives Mabel a chance for off-leash exercise. Small towns dot the coast, mostly home to B&Bs and small spas. They look to be high end and offer a nice spot to lose the tensions of the road.
We stop at Point Arena and view the light house from afar as I didn’t feel the need to pay the admission price. The National Monument at Point Arena provided amazing views of the flat rock outcroppings that reach out into the ocean. They look like a Marine’s flat top and are perfectly perpendicular to the horizon. And, it’s not just one flat outcropping, the area is filled with runway flat patches of grass. Mabel and I explore, the flatness allows me to keep a watchful eye on her.
HWY 1 ends, as all good things must. The ending is abrupt, a sweeping curve to the East before falling into the water with a giant cliff blocking the way. The change is immediate, trees instead of coast, a dramatic change to inland travel. The road is curvy, just not as pronounced as the coast and the trees provide a canopy over the road. I am definitely in the woods.
Legget California is the cross over to HWY 101, my continued path North. I see an advertisement for a drive-through tree near Legget and Mabel showed some interest so we pull off the road not sure if it was open at this hour. It felt like I was progressing through a horror movie scene as we pulled up to the ticket booth. The wooden building was under the trees the darkness emphasizing the green glow emanating from inside. I felt like I was in the middle of Rob Zombie’s House of a Thousand Corpses with the ticket booth’s green glow like Captain Spaulding’s chicken and gas station. Hopefully my fate is different than Rainn Wilson’s. We were in luck; the tree was open and a lady was there to take my money. More horror movie scenery as I follow the narrow and wooded road to the tree which sits in front of the souvenir shop. I pull up to the tree but quickly realize the camper is a bit too tall so no pass through for us. Mabel and I choose to walk through the opening and then watch as others exit from the tree to the glee of its riders.
It was dark when we found our campsite at the Standish Hickey State Recreation Area and there were plenty of open spots. I do the “pass through” and circle back to a spot with lots of space. Backing up in the dark isn’t much fun and a nice camper assisted me in the endeavor although I ended up closer to the tree than expected. “You’re not too close if you don’t touch” I once told Mr. Bertang, my high school drivers-ed teacher. He didn’t think it was too funny but it applied here. Mabel has fun running through the leaves, they are starting to fall, and her steps sound crispy. Sloppy Joes are on tonight’s menu, the first time since Maine which seems so long ago. The summer had so much in front of it then and now I think it's almost officially fall. We do a quick walk and then head to bed, it was a full day.
Thankful for the chance to see the California coast’s beauty.