The fog that crept in while we were having dinner the night before was still with us when we woke this morning. Pretty solidly, it looked like when I peered through the windows.
“Eh, it’ll burn off by ten o’clock,” the ever-optimistic rdeck said, with conviction. “Besides, the windows are all fogged in anyway, so it probably isn’t as bad as you think.”
Eh. In order. It didn’t burn off by ten (our B&B landlady suggested 11 AM as an alternative but as it happens she was wrong too – more on that later), and while the windows of our room WERE in fact a little misted up – well – so was the outside.
Well. We busied ourselves with breakfast around 9, and took off for a final walk down to Fort Bragg downtown at about 10, and the back street we were on was quiet an empty. A sign tacked on a lamp-post informed us that it was forbidden to ride bicycles, skateboards or horses on the sidewalk; we didn’t see anyone breaking the law, although I was really holding out for a bronco.
In front of the First Baptist Church, a hopscotch grid was chalked on the pavement – the first time I’ve seen one in oh, a gazillion years. The wave of nostalgia was completely unexpected. I was just – so – well, I was so SEVEN YEARS OLD again. It took an effort of will not to stick my hair into pigtails and start hopping. A little further on the pavement someone had chalked the words THINGS WE ARE THANKFUL FOR and surrounding them – sometimes in heartstoppingly painstaking childish handwriting – were the responses to that. They were… fantastic. Here’s just a selection:
My Baby Brother
Meeting Friendly Christians
Sun and rain
Hippies (no, I am not kidding. It said that.)
This is a cool and interesting place.
We dropped in on the very nice local bookstore, Cheshire Books, which promptly set up a small display of my paraphernalia in the shop which was very nice of them. On our way back– and I was cameraless, alas – we chanced on a building straight out of a Wild West Hollywood movie with a sign that said no more than “Golden West”. It was painted up front, but that had been done some time ago and someone should have been thinking about a fresh coat about five years back – but the sides, visible from above the lower neighbouring house on one side and the alley on the other, were chronically dilapidated. The windows showed a range of eclectic coverings meant to do duty as curtains; at least two were bed sheets in a previous life, one was intriguing but unidentifiable from the street, and one was a crochet afghan. It honestly looked like a home for down-on-their-luck ladies of the night.
A little further up the street a storefront bore a pair of signs that were the most perfect example of irony I have ever seen. The one above said simply, “Bait”. Well, you might argue, this is a seaside town, people fish, ergo, bait. But just below it there was a sign advertising the lottery, with a come-hither announcement that the jackpot was now something in the order of $70 million.
Back up to our own lodgings, from which we had already checked out, and we paused to look at the house directly across the street from the place we had stayed in.
“It looks a little iffy,” rdeck suggested.
Iffy didn’t begin to cover it. One of the panes of the upstairs window was frankly missing; the roof was in a parlous state; the siding was three different colours where it had weathered differently and/or fallen off altogether; and something appeared to be grievously wrong with the foundation at one end, resulting in a perilously sagging porch and a downstairs window that kind of drooped at an odd angle. The house looked like it had suffered a major stroke and that nobody had managed to get to it in time for the damage not to be kind of permanent.
But it was now close to noon and we had places to go. So we loaded up the chariot and pressed on.
Into the fog.
Which got thicker and more drifty and more fabulous the further we went. We paused at one seaside view stop and I took some pictures of the angry choppy pewter-coloured ocean under the blanket of fog, rocks and foam and seagulls all soft and formless through fog. The road sometimes wholly disappeared into fog ahead of us, just dived in, only reappearing as I literally crashed the fogline, disappearing into another bank a few hundred yards ahead. It was WILD.
We stopped at another outlook and the coast was fantastic – great crashing breakers, cormorants perched on drenched crags, spray, mist, white foam on dark sand, and a handful of ravens flitting through it all cawing ominously. I took a picture of one of them, the one which posed in the spirit of human-avian cooperation until I was practically next to it before squawking when I got a shade too familiar and spreading huge black wings and rising into the drifting mist. It was all very Edgar Allan Poe.
The road twisted and turned and twisted. I began to really respect their signs – when they indicated a curve on the road and said max speed was 15MPH, they bloody well meant it. But the problem was that I couldn’t fathom why one curve had a warning sign and a mileage limit on it while another – just around the corner – was allowed to sneak up on you unawares. We developed a game of it – “That’s a fifteen!” – “That’s no twenty!” – “What, twenty five? We can do that in our sleep!” – “WHOA! Ten?!?” But after a while I was really starting to look forward to a straight road. Just a little bit of straight road. Please.
We meandered and twisted away from the coast after a while, and the fog magically vanished leaving us in bright sunshine. In that interval we chanced on a redwood grove picnic area and went for a stroll. We were the only people there; we might have been the last people on the earth, just us and the trees. We saw our first real old-growth redwood, and I wept at it – we stood rapt and listened to the silence of the redwood cathedral while green light filtered down from the treetops somewhere unimaginably high above us. I took pictures. Lots of pictures. LOOOOOTS of pictures. Have to download some of these puppies soon.
Onwards, but we were losing the day and the light by now, and we were also getting returns of the patchy fog every so often. We stopped to do stuff like drive the car through a drive-through tree (yes! I DID IT!) and then stop off to admire something called a Grandfather Tree with a circumference of FIFTY FIVE FEET. Go away and think about that for a minute. I’ll wait…
I didn’t want to miss out on any of the Avenue of the Giants stuff, and that was coming up, and the light was dying on us. So we turned off the highway in Garberville and bunked down for the night in a place called the Sherwood Forest Motel (I kid you not. I guess they figure one wood is as good as another…), had a quick meal in a nearby café (nothing like the one we had the night before…) and retired to recharge electronics and crash for the night. No Internet, though – so I am writing all this up on the evening of the 18th, and you will get to see it… whenever I get hold of the Internet for long enough to upload it to the blog.
We’re ready to start out bright and early tomorrow. Avenue of the Giants for as long as that takes – we have several scheduled stops but plan to stop elsewhere too if the mood takes us – and then after that we get as far as we can get before we break for the night. The car has to be delivered to the rental people in Portland OR before 5:30 on the 20th. We have two days to get from here to Portland.
Piece of cake.
Next report, after the Redwood Encounter Day.