Fort Bragg doesn't seem to "get" that it might be a tourist destination. I mean, we were there on Memorial Day weekend and there was stuff to see-- the quilt show, the flea markets, the botanical gardens, the miles of gorgeous coastline, the pretty trees, etc-- and yet a lot of businesses were closed on Sunday or had weird, early hours every day. So even though all the bed & breakfasts were booked up and the brewery pub was crowded it felt like we were getting the inside view of a sleepy little town.
We hit up the botanical gardens on Sunday. It's beautiful, natch. And the walk takes you all the way to the seaside cliffs.
And then we had lunch at a little hot dog restaurant the waitress asked us what we were up to and we said we had been to the botanical gardens. She said "Oh, I haven't been there yet this year. The rhododendrons must be in bloom!"
Another thing to see in Fort Bragg, and the main reason I wanted to go there, was the Glass Beach. The story is that back in the 1940s the Fort Bragg coastline was a dump and people who lived there would just toss their trash over the cliffs (because what better way to enhance the fragile California coast than to throw garbage at it?). In the late '60s the dump was moved inland and years and years of waves have, as their web site puts it, "corrected man's mistakes." I don't know if I would go so far as to say THAT because I definitely saw some of Man's Mistakes still present.
"I can't believe they put a junkyard this close to the ocean."
"Not a junkyard, a DUMP."
"Yeah. We are literally sifting through old garbage."
But the glass.
It shone on the beach and glittered in the water. Like treasures. Like gems.
I spent literally hours raking my fingers over the rocks finding interesting and pretty glass fragments. At first I wanted only perfectly rounded opaqued pieces but after awhile I started to appreciate the oddly shaped pieces, the jagged or rough ones, the bits of ceramic and pottery, the scraps where you could still make out writing, the funny little lumps that might have once been a mug handle or bottle base. I was fascinated by the beauty and the surreality.
We even checked out the Sea Glass Museum on Sunday and learned about the rarities of the various stones and how the proprietor takes a kayak to the sea-accessible portion of the original dump where he finds "the really good stuff."
So. My weekend in Fort Bragg was fun, relaxing, and interesting. I came home with some lovely, old-ladyish souvenirs.