Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Back to Civilization

We woke up early in Fort Bragg, as I wanted to get out to Jug Handle state preserve before sunrise to take pictures of the ocean and the cliffs as the sun came up. This was a big sacrifice for Aviva, getting up before 7 am while we were on vacation, but I have to give her props for supporting my crazy camera habit. The preserve was beautiful, a series of huge plateaus leading up to spectacular cliffs along a rough ocean, studded with huge boulders. The edges of the cliffs were covered with permanently windblown trees and small fields of golden flowers. We spent about 30 minutes wandering around the preserve before Aviva got cold and went back to the car and I stayed out and took pictures for another half an hour before we headed a bit down the coast to Van Damme State Park.

At Van Damme, we hiked along Fern Canyon
(guess they have a lot of those in northern california) to a waterfall about 3 miles in from the coast. The hike was gorgeous, it started along a rough cement road but soon became a trail winding along beside a small stream through stands of redwoods and birch, and past huge walls of ferns. The trail split about 2 miles in and soon afterwards we reached the falls, the stream we had been following tumbling in several separated streams over a gigantic boulder. After taking some photos and enjoying the scenery, we headed back to the parks beach and spent some time walking along the cliffs at the parks edge, watching the bridge over the cove and looking out at the huge boulders in the water just past the cliffs.

After gawking at the gorgeous scenery, spent a futile 45 minutes driving around looking for the pygmy forest, gave up and then settled in at Van Damme State beach and had lunch staring out at the ocean. We spent the rest of the afternoon driving slowly down highway one along the pacific, enjoying the scenery and the views on one of the most spectacular drives in America. Later in the afternoon we stopped at Pebble Beach, not the one near half moon bay, but one of the most dangerous beaches in California. While there, you should apparently never play tag with the waves, always watch for sleeper waves and never turn your back on the ocean. If you do any of these things you will end up tumbling in circles under water.

After leaving Pebble Beach we drove past the former Russian fort at Fort Ross and continued to marvel at the incredible scenery. We were also struck by the preponderance of all varieties of ungulates, goats, cows, sheep and pigs, grazing on the overlooks of some of the most gorgeous views in the US. The cows were particularly ubiquitous, appearing everywhere, on incredibly steep hillsides, tiny patches of grass right on the edge of the highway and the edges of massive cliffs. After avoiding numerous cows and being shocked at the number cattle guards on ultra steep roads, we turned inland at Bodega Bay, where my parents used to go to get away for the weekend. After another hour or so we reached highway 101 and followed it back into San Francisco and south to Dave and Em's, meeting Dave for sushi in Burlingame and them heading south to my Dad and Pegs to spend the night.

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