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Exploring Our New City: Fort Bragg, CA: Harbor, Glass Beach, Sea Lions, Rowing, and Thanksgiving On The Road!

After getting settled into our new campground, we were ready to explore our new city. Right in the center of Fort Bragg is Noyo Harbor. This working harbor is home to several fresh seafood restaurants that get their food from the fishermen who bring in their catch everyday. The fishermen dock their boats right in the middle of the harbor while they clean their boats and get rid of the scraps. The scraps attract birds, seals, and sea lions that just swarm around the boats waiting for their meals. Just next to the fishing docks is a viewing area to watch all of the activities of the harbor. This became one of my favorite spots to hang out. We also loved to drive to the end of the harbor and watch boats come in at sunset.

Just across the street was Noyo Headlands Park where we walked along the rocky coast and watched boats come in from the north part of the harbor.

On the south side of the harbor, we found one of the best places to watch the sunsets called Todd’s Point off Ocean View Dr.

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Down the street from our campground was a trail that leads to Belinda Point, a beautiful secluded point on the coast.

Just north of town is Glass Beach, an old dumpsite that the ocean has turned into part of the coastline. While the rock walls are filled with embedded tires and fishing line, the beach is full of small, rounded pieces of glass that are so smooth that it’s easily walked on with bare feet. There are 2 pathways to explore once you get to Glass Beach: the easy trail and the difficult trail. The first time we took the easy trail. We were slightly disappointed when we found a picked over beach, where there were more rocks, sand, and dirt than actual pieces of glass. We walked over to the other side behind some big boulders and it wasn’t much better. Later we found out, that the difficult trail was actually blocked off so it doesn’t look like a trail anymore. We went back and found that someone had blocked the trail with big rocks to make it look like the trail ended. We climbed over the rocks and down a rock wall. Once we jumped to the bottom, our feet landed in a foot deep of small, rounded, smooth glass. There was glass everywhere! We had gotten there by sunset, just enough light to make the glass shine. Our guess was that the locals were trying to save the glass from being taken by tourists, which happens frequently due to the location of the beach right off California’s famous Highway 1.

Wherever we go, we love to see what the local area has to offer. We happened to be in the right place at the right time when we stopped by MacKerricher State Park. We walked along the path toward the ocean and down the boardwalk and saw several seals playing in the ocean and relaxing on the rocks right off shore. One of the park tour guides was there and had several binoculars for us to use to get a better look. The next time we went to MacKerricher we brought our own binoculars. This time, just within a few minutes of looking offshore, we saw water spray up in the air and a whale’s back break the surface! We were witnessing the gray whales migrating south for their mating season. It turns out that the gray whales migration season started in early November and ends in April. Our next plan is to take a whale watching boat charter in February at the height of the migration.

Mike and I like to try a few local places to eat while we’re in new areas. We decided to try a place for breakfast, Laurel Deli and Desserts. The restaurant is located right in front of the local train station, the Skunk Train, and has it’s own train engine in the middle of the restaurant. After picking up a few brochures from the counter and reading about the history and the different train routes, we read about Humboldt Redwoods State Park. So after breakfast we decided to take an impromptu trip 2 hours north along Highway 1 to see these massive trees. As we headed further north, the scenery changed from a flat, rocky coastline to hilly mountain forests. We were also getting less and less phone and navigation signal, but luckily one of the brochures had a map inside. After the first hour of driving sharp 15 mph turns one right after the next, we decided to pull over for a short break. We couldn’t have picked a better time or place to stop because just a few minutes later Mike’s phone had enough service to get a call. It was one of the shops in town that he had an interview with a week or two before, and they offered him the job! He had been putting in applications and had other interviews with pending offers within the first 2 weeks, but this shop in particular was the job he wanted. So excited with that good news, we continued up north to the Redwoods. On the way, we tried to drive through the Chandelier Tree. We drove under the lowest rainbow I had ever seen. We toured through a home made out of one of the Redwood trees. And then finally we made it to the Avenue of the Giants, a 31-mile stretch of Highway 101 inside Humboldt Redwoods State Park. We stopped by the visitor center and learned where to go to see the biggest Redwood tree nearby. We drove just a few miles down the road, parked next to the river, and walked along a huge Redwood tree bridge to cross the river. Just a few hundred feet down the way, we saw The Giant Tree, The Flatiron Tree, and The Tall Tree. They were so massive it was difficult to capture the whole tree in 1 shot.

By November, Mike was talking about shaving his beard. If you don’t know Mike, Mike sometimes has these random ideas and agreements that he makes with himself. Back in April when we moved back to Havasu, he had this idea to grow out his beard. That’s 7 months of no shaving, trimming, clipping, or grooming. But one night to my surprise, he got out his trimmers!

We had been in town for about 6 weeks and had gotten to know the area a little better. We tried some new restaurants and our two favorites were Piaci’s Pizza for dinner and Cowlick’s Ice Cream for dessert. While we were at Cowlicks one night, we saw a free paper with local activities advertised. We’re always up for new things, so the next Saturday we drove to Dolphin Isle Marina where a small rowing club offered free rowing lessons. We walked down into the marina, where we met two of the experienced rowers. They gave us a 30-minute lesson before we started our journey into Noyo Harbor. We passed by a row of abandoned fishing boats and another marina before making it into the harbor. As we were passing by an active fishing boat, one seal swam up to our boat, and then another jumped out of the water, and then a sea lion poked his head out of the water and started barking! They were everywhere! This was a sight I had never seen before. They were absolutely beautiful animals and fun to watch swimming around our boat.

On our way back to the marina, one of the expert rowers told us that they were going to be decorating the rowboat for the annual Lighted Boat Parade the next day. So the following evening, we drove down into the harbor, had dinner at The Rough Bar, and watched the boat parade go by.

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For Thanksgiving this year, Mike and I got together with 2 of my coworkers. We’re all travelers and decided to get together for a Friendsgiving.

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I am so thankful for where we are at this point. Our first year was a rough one. We had some bad luck, but we also didn’t always make the best decisions. We definitely learned along the way, and now everything finally seems to be falling into place. When we first started traveling, we had no idea what to expect. I was just learning how travel therapy worked, and luckily I’ve liked all of my travel assignments so far. Mike was unsure what kind of jobs he would get, but he’s found work every place we’ve been. He really likes and is exceling at his current job as an RV repairman. We work the same Monday-Friday first shift schedule, so we no longer have a need for a second vehicle or rental car. We had so many vehicle issues starting out, but now we have a brand new 2017 Ram 2500. Our camper was having some major issues, but most of those have been resolved with the new water heater, furnace, and ventilation systems. And with all of these things going right, we’re finally in a place to start saving money for our future sailboat!

To watch these pictures come alive into video, check out our YouTube episode here!

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