Walk with me, let’s watch the Mendocino sunset

Day 12: Fort Bragg to Van Damme State Beach


The sun is hanging low on the horizon.  It’s going to happen again.  It always does on a clear day such as this.  Sunset.

The black sand beach is sharp against our feet.  Young sand, rough edges, not the pearly smooth white stuff we usually have in Oregon.

Waves lap, gently breaking in the small crescent bay.  Wind blown trees strike a vivid sillouette against the brilliant yellow fireball ever slowly sinking.

A heron swoops over the waves and lands on a raft of kelp.  Bobbing up and down with the surf, the heron hunts for fish I cannot see. Poise and balance despite its gangly legs and craning neck.

A golden lab insanely fetches a thrown stick from the waves, drops it in the sand and rolls over on his back, writhing back and forth in purest delight.

We meander slowly along the water, waves chilling our tender naked feet.  We didn’t walk barefoot enough this summer. Soles not ready for the sharp cold edge of this beach.

A golden band of brilliance arcs across the water, the kelp beds, the breaking surf, the harsh black sands.

This October sunset on the Mendocino Coast seems like just another pleasant summer evening.  But another season is fast coming, with its long dark nights.  Are our souls ready for the sharp cold edge of winter?

Noodling in the town of my birth, Fort Bragg.  I visited all the same spots as last year – Mendocino Cookie Company, my dad’s old church, the Skunk Train, Noyo Bay – as well as a new spot – North Coast Brewing. Got their taster tray, 12 samples, but left it half way through, needing still to ride 20 miles.  Besides, all their ales seemed flat and tasteless.  Spoiled by our own Block 15, best beer on the West Coast! 

Left Fort Bragg and rolled on down Route 1, enjoying a considerably wider shoulder.  Passed through the little town of Mendocino, so charming and touristy (is that a word?)  Then on to Van Damme State Park.  My tent is pitched by a rushing creek, a short ways from the lovely beach.  Still time left to lay in the sun for a stretch. Then, the sunset.

I realized this is the first beach I’ve visited on this trip since Beachside.  I will be certain to stop at more beaches as I venture south.  I don’t just want to blast on through like my last tour, missing the beauty and solace of the ocean. That’s why I came, isn’t it?

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