The Northern Coast – A Trip Up Californias Highway 101

Recently I took a trip back to my home town in Northern California to visit my friends and family, while there my mother suggests a trip to the coast. Growing up in the Sierra Nevada mountains near Lake Tahoe, a trip to the coast was a three and a half hour journey and a rare but much appreciated treat. From a young age my mother instilled a love of the ocean in both me and my sister, frequently taking weekend trips, often sleeping in our mini van right on the beach and occasionally starting these trips on a late night whim. We would walk around these small coastal towns, gawking at the driftwood art and dried sea life for sale in the small shops that litter the small time streets, eating at the local mom and pop restaurants and cafes and spending a lot of time searching the tide pools and beaches for any sign of ocean life. These memories are a huge part of my love for traveling and adventure and these towns hold a special place in my heart. It is hard for me to picture myself staying in one place forever but many times I have said that one day I would retire on the Northern Coast of California and I was extremely excited to visit once again.

First stop, Glass Beach in Fort Bragg CA.


Glass Beach is a product of half a century of pollution in the Pacific Ocean. From 1906 until 1949 the ocean was used as a dumping site for the town of Fort Bragg and its many bottle factories that dotted the nearby coastline. After years of dumbing glass and other garbage into the ocean, the ocean has responded in a way that speaks true for its power and beauty. It has churned all of the glass into small bits of sea glass that to this day cover the beaches.

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The Norther Coast of California is made up of amazing cliffs and bluffs, some of which drop hundreds of feet into the blue and white chaos of the Pacific Ocean. The swirl and crash of the waves is somehow extremely peaceful to watch and at times mesmerizing.


After a short fifteen minute drive south we arrive at one of my favorite towns on the planet, Mendocino, CA.


Mendocino is another small artsy town, full of great cafes, restaurants, breweries, bars and little shops full of touristy trinkets. Most of the residence are only seasonal, coming for the summers and escaping the cold, foggy winters.

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At the edge of the town, about 100 yards down a dirt trail, you arrive at the cliffs edge where you find yourself staring down into a massive hole overlooking a giant sea cave. At high times you can sit and watch the massive waves crash through the cave below and travel into the lagoon on the other side. There is a steep trail where you can walk down to a beautiful beach and see the entirety of the cave


The entire coast is dotted with amazing tide pools, flowing with crystal clear water.


The rock formations give a great sense of the power of the almighty oceans

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Near a bay in Fort Bragg we came across a small housing unit for the local raccoons, they all looked very well taken care of and accustomed to being watched by the constant flow of tourists in the area.

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The oceans are a home for many different types of sea life, on any given day you can find anything from crabs and seals to breaching whales and giant jellyfish. My natural curiosity tends to get the best of me on the coast and I find myself spending hours climbing the rocky cliffs in search of any sort of creature I can get a glimpse of.


I will leave this post with a word of advice for anyone who thinks that the California Coastline is all full of a movie stars and surfers, trust me it is not and to truly experience the amazingness of California you need to take a trip to somewhere north of San Francisco and spend some time in one of these small, amazing, enchanting little towns.

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1 Comment

  1. Great post,love the photos !
    Always nice to get off the beaten track even if its just out of town where people these days don’t go, because the could possibly get out of their cars and walk lol. I often look at what man has brought with him over the centuries and imagine the landscape without the chaos. Well done keep up the good work 🙂

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