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Thursday 10 August 2017

Glass Beach at Fort Bragg

This Summer has flown by and we haven't taken any big trips like we normally would during the long break. While we've been home for much of the Summer, we have taken a few short trips around the Bay Area with friends and family visiting from Australia. 

Once such trip we took was to Fort Bragg, a small coastal town three hours north of San Francisco with my parents. The highlight of our visit was Fort Bragg's famous Glass Beach, a beach covered in colorful sea glass. I remember reading about the Glass Beach when we first moved to California and I've been keen to see it for myself ever since.   

While the Glass Beach is rather pretty, it's origins are not quite as romantic as one would imagine. All those pretty pieces of glass? They didn't wash ashore from a ship, nor are they the remains of letters sent in bottles. Nope. Between 1906 and 1967 the shoreline along the Glass Beach was used as a dump! All those rounded pieces of glass are the result of sixty years of the town's trash. Various clean up efforts over the decades removed all of the large items and the metal for scrap, while the biodegradable waste degraded over time. What remained after the clean up effort was beautiful glass pieces worn smooth by the waves.

The Glass Beach has become a popular tourist spot over the years, and due to visitors collecting the glass, it's not quite as sparkly and colorful as it once was, but it is still a beautiful spot to visit. Even if there was no glass on the beach, the shoreline itself is absolutely stunning. I mean, just look at those cliffs and those rocks! Luckily for us, we got to experience both the colorful beach and the rocky shoreline.

Even though we visited Fort Bragg in early Summer, you could be mistaken for thinking it was Winter given that my girls were dressed like Arctic explorers! Those northern California beaches can get pretty cold and windy. One simple word of advice - bring a jacket!

When we first arrived at the Glass Beach the girls were keen to find as many pretty pieces of glass as possible. They had competitions to see who could find the biggest piece or the rarest color. While most of the glass is clear, brown or green we did find a few blue and purple pieces too. Visitors are encouraged not to remove the glass from the beach, but I'll be honest - I did find a few colorful pieces of glass in the girls' pockets when we got home. Oops.

Hunting for colorful treasures kept the girls busy for a while, but the main attraction for them was the rocky shore that was just screaming out for climbing and exploring. The girls scrambled across rocks, looked for sea creatures in tide pools, climbed up high for the best views, and watched a small colony of seals basking on rocks further out.

We didn't actually notice the seals on the rocks to begin with. I spotted a large bird perched on the edge of a rock and took a photo of it. Later when I zoomed in to check out the bird on my camera I spotted the seals all over the rock. From a distance we had just thought they were part of the rock. Ha! Once the girls realized the seals were there they spent some time watching them, but to be honest, the seals didn't do much other than sleep!

After an hour or so at the Glass Beach we decided it was time to be on our way, so we said good bye to the glass, sand and rocks and made our way back to the car passing beautiful wildflowers along the way.

The Glass Beach at Fort Bragg is a lovely spot to spend an hour or two exploring. Fort Bragg is an easy day trip from San Francisco or nice weekend away, which is what we did.

Have you been to the Glass Beach at Fort Bragg or another Glass Beach? I'd love to hear.

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