Oct 9 – After Eureka, we drove further down the coast to Fort Bragg in Mendocino County, where we stayed at the Sportsman’s RV Park, one of the most memorable so far. It was small, only a few sites, but with a unique location on the docks of Noyo Harbor, close to where the Noyo River meets the Pacific, and with a beautiful cresent beach at the end the street that was an off-leash dog area. The RV park and adjacent, awesome, seafood bar and cafe had what could be called a rustic beachy decor, but in fact it must have been items collected and repurposed with an artistic eye over many years. This was more than “authentic”; the hanging buoys and boat hulls-turned-planters clearly had a prior life of use.
Fort Bragg has stunning headlands and rocky beaches to rival 17-mile-drive in Monterey, and it was hard to believe that much of the coast was inaccessible to the public until recently, when a bike and walking path were opened on the site of former timber factories. Glass Beach is so named because it served as the town dump from the early 20th century, and is full of beautiful seaglass that time and the ocean created from the refuse.
Our next stop was Santa Rosa in Sonoma County, for one night, as we head away from the coast and east towards Yosemite. The drive along Route 128 was gorgeous, with more redwood forest and the Anderson Valley wine region (I was ready for pretty vineyard scenery in Sonoma and Napa, but Anderson Valley caught me by surprise; it was like driving through Brigadoon). The overnight in Santa Rosa was at the county fairgrounds RV park, a basic setup with gravel roads and a few trees.
I’m writing this from the Jackson Rancheria RV Park in Jackson, California; Amador County and part of Gold Country. The drive from Santa Rosa was full of more unexpected and beautiful landscapes – San Pablo Bay and Wildlife Refuge north of San Francisco Bay, the open flatlands and waterways of the California Delta (full disclosure: I didn’t know this existed), then endless, rolling, golden hills dotted with oak trees, that gave way to more dramatic hills covered in fir trees as we get closer to the Sierra Nevada mountains.
We booked 5 nights here, and are going to stay a few more because the place is awesome – spacious, grass sites overlooking treetops and distant hills; a big pool; dog park; walking path; and wide, smooth roads for bike riding. Did I mention the free popcorn, iced tea, and coffee, and $1-per-load laundry?? We may never leave. We’re looking forward to exploring the towns and region with its gold mining history. And since Jackson Rancheria also has a casino, Charlie’s dream of eating at a buffet may finally come true.