Welcome to Nice


It would remain mostly quiet throughout the night, but we heard some kids playing hide-and-seek near our tent; their side of the camp was a field and ours offered trees and hills to hide behind. Breakfast would be gas station pastries and a bottle of muscle milk each. It would be more convenient if gas stations offered more fresh fruit varieties. Today’s goal was to take the 12 and 128 west with other roads connecting until we would meet up with the 101 and Hwy 1 and take them north and eventually get to Oregon.

I missed an exit or a turn or both and we ended up on the 16 and 20 west, but there is no reason to stress – we’re together and we have a map. This detour would take us by Dixon where we watched three hot air balloons take off with at least twelve people in each basket. We stopped in a sunflower field around 8:00 am to let the dogs out and feed them breakfast. Caleb played ball with Sparky while Piggy and I looked around at the flowers and a spider or two that had built a home amongst the fallen stalks. It feels good to be on a road that we can pull over and see where our food comes from and taste a seed unsalted from the flower – not as crunchy as the bagged type.


We drive along Clear Lake and stop in the town of Nice to visit their Lunchbox Museum, but we are a day late and two hours early. They are open MWF from 12-4 pm and we are here on a Tuesday at 10 am. Passing through Willits gets us both excited about the Redwoods that we will be hiking in soon, but I have a planned stop before that and we have an unexpected place to see along the way.

That place is near Willits – Ridgewood Ranch, the home of Seabiscuit, but he is not here today. The only people we will pass is a family watching a goat in a tree and a lady walking her dog in the street. Not a very busy place, but it is pretty and full of blackberries. The most ripe plant we have seen so far, but there are more thorns on our side as someone else has been here before us. It’s still nice to get a taste of nature even if it means getting scratched. We continue on the loop road past the campsite to the main road.

Outhouse Closed. Use outhouse 1.3 miles west.

Outhouse Closed. Use outhouse 1.3 miles west.

We stop in Jackson State Forest for a walk among tall trees, a closed outhouse, and slow running water. There are some wooden steps that caught my attention and a steep bank to the creek. I stop for some photos while Caleb lets the dogs out into the shade to pee on the greenery. We arrive in Fort Bragg, where I have planned to stop at Glass Beach, around lunch time. We stop at Pizza Factory where we get a medium veggie before the noon rush for the small buffet with salad bar that they offer.

We will eat a slice each before following the directions we were given to drive down the street and take a left. There is a large parking area and we grab another slice. There is a wide path that forks on the way to the beach and we take the one with the sticks laid out that spell Shelly with an arrow pointing right. There are signs prohibiting the collecting of glass (otherwise I might have taken one), but this didn’t stop others from loading their pockets and beach bags full. We debate putting on our superhero cloaks and saving the day or calling the fuzz, but if it were a big enough issue there would be security here.


There are plenty of rocks colored from the sand, wind, water, moss, and flowers – some that we can walk on and others that would require a swim or snorkeling as we saw two people doing. There was a couple enjoying the view and kids enjoying the kelp. One rock had a few handfuls of glass separated by color. Caleb and I got closer to examine the spots and lines of the plants and animals that inhabit the area and found a lined shore crab. It feels good to enjoy something without taking something physically from it and ruining the moment for future visitors that want to stand in awe as we do now.

We got dessert after waiting in line at Cowlick’s Ice Cream Café. I got a double scoop – one of black forest (for chocolate lovers) and strawberry cheesecake. I sampled the mushroom flavor and Caleb got the candy store floor (a medley of candy bars) and we walked around town while I began to wear what melted off my cone. We tried to give directions to the place when asked by an interested passerby. It’s on the corner and shares the building with another business. I do believe ice cream cones are sold by sight of eye.

lined shore crab

Driving up Hwy 1 we notice a guy making cairns and pause for a moment to relish in his freedom to ride his bike and stack rocks on a very scenic American drive. A little further north in Westport is a whale made of what looks like two types of wire and cement that seems to fill an old pool in one of these houses’ old yards or perhaps this was where a home used to be before Moby Dick moved in.

Still in Garberville is the Blues Brothers car that made us slow down the first time we saw it and we’ve been stopping ever since. This time the driver is missing his head. We spent the rest of the daylight hiking in the Redwoods – a place that Caleb loves and wishes he could live. I suppose that’s possible after being raised in a town called Big Timber or being exposed to how happy it makes him to walk at the ankles of these historic giants.

We drive to Eureka for a night at the Travelodge, leaving the dogs in the car and going upstairs with leftover pizza. The room is $79 with a no-pet policy. This isn’t there first time and definitely not their last. I wonder how this would work out if the hotel had a no-kid policy. We feed them in the car and walk across the street to the North Coast Co-op for some shopping and find a large selection of things we love.

They have bottled Earth Thirst beer – one I grew fond of on draft in Crescent City, mangoes – the fruit of all that is holy (if I had a religion), and a bottle of lemon tea-tree lotion for Caleb’s dry hands. Back to the hotel. It feels good to shower and sleep in a bed, without dogs, giving me a better nights rest. Dogs can be great companions during the day, but their restlessness at night can make me need more coffee in the morning.

Eel River in the Redwoods

Eel River in the Redwoods

This entry was posted in Camping, Food, Hiking, People, Photography, Places, Plants, Things, Travel, Water and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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