The Iconic Glass Beach in Fort Bragg, CA

We spent an indeterminate amount of time scouring the Internet, Pinterest specifically, for epic places to visit in Northern California.  Of course, Yosemite and Sequoia National Park, the Redwood Forest, San Francisco, and other well known and oft visited places were on our list, but we were looking for the more obscure in order to round out our speedy trip as being tourists is necessary in order to take in the aforementioned attractions, but we much prefer to travel like locals.

In our searches we found Glass Beach, in Fort Bragg, CA.  Definitely a tourist attraction, but it looked amazing.  Beautiful pieces of glass inches deep on top of the sand.  How they got there, we had no clue. Maybe they were really rocks that looked like glass?  Maybe they were shells?  Or some kind of salt glass?

Glass Beach
Beautiful, spectacular views from Glass Beach. Photo: Susie Kellogg

The background is way less magical … it would seen sometime in the early 1900’s  residents would throw their glass bottles and more off the cliffs into the ocean.  From,

” From 1906 to 1967, everything from cars to batteries to bottles, cans and appliances were unceremoniously pushed over the cliffs into the ocean — a common practice of seaside cities for centuries.”

And now, the city of Fort Bragg, has turned this beach into an attraction.  And, make no mistake, it is an attraction.  Instead of being some obscure place that hangs it’s head in shame, there were dozens and dozens of people digging in the sand for pieces of glass.

I was laughing about that.  With California being the self-proclaimed leader of the environmental movement, isn’t it ironic that they would celebrate something like this??  I mean, littering in CA carries a fine of $1000.  And you do realize that due to regulation upon regulation, good or bad, there will be nothing like this for our kid’s kids because already the glass is difficult to find and according to locals, they can remember a time when the glass was one foot deep above the sand!!

Glass Beach
A flower on Glass Beach! Photo: Susie Kellogg

Can you imagine the world during that time?  Can you imagine the people of the town coming to the cliffs to discard of their trash?  I spent a lot of time conjuring images of those times, the Great Depression, the struggles, the possible recovery … it is remarkable to me that History was such a boring subject in school, because when you are out there discovering it, imagining it, it is fascinating.  FASCINATING.  And it motivated me to discuss the era with the kids.  We googled, we imagined and we discussed … education truly is in every minute of every day … but that’s for another time.

Now, many of my friends have come forth and said that they have had Glass Beach on their Bucket Lists for “ever”.  I think they have seen some very VERY flattering photos and think, like I did, that they can collect enough colorful beach glass to decorate a vase or picture frame.  No, No, No.  Not gonna happen.

Glass Beach is NOT a destination for large pieces of smooth glass that will adorn your home.  Not at all.  For one it is prohibited.  And two, because no-one heeded the prohibition, there isn’t a plethora of it either.  I equate it to panning for gold.  You might get lucky and find a cool piece, a few of the kids and Dan did, but it takes work and patience, the sort I wasn’t all that willing to invest.

Glass Beach
Maddy talking to Elly and Emmy about what she found. Photo: Susie Kellogg

But, what Glass Beach is, is a FABULOUS place to explore.  We were all over the exploration of the beach.  Exploration is our thing.  We climbed all the rocks, scaled the cliffs, discovered caves, went hunting for HUGE crabs, watched huge elephant seals, took some sick photos, touched sea anemone, met tourists from Germany and Japan, learned there is some crazy looking seaweed, conducted a bit of networking (tax deduction) and determined without a doubt that we could, if necessary, survive in a beach setting for an extended amount of time.

Glass Beach
We discovered such a variety of sea life from this starfish to actual Seals!! It was exciting! Photo: Susie Kellogg

For sure, Glass Beach wasn’t even close to what we expected, but as with most of travel, the beauty of a location lies much deeper than face value, deeper than the PR team, and deeper than what meets the eye.

The beauty of Glass Beach was, indeed, found much deeper.

Glass Beach
Beauty lies in all of God’s Creations … man can’t compare! Photo: Susie Kellogg

I’ll admit to disappointment when we first observed paved trails, signs with rules and a plethora of people. But when we let go of our expectations we found something so much cooler, so much more educational, and so much more real than the promise of treasure…God’s touch.

This is such an amazing lesson for life.  Peace and Joy and Love and Beauty are found in our Creator, not of this world.  Almost everything requires a change of perspective, and you can make the choice, at any time, to be satisfied, to find wonder and glory in everything, everyplace and every person!

Glass Beach
Sharing moments exploring with the people you love more than anything in the world, is priceless! Photo: Susie Kellogg

A few minutes in to our Glass Beach experience, Kady and I went off to explore.  We climbed up and over cliffs and found our way down onto a beach, far away from the throes of people.

Here laid a little cove between two cliffs.  The crashing of waves into the rocks, the euphoric smell of salt water, the elephant seal on the rocks near the shore, and the foggy, overcast chilly weather all combined to make a bit of magic.  We were in awe, once again, of God’s creation — which is always more beautiful, more amazing and more inspiring than anything man made …

Glass Beach
Blown away by this experience! Photo: Susie Kellogg

The combination of the ocean and Kady’s never ending quest for adventure lifted me.

You know how every once in a while you meet someone who elevates you to a level of peace and aspiration.  Kady is that person.  I am content and wanting more at the same time when I’m in her presence.  She is never bored.  She is never disappointed, she finds wonder and beauty and joy in everything and she’s always on the move.

Somehow her heart and soul are ever present in the moment she’s experiencing, but they are also on the hunt for more.

Glass Beach
Our adventure seeking, gypsy souled girl! Photo: Susie Kellogg

A part of me remembers when I used to be the same way.  Content, but moving.  Satisfied, but reaching for more.  I could do the mundane, and be assured that the amazing was coming.  I don’t know how or when that changed, but I often feel so rushed now.  I have the feeling that I no longer have time for the mundane, or to bide my time or to even sit still.  There is so much I need to do, want to do and so little time to do it.  It’s both exhilarating and frustrating.

But here, at Glass Beach, simply wandering, finding a jellyfish, digging for pieces of smooth colorful glass, hopelessly trying to grab a crab, envisioning the days of dumping trash into the ocean, and watching my children explore and take in the surroundings was comforting … I felt content to just be.  And this, all of this, is what is missing from the marketing of Glass Beach.  Sure the glass hunt is a draw, but at the heart of glass beach is something so personal that it’s impossible to portray.

Glass Beach
Brody and Dally attempting to grab a HUGE crab! Photo: Susie Kellogg

Travel is in my blood.  It’s in the blood of our entire family.  It’s where all our hearts seem so eager to be.  Everyday we are seeing, and doing something different, learning something different, changing our perspectives, being adaptable and just loving the heck outta each other and the people who come into our lives.

Yeah, it’s a gift to be content to just be.

Glass Beach

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