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Pacific Coast Highway, Day 6: McKinleyville to Fort Bragg

The day started with sadness and tears. (Mine.) We tried to go here.


Old Town Coffee and Chocolate. They have waffles made on cast iron, shaped like boats, and filled with butter, boysenberry syrup, and whipped cream. They were closed for renovation. NOOOOO! So we headed around the corner to Ramone’s Bakery


Where we bought an elephant-shaped consolation cookie. For the kid.


Nothing can console me from the loss of waffles shaped like boats. Nothing.

Eureka, where both shops were located, is a cute town with an expansive downtown–good for browsing. I wonder how many tourists arrive and say, “Eureka, I have found it!” And I wonder how many locals have to grin and bear it by reminding themselves not to punch tourists.

We’re seeing more palm trees as we head south, and there was salsa on this morning’s breakfast selection, but we still have awhile to go before we’re out of redwood territory. (For redwood pictures, see yesterday.)

We have no script today, but not by choice. I’m not a go-with-the-flow type person. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in fun–well-researched, pre-scheduled fun. Today we had no plan because this leg of the journey is more sparse. So we were on the prowl for adventure. We found this instead.


Acres and acres of protected wetlands, redolent with the scent of wild sage. Nearby in the tall grass, birds sent up a cacophony of music.


Just as I began to congratulate myself on achieving serenity, I saw this.


My traitorous brain began to calculate the odds of making it back to the mainland in the event of an earthquake/tsunami. Not to brag, but I run a pretty steady twenty minute mile. We were two miles out, which meant I would need a forty minute head start on any giant waves.

Then I saw an otter, and all was well again. (Tried to get a picture, but it was too fast.) Otters don’t worry about tsunamis. Because they’re awesome swimmers. New plan in the event of a tidal wave: grab an otter and hang on for dear life. That may seem far-fetched, but if you’ve ever seen me run, then you’ll know that my fate has a better chance with the otters.


We detoured off the main route to the Avenue of the Giants, a 32 mile stretch of redwoods that, though beautiful, are coma-inducing to people who have been on the go for days. I gave the poor-tired hubs a break and drove for a while. I drive as well as I do anything that requires good depth-perception and finely-honed motor skills. (Read: I’m a terrible driver.) While everyone slept, I drove solo through Benbow, the so-called home of the legendary Bigfoot. Then I drove into a tree.


(On purpose this time.)


I actually did hit the tree on my way through. (Seriously, I should not be behind the wheel.) Thankfully both car and tree were okay.Chris wanted to drive again after that. He didn’t say why.

The road diverged. We took the one less traveled, and it has made all the difference. Also, this is the one our hotel is on. Route 101 goes inland while 1 hugs the coast with a series of hairpin turns perched on the edge of cliffs that spell certain doom with one twitch of the wheel. It was fun.

After dozens and dozens of mountain switchbacks (did I mention I get carsick? Cause I do.), the landscape at last turned into ocean again. We landed in the tiny town of Westport with the cutest little general store.


It also had the town’s only gas pump.


Note the sign about the missing kitty by the pump. As in, “When you were trying not to die or toss your cookies on the way into town, did you happen to notice a lost cat?”

To stave off the encroaching nausea, we bought some sodas. I actually am not a soda drinker. I prefer to eat my calories instead of drink them. (Except milkshakes which are the exception to every rule.) But my husband is a connoisseur, especially of local or interesting brands. So we bought these.


The Curiosity Cola was mine. It was good enough to turn me into a soda drinker; good thing we don’t have it near us. The drive resumed and was no less treacherous or spectacular.



Supper was D’Aurelio pizza in Fort Bragg.



It was as good as it looks. Chewy crust, tangy sauce, and fresh mozzarella.

How better to top off pizza than with ice cream? (That makes sense to me; go with it.)


Cowlick Creamery in Fort Bragg makes their own. I had chocolate in a homemade waffle cone. Perfection!


Tomorrow we reach San Francisco. I can hardly wait!


About vanessagraybartal

Author. Eater. Wife. Mother. Not necessarily in that order.

6 responses to “Pacific Coast Highway, Day 6: McKinleyville to Fort Bragg

  1. Wow. Very nice job on your blogging! Beautiful scenery.

  2. Valerie Harrintgon ⋅

    How is Mira enjoying her trip? Is she getting to eat lots of things she doesn’t usually eat (with the exception of red dye)?

    • It’s a free-for-all. I put a bag of (red dye free) gummy bears in her backpack. She’s been nibbling on those. And she’s really getting into the daily bakery visits, bless her. She’s being so good. Today she went without a nap, trounced around San Fran all day like a little trouper, and fell asleep on the train ride back.

  3. Amy ⋅

    I am LOVING your blog! I was hoping you would blog during your trip and I love keeping up with your travels! (BTW, I’m also a planned-well-before-hand-fun type of person!)

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