40×40: Visit Glass Beach

Real seaweed that looks fake

I've wanted to visit Glass Beach in Fort Bragg for years, but we never
got around to it. I first read about the beach about a week after we'd
returned from a trip to Mendocino. I hate when the universe's timing is
off. This trip, it was the only thing on our wide-open agenda. Glass
Beach used to be a garbage dump back when the ocean was treated like a
garbage disposal. Not like now, where oceans are treated with care and
have been restored to their pristine condition, for example, the Gulf of
Mexico. Oh wait…scratch that. Anyway, an alternative garbage dump was
established in 1967 and toxic dumping at Glass Beach was prohibited.
The glass left behind all over the beach is the result of the spot's
dark past. Most of it, at least. Some of the largest bottle chunks
indicate some one's been drinking Coronas at the beach and leaving the
empties behind.

There were tiny pebbles of sea glass everywhere, and even though we'd
read that collecting was prohibited, everyone there was scavenging for
good pieces. One family brought a Costco-sized detergent tub to hold
their haul. As we approached the beach, we saw an old woman precariously
clinging to the side of a bluff. At first I thought she'd gotten stuck
trying to climb out and needed help, but then I noticed the bag hanging
from her wrist and saw that she was collecting the hard to reach glass.
The sea glass was pretty, but not worth risking one's life. That lady
was on her way to earning a Darwin Award. If something tragic happened
to her, I imagined her family saying, "Grandma died doing what she
loved…taking free stuff."

The visit was fun, even if I did feel dizzy from looking down at the
ground for so long, but I don't think I need to go back unless up that
way with Clover. She's the type of girl who'd climb the side of a bluff
to get free stuff.


  1. I think I went there as a child…and I’ve been wanting to go there for years. You and I are always in the same orbit. Hope to run into you this weekend!

  2. Wow what a nice place!! Lots of pebbles..
    Glass pebbles!!I love it!

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