Tag Archives: travel

The Best Things in Life are (nearly) Free

“Will brake for sea glass” photo by Eric Fitzpatrick

Recently I was headed down the coast with my sister to a sea glass festival on the central California coast. Along the way, we stayed a couple nights in Ft. Bragg, to visit world-renowned Glass Beach. This post will include highlights of that journey down Highway 101 through the beaches and redwoods of Oregon and Northern California.

We began in Astoria, Oregon with a thermos of coffee and about a year’s worth of conversation stored up between the two of us.  Our last road trip, the previous March, had been to place our dad’s ashes inside a niche at Forest Lawn.  We had a lot of catching up to do.

 

Netarts, Oregon

Whatever Happened To? 

We hadn’t driven very far from Astoria when we took a side trip to find Lex’s Cool Stuff  in Netarts. We had not seen Lexi since we were living in Sunset Beach, California, way back in the seventies. Back then she made candle holders and other crafts from shards of broken automotive glass and surely must have been at the forefront of upcycled art. Our brother told us that Lexi had moved to Oregon and opened a shop. We found her tiny place on a road that overlooked the sea. Unfortunately, it was closed that day.

 

 

Lex’s Cool Stuff, Netarts, Oregon

Having many miles to travel, we moved on down the highway, vowing to return at a later date. Our drive took us through the towns of Newport, Lincoln City, and Gold Beach with scenic points of interest in between such as Devils Punchbowl, Devil’s Lake and Boiler Bay. Just before spring break, the towns were quiet, the highway uncrowded, perfect timing.

Pt Orford, Oregon

We stopped for the night close to the Oregon/California border, in Pt. Orford. This is a magical little place, with an amazing restaurant and art gallery nestled on the bluff above the small commercial harbor. We took a sunset stroll before checking into our room and then heading to Redfish for dinner. We knew this would be a special dining experience and were so glad to make it there before the final seating of the night!

Daybreak, Pt.Orford harbor

We slept with the sound of crashing surf coming through the open window and woke to a colorful sky at daybreak. We started the day with a walk on the beach as the sun cleared the hills.

 

Beachcombing

Beach at Pt. Orford

Another Roadside Attraction

We had barely said goodbye to Pt Orford and crossed the California border on Highway 101 when we had to stop again-for dinosaurs.

To my sister’s great disappointment, this roadside attraction was closed. We will have to visit the lifesize T Rex and brontosaurus another time, I guess.

We continued south on Highway 101 which offered sublime views as it hugged the cliffside high above the sea before plunging into misty stands of ancient redwood groves. Sprinkled between tiny towns, art galleries and quirky roadside attractions offered everything from redwood burls and bigfoot carvings to monumental metal sculptures and more.

The art of Val Polyanin, it was closed the day we drove by but had a telephone number on a mailbox at the side of the road. Maybe next time?

The Redwood Highway

Trees of Mystery, Klamath, CA. Monumental Paul Bunyon and Babe statues oversee the entrance to gift shop and End of the Trail Native American museum.

We stopped here to stretch our legs and for my sister to buy a redwood seed at the gift shop. The museum is really worth touring, especially if you admire Native American basketry. We drove along the Redwood  Highway, the twisting road flanked by massive trees, dark and moody. It is indeed a “Place of Wonder”.

Ancient Redwood Grove

We stopped to picnic in the LadyBird Johnson Grove.

In  Humbolt county, as we drive through the towns of Fortuna, Scotia, and Garberville, there were ample opportunities to stock up on redwood in many forms for those seeking a souvenir.

Humboldt County

Or maybe something larger?

Bigfoot Country

At the end of a long day’s drive, we emerged onto Highway 1 and reached Fort Bragg at sunset.

Without Further Ado; Glass Beach

Glass Beach, CA

We timed our trip to coincide with the tide, knowing we would have two low tide mornings to explore the beaches. We woke early the next day and drove to the Glass Beach approach. We left our car there and proceeded down to the trail along the bluff. For those who don’t know, what makes Ft. Bragg a major destination for sea glassers is the fact that it had four city dumps located right there on the beach from about 1895 to about 1969.

Our mission was to shoot some of my sea glass jewelry on location at the beach. I did see a few people on the beach picking up glass, but it is highly discouraged by the city of Ft. Bragg, which seek to protect this amazing treasure for all to enjoy. I recommend a visit to the International Sea Glass Museum, operated by Captain Cass. It will give a better understanding of what makes Ft Bragg’s beaches so unique and has well-organized sea glass collections from all over the world on display. As an extra bonus, Captian Cass will mark the best beaches to hunt for glass on the maps for sale in the gift shop.

Sea glass rings by Judith Altruda, at Glass Beach.

Climbing down to the beach, feeling the crunch of sea glass underfoot and seeing the ground shimmer as the sun comes out, is an out-of-this-world experience.

Abalone

Ravens at Glass Beach

Sea glass and Fiesta ware pottery shard

Sea Glass cove

Sunlight intensifies the carpet of glass!

Farewell, Glass Beach

After two days it was time to move on to Cayucos for the SeaGlass Festival, which will be the topic of a future post. And speaking of the future… those attractions that were closed when we passed by? Perhaps just as well, as it gives us another reason to return.

 

Sister Shadows

What I did for Sea Glass-Part One

 A Seaham stroll A Seaham stroll

On the last day of 2017, I am finally sorting through the hundreds of photos shot on a sea glass trip to the UK this summer, with the goal of sharing some highlights with you before another year goes by. My friend Jane, who I visited in Sunderland in 2014 (read more in archived blog posts) generously penciled in three weeks for my return visit, which included sightseeing in London, sea glass hunting on England’s Northeast coast and a glamping road trip through Scotland, stopping at every beach or charity shop that crossed our path (not to mention pubs). I traveled by plane, train, car, bus, ferry, and foot-walking an average of 17,800 steps a day, or about fifty-two miles in one week, (thank you fit bit.) Dining experiences ran the gamut from swanky gentleman’s tea in Wynyard Hall to microwavable haggis at a Scottish hostel on a very rainy night, too exhausted to go out, lovely Indian takeaways and delicious home-cooked comfort food prepared by Jane’s husband, Trevor.

Drinking experiences were decidedly egalitarian- in London, Jane and I drank canned Gin and Tonic purchased at a nearby Waitrose store under the Tower Bridge, and also enjoyed the decidedly nicer and more expensive G and T’s in the Kings Cross railway station bar, (almost missing our train to Sunderland.)

 Cheers! Cheers!

When we weren’t on the beach hunting for sea glass,  we were using the scenery as a backdrop to photo shoot jewelry I brought along for this purpose. It was especially fitting because the sea glass used in making the collection was found on the English coast, some of it by Jane and Trevor. Jane was a very good sport about it, especially when her crazy American friend used the very food we ate as photo props!

There are so many great memories in all of it, that I must simply stop for a moment and thank Jane and Trevor again for their wonderful hospitality and friendship.

 Gentleman's tea at Wynyard Hall, with scotch egg, piccalilli, sandwiches, scones, and more-a great setting for a sea glass ring. Not pictured: the glass of whiskey that was included with meal. Gentleman’s tea at Wynyard Hall, with scotch egg, piccalilli, sandwiches, scones, and more-a great setting for a sea glass ring. Not pictured: the glass of whiskey that was included with meal.  Faceted sea glass marble and Big Ben   Faceted sea glass marble and Big Ben

From London we go to the source of some of the world’s best sea glass, the beaches of Northeast England.

 In keeping with protocol I will not be naming beaches, but this is in the general area of Sunderland.   In keeping with protocol I will not be naming beaches, but this is in the general area of Sunderland.

Jane and I had the entire beach to ourselves on a very warm August day. As the afternoon wore on a few other glassers rounded the cove and came into view. I was already friends with one of them through a facebook sea glassing group and it was a pleasure to meet in person. Jane and I flying the flag of Tokeland that day, and our mutual friend took this photo of us.

 Sea Glass Sister. Jane and I examine the sea glass she she picked up that was lying at our feet! Sea Glass Sister. Jane and I examine the sea glass she she picked up that was lying at our feet!  A very rare purple sea glass nestled in kelp near the beach where Jane originally found it. A very rare purple sea glass nestled in kelp near the beach where Jane originally found it.

A view from the top-the beach is accessible by a steep path winding down through the tall grasses.

The reason there is so much sea glass found in along the Northeast coast is because it was perfectly situated to produce glass, having the natural resources of sand and lime and easy transport by rail or ship. Factories disposed of waste glass by dumping into the rivers or sea, which was transformed by the action of tide and time into sea glass.We visited museums and the Glass Centre to learn more about the history of glass making.

 There are many fine example of the glass produced in the Sunderland area in the museum and the Glass Centre, both are definitly  worth visiting. There are many fine example of the glass produced in the Sunderland area in the museum and the Glass Centre, both are definitly  worth visiting.

Coalmining was a major enterprise here, with mines tunneling out under the sea. I am standing in a now defunct elevator, that would transport miner down to the tunnel where they would work off shore. The film Billy Elliot was shot in the nearby village of Easington, and the death scene in Get Carter, the original film with Michael Caine, shot further north of here. I walked along a path with markers outlining the history of the mines, accidents and strikes that ended in the early 1990s when the last mine closed. The environmental damage wrought on the beaches is being reversed, slowly but surely.

Jane and I planned a road trip to visit sea glass beaches in Scotland which included glamping in a “posh pod” along the way as we drove from east to west along the Firth of Forth. In Oban we would take a ferry to the isle of Mull, where further adventure awaited…

 Arriving at Lower Largo as the sun sets. Arriving at Lower Largo as the sun sets.  St Monans St Monans

My new “happy place.”

 St Monan's church St Monan’s church

 Empire Biscuits After several hours walking along the beaches we were ready for a coffee and treat. I love the Scottish bakeries! Empire Biscuits After several hours walking along the beaches we were ready for a coffee and treat. I love the Scottish bakeries!  This was one of the best pieces of glass I found in Scotland. This was one of the best pieces of glass I found in Scotland.

Inside our posh pod, glam-camping with all the comforts of home and a pub within walking distance nearby!

End of Part One-Stayed tuned for Part Two, Isle of Mull and Beyond

Tucson or Bust!

Last week I happily left the rain and darkness of the PNW for the dry sunshine of Arizona. It was a sacrifice, but “somebody has to do it” as the saying goes…Destination: Tucson Gemshow!

 Raw Aquamarine, ready to be cut into gemstones-this piece was priced at $4,000.

Raw Aquamarine, ready to be cut into gemstones-this piece was priced at $4,000.

During the later part of January to the middle of Feb, the city of Tucson plays host to gem, mineral and fossil displays that are unparrelled. Huge tents spring up in motel parking lots, or entire floors of hotels are turned into storefronts, rented by vendors traveling from countries all over the world to vend their wares. I talked with ( and bought from) Brazilians, French, Ethiopian,Chinese, Peruvian,and Finnish gem dealers as well as locals from Colorado who mine and cut their own turquoise. I saw buyers from Vienna to Los Angeles (and points in between) buying everything from rocks, to beads and pearls, to finished jewelry.

 Acres of gemstone beads in a rainbow of colors.

Acres of gemstone beads in a rainbow of colors.

 Crystal balls abound-many from Brazil.

Crystal balls abound-many from Brazil.

 Towering crystal sentries

Towering crystal sentries

 Dinosaur and fossil displays are king at the 22nd Street show   

Dinosaur and fossil displays are king at the 22nd Street show  

 A fistful of fire agate

A fistful of fire agate

I’m back home now, the torrential rains of an “atmospheric river” are bringing inches of rain as I write. But I have a sack full of brilliant opals, rare turquoise and Peruvian opal to keep me focused, and memories of clear blue skies and dry desert air to get me through the rest of this winter. If you get a chance to go-DO IT.

 Taking a break in the barrio of old Tucson   

Taking a break in the barrio of old Tucson  

From Tokeland to Tokyo

“I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.” – Mary Anne Radmacher

Its hard to describe the impact the travels in Japan have had on me. It was an amazing journey. On so many levels it was inspirational-and the friendships I made are at the top of these experiences!

In a series of blog posts, I plan to share the highlights with you. From traveling with a band to Japan’s largest rock festival, to picking up sea glass with a wonderful local guide (and friend!), the trip included many milestone moments.

So let this brief post serve as a prelude to much more-as soon as I get back down to earth!

 Tokyo manhole cover and made in Tokeland belt-a match made in heaven!   

Tokyo manhole cover and made in Tokeland belt-a match made in heaven!  

 Sea Glass finds from a Japanese fishing cove.

Sea Glass finds from a Japanese fishing cove.

 Jared Meeker rocking one of my ancient coin rings at Fuji.

Jared Meeker rocking one of my ancient coin rings at Fuji.