Ho hum. Yet another breath taking, gorgeous Northern California beach. Just the usual rock formations, crashing waves, blue sky, seagulls, driftwood and brightly colored succulents. Oh yes, and a few caves tossed in for good measure.
It's a tough job I know, but somebody has to visit these state parks.
Patty and I drove past the Greenwood State Beach parking lot three times before finding it. It was hidden in plain sight, a small parking lot right on Highway 1 in the tiny town of Elk, about twenty miles south of Mendocino. The lot was not much bigger than a roadside turn-out, and it was only the familiar shape of the information stand, set back from the road a bit, that finally caught my eye. There was no state beach sign anywhere on the highway.
With closure date approach-ing, the race is on to get a reprieve for Greenwood State Beach. News on this should be soon. Mendocino Area Parks Association has committed to operating the museum (which was closed when we visited.) The community and parks are working together to encourage partners to step forward to help keep this beach open. Money is also being received from the California State Parks Foundation and the Olmsted Park Fund.
Perhaps folks took seriously a plea written last September on Greenwood's outhouse wall, urging folks to write to their legislative represent-atives about keeping the beach open.
Here's keeping our fingers crossed with fifteen days and counting.
A walkway that is about a quarter mile long leads down to the beach from the parking lot. On this walkway is every shade plant I have every tried to grow (with modest to no success) at my hotter, more inland home in the mountains.
Fuschias, ground morning glories, bleeding hearts, asters, forget-me-nots, columbine and a host of wildflowers accompanied me down to the beach.
Nasturtium leaves were bigger than my hand! Sigh. I always have "flower envy" whenever I visit the California coast.
Once down at the beach, the plant life wasn't too shabby either. What an eyeful of color! The foliage at this park easily gets equal billing with the ocean and her inhabitants.
There was driftwood aplenty on this small stretch of sand, probably not more than a quarter mile in length. Most of the wood was messily strewn about.
Perhaps Neptune uses this beach for his scrap-wood pile. Here and there more organized and industrious human types had gathered some of the wood for an impromptu shelter and protection from the wind.
I plopped onto the sand behind one such structure, and allowed the wind and waves to lull me into thing about absolutely nothing.
A stroll to the northern end of the beach revealed a number of small caves in the cliff rocks, although one would be wise to keep an eye on the changing tide when exploring this area.
A side bonus of this excursion was discovering the town of Elk. It is only a few blocks long, yet has a half dozen or so lodging facilities.
It felt quieter and less industrious than Fort Bragg, and less pretentious than Mendocino. I think I might like to spend a week in Elk the next time I visit the area.
And lest you have any doubts, the buildings across the street from the beach assure you that you are indeed still in California.
The clock is ticking for this beach to stay open, so please feel free to visit the above websites if you are so inclined.
I hope to see you at the state parks.
This blog is dedicated to the memory of my Father, who loved reading maps, exploring alternate routes, and taking the road less traveled.
Alvin David Dick, April 28, 1926 - May 20, 2012