One of our favorite weekend past times is a trip to the family coast house, two hours north, in Fort Bragg, CA.
Since I was a freshman in high school, my family (in much thanks to Grandma) has had a sort of family compound off of Pacific Coast Highway (CA-1). As far back as my memory allows me to go, I have childhood reflections of summer vacations in Mendocino County. Each year, for a good two week block, all my aunts, uncles, cousins and parents would come and go out of a rented vacation home. As the family grew, the time spent and house size needed grew, until one day Grandma had the greatest idea ever. She found a permanent residence for all of us to call home away from home.
Now, many moons later, all of us aunts, uncles, cousins, parents come and go at our leisure, almost never at the same time and frequently with our new, extended families. Ryan and I, being part of the pack that lives closest to the house, are there more than most. The comfort, relaxation and growing nostalgia of the house makes it our number one spot to run to when the need of a weekend away surfaces.
With the frequency that we visit it is almost shocking that we still have new places left to explore. The downtowns and neighboring attractions of Fort Bragg and Mendocino are more familiar than anywhere I have ever lived, yet so many off shoots of parks, beaches, trails and gardens are still extremely foreign. It wasn’t until last year that we both finally visited The Botanical Gardens and Noyo Harbor together. This weekend, I had another location of my past that Noodle hadn’t seen and I couldn’t wait to share it.
MacKerricher State Park, approx. 10 minutes north of downtown FB, offers rocky shores that contain about 90% of my entire history of tide pooling. Heading out just thirty minutes before low tide, and with our newest member to the lens family, the 85mm, we had little goals in mind except to hopefully find a good size crab to shoot and to keep our socks dry. By the end we had found one crab and we both needed new socks. Hours of balancing along California’s coastline, moments that should have ended with us carried out to sea and a selfie with a pod of seals later, the shots and memories made were all the more worth it.
The trail from parking lot out along the rocky shoreline and into the woods suspends from the grass like a floating bridge out of an unneeded sequel to Never Ending Story. Squirrel infested look-out sections add some unnerving excitement, can’t trust the little things but man are they cute as all hell. Babe captured it best.
The 85mm arrived just two days before the weekend. Excitement of a new lens has turned into the same kind of high one may get from purchasing a brand new, life changing, totally on clearance, didn’t know I couldn’t live without until we met, pair of shoes. Exhilarating. Giving the best bokeh we have yet to experience, sharpest portairts we have ever taken and allowing extremely close-up focusing from really comfortable distances has made this my absolute favorite purchase of any piece of camera equipment we have ever made. I know we have a ton to learn about it’s full potential but the learning process has produced some of my favorite photos to date.
My favorite picture I shot and favorite picture babe shot all weekend:
As usual we left the coast house with heavy hearts. The kick-backed atmosphere of Mendocino County and coziness of a home oh-so-familiar is never easy to part with. Somewhere along CA-128 in the Navarro Forest I am always hit with an overwhelming emotion of contentment. My life has never felt so right, so complete. As the ever so deep, vaguely sentimental sounds of the late 1990s classic, by a now practically forgotten alternative band known as Incubus once said….. “and in this moment I am happy, I’m happy.”