The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Fine if you’re in a hurry, but it sure makes for a boring trip.
Over the summer we made a last minute decision to take a trip up to Northern California. It had been sort of in our collective thoughts to go, but actual plans were still in the amorphous blob stage until only a week (if that) before we got strapped into the car. Now one thing to keep in mind is that when I say Northern California, I’m not talking about the San Francisco Bay Area. That’s north-ish. There’s still a few hundred miles to go until you reach the furthest northern border of the state. Yep, it’s a big state.
The way my brain works (and it does, on occasion) when it comes to trip planning, is that I’ll have the ultimate destination in mind, and then get distracted looking at Google maps while planning the route. Squirrel!! So I start seeing things and thinking “oh look, that seems like a fun place to go and it’s only a hundred miles out of our way in one direction”. That’s not too bad, right?
The ultimate destination this time was Humboldt State University, because the medium boy is wanting to attend next year. Yes, we have a high school senior and all the chaos that goes with it. But that’s a long way to drive to see a school (7 1/2 hours one way assuming no traffic and no stops). So that whole straight line thing wasn’t going to cut it.
One spot that caught my eye was the town of Fort Bragg (no, not in North Carolina). I had heard about a place called “Glass Beach” that I had wanted to visit. The great irony is that this is a beautiful little section of coastline that used to be the town dump. Really. For years trash was dumped here, and while most of it would wash out into the ocean, heavier things like glass bottles stayed put but would get smashed to bits. Those bits got rolled around over the years and turned into little glass jewels, hence the name “Glass Beach”. At first it doesn’t seem like much, but then you realize these little pieces of sea glass are everywhere. The other irony is that these former pieces of trash are now protected since it is a state park, and me being a good citizen, I left all my little treasures behind so that someone else could appreciate them.
At the time I was booking the hotel for Fort Bragg (because I decided it was a side trip worth taking and so who cares about the extra time), I noticed that there was one heck of a botanical garden there. Ummm… in case you hadn’t noticed, I kind of like gardening. So of course we went there, too. Of course. I will tell you that the road to Fort Bragg is windy and slow going and I get car sick and yes, I would take that road again to see these gardens once more. But maybe in a few years, because yeah, car sickness sucks.
Eventually, yes, we made it to the “ultimate destination”, but if you think the detours stopped there, why you are sadly mistaken. Squirrel!! A little side trip after dinner one night just because I saw a sign. A day trip because I realized how close we were to Redwood National Park with the largest trees on the planet. A detour on the way home because we wanted to avoid Bay Area traffic, missed a turn and wound up taking back roads through parts of the state that none of us had ever traveled through before. We avoided the traffic, but added two hours to our drive. So worth it. Take the detour.