Culture vulture

hermit crab: the culture vulture of the sea

hermit crab: the culture vulture of the sea

Chico’s left coast
When last you left us, C.V. and his beloved Daphie were heading for the coast, birthdays and anniversary behind us, cool weather, redwoods and tide pools beckoning us on. The ice chest was stuffed to overflowing with Farmers’ Market produce along with a jug of wine, a loaf of bread and a book of verse (okay, that was actually tucked away in the luggage). “Fort Bragg or bust” was our motto, although we did allow time for a break at Granzella’s Deli in Williams to pick up a sandwich and some olives and check out the selection of woefully overpriced semi-exotic beers.

Then it was into the sun-burnished hills and winding curves of Highway 20; dusky oaks, dry creeks and slowpokes pulling boats in a sporadic procession to Clear Lake, where the heat finally began to let up.

Somewhere beyond the lake you realize you’re on the ocean side of the mountains, and if you time it just right, something that Culture Vulture does not recommend, you can drive into the sunset, getting slapped in the face by the falling sun dozens of times as you crest hills and round tree-shaded curves. And at the end of it all you intersect Highway 1 right by the ocean on the south side of Fort Bragg.

Turning left and crossing a bridge is the work of a moment, and next thing you know you’re pulling into Shoreline Cottages, a row of cute yellow cottages with flowers sprouting by their steps with a central picnic area sheltered and shaded by tall cedars.

Checking in, we met proprietor Suzanne Gibbs, a Chico expatriate who took over ownership of the cottages about four years ago after 15 years of politically active life in Chico. Gibbs is nothing if not a gracious host, even going so far as to offer a 10-percent discount to guests from Chico. Now that’s accommodation, and the cottages themselves are great: sparkling clean with comfortable beds, cable TV w/DVD, and, best of all for those who prefer to cook their own meals, nicely appointed kitchens. Not to mention a couple of super-deluxe propane grills that are shared by guests.

Roaming the grounds or lying on the office step is Tama, a gracefully aging golden retriever cross who’s as sweet and friendly as a dog can be. Tama is also “vacationing on the coast,” as Gibbs explained—making the world just a bit smaller—and is the dog of Gibbs’ longtime friend Coleen Jarvis. Tama’s sidekick is a flossy-haired little calico cat named Vivienne, who adopted the old pooch on arrival and follows her around like a baby duck. Cute indeed.

Four nights of coastal weather punctuated by beachcombing, tide-pooling, rock climbing and shopping at the greatest grocery store ever, Fort Bragg’s Harvest Market, found us properly decompressed and ready if not eager to return to hearth and home, so back along Highway 20 we wound, stopping only once, at the secluded Oasis roadside pub about 20 miles west of Williams, for a brew and burger in the company of about 40 Harley riders in full regalia. A festive gathering if ever we’ve seen one and a fitting last hurrah before the final push home and a joyful reunion with the Culture Vulture World Headquarters menagerie.

Next week: A return to speculative socio-economic ontology with an apocalyptic twist.