So I’m off in Fort Bragg for an afternoon—
“Wait,” you may say. “Why would you do such a thing?”
Well, I don’t have a really good reason. I set out to go to Ukiah, but somehow ended up here instead. Are we clear? No? Never mind. We can say it just seemed like a good idea at the time, and it still does.
I’ve driven through Fort Bragg a couple of times before but I’ve never actually stopped before. The name makes one think, not unreasonably, of military barracks, but actually it’s a coastal village full of Victorian buildings—many of them real, not reconstructions—and funky little shops. Right now I’m at a coffe shop with free wireless, looking out the street window, and every building I see is Victorian in style, and the stores include a hair studio, two art galleries, a couple funky clothing stores and something called “ER Energy,” which might be a solar energy store or might be a New Age store. I can’t tell from here. The people I see wandering around seem to be a random mix of people who look like loggers (and might be), old hippies who’ve actually gone back to nature instead of just talking about it, and college age eco-tourist types with rainbow hair and black Birkenstocks.
Actually, this seems to be eco-tourist weekend. I stopped in Hopland on the way here, a little town not too far south of Ukiah, and it was full of folks attending “Solfest,” which is theoretically a solar living festival—although it had bluegrass and folk/alt-country concerts and a few avowedly political speakers like Jim Hightower. Me being me, I was there for lunch, and the Bluebird Cafe was serving with no wait.
So what’s there in Fort Bragg besides hippies and cool architecture? Well, there’s fog. And cold weather. In San Jose today I suspect it was around the mid-80s; in Hopland and Ukiah, it was ten degrees warmer, but in Fort Bragg, it’s more than twenty degrees colder. Yes, it’s a mid-August day and it’s barely breaking 60. This is a bit below the average here—although only a bit: the average high in August is only 67. Of course, the average high in winter is 56, so I suppose it’s fair to describe the place as cool but mild. It’s overcast here from the coastal fog, which I suspect is the area’s natural condition. Could I deal with sunless days being the rule rather than the exception? That’s a back-of-the-mind concern for me, since I still have a notion of looking for work in the Seattle or Portland areas down the road. At any rate, a byproduct of this is a new lightweight jacket for me. I’d intended to bring my old windbreaker (a 15-year-old one that brahma_minotaur has made a few “My God, do they still make those?” comments about at cons), but managed to leave at home. I suppose this is finally an excuse to retire it; the new windbreaker seems more effective. (Possibly because it’s not fifteen years old.)
Well, that’s not all there is in Fort Bragg. There’s also the North Coast Brewing Company, which happens to have a restaurant and tap room here in addition to their brewery. So I know where I’m likely to end up for dinner tonight.
Of course, I’m still about five hours away from home. I did make a cursory hotel search an hour ago online and everything seems to be booked, so I’ll probably just end up getting in very… very… late. Such is the risk of aimless wandering!