Bodega Head (Bodega Bay, CA)

Were it not for a B&W movie about avian pests, Bodega Bay might otherwise not be as well-known. Tourism is still the town’s primary economy with many roadside stores selling kites and salt-water taffy, but there is an added attraction right outside of town. It would be a mistake to bypass Bodega Head where the churning surf crashes against the granite headlands, with a peerless view of the Pacific Ocean and migrating whales from the end of the short trail that leads to a magnificent overlook. In fact, the peninsula, about 4 miles long, juts to the south from the mainland and creates Bodega Harbor, which shelters the town of Bodega Bay. Along the way, there are many wildflowers, none more spectacular (as well as non-native and invasive) than the sea figs that bloom in early spring. As you would imagine, it’s quite blustery along the hiking trail, but on a fine sunny day like the one we enjoyed, it’s well worth the extra time to stop here.

Ice plants adorn the trails along Bodega Head

Point Arena Lighthouse (Point Arena, CA)

Point Arena Lighthouse

The San Andreas Fault that runs through much of California runs out to sea at Point Arena. We wondered if we could “see” the fault from the top of the lighthouse that lies north of the town. Unfortunately, we couldn’t. It turns out that the fault meets the sea at a point further north in Manchester State Beach. Nevertheless, from the top, there was a splendid view of the ocean and the shoreline which still shows evidence of geological forces at work. Evidence of subduction is clear when you look at the rocks below whose layers are tilted at extreme angles.

Extreme tilt of these rock layers shows evidence of subduction

Extreme tilt of these rock layers shows evidence of subduction

The lighthouse was damaged by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. A new one was erected with steel reinforcement rods encased in concrete to withstand future quakes. At the time of its installation, the Fresnel lens in the lighthouse was a technological marvel from France, consisting of 666 hand-ground glass prisms and weighing more than six tons at a diameter of six feet. The lens, no longer operational after having been replaced by modern automated rotating-light beacons, is now on display inside the lighthouse.

The original Fresnel lens is displayed in the lighthouse