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Bodega Bay Monterey

3rd August 2010

On the Trail of "The Birds", Completing the Circle, and Camping under the Redwoods

Bodega Bay on a Foggy Day from Doran Beach Campsite
    At 07:15 the soothing sounds of the breakers pounding the shores, and the fog horn booming, were replaced by somebody's generator starting up. The campsite was one of the sardine variety, cram them in till it hurts.
    After the morning rituals I walked 20m down to the beach, and walked along the shore towards the breakwaters. The sea was fairly calm and clear. The sky hung heavy with fog. I still dressed as I did in Arizona and Death Valley; shorts and T-shirt. The rest of the campsite wore trousers of some description, pullovers, jackets and hoods. There was something wrong with my biological makeup, or maybe they were all wimps. Perhaps I had just cracked up but hadn't realised it yet. I could hear seals past the second breakwater, but I'd have to travel all the way around the bay to investigate, so I dropped that idea. But it was a good feeling to be walking by the sea again, and smell the salt in my nostrils.
Bodega Church Without "The Birds"
    After the gentle stroll, I headed out of the campsite, stopping at the entrance gate to have a chat with the guy. Years ago when I did my research, I learnt that Alfred Hitchcock made his film, "The Birds", here in March 1962, and I wanted to check exactly where. The chap told me I could see photos in the Bodega Inn, but if I headed to the actual village of Bodega, I would still find the church and school as featured in the film. I thanked him and headed down to the village.
    The church was easy to spot. However its modern stained glass windows would be totally out of place in the film now. I took a couple of pictures and got chatting with some American couples about the film. They were a tad older than myself, and were scratching their heads as to who starred in it. All I could add was that Hitchcock usually had a walk on part in his films. One of the women told me that one of her sisters-in-law, who now lived in the US, came from England, and wondered if I knew her. Hmm... I had to smile at that, and she saw why I was perplexed. She couldn't remember her maiden name, which I suggested didn't help matters either. However, her married name was Klimper, Wickie Klimper. I asked her where the name Klimper came from. She didn't know, she just knew that her ancestors were German. I had to confess my ignorance. We chatted about my trip, and one couple said they did a tour of Europe not too long ago; they flew to London, got the train to Brussels, then a coach through Germany, Switzerland, Austria and France before flying back from Paris. By all accounts it was a wonderful trip. We wished each other safe onward journey and they were gone.
Bodega School - Still No Birds
    Right next to the church was the school, Potter School. Sheriff Samuel Potter donated the land for this public school in 1872. In September of 1883 classes for grades 1 through 8 were held in two large classrooms on the first floor. The upstairs functioned as a multi-use room and community hall. In December 1961 the condemned school building was sold by auction to the highest bidder. In March 1962, Alfred Hitchcock used the school in his film, "The Birds".
    The old school sat vacant and condemned until June 1966, when Tom and Mary Taylor purchased it. With the help of their three children, they lovingly restored the Italianate structure to its original splendour.
    The 6,000 square feet space was still owned and operated by the Taylor family. The old school served as a residence for three generations of their family. They still lived there.

Tomales Bay
    I left Bodega, and followed Highway 1 due south. It took every twist and turn possible, and climbed every hill and dale there was to be seen. The fog consistently clung to the area. Part of the route took me past Tomales Bay, a beautiful long estuary reminding me so much of British estuaries. Towards the top of the estuary, I could see blue sky, though fog was still rolling over the hills, and I wondered if I was getting to the end of the infernal fog bank.
Blue Skies at Last
    The journey continued into more fog as I drove along the cliff tops, and I soon found myself dropping down to San Francisco Bay. I pulled off just before crossing the Golden Gate Bridge to see if I could get a picture looking across the bay without fog. Sadly luck was not on my side. I had a pang of satisfaction knowing that I had completed the circle, albeit in a round about way.
    Campsites around San Francisco were few and far between. There was one indicated at Pacifica some 20 miles south, which was just off Highway 1, so I targeted that one. I got there and it was an RV park, no tents allowed. I explained I used the van and no tent. That seemed reasonable to them, as long as I had curtains, which I explained I had. So far so good. Then the crunch question, how much? $69 per night. Without hesitation I said no, I could get a hotel room cheaper, to which they agreed. These places were only economical if there was more than one person, and I did not fit into that category. They put me onto a state site 15 miles further south. I arrived there, and they were full. They gave me a map of other sites a further 20 miles away, and I started calling in to those. I learned rapidly that this coastline is RV friendly, anything else and you have a struggle. Eventually I ended up heading inland up the Pescadero Creek, where I found a tent/van friendly site.
Golden Gate Bridge - Full Circle
Pescadero Creek Campsite
    Being about 13 miles inland, I had left the fog behind, not that I would have noticed in the campsite. It was set in a forest of coastal redwoods, the cousins of the giant sequoias. These trees really were the tallest on the planet, and to coin a new phrase, I couldn't see the sky for the trees. There was plenty of room in this campsite, each pitch had two picnic tables, a fireplace, and a cupboard! This was in conjunction to being surrounded by these tall trees.
    It soon got dark in this forest. However, it seemed to be colder up in the hills than it was in Bodega Bay, the yardstick being could I sit outside with a cold beer and stare at the stars. For one thing I couldn't see the stars for trees, and I would need to put layers on to keep warm. Not to worry, I would be heading further south in the morning.
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Bodega Bay Monterey

Uploaded from Crepe Cafe, Avarado Street, Monterey on 05/08/10 at 10:00

Last updated 5.8.2010