Glass Beach

Yesterday, L and I went to Glass Beach. It was sunny, we could walk, and these seemed like two very good reasons to visit Glass Beach. On that rock above there are three seals, hanging out, perfectly aware that stupid humans can’t actually reach them, although they can take pictures.

Glass Beach is a weird place. Basically, back in the dark ages before waste management, people threw their garbage over cliffs into the ocean. Unsurprisingly, this garbage accumulated in big huge knarly piles, rotted, and smelled bad, attracting sea gulls and other vermin. A great deal of garbage washed back up onto shore with the tides. Yet, for some reason, people kept doing it until they were told not to. A lot of the waste is actually toxic and bad for you, and the beach was closed to the public for quite a while, as a result. That didn’t stop the locals from swanning on down there, but it did give the tourists pause.

And now, fifty years later, people flock to the dump because it looks neat. You find neat things, including, obviously, a lot of glass. Now, L and I were talking about this, and we remember a day when there was a lot more glass on the beach. Clearly, it’s being picked over by the thousands of people that visit it each year, and it’s getting harder to find neat things. It’s sort of sad that we are getting protective over and nostalgic for our garbage.


Of course, being in/near the ocean, a lot of the garbage, especially the metal bits, has melted together into agglomerations of rocks and crap. This fork, for example, is embedded in a pile of rusting rock. Next to it is a spark plug. There are cool layers of garbage that you can see exposed when the tide is low, as it was yesterday. Shoe soles flap gently in the breeze. Bits of plates are enmeshed with cogs. More recent garbage has joined the layers as well–we found pieces of motherboard, recently smashed glass, and cigarette packages, among others. It seems sort of silly to tell people not to litter at a dump.

It’s a neat archaeological spot. Obviously all the original organic matter has decayed and been eaten by sea creatures, but there are these huge surrealistic lumps of metal jutting out from the rocks. What will people in the future think about our garbage? There seems to be a hierarchy of garbage. Blue and red glass, for example, are quite rare and sought after. We found a few very nice chunks as we patiently picked through piles of softened sea glass. Will people some day sort delicately through our garbage on sunny days, prizing pennies and eschewing nickels? Who knows.


We found an assortment of cool objects, which L took home to turn into larger assemblages of cool objects. Really, we went to the beach to get outside and do something, and picking through other people’s garbage was a sort of nice side bonus. But it was a fun expedition. We made little quadrants like archaeologists and sifted through them for neat bits. We collected blue, red, olive, milk, and yellow glass. We found a few springs and spark plugs. Snaps for overalls. Strange bits of unidentifiable metal. Bottle necks. Bits of china.

We also wondered about the large drainage culvert spilling water onto the beach, given the issues Fort Bragg is having with the septic. The chain of pollution never stops.

Afterwards, we went to dinner, where L had the Confit Pork Shoulder and enjoyed it immensely. Usually she never finishes a plate, and she just tore through that thing. It was quite gratifying to see. She also enjoyed the Chai Tea Gelato, which was quite tasty when I managed to steal a bit from her. We drew obscene art on the table and left.

[Fort Bragg]