A few weeks ago, I took an informal tour of the Grey Whale Inn. Later, out of curiosity, I went to TripAdvisor.com to read guest reviews. While the vast majority are positive, one review stated, “Stayed there last minute as we were passing though the awfull (sic) place that is fort bragg (sic), the hotel is a old hospital built 1919 with ghosts whom must have been cleaners the place needs a good scrub….”
I feel sorry for this person. (Not really—I only say that because it sounds more mature than revealing my true desire to punch him in the face.) If he had worried about getting stuck in “awfull” Fort Bragg, he should have stayed in Willits (which is actually spelled with two “l’s”).
For the most part, Fort Bragg is funky and we’re proud of that. According to the online Merriam-Webster Dictionary, one definition of funky is “odd or quaint in appearance or feeling.” Awful is defined as “extremely bad or unpleasant” or “the person who wrote that grammatically-incorrect, nasty review of the Grey Whale Inn.”
One of the areas that best illustrates Fort Bragg’s funkiness is Noyo Harbor. It is a working harbor where commercial boats land fish to be processed. It’s also home to restaurants offering good food and magnificent views. At the far south end is Sportsman’s Dock where people can board charter boats to cruise the Pacific Ocean and watch whales or catch fish.
I’ve been to the restaurant at Sportsman’s Dock many times, but have rarely spent time wandering around the area. The dock was built in the fifties by Richard Lucas (father of my friend MW) and his cousin Ray Welch to provide a recreational spot for sports fishermen.
On a recent sunny afternoon, Lucy and I decided to go on an explore.
Gary: “Where are you going?” Me: “Sportsman’s Dock.” Gary: “Why?” Me: “A voice inside my head commands me to go.” Gary: “Have fun.”
As I snapped pictures and Lucy sniffed seagull poop, a couple pulled into the parking lot and got out of their truck. The man shouted, “How much you want for that dog?”
“A million dollars.”
After exchanging some banter and Lucy petting, he introduced himself as Dusty. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never met a Dusty I didn’t like. This one was no exception. He graciously took Lucy and me on a tour of the World’s End Rowing Club and Dock Services. He talked about the Lost Coast Chapter of the Traditional Small Craft Association and led us behind the scenes where the boats are built.
We went to a fenced-off dock where he encouraged me to let Lucy off leash. I was being overprotective, worried about her wiggling through the slats in the fence (she is, after all, a blog celebrity). He said, “She won’t jump into the water. She isn’t stupid.”
I hate to disappoint Lucy fans, but she sometimes does very stupid things (like trying to catch bumble bees). I made a quick assessment as to who would dive the 30 feet into the water to rescue her and determined it would be me.
She stayed on the leash.
I encourage everyone to take some time and stroll around Sportsman’s Dock. That is, everyone but the aforementioned TripAdvisor.com critic. I wouldn’t want him to write something “awfull” about it. The rest of you will find it delightful. I promise it will make you happy.