A Closer Look

Point Arena just keeps growing on me. Every time I notice a road I haven’t gone down, I want to explore it, and few disappoint. Here’s a house on the main drag whose decorative cornices did not even draw my attention the first time I looked toward it, I was so intent on the water tower behind.

Having been involved with the town of Mendocino since I was sixteen, when my family moved to that area, I’ve had an attachment to the sight of water towers (there are some in Sonoma County, too, in places like Glen Ellen). Above is a close up of one of the winged totems on the first picture. I’m not positive yet what it’s depicting; it would be cool if it were related to the Native Americans of the area. Across from this house is a gnarled, wind-swept tree. Point Arena gets a lot of wind, which is another reason I feel an affinity with the place. I’ve always loved wind. I guess the appeal the wild and isolated location, the winds, fun touches that show that residents care about identifying with the place, the lack of sterility. Having lived in cities like San Diego and Rohnert Park, I have a strong aversion to tidy metropolises that seem designed mainly by developers. In Pt. Arena, there are rough edges and scope for the quirky, the unexpected, the untidy.

I haven’t been out to the lighthouse yet, or not since I was a kid. I read a little book called The Great Disaster at Arena Cove, when the sea tore through and removed the original wharf which from the 1800s that received goods from schooners for the stretch of coast I live on now, from Annapolis to Elk. Once trucks took over from shipping, it became a sort of ghost town. But in the forties, a fishhouse and cafe were built and the area became more bustling again. The Arena Cove Cafe was a favorite spot for locals who sat watching waves “pound the hell out of everything.” But on January 26, 1983, a massive +7 tide came through and wiped out the fishhouse and pier. The boathouse and cafe were nearly destroyed and customers barely got out with their lives. In the little book by Nicholas King, there are interviews with eye-witnesses, who had to climb onto tables and out the back of the cafe to survive. A child was swept under the building and two men rescued him from drowning.

I haven’t been to that area to see if it’s built up again. I hope it’s at least somewhat rustic, not too polished. I’ll let you know!

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