National Geographic : 1959 Nov
was on duty when we called at the light. He made it clear that even in this electronic age the lot of a lightkeeper hasn't changed much. The nearest motion-picture theater was five miles away in the village of Point Arena; television reception was doubtful. "But you should be here in winter," he laughed ruefully, "when the fog closes in. Maybe a big storm slams us from the Aleu tians. You sit in here for six hours straight with the foghorn blasting three seconds on, then one second silence; two seconds on, then fifty-four seconds silence. Everything shakes and rattles. The wind howls. The only way to stretch your legs is to walk 135 steps up to the top. Me? I'll take a ship, next tour of duty. I hope." Along this untamed and lonely section north of Point Arena the road sometimes eschews bridges and snakes back to where a gulch nar rows down to ravine size before crossing. At Elk Creek, for example, it takes a double 612 switchback to cross and climb out again. One dramatic crossing takes place at the mouth of the Navarro River, and we found this worth a stop as the southernmost of the region's good driftwood beaches. After the first winter rains, driftwood swirls down the rivers to gather on the sandspits around which the watercourses curl into the sea. Net Floats Become Garden Ornaments The collector's greatest prize is not always driftwood. Often along the Pacific coast come the green and blue glass globes-some the size of basketballs-used by the fishermen of Japan to buoy their nets. Many of these break free to float eastward across the Pacific and onto west coast beaches, where they are eagerly seized for house and garden orna ments. In recent years their popularity has resulted in commercial shipments from Japan. Net floats in many colors and sizes can now be bought in souvenir shops.