3 Things you may not know about California: (unless of course you live here)
1. California is a dairy state, it ranks number one in overall milk production.
2. California is an agricultural state. This state produces half of the U.S. grown fruits, nuts and vegetables.
3. If California were a country, it would be the 8th largest economy in the world and the 35th most populous nation.
Our most recent exploration of this vast state was to Point Reyes National Seashore where we were in search of the perfect location for a quiet picnic. This area is well known for birding, hiking and biking. Before heading out we looked to our weather guru for his opinion on what weather we might encounter. This area of the California Coast is a weatherman’s nightmare because it is difficult to predict and changes so rapidly.
Although situated just north of San Francisco and seemingly close to our location, it takes the better part of an hour and a half to make the sojourn. The cool part is that the lighthouse is part of the National Park Service, and even better, it’s free.
On this day,
along the coast, we were promised temps in the low 60 degrees, partly cloudy, fog in the early morning but burning off quickly and a possibility of drizzle. Fog, clouds, drizzle? We were uncertain if we should go…. If we were going to make the drive we wanted some fairly decent weather so our photos might turn out well. Often times a few clouds make the pictures more interesting so that didn’t frighten us away. The drizzle and fog had us a bit concerned. If the shore was socked in with fog there would be nothing to see and this area is known for drifting shrouds of mist and fog.
Our instincts told us we should go ………and we did. Our timing could not have been better.
Our first stop of the day was the Point Reyes Lighthouse. To get there we had a thirty five mile drive along beautiful green rolling hills, through winding tree lined wooded byways and through some rich farmlands. We enjoyed the changing terrain and found the dairy farms peaceful. The spring flowers are in bloom and the roadside was covered with beautiful red poppies, yellow lupines and a few
other colorful wildflowers. Dedicated cyclists were out in large numbers today as we are sure they are on most weekends. We must have driven past almost two hundred riders along the various routes we drove. This area offers many hiking trails and hikers were also in abundance today.
In your travels around the world have you ever noticed that cows and sheep inhabit some amazingly scenic land? For that matter, so do some cemeteries…..what’s up with that?
Part of our drive took us past Tomales Bay, which is right on the San Andreas Fault zone. We looked to our right and saw what basically looked like mud flats. The reason is that the bay is actually an estuary and the tide was out at the time. We discussed the merits of oceans, seas, bay, gulfs and like and decided we really didn’t know the system of classification and the reasons behind them. We’ll leave that to the cartographers and oceanographers.
We arrived at the lighthouse and were happy to see that the few clouds would not obscure our photography. The walk from the parking lot to the ranger station and observation deck is
about ½ mile. It is amazingly scenic and breathtaking. To explore the lighthouse it requires a walk down 308 steps. Yes, they have counted them and have the numbers painted on them ---- so on your way back up you can measure your progress. 308 steps down and yes, 308 steps back to the top. It was not as tough as I thought it might be. A beautiful day, perfect blue sky with a couple of puffy white clouds, the wind was blowing at 15 mph with wind gusts up to 30mph. The ranger told us they don’t allow anyone down the stairs when the winds reach 40 mph.
After our trek back up we enjoyed our picnic lunch on one of the park benches overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Chimney Rock. If you are near San Francisco and have time for a day trip this is well worth it. You could spend several days in the area hiking the trails. Before heading home we took a side road to South Beach—no, not the one in Miami, as we wanted to walk on the beach that we had been looking at during our lunch. It was very nice.
As you head toward Point Reyes you’ll pass through a small town called Inverness. On our way out we stopped at a Czech Restaurant called Vladimir’s for a small beer to quench our thirst. It’s rustic and offers homemade food. We took a piece of apple strudel in a too go box. If it is any indication of how good the rest of the food is we will go back some evening for dinner.
We took an extra hour and drove north on Highway One, the coast road, to Bodega Bay. Why Bodega Bay? The honest answer is that we simply liked the name. The drive was beautiful among the farms and ocean. We thought we might want to spend the night in this little town at some point in the future so we came to get a glimpse of it. Yes, it is a cute fishing village and we hope to go back for a weekend in the future. You may recall seeing this town in Alfred Hitchcock’s movie “The Birds.” For you Hitchcock fans, Tippy Hedren returns each Memorial Day weekend and is well liked among the locals. She signs autographs and allows pictures. She takes
tough course- much of it is uphill
the proceeds and it funds an animal preserve she works with. This is the 60th anniversary of the famous movie, so there is probably a little more hype than usual.
Speaking of birds…. Point Reyes offers birders an opportunity to see Willets, Gulls, the Red-Tailed hawk and Tufted Puffins. We didn’t see any puffins but we were lucky enough to see a couple of hawks. Watching the birds glide effortlessly against the sea breeze, as they appear to be floating on a current of air.
Whale watching is best in January, when they migrate south or in March when they return to the north. It is not uncommon to see the Gray whales jumping off shore in this area.
Farewell for now……..
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